Blaque/OUT Magazine. May 2021 Issue# 008

Page 1

“I AM BORN” (the series)

boyfriend went to jail.

! 5 Therapist: Okay, take your time, and lets start there.

*Short story written and based on the life of Javannah Davis.

Latavia falls back into her chair as if a gentle nudge pushed her back. She slowly drops her head, and speaks.

Latavia is sitting in a metal, beige folding chair in a circle

Latavia: It started on my birthday one year. My “boyfriend” at the time convinced me to have a tattoo party.

of strangers. Each one sharing a story of their life's experiences. One after another Latavia listens empathetically as each person shares moments of their lives when led them to this group therapy session. It was then

The story brings us to Latavia’s living room. A party celebrating her birthday is going on. Latavia is on the phone.

Latavia’s turn to share. Therapist: Latavia, you okay? I see how this is affecting

Latavia: Quan where are you? I have people here asking where the tattoo artist is!

you. Are you okay with telling us a little about your story, and what brings you here?

Quan: Yo, calm the fuck down. I told you I’m coming. I had to take care of some business.

Latavia gently wipes away the tears from her eyes with the rough tissues she took from the generic Kleenex box sitting on a table in the middle of the room.

Latavia: Okay, but you said that 4 hours ago. I had to get my mom to take me and get all the stuff for this party YOU wanted, and you not even here!

Latavia: Yeah, I think I’m ready. I just don’t know where to begin. Its so much. Therapist: Well Just take your time. This is a safe space.

Quan: Listen, I told you I’ll be there! I was thinking about your stupid ass to make you some birthday money! Don’t call me again; I’ll see you when I pull up!

You can begin at the point you came to realize there needed

(Call ends)

to be a change made in your life. A time healing began for you. Latavia stares out into nothing as if in a trance. Her mind is

Latavia is clearly frustrated and excuses herself and goes to her room. She falls across her bed; tears running down her face. Her cousin Zahara enters the room shortly after.

flooded with the traumas that have led her to this moment. Latavia: The very first time I knew things needed to change in my life was a month before my first ever

Zahara: You alright girl? Latavia: No, but I’ll be fine.

Zahara: Well, I just told everybody to leave; cause its clear you are not up to partying. You sure you don't want some of your cake? Latavia: You mean the birthday cake I bought myself? No! And thanks for getting rid of everyone. Zahara: He’s gonna pay you back right? Latavia: I don’t know what the fuck he’s gonna do. I just want him to bring me my car back. Zahara: I really don’t know why you put up with his bullshit. He talks to you reckless, doesn't appreciate you as he should, drives around in your car like its his, and having other bitc..¦.. Sahara abruptly stops herself and cuts her eyes away from Latavia. Latavia turns toward Zahara with the look of death!

return. Thanks to you! Quan: There you go with that dumb shit! I told you something came up. Its only 12:30am. They could have waited! Latavia: What do you mean they could have waited? Firstly, the shit was supposed to start at 4:30pm until 12am, because I TOLD YOU I had to work early in the morning! And what was so important that kept you gone all day? I haven’t really seen You OR my car since yesterday after you picked me up from work! Quan: Don’t fucking worry about all that. I said I was taking care of something! I told you about your mouth! Latavia: Did you just say “don’t worry about it?!” and you driving around in the car I pay for? Are you crazy?! Quan: Whatever! I’m out. I’m not dealing with this from you.

Latavia: What were you about to say about other bitches?? What you heard Zay? Zahara: Listen Cuz, I didn’t want to tell you, but my boyfriend said he saw Quan in your car with a chick a few times. I didn’t want to tell you cause you deal with enough. Latavia: YO, How long have you been holding on to this? You don’t think that’s something I need to know?! You know what, it don't even matter! I just need to be alone. Zahara leaves. Latavia lays back down. Latavia (Narrates): I wasn’t surprised at what my cousin said. I had already confronted Quan a few weeks ago about a broken condom wrapper I had found under the front seat of my car. A few hours later Latavia hears Quan coming loudly through the door. He comes into the room smelling of alcohol, cigarettes, and weed. Quan: Where everybody at? Latavia: No one is staying at a tattoo party nobody is doing tattoos at. So I basically wasted money on a party for nothing in

