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Alright, come on in, and take a seat. I have something to say.


My entire career has been based on being as white as possible while simultaneously still being black so that the people hiring me can fit their quota while also not feel threatened or uncomfortable.


Are you listening? Great. Let’s get started.


I realized way early on that in order for me to be successful, I have to play by the rules to the tenth degree. In addition to playing by the rules I have to look a certain way (straight hair, clean lines, approachable smile) and also be good at whatever it is I’m doing.


I had a front row seat and first hand training on how to fit into white society seamlessly when I ran for a million pageants throughout Orange County, California. There was a day that my friend Nick and I were getting a movie from Redbox (remember those?) and next to it was a stack of local papers. On the front page was a Klan member standing next to a real life City sign that said, “Welcome to Ku Klux County- County of Orange.” He was in full Klan garb. Nick and I thought it was a joke. We grabbed a copy to further investigate.


Y’all. That sh*t was not a joke.


Within the paper, it pointed out street names and popular buildings throughout Fullerton that were named in honor of Klan Members. *eyebrows raised so high that they’re about to fall off my face*


People are always asking me why I love New York. Honestly, I feel and have always felt safer in Harlem at 3AM by myself than when I went to college in Orange County walking by myself in a parking lot at night. Y’all know I have always loved pageants and I still do, but being crowned Miss Fullerton left no room for slip ups. Going to school and working in “Ku Klux County” there was always an unspoken undertone that left me feeling uneasy. But I learned how to be a presence in any room without making my white counterparts feel uncomfortable.

I’m exhausted.



I started writing a Broadway musical during this quarantine. It’s a passion project and something that I love. While day dreaming about who I’d want to partner with me on my creative team, I started thinking of the talented, amazing people that I already know and love. I definitely want women and black people represented around me. First, I went down the line of people at Beautiful. And then I thought about it…


And it hit me: Everyone on the ‘other side of the table’ was white. Mostly white men. But hear me when I say it is not their fault that they’re white. Just like it’s not my fault that I’m black. The fact that they’re all white is not the issue. I love them. I would do anything for them. THAT’s the problem.


The subconscious hoops that I jumped through while seeking the approval of them all was something I was not actively aware of while I was doing it. I realized that any time I knew any of them would be popping into town to check on us when I was on tour, I would unconsciously make myself MORE WHITE to appear more DESIREABLE. (I do the same thing when I know I might need to hail a cab. Look the freaking part so that you don’t get passed over.) I would go find my straight hair wig, or one with a light wave, put my makeup on, and wear colors and silhouettes that made me appear softer and more approachable.


Salisha Thomas appearing soft and approachable.

OH MY GOSH. I’ve been doing this for YEARS.

And guess what: IT WORKED.


I bought a whole house based on doing this. My brain has been in overdrive for so long, and I didn’t even know it! I don’t even have the energy to get into Disney right now. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, the times I’m asked to play a black stereotype. “Think more—Whoopi!.... a little more sass..... Can you do like, a soulful run at the end?” What is being asked while trying to avoid sounding racist is, “Can you be more black?” Each audition I ask myself, what box do I need to fit into today? You guys, I’m so tired.


It wasn’t until recently that I’ve begun to start wearing my own hair. Media has begun to shift. The American ideal of beauty is slowly changing, and when that shows up in the media, people’s minds begin to change whether they know it or not. The more you see black people or natural hair on TV, in magazines, on stage, etc., the more accepted it becomes. When I was a child, all I saw were white women with soft, straight hair. So to me, that was beautiful. The only people with big curly hair on screen were the crazy side kicks who were supposed to be funny; not necessarily desireable.

Things are changing.


I got to be Miss California, but I rocked that year with so many wigs that it took up an entire suitcase while I traveled. I’m grateful for the reigning women right now who are rocking a whole lot of texture. Things have changed from then to now, thank God.


But…. You already know.


Racism is so freaking real that it’s not even funny. Sometimes it’s little things: Like when my dear sweet friend, DeLaney and I went to enjoy a movie together in Chicago. She’s a total bombshell, gorgeous, kind, approachable, you name it. She’s also white. We got our tickets, and she walked right through. I followed right behind her, but the attendant stopped me (and only me) and said he needed to check my bag. My tiny little purse. It was upsetting. I wanted to say something. I wanted to point out that he blatantly let her through and only checked me. But I didn’t do that for two reasons: 1) I didn’t want to be defensive and cause a scene; become the angry black woman. I was taught early on to always comply (as we’ve seen, something small can quickly turn into life or death) and 2)… She actually had all our snacks in her bag which in hindsight was genius for exactly this reason. The downside being that I got profiled while having to act like everything was okay.

It was not okay.


And then there are big things, like a white officer murdering a man for 8 minutes on camera and getting away with it.


Let’s sit with that for a second.


