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Fertility Friday: Xenoestrogens in Black Hair Products – Tola Okogwu

This week, we share Fertility Friday’s podcast on black hair care products and their impact on our reproductive health.

Tola Okogwu is a British blogger and author of the ‘Daddy Do My Hair?’ book series for children. She recently launched KECHIS ‘Kechi’s Hair Goes Every Which Way’ in May 2018, Tola wants to tackle the relationship between young black girls and their natural afro hair in a vibrant, entertaining and educational way. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and has written for several publications including Black Beauty and Hair Magazine and Metro UK.

In her own words: “For black people, hair is so much more than just what grows out of our heads. Along with our skin colour, it’s the biggest signifier of the differences between us and other races and for the longest time we’ve been made to feel that there is something wrong and unattractive about it.”

In today’s show, we talk about the issue of chemicals in black hair products, and how black women can move away from products that contain harmful chemicals.

Today’s episode is sponsored by my Fertility Friday’s FAM 101 video series. Click here for access.

Topics discussed in today’s episode:

  • The complexities and politics of straitening your hair as a black woman
  • The toxic and damaging nature of hair relaxer
  • Relaxer and chemical burns
  • Is there a link between hair relaxer and fibroids?
  • The importance of informed choice as it relates to hair-care products
  • Embracing the beauty of natural hair
  • How manufacturers have adapted to the natural hair movement
  • The xenoestrogen and other chemical content of natural hair products
  • The particular way black women use hair-care and other beauty products, and why this exacerbates our toxic exposure
  • How to minimize your exposure?
  • How many products do you need?


Sistas’, Sex, And Our ‘Do – By F. N.

Doin’ it and messin’ up my ‘do

I was reading a memoir today and the author was telling a story about this time at a sleepover when she had to “sleep pretty.” You know, that thing when you have to catch some zzz’s but you lie deathly still on your back and don’t move your head on the pillow cos you just got your ‘do did? Or you’re with a new guy so you couldn’t wrap your hair up in front of him but you don’t want to wake up looking like Buckwheat? We talk about hair and sex so much as black women. But rarely the two together, which is kinda weird. I don’t know about you but my hair has always had a starring role in my romantic relationships.

Back when I had loose natural hair, in the middle of hot and steamy foreplay, suddenly a thought would cross my mind: “Yo, could I get a yeast infection from my boyfriend fingering me, after his hands had been all up in my afro — which contained no less than five store-bought hair products?” “Is Taliah Waajid Lock it Up Gel safe for coochie consumption?” The thought would pop into my head and refuse to leave. I’d be enjoying the fingering but trying to map out where the nearest Walgreens was, just in case a chick needed to get some Monistat. If I wasn’t asking myself sex-related hair questions when I was getting it on, I was wondering how dude felt about some aspect of my hair: Did he like how it felt? Would he mess up my twist-out or tug too hard on my Marley braids? The first time I kissed my college boyfriend I had wood smoke in my braid extensions (from a barbeque gone awry). I remember crossing my fingers that he wouldn’t smell it.

As that relationship blossomed, my hair would become part of the foreplay. After I’d worn those smoky Marley Twists for a couple of months, my ex helped me take them out. Every time he pulled a braid extension off and liberated a lock of my real hair he would slide it between his fingers, slick with oil and dirt. Then he would make this satisfied sound like he’d eaten something yummy. Seated on the carpet between his open thighs, my heart and my coochie would swell at the same time. I would get wet as hell. Even more smitten. A dude who could take out some Kanekalon? I was going to marry this man. The moments of doubt only set in that summer when my well-moisturized coils left coconut oil stains on the very expensive pillows in his parent’s house, and both of us were scrambling figuring out what to do. And the time when I took out my braid extensions on vacation, and his white mother saw me go into the bathroom with twists and come out with a matted afro, and looked like she had been caught in the matrix. And he thought that was both racist and hilarious.

He himself, didn’t really care what state my hair was in. But I did.

