Facts and Opinions

What, to the American Slave, is your Fourth of July?

There are countless pictures of me taken on the Fourth of July. They’re probably somewhere in the attic buried under old blankets and clothes that I can’t fit anymore. I’m standing in front of my house, holding a few American flags, the gap in my tooth looking bigger than I remembered it to be. Since I am naturally an “extra” person, I gave Uncle Sam a run for his money. I was covered in red, white, and blue. I was the human form of the American flag. At that age, I didn’t realize that the “holiday” that I was celebrating was not a representative of me or my people. Some call today, July 4th, Independence Day. I’ll give a brief history, but I’m pretty sure everyone knows it by now. If you’re American, it was shoved into our brains as soon as we started school.

July 2nd, 1776, the Congress voted in favor for independence from the British. Two days later, July 4th for those who can’t count, delegates from the thirteen colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Since then, people have been celebrating by firing up the grill and lighting up their fireworks. I cringe when I think about my star spangled ass running around the family barbecue. Now, it makes me cringe when I see people…my people…wearing red, white, and blue, wishing others a Happy Fourth. I just want to grab a hold of their shoulders and say, “THIS HOLIDAY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU!!! YOU KNOW THAT RIGHT!?!?!?”

On July 5th, statesmen, writer, orator, social reformist, and of course, abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, delivered one of his most known speeches to date, “What To The Slave Is The Fourth of July?” It goes as follows:

“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?…

I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”

Let me give a rough summation of what he’s saying; how the hell does this have anything to do with me and my people? This independence is for you white sons of guns and not me. I’m sure Mr. Douglass’s explanation would be a lot more complex, but hopefully now you get the picture if you didn’t take the time to read all of Frederick Douglass’s speech. Let’s think about the current problems that are taking place today. The government is literally losing children in their custody; separating them from their families and having them lay on tin foil to keep warm. I mean you see it all over your Twitter feed, it’s not like it isn’t happening. They are literally in cages. Black people are still being shot down like it’s deer season. People are still being denied basic human rights. Black people and people of color are still looked at as second class citizens. Black people were not freed until 1865, and even after that, we are still being degraded due to our looks, but it seems like every little white girl from California is trying to tan as much as possible to get that bronze look, and plumping their lips up with filler.

I’ve kind of strayed from the topic at had a little bit, but all I’m saying is that my fellow black people! This day is not for us. We aren’t celebrating our freedom, we are reveling in our enslavement. The day has passed, but if you want to celebrate “freedom,” celebrate Juneteeth (June 19th). June 19th, 1965 was the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, as well as the emancipation of slavery through the confederate states of America. That day is also my birthday, so I especially hold that day near and dear to my heart. There are so many people who share the same skin tone as me who saw this past June 19th as just a regular day.

How can we celebrate the Fourth of July when the freedom does not cross over to us? Like Frederick Douglass said, we have nothing to do with your independence. So when you’re igniting sparklers and waving American flags around, stop for a minute and gaze into that red, white and blue…does this really represent me?

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Facts and Opinions, Uncategorized

#BlueforSudan

Social media might be seen as a nuisance in some people’s eyes, and it certainly can be when it comes to how much Millennials and us Generation Z’ers consume, but the information that is readily at our fingertips would not be accesses without it. There are so many things that could have been hidden in this world. Recently, the Sudan Massacres have been trending. With all the other hashtags that have come and gone, the ones about Sudan have remained. Over the course of about a year, I’ve heard certain things coming out of Sudan here and there, but with more explanations coming to light, I can now say that I think I understand what’s going on more so.

The problems within Sudan started about thirty years ago. Former Sudanese dictator….I mean president Omar al-Bashir was elected into office. During this time of terror, the countries economic system was completely obliterated, leaving an extensive amount of turmoil. In December 2018, the civilians of Sudan decided to mobilize and try to bring an end to the destruction that has been brought by Omar Bashir’s rule. Soon after, their actions began; peacefully protesting. Many of Sudanese people would do what they could to make a statement. They wanted al-Bashir to step down from his position of power. Unfortunately, the peaceful protests that the Sudanese people demonstrated began to turn violent and deadly. Dozens of people were injured…as well as killed.

A few months ago, February 2019, Omar Bashir calls for a state of emergency. This banned all gatherings that were unauthorized. After this, all hell broke loose. It didn’t matter that people were exercising their voiced in a non-violent way, security forces met them that way. It was no holds barred; whatever method of force they wanted to use was permissible.

On the date of April 6th, 2019, the largest peaceful protest sit in took place. It was the largest sit in within Sudanese history, and it took place right in front of the headquarters of the armed forces. Once again, more people are injured and killed trying to make a change. They wanted him out of office. Five days later, multiple government officials, as well as Omar al-Bashir, are in criminal custody. The Sudanese Transitional Military Council, or TMC, has been created by General Awad Ibn Ouf. He was the former minister of defense. Until the elections are held, the TMC announced that the military would rule over Sudan. The next day Ibn Ouf is replaced with Abdelfattah Burhan. The next few days, the TMC decide to still pillage through Sudan as a stalling tactic. Since then, women and children have been raped and killed. People were separated from their families. On June 9th, a nationwide call of disobedience has been called by SPA (Sudanese Professional Association).

