Featured

What’s the Difference? The Last Time A Black Person Should Ever Be Asked That Question

Trigger warning: this blog post speaks on matters of racial injustice. Read responsibly.

The public murder of George Floyd has triggered people of color everywhere. Wait, black people everywhere. I believe in inclusion and diversity as much as the next person but in these cases, it is hard for me to find someone who doesn’t know what life in this skin is like even trying to understand how it feels to see a man who looks like your father or your uncle or your brother get life pressed out of him in the name of justice.
So when I saw people end up on my Twitter feed asking what the difference was between the murder of black men by police and black men killing each other, I was not appalled but so so disheartened. What’s the difference? As if you were speaking of a dog being put down instead of dying in a dog fight…what’s the difference? As if somehow violence among ourselves is inevitable…what’s the difference? As if you want to say “that nigga was gonna die another day anyway so why not today”…what’s the difference?
To even ask that dumbass (I was looking for a tactful way but alas) question, you must have something I do not have – privilege. You have the ability to pretend to be objective about something that is obviously heinous, something that is obviously evil and something that is obviously UNJUST. I can’t feel that way. What you can’t even imagine much less empathize with is the reality of a race of people that live alongside you. What’s the difference? You have freedom. What’s the difference? You have liberty. What’s the difference? Justice. What’s the difference? You have human rights.
So when someone asks me that question, I take offense to it because I know the intention is to shut me up. To put me and my kind back into our corners where we are asked to sit quietly so we won’t appear so threatening. The intention is to cause me to feel shame and to somehow tell me indirectly that this is the lesser of two evils. I get to feel pain because this is a possibility for so many of the people I love. You get to feel obtuse and indifferent because you can TRUST that if you had these encounters, you would live to tell the tale.
I can’t imagine my brother going to the US for university anymore. He’s tall and handsome and built strong. He is quiet so he wouldn’t argue or become belligerent. He would avoid all the avenues that could get him into trouble. But if someone looks at him and feels threatened by his mere appearance, there could be no difference between him and Ahmaud Arbery, or Trayvon Martin, or Mike Brown, or George Floyd. He deserves to live – period. We deserve to live. You deserve to live right? So what’s the difference?


Call Me Takiyah or Nothing – Why My Name is Here to Stay

Our conversation began with her asking “What’s your name again?”. “It’s Takiyah”, I replied pleasantly. “Don’t you have an easier name than that?” she asked. I looked down at the egg and cheese baleada I was enjoying before she interrupted me and then upwards to the Lord for strength and tact before saying that I didn’t have a spare name to suit her needs. She went on to say more stupid things before my face betrayed the cheery tone I was forcing.

This isn’t new for me. My name is Takiyah (tuh-kee-yuh) and for as long as I have known that to be a fact, people haven’t been able to pronounce/spell it correctly. Living on an island, I get asked more often than I should, “where your mom get that one?”, during introductions. Yeah, I mean it’s different, but not that different. However, as I inch closer to thirty, the less inclined I am to give people passes for their ignorance when it comes to my name and what it means when they ask to condense it without my permission.

When I heard of Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck a few years ago, I was immediately drawn to her story about how she used her conventional name to her advantage in the classroom and later in her career. According to NPR, Dr. Vandyck’s dissertation entitled Black Names in White Classrooms: Teacher Behaviors and Student Perceptions, Vandyck interviewed students and concluded that participants “with distinctly black names” were subject to disrespect, stereotypes and low academic and behavioral expectations. This resulted in strained relationships, changes in future career choices and self-esteem issues, spelling fewer educational and economic opportunities for students of color.

My name is not as unconventional as Dr. Vandyck’s. However, I’ve sat in classrooms with teachers, both black and white and felt all of those things. I worked in offices and felt much the same way. I will also admit that I leaned into the “character” at times to appease the feelings of those around me and myself. With maturity, I’ve realised that if I could compromise on my name, I could compromise on anything.

The marketer in me saw my name as a brand for the first time when I created this blog. TakiyahChanel.com was wide open as a domain and for a reason. I am Takiyah for a purpose. Yes, it’s not conventional but it’s for a purpose. So I will not give people an easier name because this journey to develop myself into a brand, and into a person that I can be proud of has not been easy.