As sistas, hair carries weight with us. And we take that weight into the bedroom. Don’t we all know a couple of girls who can’t relax during sex because they are too busy trying to keep the guy’s hands out of their weaves lest it snag in a track? I’ve talked to sistas who won’t have sex unless they are on top, because they don’t want to risk their wig shifting or coming off in some acrobatic position. I have some loc’ed friends who prefer to have sex with their hair wrapped up and out of their eyes, but wear their hair down because the guy begged them to — he’d always had a fantasy about being ridden by a Rasta girl with thick ropy dreads swirling around her face. There are undoubtedly some naturalistas who won’t take a shower with a man because they got those big Tracy Ellis Ross curls from a perm rod set and the water would snitch that they actually have 4c hair. I know girls who wait until the guy falls asleep before they put on their bonnet and wake up before him so they can take it off. And everyone, from women in my family to girlfriends from school, has a story about getting a set of cornrows or braid extensions that snatched their edges so tight they couldn’t even make out because their whole face hurt.

But the truth is we don’t just care about our hair because we’re frivolous or have too much time on our hands. We care because our hair has such a politicized history. How we wear it has always dictated how the world judged us, what kind of jobs we got, what kind of men were attracted to us, what our dating pool would be, how “woke” other black people would say that we were.

That’s a tough road to hoe. But my dream is a world where we love and accept ourselves enough that we don’t define ourselves by our hair. We don’t let it dictate how pretty or desirable we feel. We don’t let it limit our capacity for sexual pleasure in the bedroom or deprive us of opportunities to be adventurous. We find sexual partners who make us feel desired in all ways; sexual partners who could not care less if their hand got caught in a track, if the wig fell off, if our locs are up or down, and who have absolutely no hierarchies for hair type, hair length or hair health. People who don’t let what we have on our heads be the basis for whether they are attracted to us or want to be seen with us.

So, this is your homework for the future: Next time you’re in the hair-shop and you can feel shit about to hit the fan, woman up and tell the chick in the doing your ‘do that her braids are robbing you of your edges. No matter how much she tries to convince you that they will soften up, insist that she loosen them or take them out and do them over. Don’t leave that hair-shop needing an Advil. And find lovers who won’t even fuss about not getting any that night, because they understand how much your unrequested facelift hurts and sympathize with the fact that your brain is on fire.

Thanksgiving Quotes By Black Women Poets

Celebrating Thanksginvg

Happy Thanksgiving.

Whether or not you’re eating turkey today, be inspired and uplifted by these quotes from Black women poets who believe in us.

Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.
Maya Angelou

‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.
Alice Walker

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

Audre Lorde

Perhaps, the problem is not the intensity of your love, but the quality of the people you are loving.
Warsan Shire

When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.
Maya Angelou

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
Oprah Winfrey

And if sun comes / How shall we greet him? / Shall we not dread him, / Shall we not fear him / After so lengthy a / Session with shade?
Gwendolyn Brooks

You can’t write a script in your mind and then force yourself to follow it. You have to let yourself be.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Elizabeth Alexander

Come celebrate with me that every day something has tried to kill me and has failed.
Lucille Clifton

There are people who dislike you because you do not dislike yourself.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.
Alice Walker

Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at the sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.
Zora Neale Hurston

To be a colored man in America … and enjoy it, you must be greatly daring, greatly stolid, greatly humorous and greatly sensitive. And at all times a philosopher.
Jessie Redmon Fauset

I am too many flavors for one f***ing spoon.
I want to erase the lines so I can be me.
If we do not speak, who will?
Staceyann Chin

Light attracts light. But sometimes your light attracts moths and your warmth attracts parasites. Protect your space and energy
Warsan Shire

Be present in all things and thankful for all things.
Maya Angelou

Happy Thanksgiving!


Melania Vs. Mira: The Battle Of The Baltic Vixens Behind The White House Curtain

No, Mira Ricardel, the Deputy National Security Advisor, Melania just threw out the door is not Latinx or of Italian descent.

The woman’s family is from Croatia.  And, of course, Ms. Melania is from Slovenia. Melania grew up in the former Yugoslavia, where Croats, Slovenians, and Serbs duked it out with other ethnic groups which eventually led to the unravelling of the country less than 100 years after it was created. Generally speaking, Slovenians think very highly of themselves.

Ladies, let’s be honest. We know there’s a backstory behind why Melania, who has almost zero opinions on what’s happening in the White House, insisted on Mira’s ouster. SuzyKnew! has a few speculations about what happened. Such musings have appeared only sparsely on the net. The iron curtain may have been pulled back and the Yugoslav Wars may be over, but battles linked to ethnicity and jealousy continue to rage behind the White House curtain.