With countless other individuals, I have changed my social media avatars to a standard shade of blue to show my solidarity with Sudan. But is that all we can do? I understand that money may be a bit more scarce in some people’s households, so any form of awareness is appreciated. I wish that blue avatars would wipe away the atrocities that are taking place in Sudan. There are always ways to donate, but it can be trick to find credible and ethical places to give as much help as possibly needed. There truly are people out there who don’t care about others, and they’ll do anything, even scam people who want to make a difference. There was an Instagram that was just exposed for capitalizing off of the lives that have been lost in Sudan. It’s despicable.

Places such as Unicef, University of Khartoum, Mercy Corps, and other organizations are accepting donations and trying to help Sudan in their times of trouble. If you know of any more, please spread them to others and donate what you can to them. Bustle.com gives a whole list, but if any of those are corrupt, please let me know.

The smallest amount can make the difference, but just getting the message out and explaining what’s going on over there can also be a way to make a change. Don’t reblog and retweet just to jump on a bandwagon. I mean yes, spread the word, but actually empathize with the people that are going through this situation. I know that if you were going through this, you would take any methods of help that you could.

Bustle Article: https://www.bustle.com/p/7-organizations-supporting-people-in-sudan-that-you-can-donate-to-right-now-18013743

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Facts and Opinions

To Kill A Mockingbird Come to Life: The Central Park Five

WARNING: I GET MAD AS HELL IN THIS POST AND KIND OF GO ALL OVER THE PLACE

 

My younger brother is about to turn seventeen in July. He is 5’6, has this beautiful mocha skin tone, a full fledged beard, and the biggest heart. He truly is the sweetest kid I’ve ever known. He is damn near good at everything he decides to invest his time in. He can play the guitar in a few months better than some can in decades. He is a genius when it comes to math…and then there’s his sister, who gets confused adding 2+2 (I think the answer is 4). He can spend his whole day on the computer, creating virtual realities. He runs track, and he’s fast too. He is one of the smartest and most talented people I have ever met. I am very blessed to call him my brother.

My brother also is one of the most innocent people I have ever come across. He really doesn’t mean any harm by anything he does. He thinks that everyone in the world is good, and although I believe that everyone CAN be good, sometimes people don’t like to go that route. My brother looks like a grown man. He has a stern face and muscular build. The color of his skin represents the history that has flowed through our family for decades. It’s the skin color that my Father has, and that his Father had. When I look at my brother, I see hope. I see love. I see the future. I see a young man who doesn’t care what anyone says because he is genuinely, authentically him. I wish I had that confidence. But when “they” see him…when “they” see him…they don’t see any of that.

When “they” see him they see contempt. They see a threat; a breach of safety. They see a criminal. That sweet kid that used to cry when butterflies would flutter around him is instantly seen as less than human. After contemplating whether I had the mental strength to go through something like this, I decided to watch When They See Us. This four part series is about the Central Park Five, five young men who were falsely accused of raping a woman back in 1989. (photo above left to right) Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise had their youth stolen from them because the New York Police Department wanted to focus on ruining their lives instead of actually focusing on the actual person who raped Patricia Meili, and murdered Lourdes Gonzalez prior to that attack. This series made me angry. The way that the trial went, the way that Linda Fairstein was so adamant on persecuting these young men. The fact that the evidence was a clear indication that they did NOT do it! The fact that they all had hopes and dreams, only to be shot down by being put behind those bars. This series made me grit my teeth in aggravation. This series made me bite back tears. (SPOILER) The scene where Korey (there are multiple spellings on the internet) receives a Chia Pet after wishing for one made me practically lose it. What that poor man endured I couldn’t even imagine; all of them.

Young black boys have been forced to grow up quickly in the eyes of the law. They’re seen as adults in elementary school. The preconceived notions that plague black boys, and black people in general are killing them because people are too stupid to realize that they are human beings too. I guarantee that if they were five white boys, their DNA would have been tested and immediately after they found out that nothing was a match, they would have back at home listening to their Walkman’s in their bedrooms. Let me remind you that NOTHING MATCHED THE DNA ON PATRICIA MEILI!!! There was no blood or skin on her that matched any of the boys. Nothing. They should have been able to go home right then and there. In a VladTV interview, Yusef Salaam says that the police were trying to plant some of the boy’s DNA on the crime scene. I believe they took Kevin and Korey to the scene of the crime. Korey is told by one of the officers that his shoe is untied. While trying to tie his shoe, one of the officers tries to make him fall over into the scene, attempting to collect evidence on him. 

Imagine the psychological damage that this has done to these men. Something as simple as going to Central Park with friends turns into seven to thirteen years in jail. Imagine being thrown in jail for something that you did not do; being ridiculed and isolated by family and friends because the justice system that is supposed to bring the truth to light is automatically treating you like the culprit all because your melanin is more apparent than most. What made me upset is Antron McCray’s Dad. Granted, his Father probably wasn’t properly told how to deal with the police, so I won’t completely blame him for practically leading his son astray, but the fact that he just started bowing out of his son’s life when things started to get rough in unacceptable to me. Then, as soon as Antron gets out, he has to basically repair that relationship that he has with his Father because now he doesn’t know how much time he has left with him. Antron probably felt betrayed by his Father. My own Dad is bailing out on me, your own flesh and blood; a person who helped give you life. A video by Calvin Michaels goes a little more in depth as to how that might have affected Antron, as well as the rest of the psychological trauma that these guys have been through.

