Did you read my Part 1 post yesterday? If not, read it before diving into this one, so you don’t get confused and lost.

If you read yesterday’s post, let’s get back to my time travel to the early 1800s. And let me answer you before you ask. Yes, I’m also trying to track the other black folks that were listed as the enslaved property of my 5x great grandparents.

I do know that some Black slaveholders would buy enslaved people to free them from white owners, and provide them safety and security. But I also know that some Black folks owned other Black folks and saw it as pure economics. I haven’t located enough of the records to ascertain which “folk” my great grandfather was. When he passed in 1832, he left his wife almost 700 acres of land, hundreds of cattle, hogs, horses, and three enslaved people (two men and a woman).

In 1840, the census shows my grandmother and everyone (over 30 children and adults) residing with her on her property as Free Colored Persons. In 1850 it shows her owning three slaves. I assume these are the same three listed in my grandfather’s estate. I’m going to find out those details. I can guarantee you, once I do find that information I will be sure to update you.

Some people shy away from that period of time. I run towards it and in a positive way. It’s history; their story, my story, and I’m not ashamed of it or angered by it—well, let me clarify that last point. I am extremely angry, disgusted, and dismayed by what I’ve learned about the enslavement and treatment of Africans and African Americans, from the moment we were snatched up as property and dehumanized, to how the US (and other countries) have chosen to not reconcile the wrongs and heal the wounds inflicted upon us, then and since.

Let’s be crystal clear about that.

But, I will not allow my feelings of hurt and disappointment change my heart. What was, has, and still being done to us (and dismissed through rational-lies) hurts my heart. Yes, for those of you who are quick to yell “What about what Blacks have done to each other” as though Black people are naive, dumb, incapable of distinguishing and properly addressing our grievances— yes, my heart hurts for the pain that Black people cause each other. And let me double back real quick, the defense of “We did but y’all did some of it too” is plain ignorant and cowardly. It’s an attempt to reduce responsibility and accountability. Guess what? That too hurts my heart.

I’m also hurt by the pain that religious people, Christians and the like, have caused, pimping God(s) in the process. No one’s God(s) would want people to be mistreated as we have witnessed before and since the 1600s. There’s not one god you’re praying to that condones the nonsense of this world. Let’s get in agreement with that.

All of the damaging energy that humankind uses against its own (and other species) is disturbing to my heart. But it will not control it. I will not allow myself to become the very energy that chose and chooses evil. I loathe that energy but I will not hate the people who choose that energy. That energy wants me to hate, to become that which I hate. I rebuke that. My heart and mind must work together, to be controlled by me, not the world.

Now that we’re clear about that, let’s get back to the story….

My grandparents both died before they could hear the battle cries of war and later, freedom. My grandfather passed away in 1832, when Andrew Jackson was President, and Harriet Tubman was still enslaved in Maryland. She didn’t escape (the first time) until 1849. Frederick Douglass escaped to the North in September 1838 (changing his last name from Bailey to Douglass) and hadn’t written his first book until 1845. So these two legends rose up after my grandfather had long passed.

When my grandmother passed away in 1858, James Buchanan was President, it was the year Harriet Tubman met John Brown, and one year later helped him with his raid on Harper’s Ferry. Two years later Abraham Lincoln would become President. The civil war was from 1861 to 1865, with the emancipation proclamation issued in 1863. My grandparents children and grandchildren grew up and lived through those periods. But none of them experienced it as the property of someone else. That had to weigh heavily on them.

One day I will share with you my take on ole’ Jim Bowie, the American hero, who fought alongside Davey Crockett and others. I will share how I’ve traced my Scottish Bowie’s (his part of our family) to North Carolina, up to Maryland (where the first Bowie’s arrived) and then all the way back to the town in Scotland where the patriarch, John Bowie Sr. lived before coming to the colonies around 1705. I will also share how I’m connecting to my Scottish roots. I know my history, my ethnic DNA doesn’t lie. I’ve got Scotland in my bones. Just as I have Ireland, England, Wales, Germany, and other European nations woven inside of me.

But I won’t share today.

Today is about me smiling, visualizing that huge chunk of a moment when the shackles of slavery were removed off a branch of my super huge family tree.

I wonder what my 5x grandparents’ prayers were like leading up to and immediately after those days; I wonder how they prayed knowing themselves to be free but knowing others near and far were still being bought, sold, and traded. I wonder their thoughts about these other people never being able to see the lands they came from or that their parents and grandparents came from. I wonder if my grandparents ever thought about the reality that they would never know their native language, culture, and customs—and neither would millions of other enslaved and free Black people.

Imagine reconciling that in your mind. I wonder what their dreams showed them. I wonder if they imagined me, their future, far-removed from their time, and what they hoped for my generation. I benefit today from all that they sacrificed, lost, and labored. I hope they are proud of my journey and the ways I honor them and their legacy.

Okay, so you read my answer. I gave you two days worth of immersed historical dreaming, fact-sharing, and truth-speaking. Now’s your turn. If you could witness a time in history when would it be? Share the details in the comments section below.

~Natasha

Copyright © Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Ooh this is something that I’ve pondered before, and most of us remember this exercise from elementary school. So, I will take a spin with it again. The first thing that comes to mind happens to be my 5x great grandparents on my mom’s side, and more specifically, her father’s family line (on his maternal side). My 5x great grandfather is listed in historical documents as an FMC, Free Man of Color. He was born when George Washington was President and Abraham Lincoln wasn’t even alive yet.

The family he was born and raised into were the Bowie’s—of the infamous James “Jim” Bowie (Alamo legend) that everyone swears has a story about his Bowie knife that his brother designed and had made for him. I’m still researching the particulars but somehow, my great grandfather was a free man, owning his own plantation (yep, and slaves) and even conducting business with Jim and his siblings, as well as other white men.

If I could be a fly on a wall…

But it’s not just that moment in time, it’s also the moment where my 5X great grandfather made it possible that his wife, who had been purchased by the Bowie’s (after being bought and sold 5 times by other owners), was freed. Yes, in 1818 he bought her from the Bowie’s and in 1830 he has his own plantation where they raise their 8 children. I saw the court document where all of their children were free. They never knew a day, enslaved, like their parents and grandparents. This was before the emancipation proclamation. This was before the Civil War.

That had to be empowering yet terrifying.

If I could stand in that moment and watch the weight of years being lifted off of my 5x great grandmother, hearing that for the first time since being born, she was no longer someone’s property, that no more would she be bought and sold, raped, and possibly bred like cattle. If I could witness the drafting and signing of the documents making it possible for our branch of the Bowie tree to be freed from one of the ugliest histories this country and the world has ever seen and experienced, oh how my eyes would fill with tears of joy, and I too would breathe a sigh of relief.

I’m still researching my grandfather’s FMC status and at what point he was freed by either the Bowie’s or through the British overhaul when they outlawed slavery in all of their territories, forcing slaveholders in the Caribbean to declare each enslaved person, their country of origin, and the name of the mother (of the enslaved person) if known.

