Monday, April 18, 2011

Mildred "D.R.E.D" Gerestant: Daring Reality Every Day

Many of us have seen or heard things that raises eyebrows. Some of us have been apart of what I like to call the "Eye Raising Movement". These are people that create their own lanes, living life as only the author of an autobiography could...these people are individuals! According to Webster, an individual is defined as a single human being distinguished from a group. In other words, our society deems us as one in a group of people. While many of us use the word individual loosely, not very many live up to its standard. Oscar Wilde states, "Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals." I have had the pleasure of witnessing, meeting and conversing with an individual that lives, breathes and eat all components that supports the definitive. That individual's name is D.R.E.D (Daring Reality Every Day) aka MilDred Gerestant- Haitian African American.

If you searched MilDred Gerestant on any engine on the world wide web, you will find that she is a humanitarian, lecturer, actress, educator, healer and most of all a beautifully human individual. Known for a vast array of accomplishments and barrier shedding achievements, Dred (as I prefer to call her) is monumental in her successes for gender bending. Gender bending refers to those individuals who actively defies expected gender roles. Usually, attached to those of the LGBT community, gender bending is those individuals born of one sex but dresses, acts, and sometimes live as the opposite sex. MilDred, who is an out and proud member of the LGBT community, says that she begin gender bending, to find herself. Having always had a love for women, yet not loving herself, it became critical for her to accept what she was and embrace who she wished to become. She states, "I was labeled, ridiculed, and ostracized for the way I looked and where I came from..." That led to a hindering life of self-hate and suicide attempts for Dred. What gave her the strength to rise up from this conditioning of self-hate, was a search deeper into self and self love. A startling realization that made her a victim of group think, Dred learned that she had been taught to hate how she looked and who she was. This awareness jolted an awakening and desire for something different, something better for herself. MilDred found herself, feeling at home after attending drag king shows. Knowing she loved women, she felt comfortable being able to dress up as a man, and not being judged so harshly. This in turn lead to her alternating between living as a man and a woman. Dred, disclosed that accepting her masculinity aided in her embracing her femininity and loving the woman that she was born. While on this path of self love, truth and acceptance, it became known that this could be a powerful movement of education, exposition, and redirection. So much so, that Dred realized, that she is the one she always wanted to marry.

Being such a revolutionary, you would think that, Dred, reads a ton of books a day. I mean to break barriers, you have to be a knowledge seeker, right? Contrary to my belief, the desire to read only hits her from time to time. Dred states that at times when she reads, it takes her away to places that she want to be and other times to places she refuses to go, but goes anyway to face her fear. Dred states that the most critical thing in her journey is self-education and spiritual guidance. When she reads its those things that she feels will continue to help her evolve into being who she sets out to be. In her library you will find books by Osho, the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and other spiritual healing guides. MilDred lets me know that Osho teaches how to use negative labels as a means of transforming self loathing into self worth..." To supplement reading, Dred meditates, listen to music, move and a number of other things to ensure that healing is taking place. She will even go a step further when angry and write a letter to the person or thing that is causing an imbalance with the universe and burn it. Dred taught me to deal with anger and fear as it can change who you are if you dont. She further teaches that in order to live and remain a free spirit, you have to do the things you dont want to do and figure out, it wasnt that bad to begin with.

MilDred talks alot about "Fear". She says that fear will make one a prisoner in a life sentence if we dont walk through it. When I think of fear, I think of the acronym: False Evidence Appearing Real. The only way to know that its false evidence is to prove it so and that can only be done when walking on a path of courage, led by faith. What intrigues me about Dred is that she says to hell with what others think, I am going to live MY life for ME, not people full of opinions, that wasnt asked for or warranted. This makes me think of a quote by Gerard Way: “Be yourself, don't take anyone's shit, and never let them take you alive.” MilDred is the living testament of this statement. Dred is more than an inspiration, she is an educator of life, teaching us how to live the life we want, without the limitations placed on us by others. While this is the easiest thing to write, its more than difficult to practice. Today, I make my vow, to embrace my individuality, and live life according to my rules.
“There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout:
This is me damn it! I look the way I look, think the way I think, feel the way I feel, love the way I love! I am a whole complex package. Take me... or leave me. Accept me - or walk away! Do not try to make me feel like less of a person, just because I don't fit your idea of who I should be and don't try to change me to fit your mold. If I need to change, I alone will make that decision. When you are strong enough to love yourself 100%, good and bad - you will be amazed at the opportunities that life presents you.”    -Stacy Charter

To learn more about Dred and her work, visit

"Buzzworthy Cravings, Creatively Satisfied!"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Authentic Deception: The Intellectual Diva