People say things between the two Eastern European women went sour during Melania’s trip to Africa.  White House officials say there were problems with seating arrangements on the flight and Mira has “a strong personality.”  Ladies, we know what that means. It’s code for Mira tried to put Melania in her place and Melania wasn’t having it.  We imagine a conversation something like this went down:

“Excuse me, Mrs. Trump, I will be sitting here next to the President on the flight to brief him on security matters. And, by the way, that pith hat you’re wearing is inappropriate. People may be insulted and this could jeopardize our fragile security position in Africa.” 

“What?! Inappropriate?! What does a Croatian peasant like you know? How could you, a Babushka, recognize what is appropriate? And, I, as the First Lady, will sit next to my husband, The President. A very powerful man. We have to discuss our strategy on how to make  Africans understand who’s boss in U.S.-African relationships. My dress and hat signal our strategy. Of course, someone like me – still young with a lovely shape – can be successful in dressing the part. When I reach your age, but of course, I’ll keep my shape…”

“With all due respect, Mrs. Trump, I have been brought here to advise on critical national security issues. I have studied and obtained degrees from top U.S. universities – Georgetown and Tufts – famous for their international security programs. My intellect  – not my looks – is why I am on this trip and need to sit next to the President.”  

“Stop! Mira – we both know people reward us for our blond Eastern European looks!  Your looks helped you just mine have helped me. So, don’t come here and try to pretend you’re better than me because you got some university degree while I opted to be a model – a very successful one, of course!  Plus, I know you probably had to use your looks on a professor or two… YOU’RE FIRED!”

We can agree: Ms. Ricardel is a nice-looking lady And, Melania has had more than her fair share of public drama around women trying to take her man.

So, if Melania didn’t fire Mira as the result of a Baltic War flare up, she may have felt threated by Mira as a woman. Whoopi on ABC’s “The View” and a few of her co-hosts accused Melania of being jealous of Mira. Definitely a possibility. There’s a lot of drama behind the White House curtain.

Regardless. Melania may rebuff the traditional role of FLOTUS. But, SuzyKnew! believes still clings to the iconic role of standing by her man – and country, Slovenia.

Photo credits: Daily News and Fox News


Fertility Friday: 7 Things No One Tells You About Menstrual Cups

This week SuzyKnew! shares one of Fertility Friday’s popular blog post and podcasts on menstrual cups by Lisa Henderson-Jack.

Have you ever used a menstrual cup? Let me tell you, they are amazing! So freeing. There were so many things that I loved about menstrual cups right off the bat. I fell in love with the idea of using a product that was made for women by women, I loved using a something that collected my period, instead of absorbing it, and I also felt that I was being rebellious somehow by not participating in the “sanitary napkins” shopping experience at my local drug store anymore. I would walk past the “feminine hygiene” aisle in the store and quietly laugh to myself thinking — HA! I don’t need you anymore, or something to that effect.

One of the huge benefits that I immediately saw after I started using menstrual cups was the cost savings. Instead of spending money every single month on menstrual products I spent my money one time and had a product that was not only more comfortable to use and more effective at collecting my period blood, but since it was a reusable product I was immediately able to make a positive environmental impact by reducing the waste that I was putting out into the world.

Even though I could write a 5,000 word ode to menstrual cups because, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE menstrual cups, and I’ve been using them for going on 15 years now, there are a few things that you need to know if you’re thinking about using them and haven’t tried them yet. If you’ve been using menstrual cups for some time now you’ll be able to relate to many of the experiences that I’ve had and I’d love to hear yours!

So here goes….the 7 things no one tells you about using menstrual cups:

1. At first glance they look kind of…BIG – Um yeah. When you get your brand new menstrual cup and take it out of the package for the first time it looks pretty big. This is definitely a subjective measure, and perhaps your experience was different, but I need to call a spade a spade here. Menstrual cups are at least 2-3 times wider than tampons. Even the super duper “torpedo tampons” (as I used to lovingly call them as a teenager). I’m pretty sure you could stuff at least 3 tampons inside an average sized menstrual cup. My first thought was — where the heck is that supposed to go?