There is an enslaved person with my grandfather’s name, same age and approximate date of birth, listed on an 1817 British registry. Which means he had been in the colonies (specifically, Louisiana) and then at some point taken to the Caribbean, and then later by decree legally freed and returned to Louisiana.

This could be his storyline. I’m still digging. If he and the man on the British registry are one in the same, that too is another event that I would relish witnessing. Seeing his face when the reality of his new life settled in his mind. When he returned to Louisiana and walked on the plantation as a FMC, wowsers, the shift it would’ve caused.

I’m still very much curious about this tight knit relationship with the white Bowie’s, I mean, I know they share the same blood (either Jim’s dad or uncle was the father of my grandfather), but I mean, jeesh, there was a closeness so intimate that even free, my grandfather is listed as a resident on his father (or uncle’s) land for 13 years (as a free man), and he even transacted business deals with them, even sued one of the Bowie brothers, and used his residence for a hearing when the state of Louisiana was looking at removing one of the Bowie brothers from public office. One the Bowie’s even owed him money, and had a debt repayment document notarized in 1824 (6 years before my grandfather even owned his own land). Clearly, he was acknowledged as kin, but how do you reconcile the years they had him enslaved?

My grandfather had influence and wealth…in the early 1800s! A black man. In the south. The sitting President was James Monroe, the last President from the Founding Fathers. By then, my grandfather had lived through 6 Presidencies.

I’m in awe. Let’s explore more tomorrow!

~Natasha

Copyright © Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

I’m sitting here and really reflecting on and pondering the concept of vulnerability and I have to give credit to Brene’ Brown for all of her research and the contributions that she has made to unpack the concept of vulnerability.

Just like her I have struggled and still struggle with being vulnerable because of what it entails and what it requires of me, and that’s a scary concept and picture to wrap my mind around. The control gremlin inside of my brain tells me that it’s too big of a risk and that I need to put up these walls and barriers.

But the healthy part of my brain understands that vulnerability is vital to my success, to thriving and growing, and being what I was designed to be. Vulnerability allows me to give and share, and receive more than I could ever imagine, if only I just free myself from the shackles that I keep lugging around.

Brene’ Brown shared an example in one of her books that a person in the military shared with her—that our soldiers risk their lives for each other and it’s only possible because they are allowing themselves to be vulnerable. You’re putting your life in someone else’s hands, that is vulnerability. It makes me think of Extreme Ownership, the book, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. It’s a great book by the way. Much of what Willink and Babin share is based on vulnerability and understanding that by embracing it there was greater trust formed during combat, plans were executed effectively, and a bond was formed with fellow soldiers. They could rely upon and lean on each other because they opened and revealed a part of themselves, and in so doing that revelation was entrusted and protected by those they shared this intimacy with.

In the various examples shared, in all of these books that I am reflecting upon right now is a willingness and comfort with being vulnerable, and being okay with it. Not seeing it as a negative but actually a positive. But what is interesting is that so many of us see vulnerability as a weakness and it is usually the first thing that is pushed back upon when mentioned, especially in environments that shy away from topics of the heart and expression of feelings. But when you actually dissect vulnerability and break it down you realize that it is a positive element of our life, and our lack of vulnerability is what actually blocks us from great growth and development, from connecting deeply with others, from having greater intimacy and authenticity.

Some people confuse over-sharing with vulnerability. Sharing all of the intimate details of your personal life is not vulnerability. It’s just over-sharing. You’re just being an attention hog. Telling your friends about your romantic encounters is not vulnerability, it’s just lack of tact and respect for those individuals you were romping around with.

Vulnerability is being able to identify and accept the truth about yourself, sharing this truth with others, with an understanding that you risk that information being used against you— possibly, and that’s okay.

I guess in a way, vulnerability is understanding the concept of fear as information and processing it, without holding onto it and making it more than it is. Vulnerability would take the power away from fear. Vulnerability admits there’s fear there and admits that there’s hesitancy to make a decision. Courage can step in, answering vulnerability’s call, and face down the fear.

So being honest about your current state of affairs, maybe your mindset and what you’re going through emotionally and possibly physically or psychologically, is vulnerability with an intended purpose. If that makes sense?

I don’t have to share the details of any relationships that I’ve been in but I can share that I’m still trying to heal from those relationships—that is my vulnerability and my willingness to connect heart to heart with other people. I don’t and I won’t share details about my divorce but I can be vulnerable enough to say how gut wrenching it was for me because I never married with the thought of divorce in my mind. See, the details don’t really matter.

I don’t have to share details to share my heart and I understand that it requires vulnerability to share one’s heart. I can share that I’ve struggled with my business and in my career, and sometimes I question “What in the world am I doing and why?”, and I don’t need to go into the specific details about my finances or frustration with contracts and people who don’t truly value me— even though they need the services that I provide. I don’t need to go into specifics when sharing that I’ve struggled financially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You can be receptive to the essence of what I’m saying without feeling the need to grab a soda and popcorn, kick up your feet and wait to be entertained by my Lifetime movie sob story.

Vulnerability frees us to admit when we don’t know or understand something. It frees us to find people to help us in areas where we need it, at times when we need it. It frees us from the bondage of pride that will destroy us if we give it power and allow it to do so. Vulnerability opens a doorway where we can share what’s going on in real time and in the ways in which we are addressing issues, utilizing tools, learning lessons—rather than waiting until we conquered whatever mountain we were facing—and then victoriously celebrating and sharing with everyone all of the ways in which we did so.

Vulnerability says share it while you’re going through it.

It’s great, awesome, noble, and every reason to celebrate, when you can say that you wiped out your debt, or rebounded from any type of hardship, and then can share with other people how you did it so that they can learn from your lessons, and utilize the tools that you used. That is vulnerability.

What’s also a state of vulnerability is if you share while you’re in the trenches, sharing what you’re going through and what steps you’re taking to rectify it, what lessons you’re learning right now, and asking for guidance and counsel in the midst of the storm. You don’t have to share how deep in debt you are to be vulnerable. You don’t have to show people how and where you’re living in your state of homelessness. You don’t have to boo hoo and rant about how you got there and play the blame game, or internalize things in shame. It’s just sharing that you’re in this valley and understanding that this too is okay. It’s a lesson not a death sentence. It’s a humanizing experience. One that could possibly save someone else’s life.

How many people commit suicide because they don’t see another way out, or another solution to the overwhelming problems that suffocate them? Think of the countless people who steal and rob to put food on the table, provide for their family, without a thought or care about who it negatively impacts, because they are too overwhelmed by the lack they are experiencing. They see little to no other options. Yes, we can say that’s just an excuse not a reason, but heck we all make reckless decisions based on the excuses we allow to play on repeat in our minds. Some of us just fear the consequences more than others.

Maybe the people in both examples never learned how to be vulnerable enough to share what they’re going through, to ask for help, and to position themselves around positive people who could help, protect, and uplift them. Maybe.

We’re so busy pretending and faking it til we make it, that we oftentimes feel like the only time we should speak of our adversity is after we’ve overcome it and now we’re kicking it on the other side, sipping sweet drinks and eating guac and chips, and we want others to celebrate what we accomplished. What we don’t realize, don’t consider is that we never know who we can be helping while we are also climbing out of that trench, pit, valley.