Latavia: That’s okay, you ass can deal with whatever you want to, it just won’t be in my fucking car anymore! Give me my keys! GIVE ME MY KEYS! Quan: You want the keys, here, take ˜em! (Quan shoots the keys; narrowly missing my head. They land against the wall creating a small crack.) Latavia: You know what, just get the fuck out! Go use that bitch car who everybody in the town seems to see you with in mine Asshole!! Quan lunges at Latavia and begins to beat her. Latavia (Narrates): I couldn’t think of anything besides the pain; so much pain. It wasn’t the pain from the swift blow of his fist that broke blood vessels in my eye, or the painful ringing in my ears, or the pain in my jaw from the kick he landed with one of the size ten and a half Air Jordan 6 Retro sneakers I had just bought him for his birthday the month before. I thought it was painful just paying the $220 for them. Never did I dream that they would help to cause me physical pain. Still, all that was nothing compared to the gut-wrenching pain I was feeling from his betrayal, the hurt of his lies, and now the overall physical and mental devastation from the way he’s beating me as if he

never even knew me. All I could scream was, “Please, its me! Why are you doing this? All I wanted was for you to be honest.” The more I pleaded, the harder his blows became. I heard my grandmother's voice, ‘be still’ I fell silent, my body went limp, and when I regained consciousness I was being placed in an ambulance unable to move. I heard many voices, but it was his that stuck out the most as he shouted, “Fuck that bitch nigga!”

Latavia: Only when I breathe. Mama: (she smiles) Even half dead you still a smart ass. I know you're pressing charges though right? Latavia: Mama, The police took him away. Mama: That’s not what I asked you! Latavia: Mama please. I’m tired.

Fade outA week or so pass and Latavia is slowly getting out of a taxi with help from her mom. Latavia has a cast on her arm; and multiple bruises and swelling on her face. They slowly walk up to the house. Latavia (voiceover): I was in the hospital for almost two weeks. I had an orbital fracture, scratched cornea, swollen jaw, a minor concussion, busted nose, a busted lip, four cracked ribs, and countless scratches and bruises. It was a nightmare; one of the darkest moments of my life. The whole time I laid there, I felt as if I did something wrong. What did I do to get me to this point? How could he do this to me? How could I have done this to me?” The signs were there, but in thirty-six years of my life I had never had anyone make me feel as if there was a chance for me to finally have someone to call my own, and vice versa. On the strength of hoping that someone could actually love me, and not just see me as a quick nut every now and again, was enough to keep me hanging on; even if there wasn’t much to hang on to. This is not what I had envisioned though, or hoped my first “relationship” would have been. I remember my mother helping into the house and into my bedroom. I could barely open my eyes. I was in so much pain. But as she helped me into the bed I saw tears starting to stream down her face. I saw her and immediately I began to cry. She cried seeing me in that situation, and me crying from the shame of being in that situation. I tried to speak, but could only whisper my words. Latavia: Don’t cry mama. Mama: How can I not, seeing you like this. That nigga could have killed you! You know if I tell your brother… Latavia: Mama please don’t. I don’t want anyone else to get involved, or know. Please. Mama: Okay, okay baby, I won’t say anything. Don’t upset yourself. Are you in pain baby?

Mama: Okay baby. I’ll be in after a while with your pain meds. Mama closes the door. Latavia slowly turns her head and stares out the window. Latavia watches a Red Robin sitting in the branch of a tree, and for a moment, wishes she was that bird to just fly away. A month or so later, Latavia is healed for the most part, and is carrying a box filled with Quan's things. She drops the box off on the steps of his sister's house and rushes back and gets in her car. Latavia drives away just as Quan bursts through his front door and runs out into the street screaming her name. Quan slowly fades away from view in her mirror. Never looking back, tears run down Latavia’s cheeks as she drives on. Latavia finds her way to the beach, where she walks alone on the sands and fades into the distance as if walking into the bright light of the sun. Latavia (Narrates): I’ve always felt that from the moment we draw our first breath, and have our first violent encounter by way of the doctor smacking us on the ass, I believe that such is a time that most of us begin a rough and lonely journey to finding whatever happiness is for us. Its almost as if the doctor is warning us of what the world is like, and that we should ready ourselves for a barrage of spankings to occur almost systematically throughout our lives. But I guess, as with any forms of discipline, there are lessons to be learned that should guide us forward to whatever our happiness is. Its very frustrating, and disheartening to realize that I am 40 years old, and I’m still searching for my happiness. Most would argue that “Happiness comes from within”. But its not always that simple, and those that argue that it is, I’m so glad that you’ve found the utopia of your soul; but you have your journey, and I have mine. Respect it when I tell you that I have not yet.

