I don't quite remember when I fell in love with tea but I do remember the most special moments of me drinking tea. I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I had just met her months earlier and it was awkward for both of us. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado. He was a professor at one of the universities and she was a housewife. After years of drug addiction and being in and out of jail, she deserved the break. I was homeless so she and her husband agreed to let me come live with them. Each evening my mother and I would find a spot in the living room with a cup of tea and a book.

Now, years later, I'm a self proclaimed tea expert. I start each day with a wonderful English Breakfast tea to get me going. As the day progresses, who knows what wonderful tea I will crown queen. But for sure, I have at least three cups of tea a day. And yes, when I can, I have tea everyday at about 3:00 P. M. I love to invite my friends over for tea and cupcakes and so far everyone thinks it’s a delightful experience. I am always in search of the best blend of tea. Yes, I’m a tea snob, I prefer loose tea but I do like some bags also. I have learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. Some bags can be quite nice. And yes again, any Diva knows, what you drink your tea out of is very important.

Tea for me is a way of life. It's wellness for the mind body and spirit. Here, I will explore every expect of tea possible, with a high concentration on wellness. I will review the best teas, the best places to have tea, the best ways to brew tea, the best tea accessories, what tea goes best with what foods, and the list goes on and on. I plan to share my passion for tea with you. And I've been told, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this tea journey with me.

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

Until recently I had never drank Peppermint Tea made with loose leaves. And Honestly, I will probably never go back. The freshness of loose Peppermint Tea cannot be denied. When I open the can of Mint Medley, From The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, I feel as if I stepped into a garden of peppermint leaves. It is a perfect blend of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves grown in the US.

Mint Medley has become a favorite and I find myself reaching for this tea tin almost everyday. It is great for on-going nausea. The health benefits and endless. It relieves muscle aches, headaches, migraines, stress. And now that it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and I have a mean cough, I'm sure it will help to relieve some of this congestion in my chest. Mint Medley has been in my tea cup more than any tea as of late. It has really helped with my winter cough, congestion related to this bout of pneumonia. You can read my full review on The Persimmon Tree Tea Company Mint Teas.

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

Welcome to my world of books! As an pre-teen books changed my world. I fell in love with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance period and the more I read the more I wanted to read. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It spoke to my own degradation and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

I love to read! Inside a book I escape into someone else's life. There is something wonderful about turning to the next page of a wonderful story. Something intoxicating about the smell of the book and the story it brings to life. Reading brings me joy, and these days with my health in the balance, I find solace in my books.

I spent hours in my bedroom sequestered with the door closed reading the classics from the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Wright and Baldwin. Books became my escape and my salvation. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

Reading is the one thing that the pain of my life could never take away from me. It was the thing that helped to make it better. And even today, living with AIDS, books continue to be the safest place for me. It’s the one thing that belongs to me that AIDS cannot take away from me.The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS.

The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS. I have read hundreds of books from many different genres and I will pick the best of my reads over the years. I warn you, it will not be exclusively white or black, male or female, fiction or non fiction, it will be all of them.

I’m so excited and I’m grateful to everyone who wants to be a part of this venture. We already have 110 Book Club Members. You can email me @ RLTReads@raelewisthornton.com. The Twitter hashtag is #RLTReads. We can make this book club as wonderful as we want to make it. Who says that Oprah has to have the only ownership to a wonderful book club?

This Month We are Reading In My Fathers House by E Lynn Harris

Read along and join our discussion July 19th at 7 pm CST

For more Tea with Rae "Vlogs" Click here to visit her youtube channel

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Petty Is As Petty Does....

I was lying in bed at 6:00 A. M. this morning and God gave me the biggest aha moment and I got straight up, showered, put the tea kettle on and started writing. Since May 1st when my membership was rescinded from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority I have for the most part not really addressed publicly some of the petty shit that I have faced. This is the first blog that I have written about it beyond the Day 23 video which as of today, has received 55,000 views. That video expressed my pure hurt. I had people calling me from around the country who I hadn't spoken to in years who called to see if I was ok. They said, "We hated to see you that hurt."