Venus Steam: Business, Friendship and Success

The inspiration for this post struck me almost 12 months ago. Why? I am a firm believer in girl power and Venus Steam, Cayman’s first yoni steam spa embodies all that I perceive girl power to be. It’s owned by women, operated by women, for women. The fact that these are black women is simply icing on an already perfect cake.

I first went to Venus Steam when they operated out of a home in 2017. I had heard about yoni steaming on a reality show and as a PCOS/endometriosis warrior, relief from my deathly cramps and heavy periods was a no-brainer. The experience was comfortable, firstly because Kerri, one of the owners spoke to me like she was my best friend. She explained the purpose of the service which was more than just having a fresh cooch (but I mean really, is anything else necessary) and the actual holistic benefits of releasing negative energy from that entryway to your soul.

Fast forward to 2020 and Venus Steam has grown into its own space and owners Kerri and Stacy are often sold out. Introducing this particular service to an island like Cayman was a challenge in itself. As comfortable as we are to bawl out “skin out mi pum pum” in the middle of a dance floor, discussing feminine hygiene is still hard for our small society. Social media teemed with people who felt that they didn’t need such a thing and even resulted in a viral video parody. Stacy, the other half of Venus Steam and an equally kind spirit, said that this actually helped business.

What brought Kerri and Stacy together was a commonality many women have long bonded over – heartbreak. Kerri first began her own yoni steaming practice after a breakup and then introduced Staci to steaming after she too had to get over a relationship. When they both realised the transforming qualities of a simple thirty minute experience, they decided to go into business.

Now, Venus Steam houses eight custom chairs that are sanitized before each client, then filled with a custom blend of herbs. Steamers are able to come alone, or invite friends for a group steam. Each service includes a cocktail, fruit, gourmet cheese and crackers. Kerri and Stacy also sell organic feminine care products so that the yoni health experience can continue after the service is over.

As a client, I’ve seen improvement in my symptoms but I can honestly say that I go more for the relaxation these days. I’ve introduced a few friends to yoni steaming along the way as well who can relate as well. As long as Kerri and Stacy keep their business centred around girl power, I’m always there to be recharged.

Follow them on @venussteam.ky or check out their website https://www.venussteams.com/.

Till next time,

Takiyah

Big Girls Do Cry: Why Being Plus-Sized and Positive Isn’t Easy Math

If you’ve been reading my blog for the last year (mi love you), you would know that this self-love journey has been uphill for me. A sticking point for me is my weight. I won’t bore you with pounds and dress sizes but I can honestly say that my current size is not my healthiest, and I’m working on it.
Working on it is however, harder especially for being a Caribbean girl. I come from a family where everyone else is pretty much petite, well on my mother’s side, which is all I knew. So being taller, with more athletic proportions like my long torso and short legs, I carry weight differently. I looked different, and when it came to my appearance, let’s just say I was made to feel different. From nicknames like Miss Piggy to threats to padlock the fridge, growing up chubby was hard, and that was at home. School was worse because I would get accosted by people who I hadn’t spoken to before for being…there.
I’ve lost weight in heaps before by taking an already unhealthy relationship with food and just turning it on its head. Still then, I was told I was beautiful way more than I had ever heard. Wow, was being bigger what was holding me back all this time? Here is the gag – confidence isn’t an accessory to be worn, it’s a lifestyle to be lived. At my slimmest, I still felt ugly and empty. Your body is only as good as the soul it houses.
Now that I am finding that my favorite jeans don’t fit the way they once did, it is taking some humility to say that I didn’t maintain what was once my dream body and some self-awareness to know that the next time I achieve it, it will house a better soul. A scale couldn’t ever measure what makes me who I am, and my weight loss journey is dictated by the desire to live a healthier life in all areas.
IF you don’t love what you see in the mirror, you can change yourself, change the mirror or change your perspective. I will see a beautiful woman no matter what, and adapt my habits to reflect a healthy woman. That may NEVER result in me wearing a size 4. It will result in me being content and happy in all aspects of my being.
That said – I promise that I have cried my final big-girl tear and I can’t wait to feel big girl joy.

Dealing with Haters (Without Catching a Case)

Psalm 41: 6- 13
My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish? “Whenever one comes
to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it abroad. All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying,A vile disease has beset him; he will never get up from the place where he lies. Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. But you LORD, have mercy on me; raise me up, that I may repay them. I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me. In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.