I suppose I could take this moment of downtime to go over where I went wrong. Perhaps even figure out any pieces I may have missed that might help me complete the convoluted puzzle which is my life. Clearly the best place to start is always the beginning.

number of trustworthy friends, and did pretty well in any social

I AM BORN. From the time we take our first breath into this world, we inhale the first of our troubles. Born in sin, come on in. My grandfather always said, “Your troubles don’t last always, but if it does then you need to take a long hard look in the mirror!” He didn’t mention the fight one might have to go through with that reflection just to combat that existing trouble. Each breath with or around Quan was like inhaling razor blades that lacerated my soul. I remember a time my approach to almost everything was fearless, and with great optimism. That is until I allowed those I thought I could trust to lead me to a place of fear, rejection, and insecurity. Outwardly, I have always been surrounded by people who have loved and cared about me. It wasn’t until high school that I became popular enough to acquire real friendships, which in itself is odd considering a person like me, their high school days were hell on earth. I had a decent


situation I was thrust into. However, despite the love, and care I received from so many there was very little understanding of who I really was as a person, or as an individual. In a lot of ways I was, and to a degree still am, invisible, and my presence seems to fade with the passing of time. Not because I am not seen for who I am, but with the constant struggle I had/have to just feel noticed. … be continued.

If you or a loved one are in a situation of domestic violence there is help out there for you. Please contact the WILLOW Domestic Violence Center at: (585) 222 - SAFE, or visit them at: You can also reach out to the National D o m e s t i c Vi o l e n c e H o t l i n e a t : ( 8 0 0 ) 7 9 9 - 7 2 3 3 ( ). Any questions regarding this story, or want to read more on this series, please email me at:

Until next time, this is your girl Javannah saying, “Be good to you!”



Ask “UnLearn With Me”

were given all the tools we will ever need. The sooner we adjust to this new mentality of selfreliance, the more prosperous we’ll be!

I am so excited to discuss the topic of unlearning with you today. I continue to experience new things I’m forced to unlearn everyday so its truly an ongoing process and the list could go on forever but we’ll abbreviate it and include just enough to help us on our journey. 1.) Unlearning External Validation Sometimes I wish I could conduct an

2.) Unlearning Toxic Defense Mechanisms I don’t know about you, but my absolute most toxic trait is sabotaging my interpersonal relationships and ending them a bit too premature (according to others). The only reason I don’t completely subscribe to that notion is because it truly is a solid defense mechanism. When others start moving funny, I usually decide I don’t need to

experiment on whether living in smaller towns

see the full movie if the trailer tells me everything I

creates a more hostile environment. It has been my

need to know. And that’s ok! I am not telling you to

experience here in upstate New York and I am

unlearn how to defend yourself and set

curious if changing to a larger city would create more

boundaries. I am simply saying be mindful of

positive connections for me. I call it “Greener Grass”

acting out of fear or anger. What makes a defense

Syndrome because happiness is believed to be on

mechanism toxic? The level of fear and anger

the other side of an unknown variable which does not

behind the decision to defend oneself is usually

seem fair, but we all do it. As an entrepreneur and

what creates the toxic response. Tune in to

avid loner, I have learned we all pretty much feel the

yourself as only you know when your limit has

same. We naturally look to our friends, families and

been reached and if you’re intentions are pure and

support systems for validation and encouragement;

clear of negativity. Its my opinion that this is what

this is where the term “tribe” derives from. But what

keeps your karma clean and allows you to

happens when you outgrow your tribe? I hate to

genuinely move forward without any ill feelings toward whatever situation you were dealing with.

break it to you but there has been a noticeable change in how trusting we can be with others. It has now become dangerous to look outside of yourself for validation. Think about it; the pandemic has everyone focusing on survival mode. Some of us have banned together and some of us have not. Some of us have taken advantage of others during this traumatizing time and though there’s nothing worse than realizing this truth, it could save you to accept it as reality. Unlearn looking outside of yourself for motivation. I’m a firm believer that we

3.) Unlearning Negative Self-Talk This is perhaps my favorite piece of advice because it continues to transform your mind after you’ve begun the process. Unlearning negative self-talk creates peace inside of you that clears all insecurity, self-doubt and even self-degradation. Literally the gift that keeps giving. There’s nothing wrong with being a perfectionist, a

Marshay professional; ¦taking yourself seriously can result in

I’ve had to. When you lower your standards, others

great reward but if it goes too far, it’s up to you to keep

will follow. Don’t give a discount when you’re a

it in check.

quality product! We often do this in emotional exchanges and we pay dearly so take heed. If you

You can check how you speak to yourself by simply

do experience this temporary setback, just revisit

“leveling the playing field.” Break up your thoughts by

steps 1 through 3!

reminding yourself that you are only one person and what you have done so far, is more than enough. Remind yourself that you’re not in a race and you’re allowed to make mistakes because that’s how you learn the lesson needed to progress. Tell yourself out loud that you are proud of you for making it thus far. Learn to pat yourself on the back more often! People of color are especially under constant pressure to not only succeed but excel. This pressure is usually very detrimental to our health and in the long run, not a very good quality to assist you in achieving your dreams. Remember sometimes you may need to protect you from YOU so don’t bully yourself! 4.) Unlearning Enabling Toxicity

A Final Word

I truly hope you found peace, comfort and

camaraderie through this advice I’ve given you today. I know I certainly have. If there’s anything else I’d like for you to take from this reading, it’s to believe in yourself. Believe in yourself with such a fierce conviction that no one can move you or dissuade you from achieving what you’ve set out to achieve. That same conviction will guide you through this crazy, unencumbered world full of people who need inspiration and guidance from each one of us as we all navigate through life. I’ve mentioned having to deal with unsavory people but trust me, we’re all better off paying them no mind.

