Category Archives: women

Do Not Dare To Dim Your Light (A Note To Self)

March 19, 2018

On a drizzly Saturday evening, you’ll walk into European Wax Center and the sign on the door will catch your eye. “Walk in, strut out.” You’ll roll your eyes a little bit at the marketing and how women are supposed to have an extra pep in their step after they’ve had hair painfully ripped from their bodies. But before you can digest that thought, the woman at the front counter will ask you your name, and you’ll tell her who you are, full government. You still won’t think much of the exchange until she comments, with the slightest bit of toxin in her tone, that you “strutted in here like you owned the place.” You’ll laugh and say “I’m just here for a wax,” but the irony isn’t lost on you. After all, how dare you strut into a setting that you are merely supposed to walk into?

People hear it in the click of your heels and from the first note off your tongue. They see it in your eyes. They read it on your lips, sometimes nude and other times painted a deep burgundy or a playful purple or an unforgettable red. But maybe more than anything, they feel it when you step into the room and somehow the energy shifts in a way that is palpable. Visceral. Unexpected.

This is called your light.

Some days it is a spark. Other days it is a wildfire. But most days it is slow burn, one that you emit in a quiet and powerful way that cannot be contained.

To whom much is given, much is required. You will recite this to yourself sometimes sitting at stoplights or right before a big meeting at work. You learned somewhere along the way that God does not give us light without also giving us responsibility. Weight. A duty to carry out. A purpose to fulfill. It is not enough to illuminate; you must also show up in every space and burn brightly.

You’ve learned that light is not a universal language. There are people who will gravitate toward it. There are people who will fight to darken it. There are those who will dismiss it and those who will bring even more of it out of you. There are people who were once enamored by your rays who are now hoping for your sun to set. This is all par for the course.

You will spend a lot of time and energy thinking about how you can protect your light. You will learn who deserves it and who does not. This is a lesson of trial and error, one you will get wrong many times before you get it right. You will ignite for men who can only manage to flicker for you. You will guard your blaze intently so others can not snuff it out. You will come to realize that when it comes to light, sometimes it inspires and other times it intimidates. Most times it does both in the same day.

And yet, I still dare you not to dim your light. Not for the sake of others. Not for their comfort or their acceptance or their ease or their insecurities. I dare you not to dim your light even when it seems like the road would be more easily trodden should you just go along and shrink a few sizes. I dare you not to dim your light even when it feels like the odds are against you and it would make everyone else’s life much more simple if you just stopped shining. I dare you not to dim your light even when you lose some people you loved, even when spreading your light poses more risks than it offers rewards, even when you want to close the blinds and shut the shades.

You are both lighthouses and torches. Sunrises and lanterns. Dawns and daybreaks. The entire Earth is somewhere inside of you ready to beam. Why won’t you let it?

On a drizzly Saturday evening, you’ll sign the receipt at European Wax Center and the woman behind the counter will make it a point to tell you there’s some lipstick on your teeth. You’ll thank her and smile into your iPhone camera to fix it before you go. You’ve learned by now that some gestures are born from kindness and some gestures rise from strange and insecure places. It’s often times hard to parse out the difference. You’ll chalk this one up to a woman who saw you dare to strut in, so she wanted to make it a point that you only walked out. But you will strut anyway. Because this has nothing to do with your stride. This is called your light.

Black Girl, Interrupted

February 7, 2018

Something about him gives me pause and makes me drop my fork mid-bite. He’s standing at the soda machine, pouring cup after cup of water and gulping it down. I don’t want to feel uneasy or afraid – maybe he is just a thirsty guy in need of some hydration after a hard day of work. But, I’ve lived long enough to know that my gut is an accurate compass. It hasn’t ever led me astray.

When he drops the cup into the trash and exits the restaurant, I breathe a silent sigh of relief. But once it’s my turn to leave, I catch a glimpse of him again, this time standing at the bus stop. My feet move more briskly; my strides become intentional. And then I hear “Hey!” Short pause. “Hey!” Again. This time louder. My heels start hitting the pavement faster. Click. Click. Click. Clickclickclickclickclick. “Hey, Fantasia!” (I presume because that’s his closest reference to a woman with a haircut like mine). By the time he yells it again, I’m jetting down the stairs to the metro, peeking over my right shoulder to ensure he’s not there.

He’s not.