2. There is a steep learning curve – If you thought you were going to buy a menstrual cup and your first experience using it was going to be super easy and wonderful prepare to be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll eventually have that amazing experience with the birds singing and the amazement from using such an effective and comfortable product, but it doesn’t start out that way.

You’ll likely have at least one day where you feel the cup poking out of you all day if it slips down too far, especially if you’re still figuring out just how far up it really has to go. Once you’ve gotten the hang of how to insert it properly, you’ll get to that wonderful stage where you don’t feel it at all.

Using a menstrual cup is nothing like using a tampon. Most tampons come with applicators, and those applicators allow you to get away with not ever really having to touch yourself. You can use tampons and never have to put your fingers inside your vagina. You can disconnect from the whole experience altogether, but with a menstrual cup there’s no way around it. You’re hands are going in. Possibly further in than they’ve ever been. You’re charting new territory here, and any ideas you had about how long, wide or big your vagina actually is will likely be proven wrong within the first few hours of using your cup!

3. They leak…sometimes – I don’t believe for a second that I’m a unicorn. I can’t be the only one. With that being said, my periods have always been heavy, and that definitely plays a role in the leakage. I fill an entire cup on at least 2 separate occasions during my period, and FYI, when your flow reaches the top of the cup it starts leaking. With that said, I’ve also experienced some degree of leaking even when the cup isn’t 100% full. I’ve experimented with different cups, but even so I’ve found there always to be some degree of leaking involved in the process. Although this is a drawback, I found the leakage situation to be much worse with tampons, and I only experience leakage on my heavy days. As for a solution? I use my cup along with my handy dandy Lunapads washable panty liners, and voila! Problem solved.

4. The first time you use it it will probably feel horrible – I hinted at this above, but I’m giving it it’s own bullet point here. The first time I ever used a menstrual cup I couldn’t figure out how to get it in far enough, and it kind of stuck out all day long. It was rubbing against my vaginal opening all day, and let’s just say it wasn’t a particularly comfortable or enjoyable experience. BUT — and this is really important– it was totally worth it!

Don’t get discouraged if your very first period with the cup isn’t super smooth and easy. Trust me when I say that it’s part of the process. Push through. Expect the first period or two to be a bit dicey. Figure out how to insert the thing correctly. Remember that you can’t feel it at all when it’s in the right place. And to take one step further, if you really do find it uncomfortable there are a plethora of different brands that come in different shapes and sizes. Don’t give up! You’ll find the cup that’s right for you. It’s out there. And you never know, maybe you’ll surprise yourself and get it “right” on your first try.

5. Menstrual cups are way more comfortable to use….once you get the hang of it – If you are or were a tampon or pad user, I believe you’ll love menstrual cups. If you’ve used tampons before then correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve probably experienced the lovely feeling of inserting (or removing) a dry scratchy tampon on one of your light days? When the tampon isn’t soaked, and it just feels wrong when you pull it out? Or worse, you try to pull it out and it doesn’t move…because it’s so dry. Since menstrual cups are designed to collect rather than absorb, this is an issue you’ll never have to face again. Simply rinse your cup and insert – and you’ll never experience that uncomfortable dry scratchy feeling you get with tampons. When it comes to pads, I’ve never been a huge fan of that slippery slimy feeling I get when I use them. You might say that perhaps I’m not using the “right ones”, but either way it’s just not my favorite experience. Again, menstrual cups for the win!

6. Your period is really red, bloody and not completely liquid – If you’re wondering “geez Lisa…tell me what you really think”…fair enough, I’m not exactly known for dancing around the point. When you use a menstrual cup you actually see your period. This may be the first time you’ve ever had the opportunity to see how much you really bleed, what your blood really looks like, and really get the point that your period is what happens when your endometrial lining is shed.

Your period is made up of blood, tissue, and endometrial secretions. It really gets at the point that your period is absolutely not that “blue colored liquid” we see in those creepy menstrual product commercials. You may also come to appreciate how ineffective tampons really are at collecting your menstrual fluid. Once you see what’s really coming out of you, you’ll discover what all the “fuss” is about when it comes to menstrual cups. They are designed to collect your period, and that makes way more sense when you see what’s actually coming out of you!