For those of you who believe in God, let me ask you this question…

Are we praising God only after we’re saved or are we praising Him while we’re being clobbered? Imagine sharing your unfolding testimony during the storm, afraid but confident that you’re going to see the other side, hopeful that you will see that rainbow and feel that warm sunshine after the storm ends. Imagine how that message, testimony, vulnerable declaration could possibly help someone else, save someone, grab ahold of their heart and stop them from making a life-ending decision.

What if we could’ve made better decisions had someone else been vulnerable enough to share their valley experience and we learned from taking steps right along or right behind them.

It’s like the YouTube videos where people have an issue and they start troubleshooting and seeing if they can fix it, and you’re watching them blunder and try again, until either they get it or they say they will try a different approach and ask you to check out their next video. And if the first one was intriguing you hurry and click on the next video and you find yourself drawn into their troubleshooting experience until they get it right or give up, or you give up. But do you see what I’m saying? It’s like we have a tendency to want to see and feed off of success stories and we only like the hard knock life stories that resulted in success, and that’s what we gravitate to versus looking for stories where people are trying to figure it out and we’re learning from them as their learning these lessons.

People get frustrated with all of the famous business minds that can’t recall step-by-step how they made it. And that’s because they wrote their books after they made it. Imagine if they documented their lives while they were going through their uphill battle. Imagine had they kept a blog or a journal and wrote about the failures and mistakes, blunders, rejections and then they shared it either in real time or shared it later once they were a success story, and they could say “Here’s excerpts from my journals for the past X number of years”. But so many people don’t do that or if they do have journals they are too fearful to be vulnerable enough to share excerpts from those journals for you to be able to peer into their mind and heart at that point in their life.

It’s hard to believe that certain people who admit to having a journal, now, didn’t seem to have one back then to reflect upon and share what was going on in their life. I think some people just don’t want to share. And guess what? It’s their right and their life, and they can choose to share what they want to share, or not. Just because we would like to know something doesn’t mean we are entitled to the information. I was just pondering the odds of them not having a journal 10, 20, 30, 50 years ago when they were struggling. Heck, but honestly, would most of us really want to go back and read all of our journals to then extract content that could be relevant and helpful to potential readers, who may or may not purchase our books? I highly doubt it. Some of us who could potentially see the value of it might, but I think the majority of us would not.

That is in a lot of ways what the reality TV shows of the late 1990s initially hooked us with. We got to watch peoples lives unfolding and adjusting and we could relate in so many ways. Then it became the nonsense that has evolved to the absolute trash that so many people seem to be entertained by today. I don’t get it because it’s not authentic, truth, real, or vulnerable. It’s just over sharing and pretending, telling lies, playing games, and acting a fool for a paycheck. Viewers are so entertained by the lies that now they don’t know what’s truth. Everywhere we turn folks are telling lies—online, in schools, businesses, government and politics, houses of worship, magazines, newspapers, press conferences. We’re being told and shown what other folks think we want to hear and see.

Can you decipher the truth?

When I think of reality tv personalities and the lies they tell and buffoonery they display, maybe they do it because their authentic selves aren’t dramatic enough to generate higher ratings. But then again, why do we need drama to be intrigued by someone’s story? I was asked to take part in a docuseries of sorts that would share with the world my life from ages 20 to 30, navigating the toxic world and toxic relationships interwoven in the music industry. Two producers who interviewed me said that my personality and how I conducted myself wasn’t as dramatic as the other women involved in the project, and like other women in “reality tv”, and they would have to figure out how to pitch me. I told them I wouldn’t act or put on a show, I wouldn’t be anyone or anything but my authentic self and if that wasn’t good enough then I wasn’t meant to be a part of that project.

Lawd, when the sizzle reel was sent to me I almost fell out of my seat. I watched the video several times and I just kept shaking my head and saying, “No”. There was no way in, on, or around the world that I could take part in this overly-dramatized concoction that was being whipped up to serve as entertainment. I respectfully withdrew my interest and said that I would share my story in another way, because I’m here to help not harm, uplift not tear down, bring light not darkness, clarity not confusion. My story, my truth, will not be pimped or poisoned.

What if people just opened up and shared their truth, allowing themselves to be vulnerable, without the bravado and arrogance, buffoonery, pretense, dramatics, and Billy bad butt tendencies? Imagine the healing that could envelope them and spread outward to others.

Just a thought.

~ Natasha

Copyright 2022. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

If you’re doing God’s work on all of the religious days that you recognize, but doing the Devil’s work on all or most of the other days, then who are you truly worshiping and serving?

God said that we can’t serve two masters, one we will will hate and the other we will love, or one we will be devoted to and the other one we will despise [Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13]. That’s the conflict of interest tug-of-war. Who will you choose to love, be devoted to, and serve?

~ Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Reflecting over the days and years, looking to the research on abuse, the history of slavery and captor-captive relationships, and the enduring and devastating trauma. I want to share my thoughts…

I believe that trauma can cause some people to celebrate when their abuser hands them trinkets and tokens of “reconciliation”. They don’t realize that these “gifts” are merely distractions and attempts to downplay and normalize the sustained abuse, while never admitting it and never ceasing.

The abuser uses these moments as part of their research and development efforts. They track the points along the way where you bend to their ways based only on their promises of a better life, freedom, etc. They note your highs and lows. They test your thresholds. They look to see at which points you showed strength and resolve, and the times when they thought they had almost broken you.

Can they make you grovel, beg, try to negotiate, compromise, sacrifice your dignity and humanness, rely upon them more than your own Creator?

A checklist.

The abused convince themselves that the abuser “Is trying” and “It’s a step towards progress”, “It’s better than before”, “I should be appreciative for these gifts”, and “I deserve these gifts after all that I’ve endured and continue to endure”. You’re conditioned to see these moments as a reprieve from savagery. Maybe even as a sign of better days to come.

But deep down your spirit and soul cry out, knowing that the abuser has not and will not stop. The abuser will only repeat this cycle as it breaks you down, round after round, until you finally begin to see yourself as the problem—until you believe the abuser is your savior, who you should be role modeling. The goal is for you to see yourself as inferior to the abuser. As powerless and dependent upon your abuser.

You begin to repeat what the abuser whispers to you: If only you were more pliable, forgiving, and accommodating. If only you would assimilate into the system the abuser has crafted with great wickedness and precision. If only you stopped resisting and protesting. If only you would give in and let your reality be created, managed, and ruled by your abuser.

“You’re not oppressed, that’s just your weak mind talking”. That is what your abuser says. “Your life is better than it’s ever been” so says your abuser. “If you were oppressed you wouldn’t have….” and “You’re an ingrate. Look at what I’ve given you all of these years. This is how you thank me!”

Those are the words of your abuser, your oppressor, your slave master.

