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Bonus: Donna, the Global Citizen, is Back!

On episode 6, Donnalee Donaldson shared her journey to global citizenship, which started when she left Jamaica at sixteen and headed to the United States. She eventually found her way to Rwanda in East Africa. On this episode, she returns to share her adventures traveling to over twenty African nations in the five years she has called Kigali, Rwanda home. From her deeply spiritual backpacking trip across Ethiopia to partying in Uganda to reveling in the traces of Jamaica she found in Ghana, Donna speaks passionately about all that Africa has to offer the traveler who is open to experiences beyond safari. She also debunks common myths about the continent, including one prevalent among black travelers who romanticize the motherland.  Committed to highlighting the excellence overflowing in many African nations, Donna hosts the podcast, Diaspora Diaries, which highlights innovators, influencers and entrepreneurs who call Africa home.

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Bonus: Doreen, the Childfree African, is Back!

On episode 2, Doreen Yomoah shared her insights about being an African woman who has chosen not to have children. She also shared stories of how rejecting motherhood was just one way of rejecting patriarchal expectations that are placed on the shoulders of African women. Returning for a deeper dive into the childfree-by-choice life, she uses this episode to explain why she believes more African women are not vocal about not wanting children. She also further connects the assumption that women are just natural caregivers to socialization by explaining how her day job involves researching these assumptions about gender and what it biologically predetermines. She talks about how most people do not notice the intense pronatalist propaganda in their communities because they see the adulthood = parenthood narrative as just the default. A discussion about Michelle Obama’s wildly successful memoir also sparks an analysis of how attached many cultures are to the expectation that women do the heavy lifting of parenting. “Aside from the stigma of if you are a woman, you must have a child, we need to address the other stigma of if you are a man, you are just supposed to be the breadwinner and taking care of children is not your role,” Doreen says. “Both narratives are different sides of the same coin.”

Doreen has great insights and is always a wonderful guest. If this episode is still not enough for you, check out her blog, The Childfree African and her podcast, We Can’t Keep Quiet.

Ep 20: Keturah, In Her Own Words

In this final episode of season one, Keturah Kendrick explains why she started Unchained. Unbothered. Detailing life-long experiences, she shares how it has always been her goal not to be suffocated. Keturah gives examples of how often black women are suffocated by assumptions, expectations and hidden agendas that are touted to them as in their best interest. In addition to her own experiences, she talks about hearing the stories of other women as she’s traveled the world. Because of patterns she has seen in these stories, she began conceptualizing a show that featured women who fought against their own suffocation. Women who claimed themselves the captains of their own ships as they steered confidently from the helm. “I no longer feel ashamed for believing I am enough for me,” Keturah states. “My life matters more to me than anyone else’s. And it will be my voice I heed when I make decisions regarding that life.”

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Ep 19: Candace Studied Her Way Out of Religious Belief

Author of The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking Out on Religion – And Others Should Too, Candace Gorham describes her younger self as much more “deep into religion” than the average child. She actively involved herself in both the Jehovah’s Witness and the Methodist church. On this episode, she shares her journey from becoming an ordained minister while she was barely out of her teens to trading in religious belief for secular humanism. After a young adulthood spent worshipping god and ministering to his flock, she began to question common precepts in the Christian faith. After examining the biblical text more in depth and exposing herself to others outside of it, Candace began her slow, yet steady progression to atheism. It was this journey to non-belief that inspired her to compile the stories of other black women like her in The Ebony Exodus Project. Once she finally accepted that she could no longer honestly claim belief in a supernatural power, she sought out other women from her cultural background who felt as she did. What she discovered was a common theme in their journey to non-belief: examining the biblical text more critically and coming to the logical conclusion that the Christian construct of god was more fallacy than truth. When she thinks about the gift of embracing humanism, Candace expresses gratitude for letting go of the anxiety she felt as a devout Christian. “I no longer have fear of hell or the god who might send me there,” she says. “I feel like it freed me from constantly thinking about all the ways I could put my very soul at risk.”

