Resisting Soul Murder: My Summer Plan

In September, when I return to campus how do I tell my colleagues that my summer project was resisting soul murder? You see, we go through this ritual of telling others what we did for the summer. The unwritten rule is that we are to speak of all the wonderful and thought provoking research we did-so that we can prove our worth. Or that we speak of all the exotic places we visited—often another status symbol used in academia to jockey for position.


But me, this summer will be spent wrestling for my soul. Why? Because while I can’t escape anti-blackness and race-gender oppression, I can choose how I want to live. Historian, Nell Painter, in describing the lasting impact of slavery on the enslaved, employs the term “soul murder”. Soul murder occurs when what is most essential to the person, in this case freedom and human dignity, is killed but the body is alive. Soul murder is trauma, the trauma that results from race-gender oppression; the type of trauma that transcends time and space, as it is trans-generational.[1] (more…)


For Those of Us Who aren’t Beyoncé, Nikki or Rhianna



This past few weeks have found me thinking of us Black women who are not Beyoncé, Nikki Minaj or Rhianna. The seemingly growing outcry for the #MissingDCGirls, Bill O’Riley’s “critique” of Maxine Waters, and the audacity of the White House Press Secretary to scold veteran journalist April Ryan, which all led to #Blackwomenatwork really does make me think of how we are valued. How do we even see Black women that are removed from the public eye? How are us “regular” Black women framed and talked about? We are often made invisible.



Sapphire Unbound Is Back





A few years ago, I started this blog because I was frustrated. I was frustrated because it felt like Black girls and women were being left out of so many critical conversations. As much as I care about bringing Black girls and women from the margin to the center, I had to take a bit of a hiatus. In other words, I was tired and I needed a moment to recover (but that’s another post).


Part of my struggle involved me contemplating the question: What do I have to say? I was unsure of my “blogging voice” in a market place that is filled with a myriad of bloggers. I still don’t have an answer. However, I feel compelled to enter this space. There is a story that feels like it’s waiting to be birthed in this space. And so I honor that.


Reviving Sapphire Unbound…


While I was off-line I spent sometime organizing the first ever Black Women and Girls Symposium. I also spent some time working on a few writing projects—including a special issue of NPSR that looks at ‘#BlackGirlMagic’ and an anthology on Black girls and women’s self-articulation (both forthcoming).


Needless to say, these past few months have been intense. But it’s all about creating space for Black girls and women’s voices. In the spaces in between this labor, I’ve given a lot of thought to healing Black girls and women’s pain—the type of pain that results from race-gender (and other) oppressive forces.


This seems to be the story that’s calling me. But for some reason, I can’t put my thoughts together. I don’t know if I’m just too caught up with needing to get this “right”. Or could it be that my own pain is holding me back? On top it all; there is the current political climate…


Over the months, I contemplated simply giving it all up. Walking away from blogging, just walking away…but there was a desire to tell this story.


As chance would have it, I re-read bell hook’s book “Sisters of the Yam”. There, in this quote, I found a reason to continue blogging


bell hooks quote-2


So, yeah…Sapphire Unbound is back.


I have to warn you, I’m a tad angry. I’m angry about how some choose to talk about the poor. You know, people like Chaffetz who seem to think that the poor have bad money management skills.


I’ve been going to the doctor a lot of late—a tear in my labrum. And let’s just say the only reason I can keep up to 4 appointments some weeks is because I have insurance. And even with medical insurance it’s expensive. Simply put the poor cannot afford to be sick in this country, so telling them not to buy iPhones does not a solution make.


And don’t get me started on the notion that enslaved individuals came to the Americas in search of a good life and for the opportunities afforded to future generations. Clearly Ben Carson forgot what he learned in History courses.


But wait… Please don’t get me started on what’s going on in the White House. My mother use to tell me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then say nothing”. It’s hard not to say anything given the utter “nonsense” (me being polite). I’m an immigrant Black woman who is raising a young Black woman. Needles to say, there is a lot for me to say given the images-1 that’s going on.


As a Black feminist how do I even begin to engage all that’s going on? And how do I do it in a way that is honest to the larger goals of liberation, justice, and healing? I truly don’t know


What I know for sure is that we need each other.


Doing Black Feminist Work


Here’s what I committed myself to doing given the current climate:


  1. Build critical community
  2. Create spaces for healing—through healing circles
  3. Work to help create critical knowledge that’s designed for the liberation of Black girls and women.