We are hostages who keep clinging to the desperate hope that our captor will one day do right by us. Many of us have been convinced that our captor is our friend, who has given us privileges we could not gain without them. We have assimilated out of desperation for the pain to cease. Sadly, it doesn’t. So we blame other captives for causing the added pain through their delay in surrendering.

A lot of us don’t realize we’re tumbling through decades and centuries of generational Stockholm Syndrome.

~Natasha L. Foreman

IG/FB/Twitter: @natashalforeman

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved. NatashaForeman.com

What I’m about to share may ruffle some feathers. It may cause some people to become defensive or offensive. That happens when truth is revealed, shared, and analyzed. Just make sure you don’t come at me with daggers. You will only cut yourself. Don’t come at me with punches. You will only hit yourself. If you come to divide, only your mind will be divided. I’ve warned you.

Let’s talk about it…
Checkers, chess, or Connect 4?
Why our lives are even in play, as a game…but they are, so whatcha gonna do about it?

When you should know the propaganda machine will crank out more vitriol than you can counter, how do you stay ahead so you can overcome?

Leaving out the adverb “TOO” left deniers of truth to say:

1) “ALL lives matter”

2) “BLUE lives matter” (although “Blue” isn’t a demographic).

3) “Well if Black Lives Matter so much to you then why aren’t you protesting Black-on-Black crime?”

4) It’s racist to say BLM or Black Power, or to call out white privilege, or to acknowledge that wealthy white men dictate whose life matters

These counter-moves puts Black people and our allies in a constant defensive position, trying to reason and rationalize with an unreasoning mindset that loves to tell rational-lies.

We thought video footage of the horror we face would be enough, but now the counter-argument is, “Please provide context”

We thought having white sympathizers protesting beside us would cause a surrender to the truth. What we get in response is, “They’re ALL thugs, terrorists, unpatriotic, unAmerican, enemies of the State, libtards, anti-police”. We hear that our sympathizers are “just pandering to Black people in this ‘woke’ era”.

When you have Black people complaining that white insurrectionists were able to storm the US Capitol and be called “patriots exercising their rights” while Black people and their allies have been called everything but—what does this say? What does this show and prove?

When you see that there are forces trying desperately to take away your vote, your right to vote, your right to equal treatment under the law, your right to protect and defend your body, your family, and your property—yet when you cry out about this, you’re told that your truth, the truth, is not their truth—so it is dismissed and devalued.

When you exercise your 2nd Amendment Right, the NRA is mostly silent in your defense. When you have no weapon but the attacker does, the NRA says the attacker “had a right to defend themselves as they feared for their lives…” Whose life truly matters?

When you’re told to “stay in your place” and “be glad for what your people have been given and what your people have achieved” as though you’re children. As though you’re still property. Yes, still slaves. The difference is that now you have access to some luxuries and can live wherever you can afford. Your new plantation is whatever area your paycheck defines. It’s all smoke and mirrors folks.

This puts Black people and our allies in a constant defensive position, trying to overcome the counter-moves, trying to prove the genuine and earnest alignment for human dignity. This leaves other POC at a major disadvantage because the reality is, if Black Lives DON’T matter, then neither do Indigenous, Asian, Latin/Hispanic, or any other non-White life.

Are we playing checkers while the powers-that-be are playing chess? Or worse, are we playing Connect 4 while they’re playing chess?

How would things have been altered if we had said “Black Lives Matter TOO”?

It sucks when you feel like your life only matters in two instances:
1) anti-abortion debates
2) military recruitment/draft

Valuing Black lives doesn’t devalue White lives, Black power doesn’t weaken White power (well except in weakening the power to crush Black life and dreams), Black votes don’t disenfranchise White votes, Black rights don’t take away White rights, Black life doesn’t sacrifice White life, Black wealth doesn’t snatch away White wealth—nor does it stop the impoverished White person from gaining wealth.

When poor White people start to realize that even with the privilege their skin provides, they too are an economic and social minority—despised by wealthy whites more than POC are despised—and they choose to stand (without faltering) with BIPOC rather than fight against them, vote with and for BIPOC instead of against them, build with BIPOC instead of building walls to keep them out—then the tides can begin shifting towards empowerment, inclusion, and freedom for all people.

When they realize the power they possess to sling down the Goliath that keeps 99 percent of the nation groveling for scraps, then they can force the powerful hands that bind the disenfranchised. They then can stop counter-arguing every police attack on Black people with, “Statistics show that poor White people face as much police brutality as Black people”. The fact that you even researched and shared this only underlines why this human rights fight is also your fight, beside us, not across from us—with us not against us. For the same system that binds us is the same system that sneakily binds you. For there are more poor Whites than Blacks, statistically. There are more Whites on state assistance than Blacks. More White “welfare queens” than Black ones. And Blacks don’t have the power and privilege to make that possible. So who does?

Is the dilemma that poor Whites face is in accepting the fact that until Black Lives Matter TOO, their life won’t truly matter either, they will still be seen as trash, worthless except to raise hell and do the dirty work of the wealthy? Is it difficult to swallow the pill of multi-generational hate aimed at a people they were taught to believe they were better than simply because they wore a different color of skin—while blaming those same people for rising from the ashes, sometimes surpassing them? Your great great great great grandparents were lied to, and every generation leading to you were lied to. You have been lied to.

It has to be maddening when you can’t really explain the hate and you’re too afraid to place blame squarely where it belongs. You’re boxing with shadows. With smoke and mirrors. Face the truth. It will set you and all of us free!

Let that sink in.

Share your thoughts below. Don’t come at me sideways with vitriol, you will only find yourself kicking a can, alone…

Love always,

Natasha

BLM #BLM2 #BLMToo #checkersorchess #unify #unity #smokeandmirrors

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Over the years I’ve shared some great messages from my childhood friend, Sean Brown, and today I want to share a message that someone really needs to hear. I know I did. I hope you truly listen with your heart. You may agree or disagree with Sean. He’s sharing his opinion and insights. Join in the conversation and explore what we can do better and together. We’re all dealing with trauma and going through phases of healing. We should do a better job at sharing the tools we use to cope with and overcome the rough times. Thank you Sean for sharing this!

Love,

Natasha

Today, as I was reflecting over a 10-year-old message I had written for my Breaking Bread blog, I started to look inward and examine how I’ve grown in some areas and still struggle in other areas. The post is on forgiveness and I can admit that I struggle with forgiving myself and others for various offenses. This is something I have to reconcile as it’s no one else’s responsibility to manage my thoughts, emotions, or actions.

My heart and what flows from it is my doing, no one else’s. My actions are my choosing. The words I speak are by my control, not the pulled strings of a puppet master. So if I deposit venom or bliss, it’s by my doing. I must take responsibility for the energy and feelings that I choose to deposit, withdraw, hold on to, or let go. Below is an image of a message that I shared on Instagram. Maybe it will spark a healthy conversation. Reach out and let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

With Love, Natasha

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

So I have a confession, of sorts, well… not really, because I already wrote about this over the years. But let me make it more pointed today. In the past I made it a habit of quickly rebounding from one old relationship into a new one. I convinced myself that the old guy was no longer relevant and it was time to move on.