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Ep 18: Olivia Granted Herself Sexual Freedom

A bi-sexual woman, Olivia Lollis did not know she could choose other love structures besides monogamy. She knew of polygamy and found the practice unfair and sexist so she practiced monogamy almost out of ignorance. With no knowledge of other forms of ethical non-monogamy, she ended up partnering with one man at a time. On this episode, she talks about discovering swinging as a single woman and exploring this form of non-monogamy on her own before meeting and marrying a man who was also interested in the practice. She was soon to learn that control of women’s sexuality was not unique just to monogamy. As a swinging couple, her husband wanted to control every aspect of who they partnered with, only consenting to an encounter when the woman fit his standards. When Olivia began to desire more than just sex with one particular woman, her husband tried to guilt her for wanting to fully practice polyamory. She began to realize that her sexuality had to be expressed through him while not threatening his ego. Olivia also talks about coming to the realization that her partnerships with heterosexual men often led to them exploiting her bisexuality for their own personal gain. It was when she decided being solo poly was best for her that she began to figure out a relationship configuration that worked. She now has multiple relationships that are separate from each other. She no longer shies away from letting a heterosexual male partner know that when she says “I am looking for a girlfriend,” it means a girlfriend for her and her alone. “I have freed myself from being sexual property,” Olivia says. “I am my primary partner and all others are secondary.” Olivia asserts that she wants her cake and to eat it, too. And she is no longer allowing men access to the recipe.

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Ep 17: Evita’s Non-Monogamous Marriage Has Made Her A Better Partner

Evita Sawyers and her husband did not drag either one into a polyamorous lifestyle. They were both curious about the love structure and experimented in some form of ethical non-monogamy together before deciding that they would pursue committed relationships outside of their marriage. On this episode, Evita shares what she has learned about herself through non-monogamy and how she has unpacked toxic narratives about love unquestioned monogamy can sometimes perpetuate. Because she has multiple partners, she has learned that she can have a huge sense of entitlement about what she is owed because of the position she holds in a relationship. She realized she had anger management issues as well and thought of her children as her property instead of their own selves separate from her. According to Evita, the most toxic notion about partnership that polyamory has helped her unpack is the concept of one person having to be all things for you. One person having to be your everything. She feels polyamory puts control of her needs back in her hands where it belongs. And she has given back the control of her partners’ needs back to them. While not one to place polyamory on any hierarchy of love structures, Evita does credit it with helping her find peace and contentment by herself. Even with a husband, a boyfriend and a girlfriend, there are still times when Evita will only have Evita’s company on any given evening. “That is the greatest gift ethical non-monogamy has given me,” Evita says. “It’s taught me that the number one person who can fulfill my needs is myself.”

Listen below and then subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

Ep 16: Nina Embraced Infertility With Gratitude

Creator of the internationally recognized Nonparents.com, Nina Steele remembers the exact day when she accepted she would not be a mother. She and her husband had been trying to conceive for years. After another failed attempt, an acute understanding of the reality of this situation washed over her. She was clear that her inability to conceive was not a sad situation over which she should grieve. “I am so lucky this has not happened for me,” she said to no one in particular. In this episode, Nina talks about how she grew up seeing the impact of unquestioned pronatalism on the lives of women. From a poor village in Ivory Coast, she witnessed many women giving birth to babies they could not feed because it was just tradition for African women to keep having babies as long as their bodies were able to produce them. She talks about how her own attempts to conceive a child were not really rooted in any concrete reason for wanting to be a mother. “I was married so I figured I should have a baby.” Though she and her husband live a comfortable life in England and could afford to raise a child, Nina is unapologetic when stating their infertility issue has granted them the freedom of expendable income and the chance to work on their own personal growth and creative pursuits. Through Nonparents.com, she has encountered other women who are childless by circumstance. She admits that she had to learn to be more compassionate towards those who did not come to acceptance of their non-motherhood as quickly and wholly as she did. Initially, it annoyed Nina when western women who had been born into lives of so much abundance, so much privilege droned on about how incomplete they felt because they had everything else – except children. She learned to be more compassionate towards them because she understood how not coming from a place of rampant poverty informed their view of the world. “My experiences growing up in Ivory Coast taught me to be grateful for whatever I had,” Nina explains. “I operate from a place of gratitude in every part of my life. It is why I am so grateful that I know I can live a fulfilling and joyful life without having children.”

