Have you ever wondered why some of the people you know or come across give you bad vibes or you just can’t connect in a real and genuine way? When I was younger I didn’t even think that bad people existed, and there were people who simply did not like me or we were just unable to be friends. Clearly, you can see that I have had a lot of one-sided relationships, in which I was often trying to convince people to be friends with me. Definitely don’t do that. I’ve learned so much about how to best navigate those types of relationships and place boundaries, where need be. Since the Coronavirus has forced so many people to self-isolate, it also gives rise to necessary and in some ways unnecessary reflection. One of those personal reflective conversations people have is the idea of not being liked and feeling like they are not enough. We all want to be  liked by other people, or at the very least exercise the ability to formulate strong and healthy relationships.

I’m not a trained psychologist, counselor or psychotherapist, but I spend a lot of time studying, researching and observing how people connect with each other or what makes people not want to connect with one another, at different capacities, in my work. Personally, I’ve always been one that is excited to get to know people on a deeper level. How we connect, engage and interact with one another is essential to the individual and collective wellness of humanity. Within that same thought process, there are people that you will inevitably not get along with. This can make you feel down on yourself, as if something is wrong with you. I can be an idealist sometimes and I used to get in my feelings when I would finally realize someone did not like me, especially if I felt that I did not wrong them. A lot of times we do not actually know how we might’ve wronged someone else, so we walk aimlessly thinking everything is all good, when it is not. That is where good communication comes in.

My mother told me, if someone does not like you, and you are certain you did not hurt them, then it has less to do with you, and more to do with them. In reality, you can’t really know for sure if you have not wronged them, unless you have a serious conversation. How you choose to handle situations and relationships with people that do no like you is solely up to you, but in my opinion, it is the way you respond to them that is the most important for your personal growth. I always try to be more understanding with people when I know for a fact they are not feeling me, but that does not mean that I have to continue to interact with them and allow them in my space. This might be hard for some people that may find themselves in more challenging circumstances with someone, in which case I always suggest to seek professional help and look into local resources through your county or city that are available and can help you, get out of a bad situation (Links are below to a few resources).

Nonetheless, from my perspective there are three major reasons why people may “not like you”. Humans are complex. Don’t you worry, I know you are not a saint and not perfect either, but I do believe it’s important to identify these things, not only for them, but also for you. 

They have No Idea

Even though this list is in no particular order, I do believe when it comes to people “not liking you”, it sometimes boils down to, they have no idea. It’s a bit comical, if you think about it. As humans, we scour for information and signs that affirm our personal, collective and societal convictions. We throw out things that don’t make sense to us and don’t fit in how we believe how society should operate. We attempt to find meaning in almost everything we do, which I believe is a key tool of humanity. However, sometimes we try to force meaning and explanations on things and people that don’t make sense. The vast majority of people do not necessarily conduct deep-dives into why they may not like someone, it usually is a very surface level analysis.

From my experience conducting research, working with and interviewing people on social issues, I’ve realized for real human connection, it requires depth, trust, security, communication, and commitment. I’ve been in situations where I had this preconceived notion of someone and I wasn’t feeling them upon first meeting and then when I started to talk to them and connect, I found out how intriguing they really are. This doesn’t happen every time but it has happened on occasion. Sometimes folks are looking for a reason not to like you and they really don’t have any.

Dissatisfaction with their Lives

We have all been here. One of the greatest human flaws is thinking and believing that we do not have enough. I have been around people with access, power and money and I have been around people who live on one meal a day, with no shoes on their feet. Every single time, the people with less means, are the happiest and most optimistic about life. This does not mean that as long as you’re happy and smiling, lacking access to socio-economic resources does not matter because we all know it does, in this capitalistic world. However, both groups mostly believe that if they had more, they would be happier and life would be better. It is very human and natural to believe that you are always lacking in some way. The issue with this becomes when you stay in that mind-space. We all wish we could change something about ourselves and our lives or if we had the chance to gain access to more resources, then our lives would drastically change.

People who don’t like you, many times, if not most times fall into this category. Life is not easy for most people, and the everyday struggles, hustle, and unpleasant circumstances can weigh us down. When we find ourselves being completely dissatisfied by life, we take it out on other people, especially people who we believe have it easy or have gotten it easy in life.