I hope you will join me in this fight for truth and humanity. Tell me, what’s your strategy to resist and thrive in this current political climate?







WE BEEN BAMBOOZLED: Why POC should stop using the term Micro-Aggressions

Scenario: Student of color tells story of a professor, a person not of color, who embarrasses her/him in class for allegedly being late. The individual had entered the class prior to the professor being there. They left their bag and went to use the bathroom. They returned prior to class time. When they returned the professor, although class hadn’t officially started, proceeded to yell at the person of color for being late. Next class two students, not of color, entered class late—class had commenced. The professor did not reprimand these students for being late


Scenario: Person of color drives onto campus with proper credentials. Security guard stops him/her–denying entrance. Security guard questions the individual, while waving through cars driven by individuals not of color.


Scenario: Three persons of color greeting each other. Security guard, in an unmarked car, drives up. Guard drives slowly while lowering the passenger window. As the guard, a person not of color, gets parallel to the small group they come to an almost stop, looks at the group and smiles. Then drives on. One of the individuals of color states, “That was weird, that was very weird.”


What do these scenarios have in common?



Living Golden 2016: When the Storms Come

A few weeks ago I traveled to Jackson, MS. While there I awoke to a darken room. Needless to say I was a tad disoriented. Then I heard the clap of thunder. The power was out as a result of the storm. Last week I was in Milledgeville, GA. This time I was awake when the power went out. I actually heard the click right before I heard the clap of thunder. I lay there in bed, somewhat amused, as my travels seem to match the story of my life.


The storms outside matched the storm I was experiencing inside.


I’m not being melodramatic when I say that my life is undergoing change. Some change is invited, but 90 percent of it is just life happening. Some days I hear the click before I feel the fear, dread…. of the change and some days it’s here and I simply become aware of it.


But there are also these beautiful moments, coexisting, of pure bliss mingled in with the fear of the unknown. It’s like the moment during both my visits that happened between the storms. The sun literally, and figuratively, came out.


This made me think critically about the coexistence of emotions when the storms come. What do we do? How do we live in the darkness and in the light?


Dealing with the Storms


For me, I had to confront some questions. These might not be the questions you need to ask, but I’ll share what I asked myself.


  1. Why am I afraid?
  2. Why do I perceive change as “bad” or “negative”?
  3. What narratives am I using and are there alternatives?
  4. How do I understand my sense of safety and security?
  5. What’s available to me as I encounter this storm?


Living in and with the storm


I could no more manipulate the storm that was happening internally than I could manipulate the storms occurring outside my hotel rooms.


So, what does that leave me? I had to jump into the unknown. Can I tell you, this was not easy. I’ll share a few strategies that are helping me.

  1. A practice of contentment

During the month of March I consciously engaged in a practice of contentment. Every day wasn’t golden. But I can say that the practice did bring me to a place of consciousness where I could honestly ask myself “why am I doing X or Y?” It allowed me to move beyond some self-judgment. And I think that this is key for making it through the storms of life. And I’m not talking about getting rid of self-judgment, but asking yourself how you want to use it and if at all.


  1. Not running from my feelings and not allowing my feelings to determine my actions.

Some days, I’m courageous and feel really prepared for what might be coming. And other days I’m questioning if I’ll be able to make it through. The key for me is to recognizing that neither of these thoughts has to result in action. They are just thoughts. So I journal. Then at the end of the week I look over the journal and see if there is a dominant emotion and then I ask myself—Do I want to do anything with this? This gives me some distance between the emotion and action.


  1. Accepting that I’m going to mess up. But realizing that messing up is not the worse thing that could happen to me.

According to Mo Seetubtim, throwing oneself into the unknown could result in a “complete sense of freedom”. For me this complete sense of freedom results from recognizing and accepting that I’ll make mistakes along the way. I don’t dwell on my errors. But I also don’t deny them. So again there is this coexistence that I’ve found about living with my storms.


So my final take away is that living with the storm involves finding comfort in the coexistence of emotions.


How will you find your space of coexistence? Share your thoughts with us.


Peace and Blessings.


Julia Jordan-Zachery



Learn more about Living Golden

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Dr. Julia Jordan-Zachery is a life/career coach who specializes in working with women of color and women of color in academia specifically. I am here to help you move from thinking to doing!! Send me an email so that we can start your journey to the place you want to go:


{Photo Credit: Chris Lawton}