Listen below and then subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

Ep 15: Damia Created a Space That Celebrates Single Women

Like many young girls, Damia Jackson assumed she would be married one day. Though she never focused exclusively on finding a husband, she assumed somewhere in her 30s, there’d be one living in her home. Now, as a 46-year-old woman who has never married, Damia sees a great need for the blog she created, Single Girls Rock. In this episode, she talks about realizing there were no spaces that spoke to single women from a place of normalcy. Much of what she encountered seemed to come from the premise of: Here is what is wrong with you and what you need to do to get a man. For Damia, these spaces were not very helpful. She had come to see her life as a conscious choice even though marriage had been an institution she once desired. By her mid-30s, she had decided to stop waiting on a spouse in order to have certain experiences like buying a house or traveling to her dream destinations. Through Single Girls Rock, Damia has connected with women all around the world who share her story of choosing singlehood and finding joy in their lives. “I have freed myself from the notion that a romantic relationship is the most important one I should focus on,” Damia says. “I also have freed myself from the belief that to be single is to be completely alone and never need anyone.” Aside from showing vulnerability to friends, lovers and family members, Damia believes seeking the help of the people in her life is key to being a woman who is healthy and happy.

Listen below and then subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

Ep 14: Princess Shaw is Working on Being Free

When she was approached about participating in a documentary about You Tube performers, Princess Shaw thought nothing of it. She had been singing on You Tube for years and had built up a respectable following. The documentary, Introducing Princess Shaw, found its way to Netflix. In this episode, Shaw opens up about how excited she was when her You Tube videos were noticed by an Israeli music producer and then his filmmaker friend. She admits that she was going through a deep depression during the taping of the documentary, but still recorded because she saw it as important to her career. She also trusted the filmmaker and music producer to present her story in a way that would inspire others. Shaw is unabashed when she talks about revealing on film that she was a survivor of sexual abuse. She tells the truth about her mother’s involvement in the abuse and denial of how she allowed Shaw and her siblings to suffer under the hands of her boyfriend. She says music and her other creative expressions were not what helped her work through her trauma. Speaking out as she did with family and then on camera released some of the silence and secrecy that surrounded the abuse. When she was not talking about it, she was giving it more power. “I am free sometimes,” Shaw reports. “There are times when I sing on stage and I feel like nothing can stop me, like I have let everything go. Then sometimes I get off the stage and that feeling leaves. It’s a process. It’s work I have to do.”

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Ep 13: Ms. West Found A Better Life Outside the USA

Kimberly West is unafraid of transition because she is well versed in reinvention. In her 50 brief years on this planet, she has transitioned from a corporate worker to a management consultant to a restaurant owner to a farm owner to a globally minded entrepreneur. In this episode, Kimberly talks about her decision to leave the United States for Mexico. The impetus for her relocation was realizing just how tainted the food supply in America is and wanting an all around healthier lifestyle. Given the toxicity of the political climate and the cost of living, remaining in the United States seemed counter productive to her goal of holistic happiness. Ms. West talks about how much better she eats now because she has greater access to clean foods. She also is able to invest in her businesses because her dollar goes so much farther than it ever had in America. Another big advantage of living outside of America is the lessened anxiety of being dehumanized because of her blackness. Kimberly speaks honestly about not worrying about being a statistic now that she has left the United States and hypothesizes on why more Black Americans won’t follow her (and many others) lead. In addition to the joys of living abroad, she shares the assumptions people make about her as an unmarried, childless woman who spends more time traveling and building her businesses than trying to find a good man. She chuckles at this cross cultural concern that no man will want her because she is too independent and is making no effort to correct this character flaw that makes her less desirable to eligible men. “I am much happier than many of my friends who have done what they were supposed to do, who have the white picket fence, the good man and kids,” Kimberly states. “At any rate,” she continues, “the lesson from my story is not about whether to take the traditional route or not. It is simply none of us are bound to the country of our birth. No matter which country that is or what we envision as our life goals.”

Listen below and then subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.