You have people tuning into this case, judging your every move. These young men had their numbers and addresses revealed to the public. They were threatened; people wishing for their deaths as well as the deaths of their family members. People associated with these five were also ostracized, losing things like their social status, their jobs…and their sanity. Think about what they endured locked up. Being accused of rape and robbery is certainly not something that people take lightly. Think about how the man who took out $85,000 for an ad calling to reinstate the death penalty against these innocent young men is president; leader of the free world. On Twitter in the year of 2013, eleven years after these men were exonerated, Donald Trump was still blabbing about how the Central Park Five were guilty. Now if that isn’t blatant racism, I don’t know what is. Let them be little blonde haired blue eyed boys, he would have been saying something a little different; boys will be boys, or crap like that. Think about when they were freed. You think the psychological turmoil stopped there, oh no. The things that they went through probably haunt them to this day.

I want to focus a little bit more on Korey Wise. Each young man has all my respect, but Korey Wise…let me tell you something. The men were exonerated and given $40 million to divide, but Mr. Wise should have gotten $40 million just for himself. First off, he went down to the police station to support his friend Yusef. I know he didn’t expect things to turn out this way; none of them did. Because Wise was sixteen, he didn’t have to be accompanied by an adult, which gave the interrogator free reign to ask whatever he wanted, however he wanted. This young man already had a learning disability as well as hearing issues, so I honestly think that’s the reason why they gave it to him the worst. He was beaten up the most by the authorities, being physically hit and yelled at by detectives. He was tried as an adult at the age of sixteen and sent to Riker’s Island, the infamous prison in New York City. A sixteen year old kid in a world that he never should have experienced. He spent more than a decade in prison. He begged to be in solitary confinement. When you’re in solitary confinement, you have no outside interaction. Being in complete isolation for long periods of time can make you lose your mind. But would you rather stay completely hidden from most of society, or would you like to be targeted by other inmates and made to be their play thing? At a young age, Korey Wise had to make that decision. One thing that Calvin Michaels caught on to that I did as well in the movie is the police officer that was around before he asked for solitary; the one that would always say, “I’ll let you know if you can do something for me” or something like that. I think he was sexually abused, but since I don’t know for sure, I’ll just leave it at that. His sister was murdered while he was in prison too, we can’t forget about her (a wonderful performance by Isis King playing Marci Wise). Her being disrespected as a trans woman is one thing, but being killed crushed Korey. He wasn’t able to be there during her last days. As her brother, I’m sure that he was somewhat of a protector, and I hope he didn’t blame himself for what happened to her. Out of the settlement, Korey was given the highest amount of money at $12.2 million. 

Most of these men have children. The fear that they have for their sons is genuine and real because they have went through any man of color’s worst nightmare. I am not a licensed mental health professional yet, but I’m sure that these men still are affected by these incidents. PTSD from the violence that they were subjected to in prison, maybe anxiety and depression from the taunts that people threw at them. The mind doesn’t fully finish forming until your mid twenties, do you think that this helped a healthy brain development? Being told that you’re a monster? Being abused by the system?

It took me three days to try and sit through Ava Duvernay’s masterpiece, and I can honestly say that I am ashamed at the fact that I really didn’t know much about the Central Park Five. It’s crazy to think that this happened in 1989. Isn’t it insane that this situation could very well happen now? Isn’t it insane that black people are treated this way still in 2019? I am fearful for my brother. He takes the bus to and from school. It terrifies me thinking that one day I will hear that my brother is in jail, or that he was shot by a police officer because his cellphone fell out of his pocket. Like the end of the first episode states, “when will we be boys?” My brother has been told how to act around the police and warned about the dangers of the police ever since he was the age of four. Don’t wear that because you might be seen as a threat. Try to smile more because a police officer might find you threatening if you don’t. Just do what the police officer tells you. As soon as you’re pulled over, put your hands on the steering wheel and don’t move them. We don’t want you to get killed. School for my brother will be coming to a close soon, and I’m sure he will want to go out and see the sights that Chicago has to offer. I’m afraid that one day he’ll walk out of the house, only to never walk back in again. When will my brother just be seen as a boy? Has he ever been one?

Calvin Michael’s Video:

I highly recommend you watch it

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Facts and Opinions

The Real Life Handmaid’s Tale

I was sitting on the edge of my bath tub. I stared down at my knees and glanced up at the clock. Those three minutes seemed like three days. I had just taken a pregnancy test. I was going through the previous events that happened to me. I have told this story many times (if you really want to hear about it, it’s the first post that I’ve ever written on here). My first sexual experience was not consensual. Despite the person not necessarily going deep enough to consider what he did as penetrative, I was freaked out by the whole experience. My period was late, and the first thing that came to my mind was…oh shoot…I’m pregnant. I have since educated myself and now know the ins and outs of sex more so. I now realize that it would have been a tad hard for me to get pregnant. But I was eighteen, a freshman in college, and a complete and utter mess. I had a friend of mine buy a pack of pregnancy tests, and even though I told him that he didn’t need to stay to wait for the results, but he wanted to. He was a huge support system and I owe him the world for that. Three minutes were up. I said a quick prayer, and picked up the test. It came out negative. I was not expecting. When I tell you I had never praised the Lord as hard as I did that day! I ran down the stairs and told my friend the news. A difficult situation went over my head…but what if it hadn’t?