Fear of Real Connection and Intimacy

Ah, now we get to the juice. It took me a very very very long time to get to a point that I felt comfortable with being intimate with people. Intimacy is not just shared in romantic or sexual relationships, intimacy is the ability to develop a closeness with another person or group of people. There are many types of intimate relationships and they are necessary. You can find them at work, in school, church, or even within your hobby/activity groups.  I had deep and intimate relationships in my life, but they were definitely far less growing up than the amount I have now. My college friends would always call me “Thick-Back”, because I did not share easily in the beginning. I also did not hug people or liked to be called “Honey” by my peers (this is still slightly a thing though, sigh). In my household, we weren’t raised to be emotional or even show emotion for that matter. We were in constant survival mode, all day, everyday. College meant freedom and exploration from what I was used to back in my childhood home. It hadn’t hit me until my mid-20s that at some point I had developed a fear of intimacy. A lot of it stemmed from my trauma with sexual assault as a young girl and I carried that baggage with me everywhere I would go for a long time. I refused and rejected to make connections with people I did not feel safe with, regardless if they created a safe-space for me to do so. Childhood trauma often surrounds ideas and experiences of safety and security, and as child, if you experience insecurity, you search for that as an adult, or you don’t.

Fear of establishing and maintaining intimate relationships can be a real barricade in connecting with people. What tends to happen is that due to this fear, we reject anything and everyone that wants to show us a different and elevated level of connection, one that allows us to be open, honest and our authentic-self, with no judgement. This often comes off as showing disdain for other people, while really we are just scared to connect and get close. So people who don’t like you can also be dealing with this as well, and it is hard for them to get out of that, not to mention it takes a lot of self-awareness, self-work and many times, therapy to unpack these feelings.


I know this post was a bit different, but I think that sometimes we forget that we are all trying to do the best we can, with what we got. This doesn’t mean that you excuse, bad, selfish and poor behavior though. Someone not liking you, is not a determining factor of who you are as a person at all, but I think it’s important to recognize those aspects within other people or within yourself that impedes how you interact with others, in a more healthy manner. 

Links to Domestic and Child Abuse Resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline




Administration for Children & Families/Family & Youth Services Bureau





I am a doctor but not the medical kind of doctor, so information and content presented on Akullu (“we,” “us” or “our”) on https://www.akullu.com (the “Site”) blog is purely to share my personal experience and for educational and entertainment purposes only. As always, check with a medical doctor or specialist before making any fitness or nutrition changes or a trained professional if you are seeking to achieve personal and professional goals. Read More






I wanted to wait a bit to write this blog but I think it is beyond timely because of everything that is going on concerning the spread of the Coronavirus, which has a lot of us who are able to, practicing Social Distancing. Fear, panic and anxiety are extremely high on a global scale. This also means you have a lot more time to think and be in your head more. So in an effort to help where I can, I wanted to share and add to the conversations that are happening in our personal relationships, communities and through the interwebs about self-kindness and gentleness. It is a very interesting time we are in, and possibly a good time to remember to love on ourselves.  

Now that I’m comfortably in my 30s, I’ve worked [expletive] hard to get to a place that I don’t talk down on myself, my body, or my talents as much or at all for that matter, not that I get it right every time. Getting to a point of true self-love and self-acceptance is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences that a person will have to go through.  My hope is that if there are any younger women and men in their 20s, in particular reading this, that you begin to recognize the areas of your life that you can ease up putting pressure on yourself. Remember, It. Is. A. Process.

Forgive yourself

I used to define forgiveness differently than what I now understand it to be. Just like many of us, my idea of forgiveness, whereby you essentially forgive wrongdoings that were done against you by others to allow yourself a chance to successfully move on with your life. This is still basically true, but what I did not fully grasp is the idea that you can and need to forgive yourself for experiences and things you participated in, that may have caused harm to you.

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to forgive yourself. Forgiving yourself is actually the true definition of being kind and gentle with yourself in my opinion, to be honest. Forgiving yourself means to let go of the feelings of anger, guilt, shame, resentment and any other emotion that negatively emotionally suspends you from developing healthier emotional habits.  This can include what you deem to be failures, mistakes, or the “shoulda-woulda-coulda’s”. A lot of times we carry things that are not our own, but rather projections of peoples and societies expectations of us. You’re obligation is to your wellness first and forever. 

Love your Body

Our bodies hold a lot of joy and a lot of pain. Our bodies are sometimes the physical manifestations of childhood and adult traumas, but also our bodies are vessels of inspiration, triumphs, and life creations. Regardless of what it is, our bodies hold all of that. I have a gazillion stretch marks that I think look awesome. I’ve had them since I was a pre-teen, so we basically grew up together. I can rundown the list of the body parts that used to cause me emotional, mental and physical strife. I forced myself to stand in the mirror daily last year and speak positive things about my body. It worked wonders.