We discussed how important it is to avoid bullying yourself, now we need to cover setting boundaries so

Stay focused on your goals and on being positive throughout every circumstance that comes your

as not to encourage other bullies either as this enables

way and then write to me and tell me all about it!

toxicity. You have NO idea how many times I’ve been

I’d love to hear from you on what helps and how

called less than optimal names for being assertive and

your journey is going so far.

female. We still live in a world where change is slowly happening and there are stereotypes that we fight constantly. This is not an excuse for your mistreatment and dismissal. I will always reiterate to you that you matter. Your thoughts, feelings, time, and energy ALL matters. I conduct a lot of contract-based business and I almost always run into disrespect and problems when I dismiss my own boundaries expecting a friend or familiar face to uphold MY standards. I want you to take my lesson and learn it the easy way, so you don’t experience the heartache and disappointment that

Eternally Yours, Marshay

“When we liberate ourselves, we liberate others as well because we break the bonds, the chains, that keep us tied to relationships based in domination. So how are we gunna break the chain if we ignore that it’s even there?” -Joelle Depiton, Creator of Mirrored Love I heard the term “Trauma” for the first time as a graduate student at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. According to the program’s department, we were to assume that everyone had experienced trauma at some point in their lives regardless of the severity. I myself am a Childhood Trauma Survivor (or CTS) and like many other CTSs, I navigated the world and the environments I entered on autopilot. My ability to achieve a college education, see my name in numerous publications, and remain alive despite some of the decisions I now deemed an example of untreated mental and emotional trauma spoke of my determination to persevere. I carried that torch during my days as a street activist, a public speaker. Onto my radio show The Bonfire Talks on which I discussed White supremacy and its venom passionately. White friends saw an intellectual freedom fighter advocating for justice and peace to those who were “othered”, my subconscious mind screamed out the muted suffering of my Inner Child. The memories of my own childhood struggled to seize my attention, practically waving their hands in front of my eyes. Yet I steered clear because the consequences of even peeking around the corner of my traumatic past was something that would interfere with the political legacy I called myself endeavoring to build. I discovered through hardship (much of it self-inflicted) that that is not how life works for a CTS with unaddressed pain.

The undercurrent of rage and depression earned from an abuse history I did not ask for, this suspicion that yet another perpetrator’s scheme to assault me, normally stood in the way of my ambitions. There were times when my Complex PTSD symptoms were so severe I feared leaving my house. And years of relying upon coping mechanisms with the potential to kill me only complicated matters. It wasn’t until I allowed myself to receive support that I discovered why I felt so disjointed: I was subconsciously reenacting the trauma I experienced as a child. The raw emotions I suppressed always emerged through my interactions with others. Indescribable trauma stories living within my subconscious mind convinced me that everyone was a potential threat to my safety and that the best “alternative” was voluntary separation from the communities of which I was a part. Between that and the selfloathing, it became obvious that I was acting as my own oppressor. And as I continue my own healing journey, I’m learning that, in order for me to live as my authentic self with complete abandon, I must dismantle and eliminate from my subconscious mind the stories written by generational and historical trauma. In fact, all CTSs are to individually address their internalized generational and historical trauma to end their selfoppression. In “Why Are Queer People So Mean to Each Other,” Kai Cheng Thom explains that constant exposure to trauma has an impact on the brain and nervous system, eventually resulting in survivors perceiving almost everything and everyone as a potential threat. While the brain and nervous system responds accordingly to our