What if I was pregnant? What if this guy had gone deep enough? During the current abortion ban that’s going on, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Georgia’s governor signed something called a “Heartbeat” bill recently. This bill indicates that whenever the doctor is able to detect a heartbeat, an abortion is no longer able to be performed. Women typically don’t know their pregnant until after six weeks after conception. How fair is that? And there are no exemptions….none. Incest, rape, pre-existing conditions…none. According to a few sources, a young girl in Ohio is pregnant at eleven years old. This child…emphasis on child…was taken advantage of, and now because of something that she didn’t ask for, she may have to carry out the pregnancy to term if she stays where she is. How stupid is that? Ohio isn’t the only place that reckons that this ban is a good idea for their people. Alabama, Missouri, Ohio, and Georgia are the states that have passed this legislation to ban abortions. People have babies at the age of eighteen all the time, but having a child during those circumstances would have been a disaster. I had just gone through something quite traumatic. I had just started experiencing a real taste of independence. My college career had just started. Mentally I was not ready to bring a child into this world. I live in a state that is more so liberal leaning, so abortion is still considered a fundamental right.

Imagine if abortions became obsolete. Imagine that any person who was pregnant who didn’t want to be, whether it be health reasons, rape, or just because you slipped up, would be turned away from having an abortion. If they try to get an abortion, they will face serious legal trouble. I really don’t think that legislators are thinking about this logically. Abortion may be banned, but that does not mean that it will never happen again. Ever heard of wire hangers? That method is going to become popular again. Women will resort to going to the black market to buy drugs to induce abortions. Women will be frantically searching natural home method abortions, and wonder why they are still pregnant weeks later. There will be more babies that are put into the foster system. The foster system can be quite corrupt and mentally damaging towards the children that are suffering through it. This means more children going through neglect and abuse. What if the woman who is pregnant is trying to leave domestic violence situation? Women would probably be more likely to stay in those relationships. Not to mention the psychological turmoil it would take on these women. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts would skyrocket.

This is scary. The fact that women (and especially women of color) aren’t seemingly seen as human beings with minds of their own is surprising only because of where we are at. Women are doctors, lawyers, business owners, whatever…and they’re still seen like all they are good for is staying in the kitchen bare foot and pregnant. This is just pure hatred towards women. Old, white, cisgendered men can not tell me what to do with my body….point blank period.

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Facts and Opinions

What My Anxiety Looks Like

*this post keeps deleting itself…and I have no idea why….but here it is!*

It was a whirlwind; a tornado of conflict. I was fine one minute…not the next. I was sitting in the front of my classroom trying to focus on a Sigmund Freud documentary in my Theories of Personality class. My heart was racing, my mind was wandering, and I was sweating from my palms. The room was shrinking as my breaths became more labored. I felt as if I sat in that chair any longer, I would have fell through the tile. I grabbed my bag, a cute tote bag that I collected during my trip to New York (a story that I will tell soon), dropped my phone on the floor, and fled what felt like a near death situation. I remember sobbing and wailing in the Psychology office, sniffling on the shirt of the woman who had been behind the desk. I felt pitiful. This lady probably thought that I was insane, but she was in the Psychology office, so I’m assuming that she was a little more equipped than someone from say the Biology department. I was shaking like I was struck with hypothermia. This was a side swipe; it hit me out of nowhere. What happened? What was that? That, my friends, was an anxiety attack, and the largest one that I had by far. I’ve heard people detail their episodes and they sounded like nightmares; something straight out of a horror film. Over the course of about a year and a half, my anxiety had skyrocketed. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m forcing myself to heal in a toxic environment, or because I’m piling too much on my plate…or a mixture of both.

Anxiety is commonly caused by external and environmental factors. In my case, an act of trauma on a college campus. An anxiety attack can spur anywhere at anytime. It’s also very common too. According to DoSomething.org, around ten percent of teenagers and forty percent of adults suffer from anxiety. I’m not good at math, so bare with me, but that’s more than three million cases. Anxiety is very much so treatable, but around two-thirds of the population There are so many different types of anxiety: GAD (generalized personality disorder, social anxiety, panic disorders, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), agoraphobia, specific phobias, and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Because I am not a licensed professional, here are some definitions of each one according to Beyond Blue (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety):

Generalized Personality Disorder:

A person feels anxious on most days, worrying about lots of different things, for a period of six months or more.

Social Anxiety:

A person has an intense fear of being criticised, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as speaking publicly, eating in public, being assertive at work or making small talk.