And, then I begin to tell myself that maybe I just made it all up. Maybe it was all in my head. Of course he wasn’t going to hurt me. Maybe he wasn’t even talking to me. But, then a more strident internal voice disturbs my misgivings. That voice tells me what I know to be true.

My gut is an accurate compass. It hasn’t ever led me astray.

I don’t feel relaxed again until I’m on the train, unwrapping my scarf and settling in for the trip to Eastern Market. But, by then, my evening has been both punctured and punctuated by that memory. All of my excitement to go on a solo date and attend Morgan Jerkins’ book signing has disintegrated into thin air.

Later that night, Morgan talks about being a black woman in the world. I lean over in my chair, nodding and smiling, trying to inhale all of her black girl magic for a moment in the future when I know I’ll need it. She tells us about a time when she interviewed Claudia Rankine and asked the poet how she deals with microaggressions and other weights of black womanhood. What is her armor made of? How does she wake up every day and get ready for the world?

“It’s not that I have to prepare for the world. It’s that the world interrupts me.”

This is what Claudia tells her. It’s the first time during the hourlong book talk that I whip out my phone and type the two sentences into my notes section.

Because isn’t that what so much, too much, of being a black woman is? Interruption. Intrusion. Folks sticking their feet out and tripping you while you are simply trying to hit your stride.

I’ve been deep in my thoughts and thick in my feelings lately, stuck in my own head and unsure of how to spill it out on paper. I’ve been thinking about my womanhood–how I strive to move through the world and how often that momentum is thwarted by people who never even think twice about it. People who don’t care to think twice about it. People who don’t have to think twice about it.

Perhaps my presence is radical. It upsets the balance.

Perhaps my presence is enigmatic. It defies understanding.

Perhaps my presence is infuriating. It incites enmity.

Perhaps my presence is majestic. It demands respect.

Perhaps my presence is worrisome. It unearths insecurity.

Perhaps my presence is overlooked. It paralyzes compassion.

Perhaps my presence is human. It reflects the world.

Yes, I yearn to glide through this life without any more of the breaches or bullshit. But, now I know that there is no armor or bulletproof vest that will save me. There is no formula or process to follow. There is not one way to prepare for the many interruptions to come. My momentum is predicated far less on preparation and far more on resilience. Perhaps that is both the power and plight of being a black woman.


For Brown Girls With Sharp Edges and Stories to Tell

January 17, 2018

Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

The world will continue to shout that you should be softer. You’re not quite sure when you began to hear this demand, but somewhere along the line you did, and it started soaking up space at the pit of your stomach. Somewhere along the line someone told you that you needed to dull your edges if you ever stood a chance of being loved and understood.

For a brief moment, you believed them. You wanted so desperately  to be adored, particularly by black men. You wanted to be a woman who felt warm and inviting, someone a man would be more inclined to stroll over toward during a balmy evening at a rooftop bar. So you worked hard to shrink yourself. Temper your confidence. Tone down your strength. There you were, a shell of the woman God created you to be, trying to shatter this angry black woman stereotype that you never birthed in the first place.

Yes, the world will continue to shout that you should be softer. It is an echo that will reverberate in the back of your ear for the rest of your life. On conference calls. In boardrooms. In bedrooms. On first dates.

Measure your tone. Speak slowly. Sprinkle some sugar on your words. It is an unwritten decree that will find its way into many conversations, both solicited and unsolicited.

But then you will remember sitting in the back of an Uber one night and asking a man–a man who you fought hard for and lost big for–what he thought of you. And the first thing he’ll say is “You say what you mean and you mean what you say.” It will become one of the highest compliments you’ve ever received, and you’ll never care to be called beautiful again. You’ll want to be known, and loved, for saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

The world has decided that women without sharp edges are easier to consume. And it seems like sometimes that’s all this world wants to do –absorb you without ever getting to know you. Devour you. Digest you. Make a meal out of your brown skin and beautiful eyes. But if you are sharp and if you have stories and if you speak with the conviction of a firm-and-brimstone preacher, then the world can’t eat you up so fast. It can’t figure you out. It can’t just suck you up and sit satiated while you dissolve at the bottom of its belly.

You were not handcrafted by heaven to be soft. You were not designed simply to be consumed. You are not here to live a miniature sort of life or assuage the insecurities growing like wildflowers inside of others.