7. You’ll feel a strange sense of satisfaction every time you walk past the “feminine hygiene aisle” – It’s probably silly to some degree, but using menstrual cups makes me feel kind of like a rebel of sorts. Like I’m rejecting the system and challenging the status quo. Menstrual products are expensive, uncomfortable and bad for the environment.

You can just google “menstrual products landfill” or “how many pads will I use in my lifetime?” to find out how much subscribing to this consumerist model of period management negatively impact’s the world. Just take a moment to think about how much waste menstrual products generate on a global scale. And to make matters worse, these are products that don’t necessarily biodegrade. That means they just sit there for thousands of years and clutter up our beautiful world…but I digress. Environmental rant over.

In addition to the environmental impact, what about the impact on your wallet? How does it feel to know that someone (probably male) is profiting from your natural bodily functions? I’ve often wondered why menstrual products aren’t free and available in every public washroom like toilet paper? Menstrual cups are reusable and sustainable. You pay for this amazing product once, and you are able to rely on it for years. Like 10 or more if you choose. The cost savings over even a 5 year period are formidable, and the experience as a user is much more positive.

All this is to say that I feel a lovely sense of satisfaction whenever I walk past the “feminine hygiene” aisle. Like I’m giving the metaphorical finger to the for profit menstrual product industry. Frankly the phrase feminine hygiene pisses me off a little. It’s a normal bodily function. Why don’t they just label the aisle “pads/tampons/panty liners”? Why is there all this unnecessary secrecy and shame around menstruation? Having periods doesn’t make me “unhygienic” thank you very much, but I’ll leave that discussion for a future post.

If you loved this blog post, I recently released an entire podcast episode on menstrual cups! Click here to tune in.
Now I want to hear from you! Have you used menstrual cups before? Did you like them? What was your experience like? Were you able to find one that works for you? Are you “converted”? Or do you prefer regular tampons and pads? Please share your experiences in the comments clicking here to get to the site!

Is A Threesome For Me? ASK JANICE

Dear Janice: I really hope you can help me with my problem. My boyfriend of 2 years wants me to have a threesome with a mutual female friend of ours. She’s game, he’s game, but I’m not. At all.

I’m not a prude by any means. I personally don’t have a problem with people having threesomes if that’s what they want to do. In fact, under different circumstances, I might even be down for a threesome. But I don’t want to do this.

My boyfriend keeps bringing it up, trying to change my mind. Even the mutual friend has brought it up to me. I feel like they’re putting all this pressure on me to do something I don’t want to do.

I love my boyfriend and don’t want to lose him over this. Should I just go ahead and participate in a threesome to keep my man happy? What should I do?

Please help.
Happy with Just the Two of Us

Three friends relaxing at the beach.

Dear Happy,

First of all, you should NEVER do anything sexually that you don’t want to do. Period. Full stop.

That said, I understand your quandary. On the one hand, you want to keep your man and make him happy. On the other hand, you’re not feeling a threesome. So, what should you do?

You did say that under different circumstances, you might be down for a threesome, but you didn’t elaborate. So my questions to you are:
1. Under what circumstances would you be down? Maybe you could counter-offer with a scenario you would like. That way, your boyfriend gets his threesome, but it’s in a way that you like, too.
2. Would you be down with a different woman? Maybe it would be easier for you if the third person was a stranger? The partner he suggests is a mutual friend. I could see how that might be a little awkward, especially if you all run in the same circles. A stranger or at least someone not as well-known to you both might be easier to handle in the long run.
3. Would it be better for you if the third person were a man? I know a lot of straight men aren’t cool with the idea of sharing their woman with another man right in front of them. And a lot of straight men also worry about “crossing swords” with each other. But if this scenario is more appealing to you, maybe your guy would be cool with it.
4. Would you be more into it if you and your boyfriend weren’t so serious? You did say that you’ve been with him for 2 years, implying a certain level of commitment. Maybe if you two weren’t as serious, you might be more inclined to share him with another woman. If this is the case, you need to express that to your guy.

Since you said you’re not opposed to threesomes in general, there must be a reason why you don’t want to do it with these two people. It could be for the reasons I listed above, or it could be something else.

Whatever the reason for your not wanting to engage in a ménage-a-trois with your boyfriend and this mutual friend, I stand by my original statement: you should NEVER do anything sexually that you don’t want to do.