environment, the subconscious mind collects our unspoken thoughts, desires, and personal history driving our actions and reactions to our experiences. CTSs unknowingly turn to the subconscious to determine whether the environment and its people pose as a threat to our well-being. As children, we heavily depend upon family members and other entrusted authority figures to provide guidance on how to survive the world while remaining connected to our divinity. In dysfunctional environments, however, these very authority figures violated our boundaries with stories they designed to diminish our sense of security and self-worth. CTSs were likely to view their negative perception of us as the truth, which automatically transformed the abusive adult into our oppressor. We eventually replaced them with ourselves. This unfortunate assault on our subconscious occurred because our perpetrator also struggled with unaddressed historical and generational trauma. And the reason why the trauma exist is because of White Supremacy. White Supremacy is a form of psychological terrorism that implanted irrational fears into the subconscious mind of our BIPOC ancestors. White oppressors employed it to establish dominance over them, forcing the latter to anticipate retaliation over the slightest thought of rebellion. White oppressors utilized their resources to eliminate our ancestors personhood by separating them from long-established cultural norms and rituals. Despite the acts of rebellion of some of our BIPOC ancestors, many of our people also internalized the message that the entire demographic is not only flawed but inferior to Whiteness. This caused many of our ancestors to pass down to us descendants generational and historical trauma, forms of oppression involving the near erasure of our connection to our inner power and divinity. White people were also gravely affected by White supremacy, as evidenced in how they psychologically terrorized themselves and Whites who chose to reject their oppressive culture. Individually, many White people benefitting from the status quo used false evidence to convince

themselves that their culture and its norms was consistently under seige. This group then targets White accomplices striving to deconstruct and eradicate the supremacist culture by ostracizing them from the White community. The fear of their perceived unworthiness without power and perfection prevents many White people from examining their contribution to the psychological terrorism that birthed the historical and generational trauma we all struggle with today. They instead began oppressing themselves, then each other while influencing BIPOCs to do the very same. Generational and historical trauma is the foundation of the self-inflicted oppression CTSs subject themselves to. It is only when we decide individually to discard from our subconscious mind the dysfunctional stories about the self that CTSs of all ethnicities will be free from self-oppression. Now knowing where my self-oppression began and how it affected my overall personhood, it was important to also be cognizant of the solutions. How do I and other CTSs (especially BIPOC survivors) completely break the bond with oppression? To do so, we are required to: 1. Acknowledge that we are capable of being our own oppressor.
 2. Hold ourselves accountable for oppressing others due to our own unhealed trauma.
 3. Be honest with ourselves about the power of the negative subconscious trauma stories that impact our perception of reality.
 4. Recognize that the negative stories told about us are a product of someone else’s unhealed generational and historical trauma.
 5. Internalize the fact we possess the power to rewrite own life story.
 6. Believe that we are worthy of an existence without inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering for personal and spiritual

Cont… Unlearning self-oppression is an assignment that will take years to unravel, considering the substantial amount of trauma I shoveled through to be reach this point in my personal history. But after all the insight I discovered on my healing journey, after being reintroduced to my innate power and divinity, I am worth some of the peace I established at the end of the day. And that fact in of itself is a step towards liberation.

Louis Javier Mason (also known as Javi) is a TraumaInformed Spiritual Advisor, Inner Child Specialist, and Author. As the founder of The Inner Child Collective, Mason uses storytelling and divination to promote Inner Child Healing to overcome generational and historical trauma. A survivor of childhood abuse trauma, Mason

provides personal accounts and insights on the importance of connecting to the Inner Child, stating that in order for clients to heal from childhood trauma and thrive as adults (regardless of their intersections), they must connect with and honor the child they once were. They speak extensively on Inner Child Healing and the power of writing on their various platforms, including Inner Child Collective, a monthly podcast that provides information regarding the Inner Child, the Archetypes they’ve adopted to survive, and ways listeners can reparent the child version of themselves.

In addition to being an active spiritual practitioner, Mason is a self-published author, teacher, and storyteller. In 2016, they published the political science-fiction novel, The One Taken from the Sea of Stars under the pen name Octavia Davis. They also contributed to The Empty Closet, Rochester’s monthly LGBTQIA publication. Mason is a member of the Rochester, New York storytelling troupe Come As You Are. They also taught Character and Chapter Development 101, a six-week long workshop at Writers and Books and a Podcast 101 course through the same organization. They are currently working on their autobiography, May the Skeletons Come Out and Dance.

In their spare time, Mason reads, writes, and spends time with beloved cat-sons, Tobias and Shadow Moon. Follow The Inner Child Collective on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

Love your body. Get tested.


Quinton Peron was discovered when he tried out for and landed a spot as one of the first male cheerleaders in the NFL during the 2018-19 season. He, alongside Napoleon Jinnies, joined the LA Rams cheerleaders, launching his dance career beyond what he had ever imagined for himself. Drawing on his dance background, Quinton lent his choreography and performance talents to names like Ellen DeGeneres, T-Pain, Carrie Underwood, RuPaul, Good Morning America and beyond. This is just the beginning for this mulRtalented performer. Although an avid Beyonce’ fan, Quinton shares that if Rhianna decides to get back in the business, he would love the opportunity to collaborate with her. So, Rhianna, if you’re reading this- please come back because this collab would be guaranteed FIRE! With an electric personality and a smile to match, Quinton is truly an inspiraRon. Passion and posiRvity exude from his aura, and the message he sends extends far beyond the world of dance. Cheerleader, teacher, dancer, choreographer, and (as I discovered during my interview with him) aspiring chef- Mr.Q, as his students call him, is a force on and off the stage. While he had originally dreamt of becoming a chef, as a high school sophomore, it was the series ‘So You think Can Dance’ and the awe he felt a_er watching Twitch perform that took him in a direcRon he hadn’t yet imagined. “I saw him dive into different styles. He wasn’t just a HipHop dancer. He was doing Jazz and the way he was accepted and highlighted- it was so awesome to me. It was that moment that the lightbulb switched, and I was like: I’m going to dive head-first and see what happens. And now- I’m here.”