The reality was and is, I didn’t want to face and deal with the pain of the loss. The rebound was a bandaid, a quick fix, to convince myself and others that I was good, and “I’m over that dude!”.

Those were all lies—in reference to several of the men I had relationships with over the past 25+ years. I don’t count the guys I went on a few dates with or we didn’t last past three months. I truly was over those dudes. But for the real ones, the ones that touched my heart and I cried when we broke up, it’s different but I lied and said it wasn’t. I didn’t want to keep dealing with the pain and shame.

How can I honestly say I’m over a person weeks or months after breaking up, when we were together for months and years longer than the period of time from break-up to rebound? Listening to your friends try to convince you to come party with them, or meet some new man/woman they think you will like, is not what you need fresh out of a relationship. That mindset of “get a new one to get over the old one” is a setup, a trick.

You have to untangle that web. Things have to be realigned and rewired in your mind and heart before you decide to let a new person come take a tour. They have no clue it’s a house of horrors up in there.

I’m sharing this today because I keep seeing folks rebounding left and right, but never healing. It bothers me to see it. It hits close to home because I know how they feel. It’s easy to rebound. Doesn’t take practice or skill. Just leap.

I started rebounding in high school. It never dawned on me that I shouldn’t have hopscotched into a new relationship weeks or months after breaking up with one of my high school loves. It was so casual for me because I wasn’t having sex so I didn’t see it as a big deal. Just because you’re not having sex doesn’t mean you still aren’t intimately intertwined.

A rebound is a rebound.

That rebound playbook is filled with disaster after disaster. No championships there. Just a trail of broken hearts or a bunch of bruises on yours. And it’s double the pain when you were both rebounding from previous relationships. Two damaged people can’t heal each other. You’re both taking turns putting bandaids on each other to cover the gaping wounds.

Let’s not even go there with the flow-over of one or both of you cheating on your partners and then you end up together. Your relationship is built on lies. Let me stop. That’s for another post.

Here’s a test to see if you’re truly over someone:

  • Do you find yourself mentioning them frequently in conversation with others? Or asking about them to certain people who still associate with your ex?
  • Do other people tell you that you mention that person a lot?
  • Are you still checking their social media and blog posts, and it causes you great discomfort seeing them “go on with their lives”?
  • Do you drive by their home and see if you can see them? 👀
  • Are you intentionally posting pictures and messages on social media aimed at getting a reaction from your ex? Or in hopes that someone will say something to them about your post?
  • Do you explode in rage when their name is mentioned, or does it evolve after a few moments of speaking about them?
  • Can you speak of that person with love in your heart, like that Mother Teresa kinda love? Or do you find yourself still pining for them, wishing they would call or drop by saying they made a mistake?
  • Are you still willing to have sex with them?

Ummm…If you’re down for the booty call then you aren’t over them, you’re just willing to accept whatever scraps you can get. Please know that you deserve better.

If when you think or speak about the person there’s so much venom brewing up inside of you that you could punch someone, you aren’t over them. Matter of fact, it’s the exact opposite, a part of you is consumed by them. You need an exorcism!

You should be able to casually mention an ex without it either appearing that you’re about to Linda Blair the place, or text or call them later hoping to re-engage. Too much talk of them in any of your conversations, with anyone, is a red flag. You aren’t over them. You still haven’t let go and let that chapter close.

Now when it comes to snooping on their social, you have too much time on your hand if you can social media stalk them. I get it, you may have shared connections so occasionally one of their posts may pop on your feed, but if you go from looking at one post and moments later you’re 10-plus posts in, you have gone too far. If you scrolled and found yourself gawking over posts from months ago or as far back as when the two of you were together, my friend you need an intervention. You also need to find a hobby or two!

That leads me to driving by their home. Please stop it. You’re taking creepy and desperate to another level. It doesn’t even matter if you used to live there, you don’t live there now. What do you gain from driving by and maybe seeing them alone, or with their new boo? Most likely you will do something immature and make yourself look silly. If you’re in your twenties this may be a struggle, but get it together. Everyone older than age 29 needs to stop it, and stop it now. You need cleansing, healing, and Jesus.

Some people want to hide behind the excuse of, “Well I broke up with them, so clearly I was done!” First, my response is, “Then why are you obsessed with them?” Second, it didn’t matter if I broke up with the guy or if they broke up with me, and it didn’t matter the reason for the break-up. It’s broken. It’s about how I live my life after the breakup. It’s about how I regard them after the break-up. Time is a precious asset that we cannot reclaim or recycle. How will you invest it?

Oh yeah, and let’s be clear, those of you still dwelling on the cheating partner that you broke up with—they actually broke up with you long before you did, it was just easier to keep you around until one of their “plans” worked in their favor. You made it easy for them by walking away, so get off of that horse and deal with your mess. Heal so that the right person will be perfectly aligned with you in the right ways, at the right time.

Here’s the truth—we shared great times and not-so-great times with our exes, and our souls were intertwined for a period of time. There was intimacy, dreams, goals, and plans. Your families may even be linked through this union. Time and energy were invested in each other, and in this relationship. Then suddenly, it’s over.

Okay, for some of you it was a long lead-up to that death, but once it was done it felt like you were now in a parallel world. While everyone else is living their lives, yours begins to spiral out of control, as your norm is no longer. Even if you argued every day with this person, now you’re not. Whatever your daily routine used to be is no more. You’re not cooking for two, doing laundry for two, planning for two, dreaming of two. Nope. Now it’s just you and that puffy face, snotty nose, red-eyed person staring back at you in the mirror.

The first stage of grief kicks in and you have a choice to accept it and triumphantly push through each stage, or cowardly jump off, and find a pacifier to coddle you. That pacifier is either in the form of partying with your friends (so you can consume as much of your day without being alone), getting stupid drunk (which you already know how that ends each time), or finding another source of body heat to connect with. All three options suck!

Yes, we shouldn’t isolate and turn into a hermit. At the same time, we do need alone time to be with our thoughts, our selves, our fears and issues. No one can fix us. We have to fix ourselves. We have to deal with us before we send some idiot representative to act on our behalf. Let’s keep it real, your friends don’t like that person. They like and prefer YOU, and when you get your life together or start destroying those friendships, they will tell you exactly that!

Some people don’t take the time they TRULY need after a break up to reflect and learn, heal and forgive themselves, release the stranglehold of shame, and ensure that they won’t be dragging baggage from the past into their future. If the issues that broke up your relationship aren’t resolved in your heart and mind, to the point that you can trust and love yourself and trust and love others, then you won’t. You can’t give what you don’t have.

But all of that requires work, and it’s a painful process that many try desperately to avoid.