Have you ever had someone who is supposed to be close to you speak ill over your life, and watch them feel comfortable saying so cause they “know” you? You, in all tenses – they make assumptions and presumptions about what your life has been and will be. This happened to me over the holidays and I was triggered into a place I hadn’t been in years (see my last post). Now that I have time to come up for air, I have this open declaration to make to myself, and to you.
Don’t allow those who were once obstacles in your way, measure how far you have gotten.

Whether it be a relative, an ex, a former friend or an employer – if you have moved on from their presence, consider it a move ahead. It may not feel that way because of where they rested in your life when they were there at first. The text above says You have mercy on me, RAISE ME UP, that I may repay them. This isn’t a literal repayment even if slapping someone sounds appealing in the moment. It’s the opportunity to wake up each day and become the person God wants You to be in the face of those who cursed you. What better testimony is there is to listen to curses on your life and stand up to be blessed anyway by the Source of all blessings?

You won’t have the capacity to curse them when you are filled with blessings. If they had allowed God to raise them up, they wouldn’t have the capacity to curse you. The best way to make it through a forecast of storms over your life is to radiate and shine brightly.

Things will still get real every once in a while, and it may be just then that your naysayer sees you – while you’re down. Accept where you are, know that you serve a full-time God who is there in the trenches with you. For all your battles, the artillery of God is infinite and victory is guaranteed!


2020 – Moving Out of My Unhappy Place

Happy New Year to all and Happy Anniversary to TakiyahChanel.com! It’s been a wonderful twelve months and I’ve healed so much just by being able to share my story. Thank you to everyone who reads, shares and comments – you truly have made me love my art again.

I know the New Year is supposed to bring a sense of renewal and rejuvenation but can I be honest and say that I am not there? I feel an increase in angst and pressure because I am still so unsure of myself. At 27, it seems that I lost the right to be lost a long time ago, so expressing this to family isn’t a go. Expressing it to my friends who are all confident and trodding on to success isn’t a go. So with those two self-imposed gag orders in effect, I recoil to that place.

You know it. They say that mold loves darkness and moisture. So I imagine my “place” to be a dark and damp area where my once fresh dreams have started to grow spores and morph into hairy versions of themselves.

I know you must be thinking “damn Takiyah, it’s only 4 days into 2020”. Here’s the gag, forget all New Years resolutions. My only goal is to deal with this, before it deals with me. I’ve began to pray different prayers. Not the cute stuff you can say kneeling down. The “God, I can’t move. I’m stuck. I don’t know what You are doing and Lord – I’m not sure if You know either.” The nerve, right? To feel like a fat, ugly joke most of the time and then ask the Lord why I feel that way when He has told me how much I mean to Him just by allowing my lungs to take in air.

This self love isn’t a fad y’all. It’s the only way we can make it in a superficial world where likes are currency. And it’s a constant relationship and perhaps for me, that’s why it is so hard. I send love out, oh boy do I. It’s giving it to myself that takes exceeding amounts of energy. I’m not sure if I’ve taken self-love out of the range of vanity.

I’m sharing this because I’m wondering if anyone else is here, or has been here. How did you move out of that place?

I’m More Like Summer Walker Than I Thought

I don’t blog for likes. I started giving more of myself to my blogging because it was either this or die from holding in emotion. The fact that people like you have found and read my blog is an added bonus that I am very grateful for. However, the day I start doing this for you is the day I stop doing this.
Summer Walker has been slaughtered on social media for her aloof attitude which is truly social anxiety. People have been asking, “Well if this is so hard for you, why do it?” Fair question. While I am only assuming, Summer created for her. It was her outlet, her peace, her ability to release energy. The fact that people enjoyed her music and that a label saw her as a star was something that happened along the way. The minute the art became more than just her expression, she couldn’t handle it. Now – I will say she has some other, many other factors at play but in short, the art got away from her.

As a marketing professional, I do social media for a living – I know how to build a presence and a following. That is not what I want. I just want to write down, to lay down my emotional burdens, uplift others and make myself feel whole. Writing has always done that for me. I was pushed up front because I was vocal and could say the things people liked hearing. With that came the expectation for me to be the good girl and the voice of reason when in reality I want to disrupt and affect change.
When I write, I can say deeper, more meaningful things than when I speak. My behaviour isn’t limited to what people expect (and one day that won’t matter to me, but as of now it does), what I’m gagged against saying cause of the positions I hold and I can be Takiyah.
This evolved into a bit of a rant but my point is – thank you for reading this blog. I am no longer committing to a schedule or a plan. I am going to create what makes me feel and I hope that you will feel something too.