Now be clear, I do address the matter in my book The Politics of Respectability in detail, but the book is not about Delta per se. It's about my life and how the issues of what black women have historically seen as respectable and how that has collided with my life from childhood to Delta.  Even when I was promoting the book on my blog, someone said that it sounded like I was doing it at Delta's expense. It is what it is, if I can take ownership for my tweets and the consequences there of, then Delta can take ownership of their decision to rescind my membership. Bullshit ain't nothing!

So I've been unusually silent, I think in part because there has been a large number of Sorors, who have reached out to me. Yes, I said Soror, because those who are willing to reach out to a sister who is hurting deserve to be called Soror. At the end of the day, concern for the sister is the true essence of sisterhood. I understand that I am no longer a member of Delta, but I also know that I will never stop viewing those who have been sisters to me as a sister.

I don't want to alienate anyone. However, at the end of the day, I have to be true to myself. I'm even prepared for the backlash of this blog, but at least I can look at myself in the mirror. I'm not trying to hold shit in and let it eat me from within.

Some of the things women have said to and about me have been hurtful and deep. I've noticed that some stopped following me on Twitter, some stopped tweeting me, some stopped calling me Soror in their tweets, and that's fair, I mean technically I am no longer a member of Delta Sigma Theta and some who I thought as a friend, have stopped tweeting me altogether, but continued to follow me on twitter, I guess they didn't want to seem that petty.

A couple of weeks ago, I was up at 2:00 am, not feeling well and started tweeting. I saw a young lady on Twitter who I knew before she pledged Delta and I said to her, "I've noticed that you don't tweet me anymore, and I understand. It's all good." She used that opportunity to set me straight. Now be clear. This young lady is an AIDS Activist. She is not infected, but has been passionate about the issue. Through an AIDS organization on her college campus, she brought me to speak and we maintained a relationship thereafter.

 I've always been there to encourage her. Even when she was pledging, and on the verge of giving up, I was there to encourage her to stick it out. When she crossed, I packed a box for her that has been sitting at my door, and still is sitting at my door because I just never got around to mailing it. I can be sorry that way sometimes. Great heart, but follow-through gets bogged down with life.

 So she set me straight and damn did she get me straight! Basically she said to me, that as an honorary member, I have an obligation to behave a certain way. But ummm, who I am didn't change because I became a member of Delta. Delta invited me into the sorority because of who I am. Be clear on THAT point! I was the outspoken, cussing, shit talkin Emmy award winning black woman that I am TODAY, that I was 12 years ago when I was invited into Delta. I was invited into Delta Sigma Theta because of my achievements, because I represent the fortitude that is exhibited in this picture to the left. THAT NEVER CHANGED! NEVER! It was good enough for Delta 12 years ago, that is another fact. But 12 years ago, AIDS was on the incoming President's agenda, and so well maybe I was tolerated to help move the agenda forward. Who knows for sure, but it certainly looks that way from my lens. But what I know for sure, someone within the sorority made me a project for 14 months.

Those tweets happened February 16, 2011. That night I spoke with the National President for over an hour. I asked point blank, "Soror, am I being put out of Delta over this?"  I felt like I was being "Dealt" with that night and I wanted to know what to expect. She said, "No Soror, no one's putting you out of Delta. I'm going to ask that you don't talk about the incident anymore publicly or tweet about it." I kept my word, and at no time in 14 months did ANYONE from the organization call to say that the tweets were being discussed. Where the hell was sisterhood in that process?  The day I received the call and was told that my membership was  rescinded was the same day it was effective. DAMN! I had NO time to process any of this. It was like, thank you for your 12 years of service, but we don't want you anymore.

I'm a BIG girl. I accept the fact that I made those tweets and I STAND by those tweets. The national Executive Director was talking to me like I was a Bitch on the Street. Bottom line!!! And I would tweet it again! I tweeted MY truth and if how I did it was the reason my membership was rescinded then I accept it like the WOMAN that I am.

But don't come to me and say I made Delta look bad by making that video. Actually she said I made, "Delta look petty." Well, like another Soror said to her, "Our leadership is very qualified to address this matter publicly; they have chosen not to respond." The truth of the matter is, they haven't even sent me an "official" letter. I wonder what it would say anyway, their truth? Their truth is what it is, you can't get around it. They rescinded my membership because of the tweets. That was from the mouth of the National President to my ears. Someone even told me I was slandering Delta. Can't slander the truth. It is what it is.