That’s why we quickly rebound and hop into a fresh relationship where we can play make believe, pretend that we have a fresh slate, pretend that this new person is perfect and flawless, and pretend that we’re healed and whole. You can go on and on about how this new person is nothing like the ex, and how they just “get me”, and how easy it is with them, and blah blah blah…roses never stink thanks to this person, the world is brand new because you have a new love in your life, and “They bake their chicken while my ex roasted it…baked tastes better”. It didn’t matter how much your ex tried to motivate you to eat better and exercise more, now in your new relationship you’re bragging about how this new person has “Helped me get healthier” 🙄😒

And sadly, the suckups and yes people in your life just amen you and your glee, badmouth your ex they were just hanging with, and lie and tell your new love, “I’ve never seen him/her so happy,” knowing they’ve used this tired, recycled line far too many times. Or they’re newly minted friends so they haven’t known all of the other exes from years past. I always smile and nod when I hear this, because I know the truth—we haven’t been hit with life’s storms yet to truly test happiness and joy. I almost burst out laughing when I hear it from someone who never knew the ex, only heard the hearsay after. So you never witnessed an entire relationship, the last one this person was in, and you’re trying to prop me up to believe that my presence and love has overshadowed the ex. Mmkay…tsk tsk…But I exhale and allow everyone to play their parts, and say their lines.

Whatever the scenario, you’re floating on air for weeks or months, until there’s a crack in the facade. Until the past and present have a catastrophic collision 💥

That first real argument is bananas. I’m not talking about the trivial little disagreement. Nope, I’m talking about the rabbit hole of doom that you and this person have ran into like two maniacs. It doesn’t take long for you to slip up and call them your ex’s name.

It doesn’t take long for you to start negatively comparing them to your ex or exes. Yeah, you’re going through the laundry list of offenses that past loves did that resemble what your new love has done (or that you have accused them of doing). Oh yeah, you’re cutting and slashing them to the quick. You have a bloodthirst. You’re going for total annihilation.

That’s because you’re still not healed and over your past. You’re carrying that dead weight around like it’s a championship belt or Flavor Flav’s clock necklace. Visualize his big clock hanging from his neck. Let me help you out…

For you, in your life, this clock represents the past, the time you dwell on, the time that you swear you lost being in that old relationship. Sadly, it also represents the time that you waste dwelling on all of it. If you had invested the time to heal from it, it wouldn’t be dead weight holding you down and keeping you from truly moving forward—in a healthy way. Nope. Instead it would be a joyful reminder to not waste a moment, embrace it, and live fully. But instead you have now gone berserk on the same person who moments ago you swore could do no wrong.

It’s not fair to the new person and it’s not a healthy situation for either of you. It’s a setup for another explosive end. It’s a setup for both of you to be hurt repeatedly. You are a ticking time bomb waiting to be detonated, and this other person is clueless—or if they know, then they are ignorant enough to stand near by to take a direct hit.

Rebounds are only good in sports and in leadership examples, where we bounce back from falling on our face—and in those instances, you’re still expected to reflect on the learned lesson. Rebounds are never healthy in the romance sphere. You’re playing a game and it’s the one that can lead to dire consequences. Relationship rebounds are bandaids. They aren’t cures. You’re just masking the infection underneath. At some point, that nasty bandaid is gonna fall off and expose you.

Clean your wounds, properly bandage things, learn yourself, date yourself, go through the painful healing process. Believe me, it’s less painful than being in a constant cycle of toxic relationships—especially when YOU are the common denominator in those relationships!

If you’re currently in a relationship with a person you rebounded with, you need to work on your self-healing without their involvement. They are not your savior or pacifier. Dig the gunk out of your mind and heart, deal with your issues, be honest with them, admit that you’re still hurting and stress to them that it is not for them to solve, fix, mend, or repair. If they want to walk beside you, thank them but establish clear boundaries. Yes, they should hold you accountable when you blur those lines of past and present, but emotionally and verbally beating you up for not recovering as fast as they like is not acceptable. They should not set the expectations and parameters for your healing. If you can’t do it then you have no business being in a new relationship.

Take your time with them. Don’t rush things. Don’t let them rush you. Savor those moments. Identify truth from fantasy. Find your foundation and be grounded. Be uncomfortable in the unknown, the uncharted. If they can’t handle this truth, if they can’t deal with your slower pace, then give them the option to take a cleansing break for a few months, or lovingly go your separate ways. It’s not punishment. It’s not leverage. It’s about love, healing, growth, maturity, and wisdom. You can’t fully and honestly love them if you’re not positively loving yourself.

I truly hope these words help someone. I know it would’ve saved me years of grief and conflict, relationship after relationship. I would’ve learned to let go of people who couldn’t let go of their exes. I would’ve learned to not enter a relationship when I wasn’t healed from the last one. I would’ve been mature enough to take those cleansing breaks to assess things in a loving way.

We owe it to ourselves and others to do no harm. When we willfully enter a relationship knowing we are damaged, frayed, on edge, and can easily cut and be cut —we are intentionally causing and inviting harm.

It’s time to heal!

Love always,

Natasha

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Who are you, defined solely by you and your Creator? Then be you. Be that person. Stop trying to conform, be accepted, and apologize for blurring someone else’s lines, visions, boxes, categories, expectations, and labels.

Too many people are miserable because they’re trying to be something and someone they aren’t. They’re trying to live someone else’s life, by someone else’s standards.

When you have your quiet time with your Creator, are you at peace? Then that is what you should be aiming for each day. The struggle and pain comes from stepping outside of that zone.

Affirm who you are. Define yourself by the standards you and your Creator have outlined. Stop apologizing to people who don’t matter, never did. They didn’t create you. You are not in their image and likeness. Your mind, spirit, and soul were not formed by them. They do not breathe life into you each day. They don’t complete you, make you whole, or make you real. All of that comes from one Source, and you disrespect and disregard that truth and your union when you keep chasing behind the fallacy of human existence and norms, as created by the creations.

Live your life as boldly or as muted as you choose. Love yourself. There’s only one you!

~Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

I chat with my former sister-in-law, Arleen, almost daily. Just because we’re no longer connected by marriage doesn’t mean she and I aren’t connected. Earlier this morning she texted me several messages, one included this bold reminder:

This message made me pause and then laugh at the memories of my past when I actually contemplated the half fullness or emptiness of a glass, thinking it had to be one or the other. It’s not. It’s an “and”. Matter of fact, it’s two “and’s”.

The glass is half empty and half full, and it’s refillable—which is an even bigger a-ha! We can always add to it.

This is life.

Half-fullers

For those of you who have a tendency of always seeing the glass as half-full, this message is for you. Stop seeing lack in everything you encounter.

Conditionally Half-full

Some of you reading this may be optimistic in one part of your life but always skeptical and cynical in another part. You may be thriving in your career and tanking in your love life, or vice versa. It’s because you’re failing to see that relationships are relationships, some are just more intimate than others. You truly limit yourself when you approach life thinking that there’s two worlds you’re straddling. There’s one world, you’re just engaging in each relationship in different ways. It’s about the “and’s”.

Don’t limit yourself. When you do you risk not embracing the “and’s”. They do you no good trapped inside of your mind. How many “and’s” are waiting to pour out of you?

It’s Refillable

We have to stop pushing thoughts and emotions down. Stop running and hiding from them. Explore them. Even the uncomfortable and destructive ones. Dissect them and then deal with them one at a time. Determine what works, what doesn’t, what’s for you and what’s not, and then move forward.