The reality is we only have one body and it is our responsibility to take care of it, the best we can. This may be hard for a lot of people because of resource constraints, but it does not negate the fact that we should be more conscious of our physical health.  Feeling good about your body is hard, especially when messaging around beauty and body politics historically have favored and praised Eurocentric beauty and body types, virtually leaving 90% of the world’s population out of the discussion. Your body is yours. Uniquely made. It is perfectly, imperfect. The sooner you love on it and affirm it, the sooner life will begin to look different, as well.

Slow down your mind and block the noise

One of my personal challenges and struggles has been slowing down my mind and thoughts. I have struggled with this since I was a kid. I believe it has a lot to do with the uncertainty  and instability that my family experienced early on. I also have a tendency to want to fix or mitigate problems or potential challenges quickly, not to mention I was an infamously shy, nervous, and fearful child, going well into my 20s. I didn’t like causing problems or being a problem.

This caused me to have intense bouts of anxiety, insomnia, and my mind constantly racing. I learned to slow down my mind by taking one day at a time, meditating daily, and immediately stopping certain negative and harmful thoughts. I would literally say, “No, Loy. Do not go there. You have grown and you are amazing.” I worked hard on not replaying “bad things” or experiences from the past because those were the ones that had me up at night. There are things you can control and  things you cannot control. Everything is temporary. Slow down and breathe.

Be honest and vulnerable about your life as it is

Honesty is vulnerability and vulnerability is honesty. Do not forget that. It is easy to want to believe and live in alternate realities, that are different from your present day to day. A lot of us do it actually as a defense mechanism because if we come out of that mental space, we might unravel. It can be a survival tactic. Most things in this life are absolutely and positively temporary. It is important that you accept your reality and life as it is, now and continue to build and affirm your future and things you want to accomplish in life.

When you become more vulnerable and honest about your life, you also take back your power and you own your ish. Owning your ish is absolutely empowering, especially when you know you are striving to be a better person for yourself and the others around you. There is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed about. Everyone’s journey is different and yours is uniquely your own. Own it.

Allow moments and experiences to be just that

Life is also a series of moments and experiences or how we experience and understand moments and events that happen in our lives. You have to enjoy the good ones for what they are, as they happen. Experience them fully.

Commit to feeling the good ones again and making sure that you can be your happy and authentic self as often as you can. The bad, harmful or not-so-good moments and experiences, will also happen, but your task is to not stay in those moments. Those moments can easily bring you down and impact your day. Just like I said before, everything is temporary. Nothing will ever remain the same forever. Life constantly ebbs and flows and you will have to find your rhythm. Embrace the moments that make you feel good, give you inspiration and feed your spirit.


What types of things do you do to be more kind and gentle with yourself?




I am a doctor but not the medical kind of doctor, so information and content presented on Akullu (“we,” “us” or “our”) on https://www.akullu.com (the “Site”) blog is purely to share my personal experience and for educational and entertainment purposes only. As always, check with a medical doctor or specialist before making any fitness or nutrition changes or a trained professional if you are seeking to achieve personal and professional goals. Read Full Disclaimers



The thing that many people in the diaspora as well as non-immigrant people do not really get is how challenging, terrifying, and traumatizing the cultural assimilation process can be for immigrants

A couple of months ago I had a conversation with a good sister-friend of mine about dating and what qualities I think are important in a partner. My homegirl who is happily married, always gives me great insight on almost everything. She goes on to say that I will most likely end up with an African/Black American or white European partner (I may or may not discuss this “dating theory” in later blogs, depending on how I feel y’all.) This is not the first time I’ve heard this. People have said this several times throughout my 20s. Matter of fact, that was the second time I heard that same comment in that week. I. Kid. You. Not.

As we Facetime, my *screw-face* appears and I ask, “Why do you say that?” Her explanation was that my humor and how I dialogue is of the African American Vernacular English (AAVE) variety, amongst many other things. I’m not going to lie, I was puzzled, but also it really got me thinking about how I and many other African immigrant women, children of African immigrants, and African immigrant people communicate and present in different spaces, that are not African.

The facts are, AAVE and culture as we can see in almost every aspect of American society and globally has influenced pop-culture, fashion, art, music, social and political movements in tremendous ways. A lot of which have been irresponsibly culturally appropriated, but much of it is a reflection of admiration for the contribution to humanity that native Black Americans have made, not to mention inadvertently the impact on immigration policy and rights.

I can go in and out of accents at the drop of a dime and very quickly scan the room to know how I will have to “present” in any given space and audience, completely unapologetically.