If there is anything that Quinton could encourage others to take away from his accomplishments, its to trust the process and be your biggest fan. Having had his own fair share of unsuccessful moments, he says, “I have so many parents who come up to me and are like: ‘Should I take my daughter out (of class), she’s not placing?’ and I’m like ‘neither did I and look what I’m doing now.’” And it is that posiRvity and belief in himself that lead him to becoming one of the first male cheerleaders to perform at the Super Bowl, among his other accomplishments. “It’s not about geeng that first place overall; it’s about the process and the journey that it takes you on,” Peron adds. O_en the portrayal of gay, Black men can be misleading, and being able to show that there are “50 Shades of Gay”, as Quinton jokingly calls it, he feels that it’s important to give visibility of what it is to be a successful gay, Black man. “I’m not as flamboyant as some, and some aren’t as masculine as I am. There’s different types and it’s okay to be either one. He goes onto describe how we are lumped into boxes and stereotyped into categories whether it comes to sexuality, race, etc., “There’s a broader spectrum of us,” Peron says. When asked to reflect on where he is in life now and what message he would give to his younger self, Quinton lets out a deep exhale, “It’s going to be okay. Especially growing up gay. I didn’t know what that was and kind of suppressing that and I didn’t know. I mean, I knew I was different, but I didn’t know what that different was. I would be bullied someRmes, and I would be like

‘What am I doing that is really off, that nobody else is doing? I thought I was just following the masses, but I guess I was standing out in a weird way. But yeah, I would tell him that it’s going to be okay. Don’t be afraid to have conversaRons and just be you. It took a lijle bit, but we’re here. I’m here. I’m me.”

Where Unlearning Begins with Thomas Warfield

Created by Christopher Rivas Directed by Daniel Banks MAY 14 - MAY 29, 2021 | 585-232-4382

Thomas Warfield is a man of many hats. He is an internaRonal star, a dancer, choreographer, singer, pianist, teacher, and advocate. It is his passion for equality, jusRce and loving one another that is (aside from his vibrant and colorful wardrobe) most striking and what lead me to a conversaRon with him around systemic oppression and the unlearning that needs to happen within our society. While unlearning is necessary from deep within our social constructs, it begins with us as individuals. Making space for yourself is where unlearning begins. That is the unlearning we need most of all. CreaRng space for people to be their own. “You can’t tell them who to be,” Warfield urges. Among Thomas’ many credits, is a social science class he taught called Social Individual IdenRty. “We are all playing a role that we are taught to play. From the Rme we are born, as a boy you are given the message of blue, trucks, army men and if you’re a girl you get pink, dresses, hair accessories. Right off the bat, before you can even walk, the message of who you’re supposed to be is already told to you. It’s a whole system that locks you into a room. In school, the teacher knows everything, and you know nothing. There’s all of these messages that you have to decipher and as you decipher them, they are being put into your idenRty.” When someone comes along and challenges our beliefs of what should and shouldn’t be, it begins to poke holes in our world and those beliefs that have been insRlled in us for so long. For some, it’s an uncomfortable experience. Some people see it as an intrusion on their own existence. But where did we get lost in this belief that one can’t exist alongside the other? The existence of transgender people does not decimate the existence of cis people. A lijle girl deciding that she likes blue and playing with cars doesn’t take away from those that like pink and playing dress-up. We o_en use our differences and things we don’t understand as barriers, rather than treaRng them as individual idenRRes that should be embraced. Thomas shares a story of a Rme when he was performing as the only Black person in a Chinese dance company. He wasn’t familiar with the area or the language, but on a chance to explore, he decided to ride the train in a remote area of China. He got off at a train staRon and came across a young Chinese girl sieng alone on the side of the road drawing in the dirt with a sRck. When

Thomas approached, he could see that the girl was clearly petrified, and he instantly understood how foreign and unusual he must’ve seemed to this lijle girl. He smiled. He slowly inched his way toward her and then he picked up a sRck and started drawing in the sand with her. By the Rme another train came, the girl was drawing with him and when he le_, she smiled and waved good-bye. It took him years to realize that that single moment in Rme with a stranger was the meaning behind the saying “we are all one.” “There were so many barriers,” Warfield explains. “The language, adult and child, Black and Chinese, so many ways we were not ever going to connect and yet I knew her more profoundly than some of the people I see every day. If we could all take a minute and look beyond our differences and just embrace the moments we have together and find that way to connect, we could begin the journey of unlearning. At the end of the day, its not about our sexual orientaRon, our gender, our age, our religion, or the color of our skin. It’s about the human connecRon and recognizing that we are all one.”