Shout. Be loud. Stay tough. Take up the space. Allow the walls to crumble for the people who are worth letting in. Protect yourself when you need to. Dismantle your fear when you should. Let your energy rearrange the room and let your laugh suck up all the air.

Your sharp edges do not preclude you from being fragile. They do not mean that you aren’t sensitive or complex or affected by the way tides turn. Your sharp edges simply mean that you stopped being afraid of your own strength a long time ago. You quit apologizing for your sunlight. You decided to claim more space.

Not everyone believes in just eating you alive. Know that and believe it. Keep it somewhere in your back pocket for a winter’s night when it feels like love always proves to be a losing game. Some people will dare to peel back your layers and savor you one story, scar, and sharp edge at a time.


The Girl On Her Knees: An Undefining Moment [By Roconia Price]

July 25, 2017

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

The series rounds out today with Roconia Price.

Roconia is the quiet storm. When we first got together for a dinner at Founding Farmers in 2015, she spent a good fraction of the time just listening to me chat about everything and nothing. It wasn’t until the end of dinner when she peeled open a notebook to reveal a host of ideas for her upcoming event, each concept bubbling over with her signature sense of thoughtfulness and brilliance. Roconia’s creative genius often times speaks for itself; it doesn’t require pretense or pomp and circumstance. You don’t always see it coming, but when it does, it whips, roars and downpours. I’m so excited to close out the transformation and Turning Tides series with her piece, “The Girl On Her Knees: An Undefining Moment.” 

I can see you now. Telling the woman beneath you that your nana was Chippewa and that “Roconia” is Ojibwe for “honor.” I can see you tracing her lips with your thumb, telling her that’s why the word was inked on your left pec. Kissing her. For your nana. Kissing her. For honor.

Maybe you wouldn’t think twice about that day, your narrative feeling so natural it could replace the truth. Or maybe you would, diving deep into her neck to chase away that image of me before you on my knees, imploring you not to tattoo my name on your heart.

I might have been 20 then, maybe 21. I had only come back to haunt you. To give you just enough of me that you might thirst for more. To keep you close, clinging to the idea of my forgiveness so I could sting you like a scorpion, over and over again. I sat before you on my knees, giving you elevation over my eyes, but never again over my heart. I blinked calmly, coldly, as your declaration of love passed through me like air.

“Don’t,” I said.

I told you that day that your actions would not be reciprocated. That ink is not the AED for defiled trust, that it can’t undo disappointment, that under no circumstances would your name be permanently endorsed on my skin. You took it like a wounded soldier, valiantly limping to your next resolution. You didn’t care, you said. I could do what I wanted. But you would get that tattoo. And you’d tell anyone who asked that Roconia was your first love, that Roconia would always be the name in, and above, your heart.  

But I can see you now, using that same synthetic sincerity to reel in a new catch, spewing that guff about your Native grandma. And your lady would lap it up, believing that when she traced the writing on your chest, she was coming in contact with your honor.

I’ve tied a piece of my transformation to that moment on my knees. It was an undefining moment for me. One that had no direct correlation to the growth I’ve experienced since then, but one that still flares up when I think of the woman on the brink of a new me. There wasn’t any revelation that day. My heart and mind still tripped over each other like two left feet. After I refused your tattoo I fell back into your arms and we rocked to our own played out rhythm all afternoon.

This is me admitting to myself, to God, to the internet, that in some ways, I have not grown much since then. I can still be Petty Price, laughing at the woman you cheated on me with, and the baby that surprised us both. Letting you access me on social media so you can eat your heart out, tattoo and all. But in other ways I’ve matured like a 1994 Bordeaux. I only give the kindness and forgiveness I want to receive, and never say it’s okay when I truly don’t mean it.  No longer hold anyone close with the hope of getting the knife in a little deeper.

My life seems to be a series of these undefining moments and I’ve named them like art in my autobiographical  gallery.  The Girl on Her Knees; The Girl in the Basement; The Girl at the Book Fair; The Girl in the Principal’s Office; The Cool Girl; The Girl in the Law Office; The Girl in Church; and my latest, The Woman.

I want to believe that as I grow I become all around better. But I’m more like the silt at the bed of a river, being sifted and settled in an array of areas by the undetected tides of time. I am not a better woman today, just a different one. And the tides keep turning.