When my mother, brother and I came to the US in the 90s, we came with a couple of small bags and our brown bodies. We landed in New York, and all my mother had in her pocket was a half-written address of her older sisters place, who lived in Maryland, with no phone number. We took the Greyhound to Silver Spring, Maryland and eventually located my aunts apartment building. Luckily her and my mom can be mistaken for twins and people at her apartment building recognized the resemblance. This was when my immigrant experience started and code-switching became essential to my survival.

Code-switching refers to the ability for a person or people to alternate between different languages, dialects and vernaculars in conversation. In America the most widely known form of this is definitely AAVE. It took years for my brother and me to get the hang of American English and culture, but we were young enough to master it and become fluent. At school teachers thought we were unusually quiet and had speech impediments, not realizing that there were levels of extreme trauma associated with our emigration to the U.S.

The thing that many people in the diaspora as well as non-immigrant people do not really get is how challenging, terrifying, and traumatizing the cultural assimilation process can be for immigrants. The uniqueness in the American immigrant experience lies within the plethora of peoples, nationalities, cultures, ethnicities and religions from all different areas of the world, that settle in the States. Being able to toggle between cultures becomes an art form of sorts, so to speak because if you are unable to effectively communicate or blend in with the dominate or native culture of a society and community, can possibly cause harm to you and your family. Notwithstanding, impacting your forward mobility. However, because the number one unifying factor of all Diaspora people is our varied and melanated skin-tone, we can not escape the political presence of being black in the world.

As an African kid growing up in America, I was Ugandan at home, African on the playground, and American on and in the streets. At any given time those identities merged with one another and frequently this happens. I can go in and out of accents at the drop of a dime and very quickly scan the room to know how I will have to “present” in any given space and audience, completely unapologetically. Personally, I strive to be as authentically and consistently myself, in both the private and the public areas of my life, but more importantly I am very much all of these identities as well.

Without a doubt, when I am with my African and Caribbean friends, there are similar and at the same time different cultural nuances and cues that are used in how we interact and engage one another. What my good sister-friend witnessed was another form of how I use code-switching in my everyday interactions. Admittedly, in the conversation she recognized that she had not been around me in other African Diasporic spaces enough to see how ya girl moves, but this just shows the differing, complex and the multitudes of the African and Black Diasporic experience. 




The reality is that “People, need people”, and there isn’t a truer statement. However, a lot of this life we live calls and demands of us to walk bravely and boldly by ourselves, as we often are walking into the wilderness of life. These are some of the most important times of your life that may have significant impact on the level of your success. Self-discipline and personal resolve can get you farther than what you know


I know you read the title and you were like, “Girl, what are you saying?!” Don’t get it twisted; I am all about community building, collective growth, and collaboration. At my core those are fundamental pillars that I live by, but there also comes a time where those things have to be put aside and you get focused, get your work done and demolish your goals, by yourself.

The idea of having an accountability partner is a great task management slash social mechanism tool that can exponentially increase your productivity while also boosting your confidence. I believe strongly in the concept of accountability partnering, but for the right reasons and the right times. If you are someone like me, who needs space and periods of self-imposed isolation for mental clarity to really get your work done and think through ideas, then having an accountability partner may hinder that. If you’re thinking that this sounds totally antithetical to what we’ve been taught or even what has been pushed through the modern self-care movement. You are absolutely correct, but it beez like that sometimes.

Before I get into why you might not necessarily need an accountability partner, let’s breakdown why in fact you actually may need one and you can likely benefit from having such a loyal comrade in the struggle to achieve your wildest dreams.By no means am I encouraging your introversion, but what I am encouraging is your ability to strengthen the belief in yourself.  Also, to be clear, I’m specifically talking about work-related and creative project development accountability partner scenarios. Here are a few of the vital reasons I believe accountability partners can be crucial to your personal journey.

Why you DO Need An Accountability Partner

Keeps you on track and accountable

The top reason most people have accountability partners is to have someone or a group of people, hold them accountable and responsible in setting specific goals, creating actionable steps and then following through with completing and reaching those goals. It’s easy to set goals, but the challenge always becomes getting them done and actually checking them off as completed. They also help in keeping the number one enemy of progress, procrastination at bay.

Ideal for Brainstorming and Idea Sharing

Personally, I am a big fan of a good Groupthink session, whereby a total idea and creative data dump is thrown on the table and we are able to breakdown whatever ideas that come to mind about a particular project or activity a person is trying to bring to life. For certain projects this is essential in developing and conceptualizing an efficient framework, and also a strong component of having accountability partners.

