Tanika was a college crush of mine who has morphed into the essence of power and energy that I can only explain as explosive. She has an impact that is deep-seeded and raw. Upon meeting her, you learn more about yourself, and your own power-within. Interviewing Tanika was an honor, and being in her presence is often a gift. The return of her Saturn leaned her more into herself. The Libra Saturn sign is about the “Other”. Here, she describes without strain, the “others” in her life, as a form of completion, through partnership, community, family, and spirit. The other within herself and the others that surround her create her whole. Her complex notions around spirit and the physical realm, allow her to walk the earth, protected. Here is a snippet of her world and her magnificence. An offering to you reader, enjoy.
Tanika LaDawn (LaDawn–means sunrise, daybreak, new beginning)
Age: 29 years
Birthday: Feb 6 1982
Sun Sign: Aquarius
HSR: So, Tanika, do you happen to know where your Saturn returns?
LaDawn:It is likely either Libra or Scorpio. I believe it is Libra. How are you?!
HSR:I’m good, and I’m excited to ask you about your saturn.
LaDawn:Laughs. True… I always have this duel thing going on, and that’s two important sides to me: Poetic(artistry) vs Justice(police) internal/spiritual war.
HSR: So, you are 29 this year. That means you are in the crux of your Saturn!!!
LaDawn: Yes, I turned 29 in February. I know!!!!
HSR:Do you feel as if you are experiencing any changes?
LaDawn:In so many ways….Spiritual Transformation, Gender/Sexuality. I think things are clearer, or becoming clearer now, but this journey started about, hmm maybe 4 years ago.
HSR:Okay, well what happened 4 years ago? Til now?
LaDawn: Where do I start?
HSR: Start with your gender/sexuality and then work your way backward that is unless you feel they are connected.
LaDawn: Ok! Firstly, Sex: I need it everyday of my life, forever, and thank you. In terms of sexuality, I came out to my family when I was in graduate school, I was about 23 at that time. And I was also dealing with reconciling my spirituality with my sexuality at that time. I grew up Christian..”Down Home Baptist” Christian at that, so it sort of rocked my family at that time. I think coming to terms with my sexuality, led me on the path to Spiritual Enlightenment.
HSR: And so do you still relate to Christianity heavily, or have you transformed into something different?
LaDawn: Not so much, although I do still relate/believe in some of the tenets; I am more in touch with ancient healing systems, African traditional spirituality, nature, paying homage to the ancestors and just constantly trying to evolve and grow and learn about myself. And when I say Nature, I mean: The influence of nature and water on spirit, and how it invites the ancestors to communicate/sup with me, especially my grandmothers.
HSR: Do you give that practice a name?
LaDawn: I don’t give it a name yet…but I know the path. I had a reading done by a Queer Womyn Priestess in Cali in Nov of 2010 and it was life changing to say the least. The spiritual journey started back then, at age 24 or 25 (even though I wasn’t consciously aware of it) and then reconciling my sexuality with that. Since from the age of 1-21 I had been taught gays were destined for hell, immoral and sex (gay, and premarital) was evil/sinful.
HSR: Well, yes, these lies are a part of growing, or at least getting away from them. And these events fell just in line with your Saturn, interesting, eh?
LaDawn: I know! So amazing! In that reading I was told my path is Luccumi Ifa…and I’m actually called to be a leader/seer, etc.
HSR: Leader and seer. So, in which worlds do you currently lead, or are preparing to lead?
LaDawn: The Big Queer/Dyke/Two-Spirited/Masculine of Center Womyn! I am a leader in my career, an innovator as far as my artistry, a mentor to young people and a leader in my family. The one that was shunned back then.. *laughs*. Everything comes full circle. Going back “Home” is always an interesting journey.
HSR:Do you consider yourself Masculine of Center? I like that term, where does it originate? And home, I imagine that lives inside of you.
LaDawn: I do. I think of masculine of center as an umbrella to be free…and anything goes. When people ask, I always use “masculine of center” or “Two-Spirited” I think they both describe me best. The first time I heard “masculine of center” was with the Brown Boi Project. Home is always inside of me…from the Bayou of Louisiana…to Detroit where I was born and raised! I recently had a “coming out” experience all over again…I had to come out as Queer again, when my girlfriend (now fiance) proposed to me.