How much more obvious do things need to get before it’s addressed?

I’m ready to be whoever I feel like being. If I choose to wear a wig, I want it to be because I was too lazy to do my curls. Not because I’m metaphorically trying to catch a cab in my profession.


I just got to California. I’m staying down the street from where my parents are. And just yesterday, I jogged a couple miles to see them and wave at them from the front yard. I rang the doorbell and ran into the street to give whoever answered the door some space. My papa came and was trying to conceal how worried he was when he realized that I had jogged on foot alone instead of driving over. Sidebar: The neighborhood is nice.

I’m being modest.


My dad said, “You shouldn’t be jogging in this neighborhood by yourself.” I interject, “While being black you mean.”

I shouldn’t be jogging in this neighborhood with a mask and gloves on while being black.


He looked at the ground and we both took a beat.


Y’all, this is not okay.


Anybody else ready for a change? I could write a whole book on this. But I’m hungry and need some lunch. I’m grateful for everyone who’s checking on me and their other black friends right now. I never really know what to say but it does mean a lot. There’s a quote that I saw today that rang so true in my spirit pertaining to saying All Lives Matter versus Black Lives Matter:


“If I say my house is on fire and you say ‘all houses matter,’ well that may be true, but all houses aren’t on fire right now. My house is.” -Talib Kweli



I have a dream of living in a world where I don’t have to worry about the safety of myself or my family members while doing normal things in predominantly white neighborhoods. I have a dream that I won’t need to do a million subconscious black flips (lol, I mean back flips) to get a job or fit in to prominent circles, but instead just simply look how I look; that being myself will be enough.


I am a strong, proud black woman stepping into her power. Even if I am afraid, I will be brave and stand up for what I believe in. Now is not the time to be silent, whether you’re black, a person of color, or an ally. Take a stand. There is no grey area on this one.

LET’S. GO.


Salisha Thomas photographed by Chia Messina




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  • Salisha

A couple of months ago, I wrote about Broadway going dark. Well now, New York seems to me reopening... I honestly felt like the other day was Day 1 of being spit back into the world after the apocalypse. OR like waking up from a coma and rediscovering my surroundings from scratch…

I started the day like a normal day in quarantine: worked out a couple of times, read my Bible, meditated, did a little editing, made a peanut butter and apricot jelly sandwich, juiced, battled the worst PMS, avoided folding my laundry, mentored someone, et cetera. This evening as I left my home for my daily walk, I’d barely looked up, didn’t have my glasses on, and instinctively, I could sense my friend Sarah walking by on the sidewalk. Although we never see each other, neither of us were shocked or surprised or caught off guard to run into the other. It was like running into a friend at school in the hallways. We toured together for years as well as performed on the Broadway together. She feels like family in the sense that her presence is very comforting and familiar. I caught a glimpse of her foot before casually saying beneath my mask, “What’s up, Bockel?”

It was nice to talk to a human that I know. Something that doesn’t happen every day anymore. WELL. She told me about this awesome new park just beyond the normal park I usually find myself in. I was so taken aback that there was another park in MY neighborhood that I had no idea was there. I was instantly determined to find this new (to me) park.

Once I’d made it to the first park, I found myself out on the street. I’d been over there before not since quarantine began almost 75 days ago. It was a whole other world “on the other side of the park.”

For starters, the sidewalk on one side was lined with benches… with people SITTING in them. ‘Weird.’ I thought. Every bench is filled? I haven’t seen that in a while. It kinda freaked me out, so I crossed the street. The New Yorker in me innately kicked in when there was a person in my path, so of course I picked up the pace and walked faster than them. ‘Haven’t done that in a while’ I thought to myself. I walked a few yards before seeing a storefront with clothes in the window. Immediately, I was drawn to the window. One of my favorite things in the world is a good window display. If it’s good and it’s something I long for, I don’t waste much time seeing if there’s anything better deeper in the store. I find a clerk and simply ask for the window display (ie. My favorite gowns, the couch in my apartment—all were the window display. It saves me time because if they had something better to showcase the business, it’d be—can you guess? In the window display.) Anyway, the store was closed of course, but I just gazed in and imagined what the shopping experience would be like in the cute little boutique that it was.

I kept walking. I got two whole steps further before my nostrils were consumed with an old, favorite smell; something I haven’t had in so long but that I instantly craved: Fast Food. But not just any fast food: MCDONALDS! But not just any McDonalds. There were fresh fries in that bag wafting by me. And probably a couple of hamburgers. And when I looked up, there it was: The Golden Arches wide open for business. And I thought, I can just walk up and order McDonalds right now? It’s such a weird epiphany to have in the 21st century. I’ve been hunkered down in my apartment, eating only what I can make with my bare hands. MEANWHILE, the rest of the world has been eating all the good shit. Because when I turned the corner, I discovered an entire line of restaurants with a LOT of people outside of them. They were waiting for food, smoking, hanging out. I think I counted maybe 3 people with masks on? I literally felt like I was in an alternate universe, that universe being Pre-COVID, when the world was normal. It was like the world had gone back to normal for a while and NOBODY told me.