A Support System and a Safe Space

The biggest and most amazing aspect of being a part of an accountability partnership is the feeling of knowing you have a support system, personal cheerleader and a safe space to vent and share challenges and successes of your personal journey. Many times when certain work or activities need to be done, we can feel like we are in it alone, but having people who can relate and encourage you to keep going, is definitely the cherry on top. That is why it is crucially important to choose the serious and focused individuals.

So let’s get to it. Now, why don’t you need an accountability partner, you ask?

Why you MIGHT not need an Accountability partner

It can be a Distraction

For me and my personal journey, be it in fitness, academic/research writing, or even pursuing my creative endeavors, I typically have a ton of distractions that always throw me for a loop. For this reason, anything else that adds to that long list of unnecessary and unavoidable distractions I need to stay far far away from. Having an accountability partner or in many cases being in a group, can act as an added distraction to you getting tasks done. This can also add to the stress and anxiety of achieving your goals.

Strengthening Self-Discipline and Personal Resolve

The reality is that “People, need people”, and there isn’t a truer statement. However, a lot of this life we live calls and demands of us to walk bravely and boldly by ourselves, as we often are walking into the wilderness of life. These are some of the most important times of your life that may have significant impact on the level of your success. Self-discipline and personal resolve can get you farther than what you know. Essentially, these acts of self-actualization affirm who you are, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, leading to immense feelings of self-gratification, which you need by the way. In fact, building these aspects of yourself can equip you to be an even better partner to someone else.

Flow of Creativity and Protection of Ideas

This might not be the reality for many people, but there is something to be said about conceptualizing your own idea and seeing it come into fruition. I find that my creativity flows more smoothly and abundantly when I’ve personally committed to seeing it through. I am able to think clearly and go through my long creative process to fully allow my idea to grow and because of this I become very protective over my ideas and creative projects. Ultimately, I bring in people when I feel most comfortable and confident to share and inquire about input and feedback. This is also important for creatives because our creations are like our babies and idea theft is real.

Different Work Styles

Work style is something I just recently started taking more seriously. We all work differently and we all flourish in different settings and environments. That is why figuring out your individual work style is as important as knowing your social security number. Well, maybe not that important, but it definitely comes close. I work best by myself. I train and workout best by myself as well, and this is really because I take these things very seriously and I want to dedicate a specific amount of time to them, so I can go link-up with the homies for mango martinis afterwards. If you are like me, then having an accountability partner can possibly shoot you in the foot, in this regard.

Less talking, More Action

Have you ever talked about something so much that you psyche yourself out of it, or it just ends up not ever happening? Join the club. Life is an adventure to me and I get really excited about almost everything that goes on in my life. I’m the type of person that always wants to share and bring people into what I’m doing. Some of this is because I can get anxiety doing things alone, but more often than not, it’s because I think the more talented people that are involved in a project, the better the final product will be. But there is strength in shutting your mouth and not sharing every single thought that comes to mind about what you’re working on. Not to mention it also shows people you are about your business and you do not need to talk about every little thing your doing or get validation from others. You become self-reliant and your own number one fan.

Now listen, there is a time and place for everything, just like having an accountability partner. Everybody is different and everybody uses different tools to succeed. Whatever your reasoning may be for having or not having an accountability partner, just make sure you are making the best decision for you to achieve and reach your goals. Always take time out to think through your goals, develop a plan, and then put that plan in action. By no means am I encouraging your introversion, but what I am encouraging is your ability to strengthen the belief in yourself. As always, I’m rooting for you.



There are a ton of things in my life that I wouldn’t mind redoing or revisiting, but then again, I’m not completely positive that I would’ve had as much appreciation for my journey as I do now. My PhD experience for the most part was relatively “good”, but when it got hard, it was tough. In an effort to help you avoid some of the things I did or rather did not do, here are 7 things I wish I knew before starting my PhD. *Deep Sigh*

Networking, Networking, and MORE Networking

If you’re like me, a traditional introvert with extroverted tendencies, then, you can only be in large crowds for so long or even the mandatory small-talk that occasionally needs to happen can be extremely challenging. We’ve all heard how important networking is in your career, no matter what the field may be, however, in grad school this cannot be stressed enough. I’m naturally a pleasant and friendly person, so talking to people is not the issue, rather it’s the feeling like you are being a bother, a nuisance, and “begging” someone for something. I’m here to say, get over that, and get over that quickly.