Also, you might want to ask a few questions, yourself. Like, why is he so insistent on having a threesome with this particular woman? And why is she so insistent? Is there some reason they’re both pressuring you?

I think you need to dig a little deeper, Sister. I see red flags all over this one. But still, you should stand your ground. If you lose your guy over this, then he wasn’t the one for you.
Good luck.

About Last Night – By Sophia Ned-James

Passion in bed

His phone rang just as he was kissing his way down my body. Perfect timing, I thought. What a fitting end to a pretty shitty day.

“You gonna answer that?” I asked with an attitude, bracing for an end to the blinding pleasure his tongue gave me.

“Nope,” he said, glancing up at me. I was a little surprised by the intensity of his gaze. “I’m a little busy right now.”

“But aren’t you expecting a call from your boss?” I asked, gently grabbing his head before he could lower it again.

“I said,” he paused and grasped both my wrists with one of his strong hands. He removed my hands from the side of his head and continued

“I’m a little busy right now. So please, Sophia. Lie back and relax, Baby. Let me do this.”

I quickly complied and before I could protest further, he’d worked his way down to the place between my legs that he’d already claimed so long ago. As usual, he took his time and started off slowly, giving my tender clitoris a chance to harden and grow in his mouth. He licked and sucked, gradually pulling me into his rhythm, his pace.

I moaned when the tip of his taut tongue hit that one spot, his spot, on the side of my clit. Royce* has gotten so good at reading my body, he knew exactly when and how to tease that spot to make me wetter. As usual, it worked, and soon I was moaning and writhing to my own rhythm.

One of his hands held onto one of my hips, limiting my movements in a way that was both frustrating and erotic. His other hand crept up my body and grabbed my breast, tweaking my hardened nipple once, twice, and a maddening third time. I arched my back to give him better access, and he responded with just a little more pressure from his tongue.

He continued to tease my nipple with one hand while his tongue and lips worked their magic. He slid his other hand under my ass and gave it a good squeeze. Somehow, he managed to both squeeze my ass and use his thumb to tease my pussy which, combined with the way his tongue lashed at my clit, drove me right to the brink.

I tried to grab his head, to hold it in place so that I could get to where I so desperately needed to go. But he thwarted my efforts, moving his head just out of my reach. This meant his mouth abandoned my pussy and I groaned in displeasure.

“Shhh,” he whispered, kissing my inner thigh. “I’m gonna let you cum, Baby. Just not yet.” He paused for my response. When I had none, he continued. “Are you gonna let me take my time, Sophia?”

Gritting my teeth in frustration, I nodded. “Good,” he said, kissing my thigh again, only a little higher this time. “Now where was I?”

He slid both hands under my ass and raised my hips off the bed. Leaning closer, he licked and then kissed my thigh again. Only this time, he was closer to his target.

“Was I here?” he asked, his deep voice teasing. He kissed me again, even closer. “Or here?” He kept repeating this all while licking and kissing the entire area around my pussy, but never actually touching it.

It was too much to bear. I needed his lips and tongue back on my clit where they belonged. But he was hell bent on making me wait for it.

Unable to help myself, I reached my hand down, hoping to give myself some relief. Royce gently, but firmly moved my hand away. “I thought you said you’d let me take my time,” he chastised, his deep voice rumbling. I could feel his breath on my pussy. It tickled.

Again, I didn’t answer him. All I could do was moan in protest. I both hated and loved when he tortured me like this.

My silence didn’t go over well. Before I knew it, Royce flipped me over onto my stomach and smacked my ass just hard enough to sting, but not hard enough to hurt. I almost came right then.

“Your man asked you a question, Sophia.” Now he was lying beside me, his warm breath on my ear as he slapped my ass again. “Are you going to let me take my time or not?” Hmm?” Another smack, this one a little harder.

“Yes,” I moaned. My voice cracked a little, and I hadn’t realized that I’d been holding my breath.

“That’s better,” he crooned. He stroked my bottom softly and said, “Now lift that ass in the air for me so I can lick my pussy from behind.”

While Royce took my sensitive love button into his mouth, he somehow managed to stick his finger in my pussy, while he simultaneously played with my butthole. It felt so good I couldn’t stop myself from moaning loudly.