Whats in a name? Everything if you ask me. Our name can influence our character, who we are and what we stand for. The one thing which separates human beings from the animal kingdom is human mind, which has the ability to reason on a conscious level. To think consciously, one must use language. This point is not generally appreciated but it is vitally important. It is impossible to think without language. What allows language to serve in this manner? In the case of languages which have alphabets, letters are placed in a definite sequence in the alphabet, i.e., in the English alphabet, "A" is always in the first position, "B" in the second position, and so on. Any alphabet is an alphabet because symbols are recognized by their form or sound in a definite order--change the order and confusion results.The power of a name and its value has long been immortalized in prose, poetry, and religious ceremony. Everyone recognizes himself or herself by name.I have had the pleasure of interacting, meeting and bonding with a woman defined, remembered by her name. That name is Authentic Deception.

I thought it important to properly identify the meaning of the name to gain insight into, who I had been interacting with:
AUTHENTIC, defined as genuine, real. Its origin from the 1300–50; < Late Latin authenticus < Greek authentikós original, primary, at first hand, equivalent to authént ( ēs ) one who does things himself.  
DECEPTION, defined as the state of being deceived.
Reflecting, analyzing and synthesizing this information, I find that her name fits her. When I sat down with Authentic Deception whose government name is Tammy Fleming, I asked, "Sista, how did you come up with that name, I absolutely love it?" She disclosed that her name is unique and that uniqueness embodies her. When one looks at her, they assume that she is everything that she is not. Because there are a plethora of sides to her: Poetess, Real Estate Broker, Business Owner, Hair Stylist, people are authentically deceived. She fell in love with the name simply because its a play on words- tough exterior yet femininely refined.

When I met Authentic Deception, it was in the form of Poetess. She was the Feature Poet for He(Art) and Soul XXV. Her poetry was genuine, witty, exaggerated, sexual and feminine. Losing grasp with reality, looking at her spit with the emotion that she did, I experienced an outer body, and felt as if I was looking at myself on that stage. The words she spoke pierced my soul, shattered my spirit and uplifted my hope. Such an awakening, I had to find out who this mirroring creature was, what motivated her to write and speak so truthfully.
As a writer first and poet second, I like to know what inspires people to create, hone, and share their craft. I wasn't surprised that some form of pain ignited the fuel to spit, what I was taken aback and saddened by was that it was a great tragedy that started her on this path.  Authentic Deception and her siblings loss their mother to murder. Being raised and shuffled around in group homes, writing became an escape and a contract to hold herself accountable for how her life turned out. Her poetry is in fact autobiographical in nature, often using her own life experiences to vent, seek advice and of course inspire. A piece that hasn't been shared just yet is "He Fits Me", she looks at this piece as meticulous with words and passion, Inspired by conversational exchange with her and friends.

Playing on words is what makes poetry worth writing. Authentic Deception likes to write, because its a way that her thoughts are uninterrupted and allows her mind to complete what it started. The French poet Paul Valéry defined poetry as "a language within a language." The contemporary poet Kenneth Koch speaks of poetry as a language in which the sound of the words is raised to an importance equal to that of their meaning, and also equal to the importance of grammar and syntax. In ordinary language, the sound of a word is useful almost exclusively in order to identify it and to distinguish it from other words. In poetry, its importance is much greater. Poets think of how they want something to sound as much as they think of what they want to say and in fact it's often impossible to distinguish one from the other. Authentic Deception speaks of poetry much like these, but she is influenced by the oldies but goodies. She says that she cant plan to write, it just has to happen. Often times she wakes up out of her sleep and write. She loves metaphors, nature, synonyms, speaking literally and figuratively. She writes best 'in the moment' while running on pure emotion. She likes the unpredictability, and never knows what turns up until its completed.

As a salon owner of  Trends by Tammy, she is afforded an overabundance of stories, situations and ideations that provide a platform to speak. She has even had what I like to call 'spit sessions' in her salon, often impromptu. "Its encouraging to me and my clients". I asked her how would you poetically tell someone to be encouraged and her response was quite simple: "the best thing to do for self is living well, its the ultimate revenge. Get yourself together in spite of and have a clear conscious." Like myself, Authentic is Crazzzzzzy about solutions, once a problem has been acknowledged. "Its important to remain assertive and stand your ground", she says. By way of New Orleans, Authentic is proud of who she is, and what she has accomplished. Being a single mom and a single woman for the last 17 years I am proud of her too. You can find Authentic Deception anywhere, the open mic is hot. She truly is an Intellectual Diva! #Salute!
"Buzzworthy Cravings, Creatively Satisfied"