Daddy Issues Part II: The Other One

My birthday is in November and I normally for some odd reason spend the weeks leading up to it being melancholy. In an effort to shake that off this year, I’m going to attempt a post a day until my birthday on the 15th. It’s a big undertaking but I’m so excited to share content with you. As always, like and comment on this and all my posts if you enjoy my blog! Love you!


“I shouldn’t be resentful.” I didn’t give much detail about my biological father in my previous post because I truly don’t know much. We’ve met a few times and his family did a lot for me during my college experience. However – he and I don’t speak very often and when we do the exchanges are short and casual.

I do have siblings by him, two of which he is very proud. So when I see a post celebrating my baby brother or a heartfelt comment under my sister’s photo, I shouldn’t resent them. I even had a spat with my sister because I just couldn’t bring myself to let her in my life by default. I feel guilty even resenting him. Still, I have had enough battles with my self-worth to know what it feels like to question whether I’m good enough. At nearly 27 years old, I am still waiting for the answer to why I wasn’t worth it then and now that I am grown, why the effort still hasn’t been made.

I understand that I came at a time and into a situation where there was uncertainty. Doubt having been removed, was there a plan for what would happen if I someday needed him? An organ, a walk down the aisle, God forbid, a tribute at my funeral…how would he be able to say goodbye to someone he really never knew? It would be so different if I knew that he was incapable of loving or parenting a child. Turns out, he seems to be great at it. I just wasn’t there at the right time. Again – it is so much easier to blog this than communicate it. How do you ask a stranger why they don’t love you? Writing it out is my way of burying the emotion on my end, and if this post offers the same results as the last, it could hurt him. Which is the last thing I would want.

But I’ve met God during the drafting process so many times and every word I type brings me healing. So, in my soul-stitching, if I prick a few nerves to tie myself together, then so be it.

Matthew 23:9 says to call no man on earth your father, as we have one Father in Heaven. This verse sticks out to me because as someone has had so many paternal struggles with mortal men, knowing that God the Father still looks down and considers me His child is true comfort.

I hope and pray that neither of my dads misunderstand my words. That they look at the children they have that aren’t grown and try to correct the mistakes they made. I love them both. Oh, and I’m not claiming to have “daddy issues” anymore – my Father has got it from here.

Sincerely,
Takiyah

The Mavericks – 4 Millenial Mavens Cayman Needs to Know

Hey guys! Narcissist I am not, so talking about myself all the time really does not appeal to me. What I am is a millennial, Caymanian, black woman who really enjoys having conversations about the things that matter to us. This post is dedicated to four women from my home here in the Cayman Islands who have inspired me with their drive, perseverance and overall bad bitch behaviour.

Leanna, 28 – Tourism Professional/Entrepreneur
@adominicandream

I first met Leanna in high school and was drawn to her larger-than-life attitude. We made quick friends then, and now ten years later, I interact with Leanna in multiple arenas of my life including moonlighting for her promotions business @undergroundky.
Born on the island of Dominica, Leanna came to Cayman with her mother at a tender age and since then, has fused into an ambassador for Cayman’s heritage through her job without ever compromising her love for her homeland of Dominica.
In addition to her day job, Leanna owns and operates two businesses with the recent addition of Bella’s Beauty and Barber. I’ve personally sat in the chair at the salon a few times and the entire ambiance is filled with Leanna’s spirit. It’s a bright, cheery, organised space that immediately welcomes you as soon as you walk in.
Physically, Leanna is statuesque at five foot ten-ish with a heart sized to match. Her closest friends will agree that her door is always open, ear always ready to listen and her mind never judges.
“The best advice I would give my younger self is definitely [that] less is more in all aspects especially friendships”, says Leanna. “I would have told my self to be more careful about the people I let into my heart and trusted with my soul. I would have told my self to build more empires and not let people talk me out of my dreams because it seems “hard”. Finally, I would have told my self that all the people who made me a bit insecure about myself would never be in the same race as I am so don’t worry BE HAPPY!” ❤