Panic Disorders:

A person has panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms. Someone having a panic attack may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and excessive perspiration. Sometimes, people experiencing a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or are about to die. If a person has recurrent panic attacks or persistently fears having one for more than a month, they’re said to have panic disorder.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD;

This can happen after a person experiences a traumatic event (e.g. war, assault, accident, disaster). Symptoms can include difficulty relaxing, upsetting dreams or flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of anything related to the event. PTSD is diagnosed when a person has symptoms for at least a month.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD:

A person has ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they often try to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviors or rituals. For example, a fear of germs and contamination can lead to constant washing of hands and clothes.

I will try my best to define agoraphobia and specific disorders. I use to think that agoraphobia was just being afraid of going outside, but it is a bit more intricate. Wide open spaces can trigger some type of anxiety. I would assume because you’re worried something may happen to you and you have no one to alert…but I am not a professional I wouldn’t know. Some people are startled by large crowds, or being in an enclosed space. Panic attacks and agoraphobia may go hand and hand, especially if a panic attack ensues in a public space. Specific phobias are phobias on one particular thing. For instance, my Mother is deathly afraid of snakes. Small snakes, big snakes, poisonous snakes, non-poisonous snakes…it doesn’t matter. I think it started when she was a child and saw a garden snake in her backyard. When my Grandmother was pregnant with her, a snake slithered across her foot, so I thought that was rather interesting that she developed this phobia. My friend will have a conniption fit if she sees any type of insect, even a ladybug. I remember I use to terrorize her when we were younger with cicadas that I found around my house when she came over. I didn’t think about the severity of it all, I was seven. Thankfully, cicadas don’t come back until I’m in my mid-twenties, and I’m pretty sure I have grown from that sense of immaturity. Sorry girl, I love you though. These phobias can be compartmentalized into different categories, some common ones are: situations, animals (like my Mother and my friend), natural disasters, injury, and miscellaneous like clowns or vomiting.

I think as a person, it is normal to worry, but over time, I can clearly see that it is becoming quite intrusive in my life. During the end of my freshman year and my sophomore year, my anxiety was through the roof. One thing that I was really nervous about was walking to the dining hall to get food. My dorm was literally a hop, skip, and a jump away from the dining hall, and I would not go because I was afraid of people seeing me outside. I lost a lot of weight around that time. Now, it has subsided a little bit, but there still is a surge of uncertainty when I leave my house. I can’t really pinpoint what I’m worried about, but I get those butterflies in my stomach that fly up through my throat.

To help calm these nerves down, I have tried carrying notebooks around with me (you can learn more about that with my Guide to Journaling post). I also take deep breaths, or I try to focus my thoughts on a particular scene that I made up in my head. I always like the one where I’m wandering around Paris around the Louvre. The sky is infused with purple, pink, and a hint of blue. I’m in nice clothing and I’m exploring the city, eating macaroons and living freely. See? That’s a nice image to picture in your head right? Sometimes that’s not all you can do though. Trust me, if we could dream about out our fantasies as a way to aid anxiety, people wouldn’t need to be prescribed medication. However, medication is a way to get a bit of solace. There are also natural remedies. I have heard that incense and scents like lavender help calm the body down. Some people carry around crystals (and I actually have a few which I may do a post on one day). The same friend that I terrorized with cicadas actually offered me some CBD oil that her mom had bought her. I plan on trying it out quite soon, so maybe I’ll do a review on it later.

Whatever way works. there is a way to ease anxiety. One way may not work for everyone. Anxiety can get better over time, and it can also get worse. It depends on the person. There is a way to heal of course, but it may take some time to find the right method. There is a way to manage it.

 

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Facts and Opinions

Mental Health Awareness Month

May! I welcome you with open arms! I know this post is a few days late, but it’s alright! It’s the thought that counts, right? In May, nature is blooming; there’s a certain type of rebirth taking place in the atmosphere. The weather’s warmth becomes more consistent. Kids are beginning to wrap up the end of the semester and prepare for summer. People are attending proms and graduations…it’s a beautiful transition from the old to the new. May is the month of renewal; a surge of energy that is needed to inspire and motivate the Earth to continue to create. Like many, we too require the motivation and inspiration in life to keep going, but sometimes, we have roadblocks.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. May has been a month to educate others on the importance of mental health, help people better their mental health, and celebrate the little victories that come with every step in the journey ahead. Slowly but surely, the curse is lifting, and the stigma is breaking. Mental health should not be something that’s seen as taboo. We all have brains (even if some people don’t seem to use theirs efficiently), and the brain like any other organ can be injured. It’s time to stop being afraid on speaking up about how we feel.

By dictionary definition, mental health is quite simple. It’s a certain level of psychological well being; the state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustments. Mental health can affect and influence the ability to enjoy life. Picture your ideal vacation spot. It’s right there; just a few steps forward and you’ll be there. But suddenly, this clear glass box falls around you, keeping you from moving anywhere. To me, that’s how I feel when my mental health isn’t A1. I can envision my happiness, but something is blocking it.

There are so many things that can cause mental health issues; the cause can be quite complex. From genetics, biological factors, past trauma, drug usage, or just the environment that you’re in…it can all have an effect on the brain.