HSR: Yes! Congratulations! How did she propose?
LaDawn: Thankyouuu!! She proposed at home, in our apartment. I left for about 5 days for my Sorority reunion in Ohio, and the night I came back home from the airport….after I got out of the shower…she was waiting in bed….with a diamond ring….a very nice diamond ring! Lol
HSR: So, first off, I have to say that Saturn is supposed to be a moment of conflict, challenge. And in Libra, this challenge and conflict ought to focus on relationships and your connection with other people. Something catastrophic is supposed to occur, but you sound like everything is perfect for you. Tell me, honestly, where does your largest challenge lie. What are you working to overcome?
LaDawn: (Laughs) Not everything is perfect! That would be so boring! I’m working on myself, I’m working on being a better Partner, a better friend, a better artist, a better officer, a better human being. I’m working on building and sustaining relationships with certain family members….my mother, my father, my Pops, and my brother’s whom I didn’t grow up with, and their children, whom I don’t really have any type of connection with. I want that to change. It will change. They are all in Detroit. Last summer, I also lost someone who was very close to me, a cousin….who died very tragically. And that still hurts like hell. I don’t know if it will ever stop hurting….I think all wounds get better with time..if we find healthy ways to deal with it.
HSR: And what are some healthy ways that you are dealing with wounds, and connecting?
LaDawn:I’d have to call it “Love & Basketball” I’m re-connecting with my Brother (who committed suicide 10 years ago) on the basketball court and keeping his memory alive in one of our favorite ways we connected while he walked this earth.
HSR: Do you foresee there being any radical changes in your relationship with family in the next couple of years? Because either way, you still have your fiance.
LaDawn: My fiance, yes, she is my family! And I am really close to her grandparents (they are the best) and her aunts and cousins. We went through a tough period and had a lot of turmoil in our relationship last year/beginning of this year and were taking the reactions of certain people/and family out on each other. Being in a relationship can sometimes mean to exist in darkness for so long, see glimpses of light, still exist in darkness, and then see the sun beckoning you at the end of the tunnel and finally walking toward it. Together, we got beyond everyone’s reaction to our engagement, and constantly work to not take past hurts from family/history out on one another and it truly has made us stronger and more connected. Also, my three brother’s on my father’s side all have children and I’m looking forward to getting to know/having a connection with them.
HSR: I notice you said you had to come out as Queer after your engagement, tell me more about that… was that dealing with her immediate family, or an internal defining?
LaDawn: Well, it was on both sides a little bit. As for my mother, our transition has been slow, but she gets better and more affirming each year! She’s like a snail, (laughs)… I love her so much.
HSR: I like that… she’s like a snail. Moving slowly, but getting there.
LaDawn: That “coming out” experience was exciting and shattering at the same time. I think when we get engaged as Queer/Gay/Lesbian Womyn…it almost forces society and our families to deal with us..to see us…to validate us, to see as as equal. They are forced to see that our love is no different from theirs, and the reasons that we want to get married, isn’t different either. So, engagement is supposed be celebrated, honored, etc. And some of it, unfortunately, was having to explain “why” and anticipating the responses/reactions of some family members. When you are heterosexual, it is a different experience. So in many ways..it felt like “coming out” all over again.
HSR: This is very true. Did you have this issue within the queer community?
LaDawn: No, not at all. A few people were like, marriage is so political and a hetero establishment! But at the end of the day….it was all Love….good Queer Lovin.’
HSR: Well that’s good. Support is super important. We’ve known each other for years, but I think I’ve gained the most information about you in this past hour than before.
LaDawn: I know! It’s funny because the different circles in which I move…people know me as someone different. I am Tanika the Boxer to some, Tanika the Actor/Poet to others, Tanika the Police Officer to many, etc etc. So, you just learned some other sides to me in the last hour is all (smiles).
HSR: Sounds like you are on your way! Oh, Tanika LaDawn, the almost 30 soon to be married masculine of center womyn awesome interview! Thank you so much for interviewing. Enjoy your night.
LaDawn: Ok, you do the same! Peace, Queen.