Alanna , 23 – Marketing Professional
@alannainwonderland

Alanna came into my life at a former job where she immediately shone as one of those universally nice people. I admit, it took me awhile to trust her because I was in disbelief as to why a person would be that kind. Time has since elapsed and I’ve gotten to know Alanna better as a member of Rotaract Blue, where she is now Vice President. What I thought was “too nice” is a person who has encountered and overcome personal challenges of bullying and low self-worth to become a kind soul who is tolerant and respectful of others. She is no push-over either, as she pilgrimages through the twenty-somethings, she is more vocal about trusting her gut and saying her piece.
“I’ve got a wicked case of imposter syndrome. I don’t ever really just enjoy accomplishments. I’m always climbing an invisible mountain. Nowadays I’m trying to actually enjoy the things I’ve put work into and be kinder to myself”, says Alanna when asked what her biggest personal challenge is. Imposter she is not, a little kindness goes a long way and Alanna, you’ve got the whole world ahead of you with a ton of kindness to get there.

Rene, 30 – Marketing Professional
@withlovenae

Like Alanna, I met Rene through my participation in Rotaract Blue. However, I followed her on social media for a long time prior. Why? She seemed like someone worth following. Now that I know Rene, albeit not as well as I would like, I see that she is a leader in many aspects – someone worth following.
As a fellow Scorpio, I know that she didn’t necessarily set out to be a leader. Rene has a spirit of ingenuity that can’t be turned off, resulting in a magnetism to her for ideas alone. In addition to that, Rene’s big heart was evident in the effort she applied to her work with Blue, sometimes seeming to burst out of her petite frame. She was President of Blue the year I was inducted and I was always in awe of how aware she was of all the things that were taking place.
She admits that she is hardest on herself about being successful. “I’ve always been a highly motivated person and a bit of an overachiever growing up. Whenever I accomplish a goal, instead of accepting that I did my best, I tend to think I could have done better. I am my biggest critic”, Rene says.

Angie, 26 – Accountant
@ajanineg

Last but certainly not least, my best friend – Angella. Angie is everything that we are told by our mothers that a Caymanian woman ought to be. Kind, smart, poised, with a streak of feisty, Angie is an accomplished Certified Public Accountant at one of Cayman’s most reputable companies. Gifted (and cursed) with a perpetually friendly face, I could not think of a woman more worthy of recognition when I was writing this piece.
Becoming an accountant was a passion of Angie’s since before we even became friends. The grueling examination process was one that I witnessed bring her to tears as she prepared for each one. Still, she persevered while keeping and excelling at a full-time job.
Her advice for young Angies out there? “There’s always a light at the end of every tunnel. Always stay determined and consistent and you can achieve anything you want to.”
Trust me – she would know.

Self-Care for People Who Care Too Much About Everyone Else

My best friend Cleo, is a self-care ambassador and guru. I am not. It took me a very long time to not equate self-love or self-care with vanity, selfishness and being a loner. I blame Barney for making me think that love is first given, then received. I love everyone else to death and then slap myself a high-five all the time. It’s not enough.

This weekend, I actively got up and said that Sunday would be my day of caring for me. I did not dwell on anything or anyone else. I prayed, I did my nails (for the first time in a long, long time), enjoyed a yoni steam and took a nap. I located my centre, my soul – the parts of me I told myself I am always too busy to look after. Yes, a few hours of time devoted to myself did all of this for me.

I am one of those people who can make everyone they love, their whole world. I asked myself what would happen if I loved myself the way I love others. Do I ask myself how I am doing, if I have eaten something, when was the last time I had a checkup? If I took that same nurturing hand and held myself together – what kind of person would I become?

Self-love has always been a battle for me because I never felt that I was worthy. I didn’t find myself beautiful, or smart (even though I hear it all the time). I gave myself a ton of bullshit reasons as to why I wasn’t good enough, then had them ratified by people who didn’t care for me genuinely either. I even had a hard time taking selfies. I saw someone hideous, feared that people would look in my eyes and see the self-loathing. (Now I am crying and I beat my face so I am doing that weird Kardashian eye-blink thing).

I say all of that to say – I am back. I know that someone reading this is going through the same thing I am. I encourage you first to pray – I believe that God really and truly wants us to feel happiness from within, where He dwells. Then go in the mirror and appreciate everything you criticize about yourself. There is so much beauty in knowing you are not a duplicate – you are your own standard of what is beautiful.