Me as a fat kid drinking a McDonalds milkshake 😂

And then, there it was: a whole new park. A HUGE park. How on Earth did I not know it was there this whole time???

I looked at it in astonishment and also puzzlement. How do I get in this park? It’s not your typical ‘bring a picnic blanket’ type of park. It was more like ‘Bring your hiking boots’ type of park. I found an entrance and stared at it suspiciously. It felt like a commitment if I were to walk in because it didn’t look like New York City on the other side of the threshold to me. It was more like… upstate hiking trail, or backwoods of Arkansas. The sun was about to set… it was a dense looking forest.


I don’t know… …Is it safe?....


I don’t know.


But I was curious. After all, I’d walked all this way to see it. There was a group of 10 people without masks quickly walking toward me on the sidewalk.

SALISHA DECIDE NOW BEFORE THIS HUGE GROUP OF PEOPLE CONSUME YOUR PERSONAL SPACE.


I hopped on the trail.


Every few steps I’d look back, wondering if this was a good idea. I could still see the entrance. I kept going. There was still some sunlight. I looked around. Still dumbfounded that this was in Manhattan; astonished that it hadn’t been bulldozed down and replaced with a high rise. It was really beautiful. And really dense. I got deeper and deeper.


STOP. What’s that? Are those people? HUMANS! COOL! Thank God I’m not alone up here!

Wait… two men…Hmm….Can I take ‘em?... I can’t take ‘em if I needed to. I take a moment to consider my appearance. Definitely don’t look “cute” but possibly still cute enough to get murdered.

Eh. I’m good. I keep going. I pass them.


They stop talking.


I give it a beat. Then I stop walking.


Naw. Let’s go home. We’re done here. I turn around. When coming up on the two guys, I use my superpowers (long story). Then, I acknowledge both with my eyes; Our nonverbal conversation saying, “Hello. I see you. I see you see me. I’m a really nice person but also not afraid of anything. Have fun guys!” I keep walking. Once I get a ways away, I subtly glance back to ensure they’re right where I left them. They were. (Whew!) We good.


I find the sidewalk. I still have some sunshine. Realize the water is so close and so beautiful. On my way back home, my watch buzzes to let me know I got all my steps in. I contemplate a few things:

Why is my therapist so hot?

I’m going to need a literary agent if I want to attract a mainstream publisher…

So glad I didn’t die in that random forest.

Should I give my favorite necklace to my new goddaughter?

McDonald’s…yuummmmm…..


I made it home safely. De-gloved. Disinfected my mask. Took off all my outside clothes. Made spaghetti in my underwear. I cannot believe how boring life is right now…


I kind of love it. In a weird way.


The smell of McDonald’s was my LITERAL highlight.


I’m going to do my best and make the most of it because when life gets back to normal, the grind will never stop.


@salishathomas



  • Salisha

How’s your Quarantine Journey going? It’s a roller coaster, amiright? At the beginning of all this, I was a disaster: stressed, anxious, upset about Broadway closing, in my head about ALL the things. It was bad. And I have quite the imagination, so imagine everything times TEN. I’m happy to report that I have made a 180 and have not just been surviving this pandemic, but dare I say.... THRIVING. But to be honest, I didn’t just stumble into it. It has taken a conscious effort on my part to put my mental health first and to actively treat myself to what my mind and body needed and truly craved. I needed to consciously set time aside for mental self care and my physical and emotional self care. Here are TEN fun self care activities that have turned my time in isolation from Possibly needing to be committed to a mental ward to GLOW UP CENTRAL.


1. GET DRESSED AND MAKE YOUR BED. I like to work from the outside in, meaning that when I look good, I feel good. When I wake up, I wash my face, brush my teeth, make my bed (after I’m sure I won’t be climbing back in), and put some comfy cute clothes on. It is an instant Perk Me Up and serves as a mental self care WONDER!



2. GET PHYSICAL. The idea of working out.... isn’t fun. But you know that feeling AFTER you finish a workout? Ah. Totally worth it. During a quarantine when you automatically will be moving your body less, it’s important to make a conscious effort for exercise. Working on Broadway and living in New York meant being active was a part of my routine whether I liked it or not. I still have the same amount of energy NOW, but when I don’t utilize it, it can easily turn into anxiety, stress, frustration, or just being BLAH. Can you relate? If I was quarantining with my husband, I’d be having a LOT of sex. But I’m not. Instead, I workout in a couple different zoom groups. (I love My Workout Party at www.myworkoutparty.com) It’s less about getting ripped and more about just MOVING! When my endorphins are flowing, I’m a happy camper. And not to mention, when you’re consistent, who knows? You might see an ab or two. Heeeyyy!! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

I get my 10,000 steps in every day Rain or Shine. (In fact, I prefer taking a walk in the rain because there’s only a fraction of the people out.) But when the suns out, I make it a point to just stand in it for as long as I want and get that vitamin D. If I’m REALLY feelin fancy, I’ll play my music and dance like no one is watching. Disinfect your mask overnight if it’s reusable, and if you don’t have gloves, grab a tissue for door handles, and baby keep it pushin!


