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Eat In This Order…

By Tequila Cheatham McCray

With Juneteenth in June, and Independence Day in July, it’s a great time to free ourselves of certain things and have dialogue about issues that are happening secretly.

This year, I had the opportunity to connect with some amazing women in business. One of them by the name of Carleeka Basnight-Menendez who is the founder of an organization called INSO Inc., who made me realize something about myself when I was a teenager, and even once I became an adult. It’s difficult to admit but, it’s time to release.

Let’s just say it how it is… I had an eating disorder. Now, there are different types of eating disorders but, we normally associate it with one type. I, on the other hand, had a binge eating disorder. You see, I had been slim my entire life. There was nothing I could do to gain weight. I had a high metabolism, and I was very active. I became self-conscious when people started making certain remarks about my body size. Up until that point, I had no idea that something was “wrong” with me. First, they would call me names. Second, they’d tell me to eat more. as if I was starving mself. Third, I would sometimes eat until my belly ached. I would “eat a whole pizza and three plates of food knowing I was already full” (line taken from my poem called, Flaca) simply to not be looked upon as “too thin.” It was as if they were saying I was unacceptable, unwanted. Me? Unacceptable? Has anyone ever made you feel like that?

Well, I’ve partnered with the fabulous Carleeka to talk about our personal journeys with this issue of “eating disorders” and how it plays a role specifically in the African American communities because it’s not viewed upon as a “black thing.” It’s time to change the trajectory of these perspectives because it’s toxic and it doesn’t help us grow as individuals, a community, society, nor as a world. Check out the interview!

Tequila: Hey Carleeka! How are you?

Carleeka: Hey Tequila! I am doing great, and you?

Tequila: Great, thanks. I want to talk about things that are taboo, and that people are afraid to discuss.

Carleeka:  That is awesome! Yes, we need to stop being silent. This year, I plan on going to diferent cities to do an empowerment session on eating disorders.

Tequila: That’s awesome man. I’ve never had that issue or know anyone who did except you. I don’t think people are knowledgeable about it. I think most of us assume people just want to starve themselves. Obviously, there’s more to it.

Carleeka: It is a journey girl. Even statistically, there is not enough reported data for African American women. There is way more [to it] and other forms such as binge eating.

Tequila: Wow. I’m really in awe about this subject because we really don’t think about African American women with eating disorders.

Carleeka: It’s that part right there girl. For so long in our communities, it’s been said that’s not a “black thing” not realizing that many binge due to the lack thereof, emotions, etc. which leads to health problems we can’t afford.

Tequila: Whew! GIRL. School me…The main thing I’d like to know is: How does it impact you being an entrepreneur, if at all?

Carleeka: As an entrepreneur, it impacts everything I do because it’s all about perception. The image we see, and realizing everything we say or do is a result of what we think and perceive. I had to change my perception in order to change my life. It wasn’t easy…the mental battle of being fat…

Tequila: Right. What’s even more taboo is whether AA[African American] men do the same. We NEVER talk about that….I’m actually working on a novel that deals with physical body image. It’s a very touchy subject for me and I think you’re making me realize something about myself Carleeka…Growing up thin, I would sometimes binge eat to gain weight, to not be called names…wow…I forget about it because I had to have a mental talk with myself to never think like that again and to just be happy with who I was…

Carleeka: Wow…I could not get skinny enough. It began in 10th grade until I was 28. I weighed in at age 22, pregnant with my daughter at 85lbs, and I thought I was fat. The thing is I was always small but, I could control my weight. I became an ADDICT to losing weight.

Tequila: Wow. This is interesting and really deep. After I had my son, I hurried up and lost the weight because I thought I was fat. Not only that, the weight wasn’t doing well on my knees.

Carleeka: Some people don’t realize that every thin person is not happy being skinny. They want some meat!

Tequila: Right. I think I wanted meat for all of the wrong reasons though…To be more attractive, to appear more “womanly,” to be more wanted…That self -love is serious man..

Carleeka: Girl, you are so right about self -love…I am INTENTIONAL on not going back there. Now I had some moments after I was on steroids for medical reasons but I quickly dismissed those thoughts. It was about control and the fact that a lot of my family members were obese, so I vowed to myselfthat I would never be fat. I had “Fear of Fat.”

Tequila: Man, I definitely get it.

Carleeka: So that’s why I felt led this year to go to different cities and bring more awareness and share my story to AAs[African Americans].