Networking can literally make or break your career. Maybe not break it, but it can definitely slow down your professional mobility, and as a black woman it is doubly important. The thing about networking is, it’s not about what someone can do for you, but more about building relationships that can possibly go beyond just simple career talk, but true and honest connections. It’s also about learning from another person and filling gaps within your skillset that can be of importance both personally and professionally. That does not mean you will be besties with every person you meet (sometimes this happens), it means that you are expanding your network and growing your community. The reality is this, your end goal is to get a job, and to do that you need to be as well equipped as you possibly can, and that also means being able to reach out to people who may be able to help get you there. People need to and deserve to see your face, it’s the easiest way to remember anyone, even if you can’t remember their name. So show up, be present and get to it!



Pro Tip: Search local events around your interests both academically and leisurely and use apps like Eventbrite that help locate events, workshops, book-talks, happy hours etc., in your area. Print out business cards with all your social handles (they are still important in this digital age) and a few research interests. Then go mingle and challenge yourself to meet 2-3 new people.

Your health and wellness can and WILL decline

We are in a time now, where it seems that there is more health consciousness, especially as it relates to mental health. This is a very good thing. However, no one could’ve told me that my mental, emotional and physical health would take a turn for the worse. The doctoral process is already an unnatural process. The long hours of reading, studying, writing, teaching, field-work, clinic-hours, conferences, lab work, isolation, pressure of worrying about job placement post-graduation, getting into candidacy, immigration challenges, writing your dissertation, and FUNDING are no joke. Keep in mind; I haven’t even mentioned the challenge of maintaining your familial and personal relationships, let alone everyday life happenings and goings-on. With that said, there is a strong likelihood that at some level your wellness can take a hit. I’ve heard serious stories of grad students having life altering health issues while going through the academic motions. Not that the PhD causes these health issues directly, but it certainly exacerbates them.



Pro Tip: Make it a point to do the things and hobbies you love on a weekly basis. Just like you schedule your writing and classes, schedule hobbies, workouts, eat right, get checkups and stay on top of your health regularly EARLY on in your program

Your relationships may change

Grad school can really be an exciting time. You are exposed to new ideas, concepts, thoughts, people and experiences that will hopefully change and expand your worldview. With this new found YOU, almost comparable to an awakening of sorts, coupled with the demands and pressures of successfully matriculating with all your personal faculties still intact, your relationships will most definitely change. Some of them for the better and some of them may just completely vanish altogether. Many if not most people do not understand the grad school and particularly the doctoral experience and because of that, it can create tension within relationships that were once close.

As a first generation African immigrant woman and girl-child, expectations, responsibilities, and cultural obligations are always high. This can lead to big problems in the family when you no longer have the time to cater to every single request made by your parents, siblings, aunties, uncles, nieces and nephews. This makes for very unpleasant family gatherings, or if you’re like me, there were holiday seasons that all people got were text messages wishing them “Happy Holidays Love, Enjoy” and trust me you will have to draw boundaries, (and trust me they deserved it.)

How about friendships and coupleships you ask? Well, I can almost guarantee you that you may lose a couple of friends or the dynamics will drastically shift. I remember my therapist telling me this, and I fought her tooth and nail. Granted, I am not an angel or a saint, I have my stubborn-ish ways, but at the time I was not feeling understood by many of my friends. Ideologically I had evolved in different ways that I do not regret one bit, but it made my friendships increasingly uncomfortable for those friends and me. My therapist said that it would be unsustainable in the long-run because I would often find myself compromising my belief and value systems and it was imperative that I was able to be my full and authentic self with people. Not to mention the lack of personal time I had to pour into these relationships that I no longer had. This can also be true of coupleships and within marriages.I’ve seen those get sour too.



Pro Tip: It’s important to find community, so find it in people who pour into you and you can do the same for them. Stay away from “judgey” people. Real relationships will last, but they also ebb and flow. The ones that don’t, try not to take it personally, it is NOT a judgment on your worth as a person. Also, communicate with your partner, be patient with them and ask as well as demand they be patient with you. 

It’s Just a Title and You are Worthy of it

There are several perks of having a PhD. Access and visibility are the main ones. The PhD should ultimately be used for the service and advancement of humanity, so they say. However, getting a terminal degree from the long-loathed Ivory Tower can inflate one’s ego and their value becomes dependent on getting those three letters behind their name. There is a serious level of social and class stratification that is involved both in and outside of academia. We have all met PhDs with stank attitudes and they are virtually everywhere. Having received a PhD in African Studies, I am often in white spaces and my expertise and worth becomes questioned. These spaces can be intimidating, belittling and are often exhausting. I am here to tell you. YOU. ARE. WORTHY.