“Yes!” I begged. “Right there! Please … don’t stop!” Royce didn’t stop. He sucked harder and stroked faster. Feeling the pressure build, I thrust my pussy harder onto his face. My hips seemed to have minds of their own because I was no longer in control of my movements.

I thrusted, and he sucked. I rocked back and forth, and he stroked. I may or may not have begged him to go harder and faster, but he did so anyway, sending me careening towards that sweet abyss.

My orgasm tore through my body like a typhoon. I think I screamed his name, but I can’t be sure. That’s because all my senses seemed to fail me, except for the sense of touch. All I could do was feel, and it seemed like every single nerve in my body was on fire.

It was one of those long-lasting, intense orgasms, too. The kind where you squirt a little, and end up panting afterwards.

It was exactly what I needed.

I don’t know how long it took me to catch my breath and come to my senses. But when I did, Royce was lying on his side next to me, propped up on one elbow, watching me. His expression would have seemed smug under any other circumstances. But he had every reason to be proud of himself.

My clit was still twitching with the aftershocks when I managed to say, “Damn! That was incredible, Baby.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. No let’s get some sleep. We have a long day tomorrow.”

“But don’t you want me to …?” I started, reaching my hand towards his massive, hard dick.

Royce shook his head. Then he leaned over and kissed me softly on my lips. “Tonight was all about you,” he whispered. Immediately, my eyelids got heavy. He continued, “I can wait until morning. You had a rough day and needed that. So let’s get some rest and we’ll continue this tomorrow.”

I slept like a log that night.

*Royce isn’t my man’s real name. I keep that info to myself to protect his privacy.

Falling Off A Cliff – By F. N.

Thoughtful woman sitting on bed at home in the bedroom

It would be impossible to convey how many weeks it has taken me to write this article… the wash of anxiety every time I contemplate it; the bubbling in my tummy as I strategize how I will start, where I will start and what I will say.

Let’s start here: That sentence you just read? I’ve rewritten it three times. I took out the words “terror” and “shame” because I don’t want to sound dramatic. I decided against “trembling,” “nauseous” and “dreading” because I don’t want to seem like a weakling. The truth is my tummy isn’t bubbling. It is in knots. Because it’s easy to write about sex, relationships and reproductive health. I don’t have any baggage about what’s between my legs. Just the 500-ton tire iron I carry in my head. And the words I’m always so ashamed to say out loud.

*Deep breath* I suffer from clinical depression. The bad kind. The “can’t get out of your bed for days except to pee and nibble at stale crackers so your stomach doesn’t eat itself” kind. The “don’t answer calls, texts, smoke signals, knocks on the door, messages from Jesus, Beyonce or Maya Angelou” kind. The “don’t brush your teeth or shower till you have to go to therapy” kind (therapy is once a week, so you do the math). The “spend months weighing the most considerate way to commit suicide so you don’t leave the person who finds your body with a lifetime of nightmares” kind.

The kind black people don’t really talk about. Even now, when we say we’ve broken the silence around mental illness.

I’ve realized that we discuss self-care:

     Go to the spa so that the daily wear and tear of being a black woman doesn’t make you lose your mind.
     Go to church and hear the Word when you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.
     Get your girls together, light candles, drink wine and lift each other up.
     Do yoga, eat well, get enough sleep, process historical trauma, yada yada yada.

But, somehow, we rarely have an honest dialogue about Clinical Depression, Major Depressive Disorder and the illnesses that make it into the DSM-V. We don’t create the spaces where people can share their truth and we can all acknowledge that sometimes life breaks your brain. And no matter how many Thursdays you spend telling a well-meaning woman with an LCSW about your complicated yet joyful childhood, or how many mornings you shovel a handful of pills into your mouth, your emotions don’t do what you tell them to, your thoughts are thick with darkness and every step you take is like trying to swim in molasses.

Yet, according to the CDC, there are about a million black women with major depression in America. For those who deal with abuse, trauma and PTSD there’s a higher incidence. For those who deal with chronic pain and health issues there’s a higher incidence. And the truth is it is impossible to talk about reproductive health as if it’s separate from mental health; as if the ability to know your body, accept and embrace it, explore your sexuality, make your own reproductive decisions and advocate for your rights doesn’t hinge on being able to function without a cloud of despair surrounding you.