Reader, I invite you to parRcipate in an exercise Thomas says he would have his students do in his class. Close your eyes. Feel your individual fingers. Feel your thumb. Feel how they are all separate. They are all individuals. The fingers each have their own place and the thumb is all the way over to one side. But, feel how they come together in the center. In the center of your hand they all become one. Envision yourself as one of these digits- whether you are gay or straight, Black or white, conservaRve or liberal, cis or trans, male or female. You may feel like the thumb - separate from all the others. But you are sRll connected, and you sRll belong. “Without your thumb,” Thomas puts into perspecRve, “You can’t grab and hold onto this cup. You need the thumb to work with the fingers.” We are all needed. We all are an essenRal part of this life. When we can learn to coexist as one and embrace ourselves and each other as the beauRful individuals we are, real unlearning can begin.

Written By: Amanda Moulton-Proctor


Happy Birthday Aries! You will experience a lot of newness in your life as you get a year older you will be called to look within and reflect on what your life’s purpose will be. Continue to look around you and evaluate past, and future growth. Do not be surprised if people who were close friends fall away. The spring cleaning that you are calling forth is about new change in, and around you. You are being called to water positive seeds of joy. Aries if you are in a relationship- allow the new closeness to flow between you. It’s okay to take things slow and embrace change, and allow the connection to foster joy. Singles- This month is about self-love, self-pleasure, and joy. Its okay to self-indulge. Just don’t overdo! Go ahead and swipe right. Treat yourself it is your birthday month after all!


This month has been a month of reflection and introspection. You have been called to ponder places within your life where you feel that you’re lacking. Finances might be tight for you this month. Now is a good time to save more than what you usually do. Increase your rainy day fund. Taurus if you are in a relationship- communication is going to be key with you and your loved one. Don’t let misunderstanding foster resentment within your connection. Even if you think things are clear its better to clarify. Single Taurus, embrace freedom, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Your mantra for the month is : “You are enough”

Gemini: Gemini you have experienced a lot of change within the pandemic. The Universe is teaching you to embrace the spontaneity of life. Allow yourself to take that trip, class, or outing that you have always wanted to do. You may experience some internal conflict within your family systems so be mindful of your communications. Sometimes its better to pick up the phone and have a conversation with someone. Gemini’s in a relationship this a great month for you and your partner to spice things up in the bedroom. Feel free to embrace your shadow side as long as your partner is down to experience your many sides This month will be promising for physical intimacy. Single Geminis- this is a great month for manifestation. A new love interest is catching your eye. Take it slow with your crush and enjoy the journey. Your mantra for the month, “I choose to be a super attractor of the love that I want to bring into my life.”

Cancer: Cancer, this has been a busy month for you. Your to-do list has been quite full. It’s been hard for you to create balance this month and it has caused you to be in a sense of frenzy and overwhelm. Take time to have self-care Sunday, and Saturdays. Rest and rejuvenate. Carry with you a small journal or planner to help keep yourself organized. Cancer’s in relationship- It’s okay to not be okay. Communicate your needs with your partner. As intuitive and connected as your partner is if you don’t tell them what you want and need they won’t know! When you are more specific with your wants, needs and desires your partner will feel comfortable to open up. Single Cancers with your new connection plant seeds of trust. Just because your crush hasn’t texted you back instantly it doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested. Put your phone down, and allow connection to flow naturally. You are looking really good this month so don’t be surprised if all eyes are on you as you start to venture out into the public.

Leo: This has been an emotional month for you. You are an exuberant extroverted person. So this imposed social distancing has been painful. But, fret not as the outside world is opening up so will your social life! However, be mindful if your partner isn’t as extroverted as you to allow them space to recharge. Seek to find connection with your soul tribe outside in nature. Leos in love know that your partner is going to want and need more alone time with you. So be sure to mark out some scheduled couples with your boo. Single Leos- You have been very busy trying to “re-start” you social life. There will be many opportunities to meet new people. So that means getting new phone numbers. Have some fun and don’t be surprised if someone sees your active social life and slides into your DM’s.