Now be clear, I haven't received an official letter, but my name has been taken off the national website, they also sent out  at least one email directing members of Delta to not talk about it publicly.

 At the end of the day, I didn't reveal any secrets, I took the pictures down within 2 hours and honestly our robes are worn in public anyway, so there was NO need for the Executive Director to speak to me in the manner in which she did. I told her I would take them down as soon as I could. I had just gotten off of a plane to go speak. If it had been Nancy Wilson or Sheryl Lee Ralph, she would have said thank you Soror, just let me know when they are down. I believe that with all my heart.

And yes I did tweet, "Don't  No One Else DM me about what's appropriate or not appropriate for me to Tweet about Delta. I do what the fuck I want to. I'm a grown ass woman and ain't nobody paying my bills.  Where were you last wk when I was sick with $10.37 in the bank?" And I stand by that too. My point was this, if you want to show me sisterly concern then do it across the board, when I'm sick, not just when Delta is specifically involved. This is real talk here. Are we more concerned with the image of the sisterhood, than the sister? It certainly looked like that to me on that day. I also tweeted that day, "Sisterhood shouldn't hurt." Only one Delta responded to that. All the other tweets and DM's were about me talking about Delta's business in public.

My point is this, if I can be a woman and take ownership for my actions, then Delta has to do the same. Don't make me the bad guy in this. It takes two to tango. And what does Delta have to say? There is only one thing they can say at the end of the day. That they  rescinded my membership because my public behavior was unacceptable to the leadership? That I addressed publicly, what should have been addressed privately?

If this is the reason my membership was rescinded then don't be ashamed to say it. If it looks petty, then petty is as petty does.  If all of my service to the black community and accomplishments around HIV/AIDS was discarded over my tweets, then that speaks for itself. And yes it does make people wonder about our black Greek organizations. We wonder why people call our organizations cults. We help to create an atmosphere where these ideals grow.

If decorum is more or equally as important as service then say it. If I don't meet the standards then say it, but don't say I have no right to tell my truths.

By the same token, my tweets and my blogs make people question  what "type" of woman I am. Am I respectable enough, woman, enough, Christian enough? I tackle those questions every day. I don't run from it. I address these questions to help people unpack the core of who I am and what makes me tick.

I don't have to, but I want to for people to understand that we box God into our small minds. God can and does use the least expected to do the most. David didn't have any amour, just five rocks and a sling shot. That's me, nothing fancy, just raw truth.

I address these issues in my book. I'm unapologetically provocative. It is my gift and the essence of who I am and what I do and I will not be shamed into change.  Someone tweeted me about a month ago, "Do you always have to say what's on your mind? That's what got you kicked out of Delta." Like haven't I learned my lesson?

 Yep, I learned a long time ago that silence can break your spirit. I talk about that in my book too. So if my need to purge that incident that day, the way I purged, via my tweets, cost me my membership in Delta, then so be it, but ownership is ownership. I can't make anyone look bad, our actions make us look bad based on what is defined as bad by a person or society.

I hear it all day in my own life. I've had women tell me that my candor, honesty and transparency repulse them and I tackle it head on. If they don't like what I have to say, or how I say it, then they have the right to unfollow me or not read my blog. Just like Delta had the RIGHT to rescind my membership.

I will never blame someone for my doing, my shit. This is my history. I was invited into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority on my lifetime work, "To help improve the human condition." That same membership was rescinded because I broke decorum, not because my work stopped; but because I tweeted sorority business publicly and I did it in a manner deemed, "Vulgar." I take ownership, but don't tell me I have no RIGHT to recount my history because your history intercepts with mine. Don't tell me I made Delta look petty. It is what it is.

Don't tell me I'm speaking against the Shield, when I'm speaking the truth of the Shield. If this is the honor of the shield and I dishonored that in some way then kick my ass out, but don't make it or me something that it's not. If you throw hate at me for the truth that you say you live by and love, then how does it make you look? Then what kind of lie are you living in?

You can't have it both ways. You can't say I don't deserve to be a Delta because I dishonored the Shield with my tweets, then turn around and tell me I'm wrong for telling. The fact that it was done behind my back was cold blooded enough but to turn around and tell me that I can't talk about it because it makes you look bad is some straight madness.

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