Roconia Price is a storyteller and creative spirit, running on sunlight and sisterhood. She writes at She is very tall.

My Semi-Celibate Life [By Dana Sukontarak]

July 19, 2017

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

Next up is Dana Sukontarak.

Dana is the rebel. From tweets to the essays in her book “Men”, Dana pulls no punches. She isn’t someone I always talk about when I mention my blogging folks, but she is someone to whom I’m forever indebted. Years ago, she helped me unearth my voice and vulnerability when I contributed an essay about my sexual assault to her then-website The Apposite. Her writing has always wowed me, challenged me and raised the hair on my arms just a little bit. I think that’s what excellent writing does; it blows us away all while making us think or rethink about the lens through which we view the world.

I hope you enjoy Dana’s contribution to this series, “My Semi-Celibate Life.”

In my early twenties, I have often confused a sexual prowess with what could more accurately be described as sexual irrationality. I once treated sex like a conquest. I lost my virginity 10 years ago. In that time, I’d never stopped to consider the negative implications of my self-proclaimed sexual liberation. Now, I’m 28, in the midst of my languid late twenties. I no longer have the energy for certain things. I have become selective about the assignment of my time, money, and emotions. I recently came to the realization that sex has consistently clouded my judgment since the time I began having it. I’d never considered a self-imposed hiatus until this year. My celibacy was all but absolute, but even short stretches of consciously sex-free days allowed me to see many things in a clearer light.

This year, I came face to face with someone who’d broken my heart two years ago. The summer of our breakup, I had sex with a lot of different people. I guess I thought it would help my healing, or maybe I was content in denying there was healing to do. After much turmoil and many unanswered emails, I saw him on my work plaza at 8:30 one morning, walking a new way to the train and passing me in the opposite direction. We had an awkward but friendly conversation that led to friendly messages that led to a month of us talking and having sex twice within one week. He knew I was trying to be celibate. We did it anyway. We talked about a lot, he cried and apologized. He told me he’d been at home for most of the past two years, cautious not to run into me because our feelings were still too alive. He seemed genuinely remorseful for how he left, which was suddenly and for his emotionally manipulative ex. Still, he didn’t want to pursue a relationship with me. He wanted to be single, but he still started arguments with me for hanging out with another guy I’d dated after him.

I told him that I was glad we reconnected, but didn’t want to continue anything sexual. The almost month I’d spent without sex leading up to our tryst had instilled me with logic in the face of potential orgasms. I did the math and it wasn’t worth it. We had gambled once before, and quickly run short on beginner’s luck. I knew that history would repeat itself. He told me he was unable to even be around me, as a friend, if he knew sex wasn’t on the table.

It was a jarring experience, hearing my worthiness equated to my willingness to fuck, by someone I thought I loved and respected. Since then I have been considering the importance of sex, but mostly, I have been considering the ways I’d been using sex.

I realized I’d been having sex for a number of differently problematic reasons: control, affection, and validation, to name a few. I was doing it casually, but less for pleasure than for intimacy. Sometimes, I was doing it with people I didn’t care for, but forced myself to pretend to want to care. I often made sex into a challenge, focusing on conquering another person’s attention and emotions. It was all ownership and entitlement, under the guise of a deep and meaningful connection. I’d been absentmindedly ruled by oxytocin and directed by a dark, subconscious urge to manipulate and manage another person. Sex was imbued with expectation. It paved the way for disappointment when reality did not align. Sex had become a complication, more of an empty investment than a satisfying experience. Of course, sometimes I’d feel like doing it. But that desire was already being snuffed by my interest in growing and connecting in other ways.

Love is not about sex. Sex is not impossible without, but better with love. Sex is a very fragile thread to tie heartstrings with. Sex should supplement, not supplant an emotional connection. It took me ten years and a lot of sex to come to these conclusions. Sex is special and confusing. It is a powerful thing to share with another person, but used too often in the wrong ways.

A previous version of me may have begged for him to stay, to concede to his notion that our sex was an all-important form of communication between us and should flow freely as such. This version of me knows that sex is as important as we make it. And right now, it’s really not that important at all.

Dana is a 28-year-old writer and editor from Washington, D.C. You can follow her on Twitter at @UnlimitedDana or visit her blog here. Her first book ‘Men’ is a collection of writing about love and relationships released in 2016. It can be purchased here.