But we try to.

We act as if serious mental illness is a spilt drink which will evaporate if we just ignore it. We overlook major depression because the world tries to kill black women and then tells us how inspirational we are for being strong enough to withstand the assassination attempts. And we buy into it. We don’t have time to be broken; black girl magic doesn’t color-coordinate with being pitiful. A fabulous twist-out can’t carry sadness in it, melanin and melancholy don’t live on the same block. Shit needs to get done.

So we do it.

We don’t receive the tools to recognize a brain when it’s breaking. We just tell ourselves we’re in our feelings, even as shit gets heavier and heavier. Nobody tells us that sadness is tripping off a curb; depression is falling off a cliff. Until there are too many of us at the bottom of the ravine.

So I’m typing this article, between sobs. Dreading the moment when you read it and whoever you pictured me as wilts, into some weaker, pitiable person.

But I have no choice but to write these words. I owe it to all the women who walk among us in silence, backs bent under the heft of stuff they are too scared to reveal…

The sistas whose libidos are so low from the blanket of grief they are wrapped in that their relationships are suffering and their chests are tight with fear…

The ones whose sex drives are suppressed by the antidepressants they are hoping will shake the blanket off — and who now have to reconcile the functionality the drugs are supposed to provide, with the anxiety over what havoc the chemicals might cause…

I write for the sistas who can barely make it to work or pack a lunch bag but who’ve told themselves that what they don’t do for their man another woman will — and who open their legs, burrow somewhere inside themselves and go through the motions because they can’t afford to lose one more thing…

And for the sistas who have every bit of sex they can, and drink desire like a drug, because being touched is the only thing that fights the voice telling them there is nothing to live for…

This is for the sistas who can’t find any way to love their bellies, thighs, stretch marks and saggy boobs right now because they themselves are flattened by pain…

For the sistas who haven’t been on top of their reproductive health because every ounce of their energy is used up by breathing in and out…

Hold on, sis. I see you. I feel you. I am you. The dark is deepest before the dawn.

F.N. is an internationally recognized author of fiction and non-fiction. She alternates between Accra and Washington, DC. 

What’s Love Got To Do With It? Lessons From The FLOTUS

A few days ago, the first lady of the United States (FLOTUS) gave her first sit-down TV interview. When she was asked about whether the stories of the Donald’s infidelity bothered her, Melania stated, “I’m a mother and a first lady, and I have much more important things to think about and to do.”  What was conspicuously missing in her list of roles is “wife.”

When the ABC News’ correspondent pressed further and asked the FLOTUS if she loved her husband, Melania replied “We’re fine.” The FLOTUS did not say, “Yes. I love my husband.” The FLOTUS did not say, “Yes. I love the Donald.”

You know that’s right.

Many said the FLOTUS showed confidence during the interview. But, Suzy says the FLOTUS looked hurt and resigned… but determined.

Besides. What’s love got to do with it?

Lest the never-ending, rapid-fire White House scandals make us forget that it was only a few weeks ago after the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed by a White House insider claiming that Trump was amoral and inept, when an outraged Donald’s first response was he could only trust his children. Not his family. Or, wife and children. But, he could only trust his children.


Yes, Ladies. It happens.  The men we marry or chose to be with can turn out to be real vipers. Part-time or full-time. We may know from the get go they’re no good but we chose to be with them any way.  We’re not perfect. We may have some bad motives or conflicted thinking ourselves. (Look at Melania in her African interview wearing an insulting colonial pith hat talking about #BeBest to Africans. Really?)

Our relationships may be more about money, status, sex, children, security, family or a whole bunch of other things and for a bunch of reasons –  other than love. And, it can be hard to face this harsh reality, especially when we’re humiliated.  Melania provides us a few lessons:  When we are humiliated because of our men or partners we need to hold our head high. We need to carry on and focus on other parts or our lives.

Beyond these lessons, we do have to figure out where love fits in our lives and relationships even if the FLOTUS may not be there yet. Accepting a fake relationship or poor treatment from a spouse is accepting a life with unrealized potential.  What role are we playing in a relationship gone wrong? What issues do we need to address before we can have a relationship based on love? After all, life has everything to do with love.

Photo courtesy of People Magazine