You are worthy of every good and amazing thing that comes during the process and every good and amazing thing that follows after you graduate. Getting a PhD can be a daunting task, but it is worth it in the long run, if not for the experience, network and career opportunities, but for the acquired knowledge of self. It is simply just a title. Don’t get me wrong, for black women it is vitally important we continue to peruse higher education and doctoral degrees. If not for us, for the culture, literally. However, It does not mean you are better than anyone else and it surely does not mean you are LESS than anyone else either. Your intelligence, abilities, and worth are not calculated by the degree, whatsoever.


Pro Tip: Do not get affected by not so nice people, it says more about them than you. Stay the course and detach as much as possible from academe and do regular-degular things, in regular degular spaces.

Get Experience & Publish BEFORE Graduation

If the ultimate end game of pursuing your PhD is securing gainful employment, then you also need to secure experience and dread I say, PUBLISH before you bedazzle your regalia (That’s a thing or should be a thing, *shrug*). Within my department there wasn’t heavy emphasis placed on post-graduation employment or even on the importance of publications and come to find out, this is true of many departments and institutions “high” and “low”. It didn’t hit me until I was nearing the final lap and finishing up those endless drafts of my dissertation. With that being said, you have to be willing to do internships, fellowships, and entry-level jobs RELEVANT to your interests and field earlier on in your program, if you are not already working as yet. Do not rely on the degree to open doors for you, because more often than not, it won’t. These positions and professional experience will speak volumes when it comes time to apply for jobs.

Make it a point to inquire about research assistant opportunities within your department and outside of your department as well. Seriously scour the interwebs for Open and Call for Papers for manuscripts and other similar opportunities. The easiest way to publish truly is to co-author with a couple or a few of your cohort or colleagues and submit a joint research article to an academic journal. Another way is to use research papers and assignments from your classes and also as you begin to write your dissertation, start thinking about publishing the chapters. Keeping in mind that research articles for academic journals follow their own formula and structure and this varies from journal to journal.

As a black woman, I know we get tired of hearing the adage, “You have to work 3x as hard, as everyone else,” but it is true. It is gospel. Until YOU and WE get into decision making positions that actually yield power, you will have to bust-yo-bum to get a seat at the table (or create your own *ding ding ding*). The process is long and tedious and surely there are structural barriers and biases that exist, but that shouldn’t discourage you, because remember YOU ARE WORTHY and YOU BELONG.



Pro Tip: Identify academic journals you are interested in within the first couple of years of your program. Clock em’. Clock em’ hard. Study how some of your favorite researchers and academicians write their work. Learn flow, structure and other technical aspects that make their work shine.

The job market for PhDs is BAD

So.This is where my head starts to hurt and I sip my red vino and just stare. Alright so boom, the job market is bad, like really bad and the PhD job market is no exception. After putting in all this work, 4, 5, 6, and 7 years of classes, research, and writing, and its now 4 years after you graduated and you are still unemployed, something is wrong, right? Simply, there are not enough academic jobs to go around and if you are in an area of specialty like my own, then you will find an even harder time getting a job. The reality is many departments and institutions have done a relatively poor job in preparing PhDs for the job market, let alone non-academic/industry jobs.

I remember applying to Sephora and I was excited because I love beauty and makeup and I really needed extra coinage. It was going to be a win, win. On the application I said I’m AVAILABLE ALWAYS, as in, EVERYDAY, EVERY HOUR. They sent my rejection email and said my time and availability did not match their current demands. Mind you, I removed all my degrees and just put my retail experience, which was quite a bit. I cringingly laughed and sipped my red vino.



Pro Tip: Don’t be scared to ask for help from trusted family and friends, if you don’t get a job right away. People are more kind and generous than you think. Remember to tell people you know, that you are on the job-hunt because you never know who they may know.

Academia is not the final destination

Finally dear friends, academia is not your final destination. As aspiring researchers, practitioners, scholars, and academics, it is so important to keep in mind that there is far more to life than landing an academic position, publishing, teaching and getting an industry job. Although, because of capitalism we spend more time at our places of work than with our friends, family, spouses, partners, kids and furry-pets. Inevitably this lone fact, should give you more of an incentive to look for happiness and things that fill you outside of it.

It’s also important to diversify and tap into those passion and creative projects and build those up. You never know where they can potentially lead you and can even be an extra income and revenue stream. These projects can give you outlets that keep you motivated to do the good work that the PhD calls for. I say all this to say, life should be spent with people you love and doing the things you love, so make sure to fill your time with these aspects as well.