Of course….*deep breath*…..MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT JUST A ONE RACE ISSUE! Every race struggles with it, however, there are races that are more hesitant to explore it and heal the wounds that are left. That is one of the reasons why black mental health is something that is so important to me, because even though we are making more and more of an effort, we can still do so much more. Our mental health matters more than we think it does. Mental health is not a white issue; if you have a brain you can suffer from mental health. It’s time to stop sweeping our health under the rug, I cannot stress that enough.

Everyone deserves to feel good. People deserve to love themselves. People deserve to give themselves a good life. Throughout the month of May, I will be talking a little bit more about my mental health, as well as other issues that effect the black mental health community that need to be addressed.

Peace and blessings

xoxo

 

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Facts and Opinions

Back to the Basics

Hello to that one person who may be reading my blog. I really haven’t been on it too much. I guess there really is no explanation as to why. School could be one. School has been kicking my butt ever since kindergarten, but this last semester of my junior year of college is making me wonder why I didn’t drop out yet. It could be my wavering time management. I think honestly it has to do with laziness. But the summer is nigh, and I feel like I will have more energy, as well as more creativity throughout the warmer months. I plan to write more poetry, speak about more issues that are not only affecting me but others, and most importantly have fun with blogging. So expect to see more posts from me in the months to come!

Peace and blessings 🕊❤️

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Facts and Opinions

Gas Lighting and the Black Community: No…You’re Not Crazy

“Why are you making it a race thing?” “It’s not always about race!” “It’s all in your head.” Usually, when a person has to assure another that something isn’t about race…it is about race. We are living in a racially charged environment during this new Trump era, where two differing political opinions can create a mental detonation. Yes We Can and the presidential election of the first president of black descent in 2008 glossed over the fact that racism is still very much alive and thriving. I will say, Donald J. Trump is not my favorite person; he never will be, and I am not the fondest of people who agree with his ideologies. However, I will have to give him credit where credit is due. He exposed the racists in America! As people of color were a tad more relaxed during President Obama’s….sorry, former president Barack Obama’s presidency, they are on their pins and needles now more than ever before. I mean, out of 200 to 230 million registered voters, around 46.1% of votes went to Trump. To me, and plenty of others, that’s more than enough. That many people approve of what he believes in. That many people are against me and my basic human rights.

The black community is not a meek community. When an injustice occurs, they are right there on the front lines, giving their time, protesting the wrong doings of the government, and making it known that they will not take the disrespect that their community has endured for far too long. Being a person of color in America has it’s disadvantages, and no one can tell me otherwise. As a black woman from the city of Chicago, I am instantly seen as some ghetto, ratchet hood rat. I am seen as unintelligent and improper; un-ladylike. No, I do not sell drugs, and I do not know anyone who does. I have never met Chief Keef…no, I cannot give him your mixtape. I have not been shot at, nor have I fired a gun off myself. I don’t have sickle cell believe it or not. Those were all things that I have had to tell my non-poc counterparts. I decided to ignore it and grit my teeth, but now being older I wish I hadn’t. If I could go back to the conversation all over again, I would read them on the blatant stereotypes that conjured up as facts to depict the black race.

I was just reading about Serena Williams and her incident at the U.S Open. I watched the video, I saw what went on. Serena was mad! And rightfully so! Serena Williams is arguably one of the best athletes in the world right now. She’s confident in what she does; she knows she’s good. She has overcome a lot of adversity and ridicule, only to come out on top at the end. When she was being accused of cheating by the umpire appointed during the game, her response was warranted. I’m sure that if you were being arraigned for some type of cheating, you would not take it with a smile and a grain of salt. You’d be pissed! When Serena confronted the umpire on what he had done, now she’s seen as irate. The umpire’s call has nothing to do with her being a black woman, right? But when the majority white male tennis players curse at the umpire, throw their rackets down and spit, they’re deemed passionate and driven. Serena didn’t even do all of that! And she’s still being portrayed as this angry black woman. Soon after, Mark Knight, an Australian illustrator, drew a cartoon about the incident. A blind person could see that the comic was racist. The way he drew Serena reminded me of a Jim Crow era caricature. She looked like a mammy; jumping up and down on the tennis court with a pacifier laying next to her. Why was she so exaggerated? The umpire in the comic looked fine, and Naomi Osaka (her opponent), looked like a white woman! They basically white washed her to make Serena look like a brute. When confronted about his art, Knight claimed that it “wasn’t about race” and that “people are becoming crazy.”