Tequila: Wow, that’s great hun. Thank you for this conversation. If you could tell anyone out there who has experienced, or going through any type of eating disorder, what would you say?

Carleeka: I would tell them: Don’t be ashamed, and you will overcome!

For more information on Carleeka’s organization, INSO, Inc. visit, www.insoinc.org.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, please call the National Eating Disorder Association, or NEDA hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

Also,

Carleeka Basnight-Menendez
Founder of INSO, Inc.

“Carry Your Own Weight, Son”

By Tequila Cheatham

 

During the summer of 2016, we signed our son up to play football. It was something he had been wanting to do for a while, and since it would be the end of his homeschooling life with Mommy, I felt it was important to include him in a social activity that would prepare and transition him to be in a classroom with other children.

One of the things I’ve always admired about sports is its sense of discipline and encouragement. Being a Team Mom for the Maryland Terps, I was reminded of the fun and push I received when I played sports throughout school. I was excited to know my son was experiencing the same feeling. The sense of brotherhood, friendship, structure yet play, and having father figures who pushed him on days when I had to work was something I was passionate about. It really does take a village to raise a child. In today’s world, parents are emotionally sensitive to anyone telling their child what to do and not to do. When I was growing up, if adults saw us doing anything we know we were not suppose to do, they would tell our nearest relative, and that relative would tell our parents. The grapevine was  important under a trust and respect agreement.

In some cases, some neighbors were allowed to discipline us in the absence of our parents. To come across similar solidarity and love is very rare these days, but sports promote that same type of unity. It is vital for my son to be surrounded by positive forces especially when the people look like him and have had his same struggles as a kid.

One night, at the end of practice, my son was so tired from daycare and football practice. Being a mother, my nurturing lights turned on, and I immediately held on to his helmet and Gatorade. I heard one of the coaches yell out, “Carry your own helmet son!” Again, I felt some type of way because my motherly instincts kicked in. As heavy as the helmet was and as tired as he may have been, he grabbed the helmet from hand, along with the drink. I felt some type of way, then I had flashbacks of when I was in sports and had to push through my exhaustion on many days. I knew it would probably be a good idea for him to carry his own…

That moment spoke volumes to me. It was symbolic for the discipline it will take when he becomes an adult, and the many days he will have to push through when he doesn’t feel like adulting. As a young man, it stood for his role as a future husband, father, citizen, future boss, and friend, and how there will be times he will feel the world is on his shoulders, and how he must carry his own weight.

After living in my own head for a second, his cousin sped past him with his own helmet and drink in his hand. My son, being the competitive person he is, gained a burst of energy out of nowhere, laughed, and eventually caught up to his cousin. My heart smiled. Not only has homeschooling my son prepared my son for the transition, it also did the same for me.

I’m raisin a human being; and, I’m helping to raise a man.


Reasons to Like Kanye West

By Tequila Cheatham

 

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Kanye West

 They say he’s a rebel, childish, and lost. They even said his music became garbage when he started changing his style and lyrics. Yes, jumping on stage and interrupting Taylor Swift’s speech was rude, but Kanye West is far from crazy. People rag on him and say he’s arrogant because he calls himself a god. What they do not understand is Kanye’s self-proclamation is no different than Muhammed Ali’s self-affirmation quote,

“I am the greatest.”

Motivational speaker Eric Thomas is an advocate of telling oneself whatever it takes to be a winner. In his words exactly, “If you don’t do it, no one else will.” Why is Kanye West self-affirmation looked upon as bad?

Just like the Egyptians, we are gods in our own right. We are powerful beyond measure; and, because Kanye recognizes his power and insist on exercising it, he is bashed for it. He calls himself a “creative genius” and everyone beats up on him for it, when in fact, he is a creative genius in his own right. The world finds any reason to degrade and belittle black men even when he’s doing something positive. Yes, he may have made mistakes, but he’s human. It should not take away from his art, nor his humanness.

There is not much publicity or talk about how he is collaborating with hip hop artist, Common, to build a school in Detroit that will teach minorities a way to self-sustain and give them job skills, right? Of course not. The media only focuses on the negative images. They want to paint him as a mad man. Well, you know what they say about “mad men” right? According to Urban Dictionary, a madman is “A male of any age who continually rages in a social setting. This person tends to be extremely successful with members of both sexes and is often the life of the party wherever he goes.” They are creative geniuses.