Our dreams die because we keep forgetting that the glass is refillable.

Our relationships die because we keep forgetting that the glass is refillable.

We have to keep pouring into those people and things that matter to us. And being mindful and intentional about what we’re pouring in, when, and why. If you pour in junk that’s what you will get. If you ration what you pour in, you will only get driplets in return. If you’re only pouring in when it serves your immediate needs, then you will only receive a short-term gain. If you’re only pouring in for selfish reasons, then you will find yourself always feeling empty-handed.

And while you’re pouring in you need to responsibly pour out.

We’re social creatures, built to give and receive. If you’re hellbent on receiving but not giving, the cup will be filled and that’s it; it’s full but, over time, you will begin to envy and covet other people’s refilled glasses. You may even knock over your glass reaching towards theirs. You will see all of the changes in their life, and you will want what they have not realizing how and why their glass keeps refilling with such variety and splendor.

The reasons they have what you don’t is simple: They aren’t placing limits on themselves, and they put in the work each day that you’re unwilling to do. They pour into others as they’re cup is being refilled. They do whatever it takes to keep that cup flowing. They operate from a mindset of abundance. They see waterfalls while you see dams. They release while you hoard.

Ooh Look at Their Grass

It’s like the “grass is greener on the other side” analogy that people ponder. I’ve written about it before but let’s look at it in yet another way.

Not Green Enough

If your “grass” is green but not as green as the other “yard”, you may think your grass isn’t green enough. Do you call that yard owner or a lawn care service and ask why their grass seems so much greener? Do you ask how to get your grass as green? Do you check to see what they are doing differently? Or do you check to see if maybe you have a different type of grass that needs to be cared for a different way?

Or do you just stew in your envy and grow to hate your yard? Or do you go a step farther and plot and plan to leave your yard so you can go to the other one?

Maybe their grass is greener because they put in the work each day that you refuse to do, don’t know how to do, or just don’t do as well. Maybe.

It can also be the type of grass. Some types need more or less water, cut more or less frequently, etc. Maybe they invested more in better quality grass, while you chose the cheaper route.

If you never ask the questions about the grass and the caretaker you never get the truth, well not initially. Some folks are so busy trying to fence hop, yard swap, that they don’t know the details.

Some people have gorgeous yards because they pay someone else to care for them, or someone else (like a spouse) is pulling all of the weight and caring for that yard. The person you give credit to for the yard merely found someone with the skills to do it for them. But how many people jump at the chance to get their hands on the person they think makes that grass magical, just to find out their choice was wrong?

We see this a lot in relationships where a person pursues a man/woman who is already in a relationship and they assume that the “greenness” they see is solely the result of that one person they are pursuing. They fail to realize that the partner is doing their share. The person they’re pursuing may not be the caretaker of that lawn.

It’s Fake

Some of you are busy bashing your yard not knowing that other super green lawns are actually artificial turf. You’re trying to swap real for fake. Even if you get it, after some time you may find yourself yearning for the real thing. What are you going to do then, pine for your old yard, tear up your fake one and try to lay down real grass? Or will you jump the fence and go invade yet another yard?

It happens a lot when people fence hop and leave behind their yard for another. After awhile, they start looking at that hard work each day (of labor and/or expense) and begin to yearn for their old yard. What is both sad and comical is when people look back at their old yards and realize that “It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I just didn’t want to put in the work”. They now have a new perspective and they don’t like the decisions they made. That’s what happens when we operate from a mindset of lack.

Brown “Grass”

If your grass is brown it’s because you didn’t care for it properly. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter if you pack up and go to that other lawn because guess what? You’re still you and you’re still bringing your limited thinking over to that green lawn—which means that unless you put in the work to keep that grass green, you will either end up with brown grass or you’re gonna get kicked out of that yard. Whoever took care of that green grass, that you coveted, isn’t going to let you neglect or abuse it.

Fix Your Mindset

Life is not passive it’s active. You have to engage and take part in it. You have to work to block out what’s toxic and unhealthy, and let in all that is healthy and appropriate for you. It requires discernment, clarity, patience, and discipline. Not all that is healthy is for you. You have to find, see, and embrace what’s right for you. You’re a special puzzle and only the right pieces fit. Some of us just keep jamming the wrong pieces in, trying to make them fit. You’re distorting things for selfish gains, which only leads to loss.

Your mental state of lack will always keep you in a deficit. That’s why the grass-is-greener fiasco keeps you in a state of lack.

We want a microwave solution to an oven-baked situation. That’s a problem we face each day and we don’t realize that the solution is to get out of our own way. Our unhealthy selfishness causes us more grief than gain. We also remain in a state of lack when we make everything about us. When we compare what we don’t have with what someone does have, and we think that we deserve what they have because in our minds we put in equal or greater efforts—yet got different results—and we don’t see the flaws in that distorted logic.

When we are the only priority in every circumstance, we’ve unknowingly declared that the glass isn’t refillable. We’ve actually cut holes into it and we’re watching everything drain out. Ironically, we will blame someone or something else for the holes. Because now we must play the role of victim. It’s all about us, until we have to take responsibility for our actions.

To truly live we have to stop this rollercoaster of madness that we’ve created. We can’t handle it, yet, we expect others to jump on and enjoy the ride. We want people to accept and love us, when we don’t accept and love ourselves. We keep wanting it to be all about us yet we expect others to fulfill a role for us that they were never created for. We covet when we should be grateful and content.

Just like our bodies need water we need a healthy source to tap into so that our thirsts are quenched, and we can function as we’re designed. The three-part question now to ponder is:

Who and/or what is your source? Do you go within or elsewhere to access it? How will you stay out of the way so it can do what needs to be done?

~Natasha

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman.

What is amazing is that John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath in 1939 and it covered the era of the Dust Bowl, yet 81 years later I can see scenes of that past displayed in painful images and news reports today. If you don’t know 1930s US history, then let me give you a quick recap of what the Dust Bowl was all about and how I’m tying this into present-day.

Due to years of drought and improperly farmed land (due to high demand of rapid cultivation), wind erosion, and the influx of mechanized farm equipment a decade earlier, the unanchored soil turned to dust. That dust was whirled up by strong winds that swept huge billowing dust clouds throughout the panhandle of Oklahoma (northwest), northern Texas, northeast New Mexico, southeast Colorado, western and central Kansas, and a speck of southwestern Nebraska in the early 1930s.

More than 100 million acres were impacted by the dust storms, most of the states affected were choked off by dust for over four years, while some states were impacted for over 8 years. Tens of thousands of people were displaced because they could no longer farm their lands, pay their bills, and provide for their families. By 1936, the financial loss was $25 million per day, which is the equivalent to approximately $460 million today, according to the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis.

Families who had lived on their properties for generations, were forced to leave with whatever they could pack and load in their vehicles. Their houses and other structures were oftentimes bulldozed and destroyed. Since the banks now owned the lands because the families took out loans that they later could not repay, these families were left to be tenant farmers and had no claim to the land they once owned free and clear. Banks showed no mercy as they forced the families from their homes and off of their lands. Sound familiar?