Pro Tip: Create clear personal time and boundaries, whereby you do something that you enjoy outside of academia that you can be consistent with and do frequently. If that means weekly or monthly happy hours with the girls or guys or even sitting outside on a park bench for an hour a day reading your favorite romance novel, sketching/drawing, blogging, making music and singing in a band, designing clothes, JUST DO IT. Nike got it right.

Historically black men have been at the center of socio-political and socio-cultural movements and discussions of black personhood


I so desperately wanted to believe that Terry Crews’ Twitter was hacked in January, following an interview he did dismissing Americas Got Talent (AGT) having a toxic work culture that is steeped in racism, sexism and the like, which was brought to light by Gabrielle Union. Terry was asked on the Today show, if he felt the same as Gabrielle and the guy got on there and became a “true enemy of progress”. I’m pretty sure that most black women were *screw faced* and then many of us like myself, were like “Of course. On brand,” per usual of a lot of black men and patriarchy. Gabrielle responded via a series of tweets and clapped back and was understandably irate.

Following his interview, Twitter and the interwebs got right to it, and reminded him of the support Gabrielle Union and other black women showed him during his personal accusations of sexual assault and harassment by a showbiz executive. Just when you thought it was over, Terry again pretty much tweets and says, he owes no one any type of explanation or protection other than his wife, not even his mama or his daughters. Oh, and it still wasn’t over. I just don’t have the time or energy to continue to share the foolishness. The funniest part was Gabrielle’s husband Dwayne Wade tweeting for someone to take away Terry’s phone. Eventually Terry did apologize. Take that however you would like.

Terry Crews’ antics are almost textbook displays of patriarchy at work. This is the kind of thing that countless African and Black women writers and scholars have discussed for decades. More specifically, the outright denouncing of a black woman’s claims of sexism and racism in the workplace is a direct example of how black women have been screaming to the high heavens of the lack of concern, support and protection that many black men have for black women. The most glaring part about this is the level in which black women really came to his side to humanize his encounter with sexual assault, an issue that is often unspoken about when it comes to the experiences of boys and men, especially black men.

The comments he made about only having to answer to his wife and protect his wife and nobody else, and let me reiterate, not even his mama and daughters, is also a testament to the ways in which despite sticking their necks out for black men and the black community at large, black women such as Gabrielle, having a full life, career and a family of her own to care for, do not hesitate to call-out injustices. In the mind of most women, to our own detriment we do not think about the protection of ourselves first, but we will more often than not bodyguard and shield those we see in distress. Is it a result of our anatomic makeup and the ability to birth and rear children, or is it the level of consciousness that women in general have in the upholding of culture and the functioning of society. All are probably true.

This is not to say that patriarchy and misogyny are only found in African and Black culture because that is a complete farce. These social and gender dynamics are present in every culture and groups of people, but still it just seems as though we always have more at stake and more to lose.

The reality is this, black men benefit from white hegemonic masculinity and patriarchy, specifically in how black men align themselves with capitalism and predominantly white male power structures. Terry Crews demonstrated his adjacency to these power structures in that interview. I would not be surprised if there was some level of monetary gain or allowance that prompted Terry Crews to speak about Gabrielle’s claims the way he did, when he actually did not have to say anything at all or maybe he just simply wants to keep his job. This does not mean nor does it negate the fact that black men do not experience racial and structural bias and discrimination because we all know they do, but what it does showcase is how patriarchal social conventions continuously undermine black womanhood.

Historically black men have been at the center of socio-political and socio-cultural movements and discussions of black personhood and with this centering, mostly of their own doing; it can and has created an extremely challenging existence for black women. Terry coming out and speaking on these issues, also impacts other people and women who work at AGT or similar work spaces, to come forward, if they do in fact experience discrimination.

Is it the responsibility of every black person to protect black people, black men or black women? No, but it does kind of sting every time it is very loudly shown that many black men do not feel the same amount of urgency to defend black women, the same way black women do towards them. Terry’s responsibility and loyalty will always be to himself, his wife and his family and that shouldn’t have to change. Did Terry Crews gain more visibility from aligning with the #MeToo movement? Yes. Do I believe he experienced sexual assault? Yes, I do. The challenge and question is really how do we shift and change the way black men engage and come to understand the gendered experiences of black women?

It’s so important that black men begin and for those who already are, continue to elevate their consciousness on the dangers and harm of patriarchy and misogynoir.

Because the thing is, if your existence as a black man is not firstly grounded in the knowledge of your cultural heritage, then it will be hard to even begin to understand how the same forces that hinder and impede your existence also do the same to black women. The difference here is that, our struggle is ignored and invisible to society.


Whew. I want off this ride.