That, my friends, is called gas lighting. Gas lighting is the manipulation of a person into questioning their own sanity. When it comes to the black community, in terms of racial inequality, it’s not a rarity to be questioned on how we feel or how we’re treated. When a person has a privilege, I assume it would be hard to put yourself in another person’s shoes. It may be difficult to realize that other human beings do not get the same treatment. Being seen as the “right” kind of American might come with a set of rose colored glasses. That’s one of the biggest arguments that I’ve ever been in is explaining why white privilege exists. I brought up the fact that due to stereotypes and notions that have already been established about the black community, white people are seen as better equipped than a black person. She retorted with the fact that she once lived in a trailer and struggled financially, claiming that she did not have white privilege because money was tight for her and her family at one point. White privilege knows no class. If you’re white, in America, and practically any place that has people of color, you’re alright. That was not the only time that black issues were questioned into actually existing, and I had the honor of being in the midst of it all. Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter. Remember that debate? Ignorance was exposed when more and more people began to side with ALM, saying that all lives are cherished and valued. Do I agree that they should all be cherished and valued? Yes. In this political climate, are all lives being treated that way? No. Absolutely not. I have gotten into a few verbal wars about Black Lives Matter, dispelling the myth that it is a terrorist group, and that it’s a hate organization towards other races. “If you don’t believe that all lives don’t matter, then you’re racist!” one girl said in one of my political science classes. I was shocked. This girl has also said previously that trans-gendered people were mentally ill, so I knew that we would never ever get along. BLM focuses on the issues that black people face on a day to day basis. It has never wished death upon other races of people, and if people within the movement have, then they are not true BLM followers. They want equality, not superiority.

Another instance that happened to me was during my freshman year of college. I was apart of my college choir. Attending a PWI (predominantly white institution), it’s not odd to be the only black person in the class, or one of the token few. It was me and four other black people in the choir. One of the pieces that we were given was titled, Death Is Gonna Lay Its Cold Icy Hands On Me. The fact that a chorus of 85% white people is singing a Negro spiritual irked me very much so, but the fact that they completely disregarded what the song is about was icing on the cake. One of the directors stated that he wanted us to sound “sexy” as we sang about slaves being afraid that they would die fleeing to freedom. That was terribly insensitive of them.  One of the other black girls in the group began to cry because it affected her so much. My friend and I approached the director about it, and how continuing to sing the song was not a good idea. He instantly tried to relate it to himself, saying that he was made fun of as a child because he was Catholic. Nice try, but you can hide a religion, it’s a bit harder to hide your race. I am not saying that you should hide your religion, but it would be easier for me to hide the fact that I’m a Christian than hide the fact that I’m black. Our plight fell on deaf ears. On the day of the concert, my and I closed our books and refused to sing in protest.

Those are just a few times that I came in contact with gas lighting, and I’ll probably come in contact with it. My Health Matters writer Dennis R. Upkins gave a few more examples of gas lighting that he’s heard. “The reality is whenever you’re a person of color speaking out against racism and white supremacy, it’s a safe bet that you will be on the receiving end of gaslighting” says Upkins. And I completely agree with him. It’s funny how non-poc people think that they know people of color better than people of color know themselves, huh?

Gas lighting is being told that you’re being rude when telling a white person that you don’t want them touching your box braids that are still sore. Gas lighting is saying that white people get killed by police more often that black people, when there are less black people in America, and their percentage of police brutality deaths are a larger population. Gas lighting is saying that Michael Brown being gunned down in the middle of the street was justifiable because he was a big, menacing looking guy. Gas lighting is neoliberal multiculturalism. It’s thinking that black people are complaining and not putting effort into the things that they do. Gas lighting is all around us. Stay strong and stay aware…and no….YOU ARE NOT CRAZY!

Where I found some of my sources:

Federal Elections 2016:

Click to access federalelections2016.pdf

Click to access Roberts___Carter_Andrews_-_Gaslighting_of_African_American_teachers.pdf

https://mental-health-matters.com/denying-racism-and-other-forms-of-gaslighting/

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Facts and Opinions

Stay Woke? Feels Like Summer and the Black Woman Savior Trope

Childish Gambino is a star within his own right. I mean, it seems like there is nothing Donald Glover (that’s his real name….yes, they are the same person) can’t do. Starting off as a writer for the popular television sitcom 30 Rock, Glover has proven his capability as a writer time and time again. Search Glover on YouTube, and I’m sure that you’ll find a couple stand up specials of his. His comedic chops were a dominant reason as to why Glover rose to stardom. Even with his most recent project, the award winning FX show Atlanta, he is no amateur in front of the screen, nor behind it.

Another hat we can give Glover is musical artist. Childish Gambino is his alter ego, coming out when he is ready to indulge in his craft. The first song I heard from him was Heartbeat. I remember bobbing my head to the song in the car as my mom dropped me off at hell…I meant high school. I also remember being shocked at finding out that the guy who created the song was previously playing a former jock turned nerd on the NBC show Community. I was impressed at his versatility, and don’t get me wrong, I still am. Awaken, My Love! was the album that made everyone realize that Gambino was a force to be reckoned with. They are still playing Stay Woke on radio stations. If you didn’t know who Childish Gambino was, I’m pretty sure you have some idea now. The psychedelic, funk, Bootsty Collins-esc vibe was a delight to my senses. When we were hit with This Is America, I was stunned at the amazing visuals that Gambino’s video left us with. It was one of those videos where you had to watch it a few times to make sure that you caught everything, and even then! You still would miss something. The white horse symbolizing the coming of death, the violence towards the black man in the beginning, but the careful handling of the gun representing how we care more about gun rights then the rights of other human beings…and so many more symbols for us to digest. People knew that he was talented, but now, it was no longer an opinion, it could be considered a fact.