3. PLAN AHEAD. Another strategy for self care is to plan ahead. I’m not a planner. In fact, I’m more of a fly by the seat of her pants kind of girl. (Ask my sister. It drives her nuts. 😂) But every night before bed, I grab a pen and paper and write out what I want to accomplish the next day. It gives the next day purpose and a sense of direction and a goal of something to accomplish... instead of having endless hours of wasting time. In addition to this, I write out my meals for the following day as well. It’s a game changer if you’re trying to not eat the whole world LOL. Make a plan. Stick to the plan. And schedule in your cheats (So you don’t feel bad when you cheat!)


4. MEAL PREP. Okay so I live in NY. I’m used to eating out 2-3 meals per DAY. Everything delivers. Even during a PANDEMIC. I’ve never enjoyed cooking for a day in my life. Except lately... I’ve been getting grocery delivery once a week and actually putting thought into each meal. I look in the mirror and I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I’m like... is that Black Martha Stewart I see? It has been so much fun trying new recipes and trying to duplicate some of my favorite meals from restaurants. In addition to transferring some of my creative juices into meals, I seem to have lost a few pounds in the process. I’ve finally nailed a sunny side up egg. And this upcoming week? CREPES!



5. MEDITATION. “A calm mind loosens the grip of stress.” I’ve been using an app called Calm. It’s the first and only app I’ve ever paid for. And it’s worth it! Ten minutes a day to just sit without fidgeting. Without playing on my phone. Without getting up to check on something. I turn off all the noise and just sit and follow a guided meditation. If you’re in need of mental self care, meditation is the way to go. It focuses my energy. Quiets my mind. And since using the app, I’m oddly way more productive! BONUS: There are Mood Check Ins and then a corresponding meditation they recommend based on your current mood!


6. GHETTO SPA. Every evening, I like to partake in what I like to call ghetto spa. Which is me sitting on my closed lid toilet (lol) with my feet soaking in a hot bubble bath. No texting. No talking on the phone. Just some music playing and a book in my hands. It’s my favorite part of the whole day!! Then, after I’ve read a few chapters, I climb all the way in and just live my best life!



7. STRETCH. Another self care idea is to stretch! In the evening is when I like to stretch. I call it ghetto yoga because a lot of my stretches look like some yoga moves, but I don’t know how to do all that fancy stuff. Haha! When I’m out of the bath and have my jammies on, I’m nice and relaxed and in the mood to stretch out on the floor. My favorite is Child’s Pose. They say if you sit in child’s pose for 5 minutes a day, it’s really calming and relieves stress. (Spoiler alert: it is and it does!)


8. TIDY UP. This is one of my favorite Stratford for self care. Each night as I’m winding down, I go into the kitchen, and load up that dish washer. I fluff the pillows on the couch, and put a few things away. It takes all of 5 to 10 minutes but the benefits when I wake up the next day to a clean home is SUBSTANTIAL. If you’ve ever read or watched Marie Kondo on Netflix, you already know the magic behind this!


9. READING MY BIBLE and prayer is also a part of my daily routine and spiritual self care. Studying my scripture and cultivating my relationship with Christ keeps me peaceful and grounded. THIS step is the easiest to bypass and forget about. It’s the easiest to put off, but when there’s so much chaos just outside of my door, having peace during these times is more valuable than unlimited chocolate bars.


10. DATE NIGHT STATE OF MIND. Last but not least on my self care list is a Date Night State of Mind. At least one night a week, either with a special person, a group of my friends on Zoom, or just myself, I like to have “Date Night.” I light a candle, fix something special for dinner, and set the mood for a cozy night in. It makes me look forward to the evening, whether I have virtual plans on a particular night or just plans with myself. It feels special!




So these are ten self care ideas that I live by each day that have turned my Quarantine Routine into what feels like a Retreat. And of course, starting and ending my day with gratitude puts my heart in a great place to choose joy and share love.


I hope you have fun trying these self care ideas out and adding some to your own Self Care List. Please feel free to comment and share what you think and if there’s something I should add to this list! It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and I’m all about new hacks to keep my mind at ease during these crazy times!


Thanks for reading. Go ahead and hit that SUBSCRIBE button. And follow me on Instagram @salishathomas.

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