Is Being Heard “Our right” ?

I think I’ve been ridiculously spoiled by my recent years of education. A counselor-in-training who has become accustomed to conversations with colleagues that begin with an earnest “How are you doing?” and end with the questionee comfortably spilling their current state, be they sad or overwhelmed or upset, et cetera. It is an insulated bubble of intelligent women (a few men sprinkled here and there) for whom being transparent, open, and vulnerable is oftentimes seen as a strength within the realm of self-analyzation and personal wellness.

That has been my world for the past two and a half years. Constant talk of emotions, feelings, and searching for the depth behind them, and although it can be quite taxing from time to time, it is its own form of therapy.

Then the holidays arrive, and you’re with family. Family that you only see about 2-4 times a year, if that. You’re the only girl among 3 brothers, and truly are the most sensitive one. You are also a strange concoction of people-pleaser combined with stubborn, which is at times confounding and subsequently exhausting. And there is always so much testosterone in the room. You’ve lived with it, it’s a part of who you are…but that essential need that you have to partake in open dialogue with regard to recent disputes?

Not so fundamental to them.

So, while you’re about to burst if you can’t talk it out, be heard, or at least understood or empathized with (no “you’re right” necessary)…they’re just fine avoiding what they perceive to be an odd and slightly more mature edition of a temper tantrum. And there you are, in a bit of a bind because you HAVE to be acknowledged, you just HAVE to be supported in some fashion, or else you will implode.

Because it is an injustice, so you think, completely unfair and inhumane to not be considered. “But, bu-bu-bu-but…my feewings…” you inwardly blubber. “IT IS MY RIGHT!!” you holler at no one in particular, probably your lipstick-inscribed mirror. Those inspirational quotes are not getting you much of anywhere in this moment.

You want a human ear, and believe that it is deserved on the sole basis that you are a human being and need it for mental and emotional well being.

But is it really your right? Is that really my right? In a world where we currently have about five billion different modes through which we can share our opinions or attain feedback…is it our right to be heard? Or is it a luxury indigenous to those of us who have way too much time on our hands?


Baby, you’ve GOT back.

Today, I was waiting on a client in the hallway and looking down at my little ankles in what I call my Tap Dance Shoes, when I thought to myself: “I really could be a great ballerina…I have potential.” I then started to smirk, which I do often and much more than makes sense, all things considered. I was thinking: “I’ve got tiny ankles, wrists, my bones are dainty yet strong…THIS COULD WORK.” Then I remembered… ole girl has got back, and a sufficient supply, not to mention sizable thighs that are not too easily forgotten.

I recalled a conversation I had with my mama this past summer while I was visiting my parents:

Mama: “Goodness, eh?! I don’t know where those thighs of yours came from, because they’re not from me or your dad.”

Me: “I know mama, sometimes, I’ll be putting on lotion (as I’m demonstrating lotion-putting), and think I’m finished, but then I look down and say ‘welp, there’s more where that came from.”

There was more to that dialogue, but I want to talk about that back I mentioned.

Sometimes, I’ve felt as though it’s gotten in the way of my living. In my high school soccer conditioning class is where I discovered that it was worth acknowledging. I felt like I couldn’t turn my back without one of my teammates bringing out their pinchers and firmly grabbing what their two fingers could handle. Which was not much.

Not to mention that one time in chemistry class. There was a guy named Wade McGaha (pronounced Mc-Gay-Hay), an easygoing country dude who ran track and had a thing for thicker girls, and well, I was just innocently walking up the aisle to retrieve a paper or something, when I felt it. I jumped up like a staccato key, tell you what. Someone had once again toyed with my ample properties. My backhand reflexes were on in full force.

I look back and there he is, sporting a sly grin on his face and showing me the two fingers he used to perform the deed like a crab ready to claw. I couldn’t even get mad at him and retaliate like any self-respecting woman should, in fact, I was struggling to hold back laughter. It was almost as though he had had no choice in the matter, and that’s often how I feel as though my behind deceives.

A little over a year ago, two of my best friends were visiting me here in New Orleans and we went out to the River Walk by the French Quarter (close to where the ferry to and from Gretna goes), and there was a homeless man asking for food to feed the birds who were eagerly crowding around him. Well, because I was raised on some Mary Poppins but didn’t have tuppence, we stopped because we had some spare granola bars handy (emergency hunger prep).

We handed them to him, and as we were walking away he said, “Hey! Black girl!” So my other friend who is black, but light-skinned, and I both turned around…but naw, he meant the black one…me.

So, I said, politely: “Yes sir?” to which he replied, “Hide thet thang.” I said, “Excuse me?” Then he repeated, “Hide thet thang”…but he wouldn’t look me in the eye, he would say it and coyly turn his head like it wasn’t coming from him. Then it dawned on us what he was talking about, and I was speechless as we started to walk away and he continued to say “HIDE ET….”

They will never let me live that moment down. My friend still thinks that I knew what I was doing when I put on those cutoffs that day, but it was hot, they weren’t short…I could go on.

I have no idea how this post turned from one about thinking I could be a ballerina in my vanity to one about my lower body, but it has shaped part of who I am I suppose. People seem to believe that any commentary and attention is open with regard to it. Which in turn has made me ridiculously sensitive to any potential creepers.

I like my body. I like the creation that I am. I am athletic yet womanly, but I don’t want to be reduced to just an object of desire based on what is seen back there.

Being a Kenyan-American woman who is really into multicultural concerns, I just don’t want to feed into the system of the exoticized black jezebel that was borne out of racism and the slave trade and then perpetuated within the African-American community as well as greater America.

There’s almost this underlying attitude of: “Black women know what they’ve got, aren’t afraid to show it, and are open and available to any man.” Well, not this one.

I want people to look at my eyes, I want you to see the soul there. And yeah, there will always be daft perverts who fuel a righteous fire in me via catcalling or blatantly lewd stares, but all of that aside:

Look at my eyes. See substance. See innocence. See someone who is still a child and will always be. See weird. See crazy, see all of this…because it’s a part of me and there’s more where that came from. But don’t try and tag me in a post that I don’t belong in, because yeah, technically speaking I’ve got back. But I am not cheap, rather, I am enchanting.

I am a ballerina in spirit.


I’m only writing this down because I believe that I should give some sort of introduction before I go into my poetic spiels or crazy whatevers. I am Neema. There are many things associated with that name, and I can assure you that on other sites I go into more than enough detail about what it means to me, but I want simplicity here. I was going to say “take me as I am,” but that would imply that I am looking for some sort of approval, or to please. I do that enough on a daily basis, so this is what I shall say instead:

I invite you into my world.

I don’t much care whether or not you like it.

But I am sure you’d find me lovely if we did meet.