Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Ladies, Fight Back!
Why Women Should Learn How to Defend Themselves Against Street Harassment

Found Alive! Carlesha Freeland-Gaither and her alleged abductor.

I am extremely thankful that Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, 22, was found alive.  The nurse’s aide was kidnapped and dragged off the street by an alleged rapist, abuser, etc. You have to read this guy’s rap sheet. He’s sick and sounds like a misogynist. She put a fight when he abducted her. It’s a miracle she was found alive. I’m thanking God she was found because I prayed for her. I wish her mental peace as she heals from the traumatic mental scars. 

Since living back in Oakland, I’ve been nearly attacked twice. The first time was by a crazy, angry woman at a gas station who was mad at me because she wanted my pump. Mind you I was there five minutes before she arrived.  The second time happened recently. A man I met at the community dance hall I sometimes attend, repeatedly asked to walked me to my car. I wasn’t interested in him and told him “no” at least three times.  I left the dancehall. It was dark outside. Just as I as about to get into my car, I turned around. He was standing at the passenger side of my car. I jumped in my car. Then he came around to the driver’s side of my car. I sped off and was extremely shaken. I told him no repeatedly but he didn’t give a damn. I didn’t know if he wanted to rape me, beat me, or what.

A few days later I read about 27-year-old Mary Spears. She was shot and killed at a family event in Detroit after telling a man multiple times she was not interested in him. Then I thought about the New York woman whose throat was slashed by a man she also turned down.

I decided that it was time to protect to myself. I talked to friends who carry weapons. I also enrolled in a women’s self-defense class at Hand to Hand Kajukenbo Self-Defense Center in Oakland
Woman takes self-defense course with Marine officers as instructors.
Source is wikicommons
how there’s been so much talk about street harassment, abductions and rapes on college campuses. She questioned why aren’t we discussing women defending themselves because some of these dangers can be avoided.

What a great question! Why aren’t we talking about women protecting themselves? Is it because we’re looked upon as the weaker sex? Or because society tells us that women shouldn’t fight or carry knives because that’s unlady like. Or as another woman in the class said, if a woman says no or fights back she’s going to be punished. We’re supposed to just sit and take a beating. F*ck that!

Being physically aggressive in the self-defense was slightly odd for me and the other women at first, but I got the hang of it quickly. It felt good to yell, scream, punch and kick. And I could see on some of the women’s faces that pad they kicked was some sick bastard that hurt them.

I highly encourage women to take a self-defense class. I’ve met some women who practice martial arts. Sweet, friendly women who will beat you down if you test them. I have a few sorority sisters with the flyest hair, nails and outfits--they're probation officers. And I know some God-fearing, church-going women who served in the military. I imagine they'd pray for you, before getting their rifle if you crossed them.  I admire their blend of strength, aggression and poise. Ladies, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can be tough and feminine if we choose.

I highly encourage women to keep some kind of protection with them. I have a friend who carries a comb where a knife blade is hidden in the handle. I know many women who carry peeper spray and tasers in their cute purses. I know women, young and seasoned in age, who are packing heat. I remember meeting one sweet old lady, around mid-70s, who was a yogi. I mentioned how peaceful she made me feel. She then told me she’s about peace, but if someone broke into her house she’d bust some caps their ass.

Another great thing about these women is that they don't live their life in fear. They don't have their hand on their pocket all of the time. They're not paranoid. They have researched their weaponry, martial arts, etc. That's another suggestion, before you purchase any kind of weapon, do your homework so you don't end up hurting yourself. 
There are tough women in the world. You can
fight back too. Source: wikicommons

For you young women in college/heading to college, take a self-defense class. Consider carrying pepper spray when you’re walking around campus at night. Or learn martial arts.

Parents, start teaching your girls young how to protect themselves. The stuff I learned in that self-defense class I should’ve learned 30 years ago. There are self-defense classes for children. Search for them in your community. Or see if your daughters would be interested in martial arts.

And also, we often teach our kids that predators are men. There are some sick, evil women in the world too. We don’t associate women with being dangerous, and I bet women predators use that to their advantage when they abuse children. Buty they deserve a beat down just like any male predator who tries to hurt a child.

Carlesha Freeland-Gaither was lucky. Many stories don’t end like hers. Channel your inner Wonder Woman, Xena Warrior Princess, Mulan, Fish Mooney, Sarah Connor, Harriet Tubman, Civil War Union Soldier Francis Clalin, Angela Davis, the women you know in the military and police force, and the strong women throughout history who boldly spoke up and fought back. Be cautious of your surroundings. Try not to put yourself in situations that make you easy prey (i.e. walking down a dark alley at night). Be Careful. Fight back by protecting yourself.

*I am not an expert in weapons, self-defense and martial arts. Talk to experts in these fields before looking into weapons and self-defense. 


  1. Wow, I'm sorry to hear you've been attacked not once but twice! I'm Oakland born and raised, but luckily I have not fallen to this misfortune. I agree with you - as women we should empower ourselves with a self defense class of some sort.


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