My maternal grandparents were born and raised in Oklahoma, and were children during the Dust Bowl. Thankfully for them, the storms never reached their part of the state and they never had to leave their family’s lands. And although I’m a California native, thankfully when my parents and paternal grandparents moved to that state, the chaos of decades earlier had been a memory far removed. But maybe you can see another reason why I’m naturally drawn to the story, The Grapes of Wrath. Both sides of my family have been landowners and property owners for generations. Imagine making it past the Civil War and finally gaining a footing in this cruel country, to then be forced off of the land you bought and worked on. Just devastating.

Tens of thousands of people traveled from Dust Bowl states and migrated to California, because it was known as a state that survived the Great Depression better than most states. Individuals and families saw California as their second chance to rebuild and thrive. What they didn’t know was that Californians didn’t want outsiders and “foreigners”. The migrants were called “Okies” and this wasn’t just because many of them were from Oklahoma, it soon became a derogatory term to describe the level of disgust that Californians felt for the migrants. Yes indeed, people from other states were called foreigners, and they looked down on them. If you look at our country today, locals don’t feel cheery about a spike in their population due to newcomers. They start to fear a shortage in jobs, housing, opportunities, and space on the freeways and highways. They start to fear a spike in the cost of goods and services. Although they give the side eye, they aren’t acting out like we did decades ago.

Not yet at least.

If you read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck then maybe you recall the struggle and strife of the people and families impacted by the Dust Bowl. You should also recall how they were overlooked and taken advantage of by those in their home states who didn’t lose their properties, and they were treated considerably worse by people in California.

Those who made it to California were forced to accept scraps, beg for jobs, and be subjected to inhumane conditions. And back then, the Salvation Army had a bad reputation in California for mistreating the destitute. If the “Okies” protested what Californians were doing to them then they were beaten, arrested, and many were murdered. Yes, even law enforcement was in on the mistreatment. Sadly, the migrants watched as their campsites were burned down by locals who didn’t want “Okies” there. Locals didn’t want to compete with the migrants so they did everything they could to force them out of the state.

Californians drove wages as low as possible to ensure that the migrants couldn’t live dignified lives. They created a mindset where people would accept anything just to eat. They would work for scraps of food to keep from dying of hunger. To keep prices of their crops high, the big landowners in California destroyed some of their crops instead of letting hungry migrants eat them. This waste and cruelty caused a “crop” to develop and sprout in the souls of the migrants—which Steinbeck coined, the grapes of wrath.

The irony is, Californians were doing all of that to protect the land that they stole from Mexicans. Yep, California was part of Mexico, along with Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas until 1850, 1912, and 1848, respectively. How did this happen? Well, in the early 1800s, Americans were desperate and they decided to travel to other lands looking for opportunities for a better life. They saw ripe acres of land and they chose to become squatters. They built houses, planted on and farmed the lands, and eventually stood strengthened in the belief that the land was now theirs. Since Mexicans hadn’t considered that squatters would be an issue, they weren’t prepared for what ultimately happened—losing their land to immigrants who forcefully fought to remain on land not theirs. In 1848 Texas fought and became a state. In 1850 California became a state, and because they also fought hard against slavery, it was a free state as part of the Union. Arizona and New Mexico eventually gained statehood in 1912.

Now, fast forward to the 1930s with Californians “owning” the land, they saw their old selves in the migrants, and rather than being neighborly, they acted rabid. They feared losing the land the same way they got it. They feared the migrants from Oklahoma and other states, and feared that just as they squatted on the land and fought the Mexicans, that the migrants would do the exact same thing to them.

If this wasn’t so painful to examine it would be comical. This nonsense has been happening since this country was first stolen from Native Americans. Our inability to coexist, share, be content with what is allotted to us in a land where we are all foreigners, so we steal that land and it’s resources from the people who allowed us to come here. Then when newcomers arrive we tell them we don’t want them here, there’s not enough land and resources to share. All I can do is smirk and shake my head.

If you never read The Grapes of Wrath and doubt you will go buy a copy or check out one from the library, let me help you out. I searched on YouTube and found all three parts of the audiobook from two sources. Below are the links. Listen to the book. Listen and see how then, is in many ways, now, and now is then.

Audiobook Part 1 https://youtu.be/CzdoHqBhcdc Audiobook Part 2 https://youtu.be/3ofBuTMAtc4 Audiobook Part 3 https://youtu.be/0sjzwlkkLmg

This savagery, as I call it, is cyclical— generation after generation. We keep repeating this nonsense and we don’t see the need to stop and live right. We don’t see the need to treat others with dignity and respect, just as we would like to be treated. Greed drives it all. Big business keeps squashing the little person, banks keep getting bailed out even though they won’t do the same for their depositors, and the frenzy drives the working class into a state of sheer desperation and madness—where they too begin turning on each other. Sound familar? If only people learned how to unite against the status quo. That was a thread of wisdom that Steinbeck wove through the story, where certain characters would propose the concept of strength in numbers, and standing as a collective voice and force—but each time, fear would get in the way. Just like today.

In the book, people were prevented from buying land in California, and if it appeared there was an opportunity to purchase, the price would be set so high that the dream would quickly disappear. They would be forced to live in government and other campsites, with communal facilities, and unsanitary conditions. Today, how do we get the “undesirables” out of neighborhoods and communities? We raise the price of rent, we increase our police presence to get more arrests, we create or unfairly enforce rules or laws that target them, and we make the living conditions unbearable. That is also the strategy to keep people away.

I’ve read several articles recently about the skyrocketed cost of living in California and the staggering number of homeless who have no where safe to go. People with jobs who can’t afford to rent are being forced to sleep in their vehicles, in shelters, or on the streets. Just the other week I read of a tiny house community that was built to house the homeless. It’s ridiculous that this community even had to be built. If property owners reduced their rates on their rentals people could rent. If property owners stopped being greedy trying to sell their homes for way more than their worth, we could have more homeowners. But guess what? Between greed and fear, no one is budging from their position.

But guess what else? It’s not just California that has lost their mind with these ridiculous rate hikes. Have you checked the rental and sales prices of properties in Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding cities? Absolutely ridiculous. There are some areas where you can still be mugged or carjacked yet the houses are being sold for $500,000 to $750,000. I’m not joking. Houses that once were $15,000 to $50,000 were remodeled and because some sucker (most likely from California, New York, or other high priced state) was willing to pay $350,000 or more for a property nearby, that encouraged other sellers to list their homes for comparable prices. All of this has been driving the market up, which means a bubble will be bursting soon, and people will be wailing about the injustice of it all when the property values come plummeting down to levels that actually make sense. We could stop these bubbles from growing in the first place if people stopped being greedy.

Everyone thinks that someone is going to take or destroy what’s ours, even when what’s ours isn’t rightfully ours. We keep living with a “them” versus “us” mindset, rather than realizing that we all want the exact same things in life, and given the opportunity we could all live side-by-side in harmony. We simply choose the chaos. When will we grow tired of this treachery? Share your thoughts.

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman.