I have this nervous tick where I wipe imaginary sweat off my brow when I am thinking of something that weighs heavily on me. When a Facebook friend posted on his feed #AbortionisMurder, my hand instantly went to my forehead and I tried to rub my own memories out of my skull.
The preliminary details are somewhat irrelevant so I will keep them brief – I was 19, a sophomore in college and just had just gotten home for the summer. A fractured prophylactic, a failed emergency contraceptive and a positive pregnancy test resulted in panic, reasoning and decision. The father was aware of the pregnancy and then made himself scarce upon learning of it, with the exception being him telling everyone else he was going to be a dad. I took that as a foreshadowing of what his parenting was going to be like – loud but shallow. In summary, it was just Takiyah and this + sign.
I did what I felt was best for all involved and proceeded with a D&C. (My fingers are starting to tremble over the keys on my keyboard…they do it any time I start to play this song) Seven years later, I still think of it every now and then, especially when I go onto social media and get called a murderer indirectly by someone who thinks they are saving lives.
I challenged him to phrase his (he is a male) statement a little less harshly for those who may have to had to lay that particular cross down. I , and many other women, lived through the experience and only we knew what our thought processes were. The morality of it, the justice of it, the repercussion of it are all things that I have had to ponder and reconcile with God. What triggered me about this social media post is that it was applying judgment where God had already assured a pardon.
It’s a debate that is so much bigger than my story, but I have one. I think that one day I will go into more detail, but for now – I am challenging whoever is reading this, no matter your stance – consider the mother involved. No matter what path she takes, her life will never be the same.
If Nene Leakes and RuPaul were to have a Caribbean love child – her name would be Takiyah. Nothing gives me more joy than playing the dozens. I wish I could give an example but it doesn’t work like that for me. I am somewhat of a trampoline where the information comes to my mind and I fire some rude or sarcastic shit back within five seconds or less. Sometimes I even sit back and admire a quip after I type it to my friends – I am funny as hell, if I do say so myself.
However, since I’ve begun this journey of self-discovery through my writing, I have realised the power of my words. People listen to me. They agree with my ideas and sometimes even adopt them as their own. Nene and Ru have made their millions almost solely on the backs of their shade throwing tenacity but I don’t think my road to fame and fortune will be the same.
Wearing another person down for pure entertainment can’t be my legacy. Words are definitely my gift and to whom much is given, much is expected. The irony of doing this while I strive to build a social media presence and open myself up to trolls is surely not lost on me.
What I am really saying is that I am going to trade clap backs for compliments for a while. The only exception is Donald Trump. For him, there will always be shade.
I won’t bore you too much with the details of how my current love and I met. We’re from a small place and always knew of each other, it was just happenstance that made us, us. Two years later, we’ve built something pretty awesome. Don’t get me wrong, we face all the challenges that millennial couples face and then some but we’ve found our rhythm and we never have the same argument twice.
Bae has taught me plenty of things but the greatest lesson of all is this – having a grateful heart does not mean you act like you are indebted. It means taking what you have been given by God, family, friends and your workplace and investing it in being the version of yourself you want to be.
This was renegade behaviour for me. I am a sucker for people and their expectations of me. Or, I was. Since hitting the right side of my twenties, my need to please people has started to fray. Am I grateful for those who invested in making me the woman I am today? Yes, a thousand times yes. Am I still concerned about what they want me to be, how they want me to look, what they want me to say? No, I am really not.
Does this mean that I walk around like this?
No. It means that I listen to opinions, advice and assumptions with an open mind and then use what I feel is relevant to make my own decisions. It means my grandmother will never get me to throw those Daisy Dukes away, but has influenced me to really work on saving money. It means that the same guy who taught me the difference between respect and obedience will also have to deal with me wearing hair extensions from time to time.
I remember coming home from school to the comforting hiss of my grandmother’s immortal pressure pot (cooker for my American friends) many afternoons. I would love to see the top dance and spin as the steam propelled it in circular motions until the meal, normally my grandmother’s famous oxtail and broad beans, was done. All the pressure resulted in tender, decadent meat that would have me running back for seconds.
Recently, I had to take a step back and look at my life and realise that I am a woman, not oxtail.
I have a habit of internalising a lot of things that I should bat immediately away into the atmosphere. I do it at work, in my relationships with my boyfriend and family until I have those days where I am hissing and spinning for everyone to see and hear. Once the pressure is released, everyone sees me as this soft, emotional stew which for me is so off-brand.
It’s not that I am quiet, I am known for my quick quips and retorts in casual conversation. It’s the heavier things such as disagreeing with a business decision at work or asking my very social boyfriend for alone time. It’s my deepest thoughts and feelings that get held down by forces unseen until I can’t contain them anymore.
In order for me to be myself and not oxtail, I have decided to get completely out of the pot. It means saying things like “No” (that was even hard for me to type), “I disagree” or “That makes me feel..” when they are relevant, not when I have reached “fall off the bone” levels of distress.
The hardest thing about choosing this is simply knowing that everyone will have to get used to a new version of me. Will everyone enjoy their Takiyah with a little more bite? Well – I am woman, not oxtail for many reasons but the first is this: I am not here for the purposes of feeding everyone else. I can’t be palatable to anyone if I can’t stand myself.
I made this blog with the intent to make money after hitting what I felt was a financial slump. Naturally, this has been slow to launch because once money became the motivation, producing content became so much harder. It was no longer my thoughts, just thoughts – the hot topic of the moment, spiels about what marketing millennials should and shouldn’t do – just sh*t if I am being absolutely honest.
It took me reading Girlboss one more time and having a real come to Jesus moment to accept this – I am a creator, it is what I am, who I am and why I am. The minute I try to colour inside the lines my work becomes generic.
So here I am, resigned to the fact that I WILL create full-time because it is my purpose and trusting that the profit will come later. I am chasing a dream, that I admit. I want people to read my work and FEEL. The issue with the world we live in now is it all set up for us. We are programmed to arbitrarily like something or scroll past it. Well I say no. People who visit this blog, TakiyahChanel.com, come here to read, think and then create their own sh*t after. Whether it is a tweet saying “ugh Takiyah just be talking” or a vlog rebutting every point I made, I want to push that first domino.
I know that takes me stepping out of my comfort zone a bit. For example, my IG account for this blog is bare as bones right now because I just don’t do aesthetically pleasing things. I also want to make sure this energy is not the synthetic vibe that comes around the first week in January. What I know for sure is, I don’t create for any other reason besides the fact that I was born to do it. So here is to 2019, my bravest year – I hope that it will be yours too.
I don’t need a preamble on who Colin Kaepernick is, or why the former NFL star is currently without a team because the headlines are laden (on both the left and the right) with the perceived reasons why. However, the brand junkie that lives within me cannot keep quiet about the admiration I have for whoever concocted Nike’s now infamous ad campaign featuring Kaepernick.
Writing impactful ad copy is Nike’s element. The slogan “Just Do It” has been a part of my life ever since I learned to read. It has gone on to be a catchphrase for the bold, the long-suffering, the defiant – all of which Colin Kaepernick is. How do you complement an already powerful statement? You just – do it.
“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” – the quote transcribed over Kaepernick’s image is as relevant to him as it is to Nike. The debate around the NFL and players’ right to protest was a conversation Nike could rightfully interject itself in. Its image is seen repeatedly throughout the game, on referees, fans and players. Declaring a position on such matters is a risk that many other companies have not taken, especially in the current political climate.
All in all, brands have a responsibility to show consumers what they stand for. It would be off-brand for Nike to have kept quiet, it would come across as weak and afraid. The backlash it faced after the launch of the campaign, which any sensible public relations department would have anticipated, played directly into the phrase they chose again – the sacrifice of everything. Now that stock is rebounding after an initial fall and sales are escalating, the sacrifice seems to be worth it. No matter what comes next, Nike made a great pick for their fantasy football league this season.
Today I celebrate the birthday of one of my closest friends, Cleo Bianca. I met her during my time at Oakwood University on the steps of Moran Hall, where I was desperately in need of a reminder of home. A native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, her staccato yet seamless accent was comforting for me, a Caymanian girl. It was then that our now-transatlantic friendship truly began.
One of my biggest professional challenges is knowing how to stay focused when my heart is not in it. Cleo’s ability to power through it with the end of mind is one of the good gifts that I covet most, and have since tried very hard to emulate.
She taught me that in order to do what you love, sometimes you just have to do what needs to be done.
As a professional communicator, I have perfected the art of using spin to downgrade the magnitude of a situation. However, Cleo, a communicator herself, debunks my deflective banter and offers me true, practical insight into those aspects of my life I like to keep a pretty filter on. This also has strengthened me, because, in my career, I have learned that placing a veneer over a crisis is just an invitation for further scrutiny and reduced credibility.
Her ability to still function as a professional while being a pseudo-matriarch to her large family, an aspiring entrepreneur, a dedicated partner to her boyfriend, Kem (“big up deh man”) is something persons well beyond her years have yet to master. Having multiple responsibilities and obligations are some of the reasons women are said to progress more slowly in the workplace. It is women like Cleo that shatter glass ceilings while leaving behind a ladder for those to come behind her and shatter even more.
I am now certified in inbound social media strategy! HubSpot Academy is an excellent resource for the millennial marketer who has champagne career aspirations on a beer budget. I would highly recommend anyone with an interest in social media take this course.