Virgo: Virgo this will be a great month for spring cleaning for you. This is a great time for you to read a new self-improvement book. Learn a new skill, and find a way to grow yourself or your business. You are doing well within your work and home life balance. Enjoy all the achievement that you are planting.The world is your oyster, there will be new finical growth opportunities as your continue to manifest what it is you want in your life. Virgos in love- Its time to carve out some time for yourself. Your partner might want to go out in paint the town red. Find a way to create balance and be grounded in what you want to do to fill up your cup. Single Virgos- Keep working on yourself. All your hard work is not going un-noticed by the Universe. Life loves you, and so will your special person. Keep manifesting and being clear about what you want and you will attract it. Now is a great time to develop a mindfulness of mediation practice.

Libra: Libra you have been going through a lot of introspection this month. If you have to decide to cut someone out of your life due to mistreatment do not be surprised. Keep “going within” to find the various answers to your questions. You crave balance in order to create unity and peace within yourself and the ones around you. Libras in love- for you the mantra is “balance” You are striving to create a loving balance between you and your partners differing energies. Find ways that you can vibe together on common interests. Your love life is ready for a spring cleaning too. Single Libras- Be open to love in all its forms. Don’t be surprised if you attraction someone who is not “typically your type” For this new love interest you will be captivated by their energy and will to win you over.

Scorpio: You head has been in the clouds lately and it has been hard for you to multitask. Don’t be surprised if you look at your phone and can’t remember what you were looking for, or at with your phone. Take some time to get grounded be in nature, and spend time alone in introspections. Scorpios in love this is a great time to create more physical intimacy in your connection. Your partner might seem like a prude on the service. But, they just need some coaching to help them “loosen up” and embrace their inner freak. Single Scorpios- if you have your eye on a special someone allow them space to respond your deep gaze. To some your intensity can be intimidating give them a chance to feel you out before moving on to the next candidate.

Sagittarius: Something had to fall away this last month. You cannot continue to fit into place that you have outgrown. Cut away anything or anyone who know longer serves your highest and greatest good. Allow your focal point to go within. There you will find your answers this is a deep season of change for you. Look inward and reflect on all the aspects of change that you want to invite into your life. Â Sagittarius in love- Allow your partner to take the lead. You don’t always have to be the one planning the romantic getaways. Allow someone to treat you for a change. Single Sagittarius- Now is the time to focus on a goal that you have put off. Such a going to that yoga class. Walking your dog more in public spaces. Thats where you are going to collide with a special someone. Although you are doing a lot of clearing and cleaning it reminds you that you are making room for someone, and something different.

Capricorn: You are going through a great period of grace. Bills, might be forgiven. Extensions and deadlines will be granted to you. The universe is rewarding you for all the great times that you have paid it forward. Your kindness doesn’t go unrecognized at work. People are really starting to see you for who you are and are allowing you to let your light shine. Â Capricorn in love- There is some type of conflict between you and your significant other. There is some things are being left unsaid. Its important not to let things fester. As you and your person have already made up to break many times before. Ask yourself, “What do I need to be different this time?” Its important to live your best life, not being beholden to people who do not support your world vision. Single Capricorns- now is not a good time for you to start a new relationship. If you have a love interest continue to see them if you wish. But, keep your options open. Its really important for you to grow your self-confidence and be grounded in who you are so that you do not need to continue to settle.

Aquarius: You have been embracing your inner light and letting your heart sing. You hear chakra has been opened and you are ready to embrace love in all forms that the Universe has to give to you. Take that trip that you have been putting off. Its a great time for you to spread your wings and see the world. Keep saving as you are on the brink of a financial breakthrough. Aquarius in love- now is the time to let someone know how you feel about them. You don’t have to be shy. This special person has had their eyes on you too and would like to get to know you better. So feel free to make the first move on your boo. They will be flattered. Single Aquarius- If you are interested in multiple people ALL at the same time, that’s cool. Don’t be afraid to be BOLD! or more aggressive than usual.

Pisces: Pisces, this has been a really creative month for you. Where you have been able to focus on your creative passions. You are ready to embrace the artistic side of you. Take a new class, paint that beautiful partner of yours and embrace all of the creativity that is dwelling inside you. Pisces in love- Things are starting to heat up between you and your person. Don’t be surprised if your person asks you to meet their mom. Or other significant people in their soul tribe. Be open and see where it all takes you. Single Pisces- There has been that ONE person who has been in and out of your life for a while. Its time to put up a clear boundary between you and them. But, the best part is that you have the control this time. You say if its relationship or a bootycall.

Shannen is a therapist, certified licensed life coach LLC, Spiritualist, Tarot reader, Reiki master teacher, Spiritual consultant and interfaith minister. Please reach out for consolation, reading, or spiritual advice at Clear light of the Heart Services. , 315-877-4107Â and follow at Clear light of the heart- Facebook page.

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