Most recently, Gambino released the music video for his song “Feels Like Summer” off of his Summer Pack EP. The song was easy going. The song was mellow. It felt like a song that you would listen to during the summer time. I can easily envision myself on my back porch back at home in Chicago as the sunsets; my friends and I laughing and reminiscing about the past and how much we’ve grown as individuals sipping lemonade and not having a care in the world. I kind of zoned out a little there, but the song is just a chill song for lack of a better word. I notice that with Childish Gambino, his music is good, but the visuals make it that much better. I feel like This Is America would not have gotten the point across without the music video, and I can say the same with Feels Like Summer. Gambino gives us a dual sensation with the senses; auditory and visual. With the Feels Like Summer video, we see some of our favorite music artists and public figures interacting with each other. I didn’t notice what was going on until I saw Chance at Birdman’s cookout. I saw the Migos, Trippie Redd, Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott, but the moment I mostly want to talk about starts at the second minute and the sixth second. Kanye West is seen crying his eyes out as he’s donning the infamous MAGA hat. Soon after, we see Michelle Obama embracing him in a hug as his tears begin to cease. I’m sure it was only supposed to be seen as a sweet sentiment, but something with that visual did not sit right with me.

Michelle Obama is the epitome of an inspiration. When her husband Barack Obama was President, she did not just sit on the sidelines. She was vocal, she was active, and she was just a straight up badass. I know that it’s just a little music video, but the only animation that you could give her was her consoling a man who called slavery a choice? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but hear me out. Why are black women always the ones who have to “save” black men? When Snoop Dogg said that Kanye West needed to be hugged by a black woman, I thought about it. Black women are the most ostracized demographic in America. Black women are at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to desire and respect it seems like. Black women are constantly ridiculed for their hair, the way they look, and so on and so forth. I know I’m kind of going off on a tangent here, but I’m just trying to explain where I’m coming from.

Every race of man has degraded black women…including black men. I can count on my fingers and toes the times I’ve heard a black man ridicule black women  on something that they possess. However, if a woman of another race does the same thing that a black woman has done (long acrylics, braids, etc…), it is seen as innovative, cool, and them stepping out of their comfort zone. Kanye West…I have no idea what happened to him. He used to be a vigilante for the kids on the South Side of Chicago. He used to talk about the issues that plagued the streets that he used to live on, now he kind of mentions it when he is selling a brand new pair of shoes. Mr. West has shown some disrespect towards black women in the past. In 2016, he came under fire when he requested only multiracial models for his Yeezy Season Four fashion show. It’s all fun and games to drag black women, but when you’re getting dragged a black woman is supposed to come in and save the day? It’s a black woman’s job to set you straight? No no no, that is not our sole purpose in life.

Childish Gambino has been accused a few times of being “woke” when necessary. Now, when it was revealed that Glover was dating a white woman and had two kids with her, people flew off the handle and started labeling him a “traitor” and a “coon.” I wouldn’t go that far. Mr. Glover can date and marry whoever he wants, but as a black woman myself, I can definitely understand the disappointment that some black women felt. Chrissie, a YouTube commentator made a video about Childish Gambino in May, detailing some of the reasons as to why Gambino may not be as “woke” as people think. I’ll be honest, before this, I thought Childish Gambino was one of the most unproblematic people on the planet. That’s probably an exaggeration, but I didn’t question any of his intentions. In her video, she plays a clip of one of his stand up specials. To sum up everything, he has sex with an Armenian woman (not half Armenian, half black, not a black woman from Armenia….a full blooded Armenian woman) and got extremely aroused when she called him the n word during climax (er not a). Hmmm…maybe the joke was a little over my head, because I didn’t laugh; not even chuckle. I don’t know about you, but I personally believe that non black people should not ever use the n word, not even if their life depended on it. On an episode of Atlanta, he has a dark skinned black woman verbally going at it with a white woman on the fact that she’s with a black man. “We’re good enough to fight for black men, but we’re not good enough to marry or date….” she says later on in the video. That struck a chord in me. Black men will fight with black women, but not for.

Stephon Clark was gunned down by police March 18, 2018. Black women were the main people protesting for him and against what happened to him. His death was senseless and uncalled for, and there are no ifs ands or buts about it, but Stephon Clark…would he have done the same thing for a black woman. Tweets were released of him clowning black women, saying that dark skinned black women bring “dark days.” He had a seething hatred for black women. Even when these tweets surfaced, black women still were up to bat for this man. The women on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other forms of social media that repealed their support, were lambasted and shamed by mostly none other than black men.

Coming back to Childish Gambino and his video, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way when that image was shown. A few women on my Twitter feed felt the same way I did, reiterating the fact that black women are more than just a black man’s superhero. I’m not saying that black women can’t be, but there should be more of an equal response when black women are being attacked. Under the bus is not a good place to be thrown, and black women have been there more times than they should have been. Like I said previously, I’m sure the intentions were innocent, but when we acknowledge how these once acceptable ideologies can be seen as toxic, we have a chance to change the narrative for the future. Black women have their own struggles to deal with. If you have whatever you’re dealing with, and on top of that having to be the “savior” of someone else, that can cause tremendous pressure. Again, black women are HUMAN, and as well as deserving respect, they deserve a break.

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