Monday Notes: 3 Things I’m Tired of Talking About

Even though I’m not in the States, the way the world is set up, I’m still in tune with the news, and let me tell you … recent events have left me tired of recycling the same conversation over and over.

Domestic Terrorism against Black Lives

The Federal Bureau of Investitgation (FBI) defines domestic terrorism as violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature. 

Therefore, when Payton Gendron not only killed ten people in Buffalo, who were mostly Black, but also left behind some type of white supremacist manifesto, it should’ve been a no-brainer that his acts were the literal definition of *domestic terrorism. What I’ve noticed, though, is that Black people seem to understand domestic terrorism and the consistent role it has played in American history. Other people, not so much. 

There’s always some person who wants to wait until all the evidence comes out, and even when all the evidence comes out, that person wants to take a meticulous look at how each piece of evidence may not really be racist, and even if they somehow agree that this incident is domestic terrorism against Black people, then they’ll only agree that it’s this one incident, not an historical pattern. And I’m tired of talking about it.

School Violence

Speaking of domestic terrorism, I’m also tired of discussing school violence in America. But I suspect conversations centered on the Uvalde incident will not last long. 

Remember Columbine? That was 1999. We were shocked. Though we have made strides in police officer and teacher preparedness, I mostly remember the US arguing about gun control. Remember Sandy Hook? That was 2012. It was a traumatic mess. Schools have done a great job of decreasing bullying, which Ron Avi Astor attributes to a decrease in overall school violence. But even then, we argued about whether it really happened, there were a bunch of lawsuits, and there was no national shift in legislation. Remember Parkland? That was 2018. It, too, was traumatic. Know what happened? There were more lawsuits, and because it’s Florida, a hasty bill was passed allowing teachers to be armed. Luckily, school districts disagreed. Still, there was no US legislation to protect public school students, faculty, or staff.

With this one, I’m tired of talking about school violence as if history hasn’t shown us things will worsen. Why do I have to convince someone there’s a problem, whether it be a mental health one, a gun control one, or a school violence one? In my opinion, the reason school violence hasn’t been resolved is because it is not a priority for elected officials. You know what is a priority? Banning critical race theory, redistricting every ten years, and drumroll please …

Abortion

Though I’ve decided to continue sharing part of my story and other people’s stories as a way to raise awareness, I’m tired of talking about abortion. Abortion has been a topic for half a decade, not reproductive rights and not women’s health, but abortion, specifically. You know why? (Aside from patriarchal ideology), it’s because it has remained a priority for elected officials, who want to advance a conservative ideology, and as the current Florida governor has shown, when elected officials prioritize something, that something gets all the attention in the world, sans what the majority of constituents actually want or need.

For example, even though the majority of US adults agree that abortion should be legal, no matter the circumstance, states continue to push for the opposite. Kind of like school violence, why do I have to convince you that a woman has the right to do whatever she wants with her body, whether you, the Bible, or the church agree? The only thing I have left to say is I hope there’s someone left to revolt when the government comes for something you have the natural right to do.

Thank you for listening to my TED Talk. Is there anything you’re tired of talking about? Let’s put it in the purge pile in the comments, then let us go effect change that will protect all US citizens.

*Officials are considering a terrorism charge for Gendron


Abortion: A Return to Pro-Choice

I usually don’t post on a Thursday, but given the times we live in and circumstances in the United States, today it’s necessary. You may have read this personal essay already. If not, it has been re-published by Tangled Locks Journal to raise awareness and support organizations, like Planned Parenthood. Comments are turned off here and there. If you’re interested in reading personal stories centered on abortion, then please follow Tangled Locks Journal; they’ll be featuring essays as long as women’s rights continue to be disenfranchised.

Tangled Locks Journal

My father taught me about sex when I started my period. We sat on the loveseat, where he explained how menstruation worked, a banana balanced on his thigh. I suspected this was my mother’s idea, although she and I never discussed sex or women’s bodies.

My father explained bleeding meant I could now get pregnant, if I ever had sex, and that it was my responsibility to avoid such circumstances. A condom would do the trick. He pulled one out of his pocket, ripped open the small package, and showed me how to put it on the banana, a mock penis. I suppose he thought it appropriate to cram three separate topics – sex, safe-sex, and periods – into one conversation because we never revisited either again. But at ten years old, I couldn’t comprehend what fake penises and condoms had to do with the pain in my lower abdomen…

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Monday Notes: 8 Titles of Blogs I’m Not Going to Write

Frequently, I think of a title of an essay or a blog post, but then I don’t really have a lot to say about it. I’m doing a little spring cleaning of my phone and thought I’d share these with you before I delete them foreva.

Women and other Objects

Women used to be treated as objects. I’m talking about literal objects. For example, it is common in many cultures for the father to be “in charge” of his daughter and then when she marries, the husband is “in charge” of her. One clear is example is found in this article, 18 Countries where Women Need their Husband’s Permission to Work. I was going to write something about this, but honestly, I didn’t feel like researching more facts to prove my underlying point, which is that the United States isn’t too far from treating women like other countries do.

CliffsNotes and Sound Bites

I’m sure by now you know that people will argue on social media about something that they haven’t fully read or even viewed. Well, people do this offline, too, and I’m kind of tired of it. I realized this while reading Will Smith’s memoir. I found that people really thought they could hold a conversation about Will because Jada hosts the Red Table Talk, where she shares personal stories. However, Will’s book includes additional information from his point of view. You cannot discuss Will (the book) if you haven’t read the book. You just can’t. I liken this to when people used to read CliffsNotes, instead of the actual novel. It’s never the same.

The Price We Pay for Entertainment

I recently watched We Need to Talk about Cosby, which is excellent, by the way. Prior to viewing, I already believed (if that is the right word) that Cosby drugged and raped women, so I didn’t watch for confirmation. I viewed this doc to see if there was another angle to the story, and there was. But afterwards, I thought about other famous men who’ve been accused of sexual deviancy (i.e., R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, etc.). There’s always this societal conundrum where we don’t want to give up our beloved entertainment seemingly at the risk of protecting or believing women. And I don’t get it. I don’t have to watch The Cosby Show ever again, and he didn’t even violate me. I can’t imagine how the women he actually hurt feel when they see his face on television.

Banning Critical Race Theory

The first time I learned about critical race theory (CRT) was during my doctoral program in the early 2000s. However, while I was teaching high school English, specifically AP and Dual Enrollment, students read about and responded to texts in ways that demonstrated CRT. For example, I showed the documentary Murder on a Sunday Morning, about Brenton Butler, a Black Jacksonville teenaged boy who was falsely accused of killing a white woman. Students discussed and wrote about structural racism, the justice system, and their rights as teenagers should this happen to them (because after all, it happened in their city). When I hear about Florida banning CRT in public schools, so as not to “distort historical events,” I want to laugh because clearly there’s a misunderstanding about what CRT is, and I want to cry because academic freedom is being stripped right in public view, but no one seems to care.

Anything that isn’t Nurtured Won’t Grow

Relationships, talent, whatever you can name, if you want it to blossom, then you have to nurture it.

Corona Chronicles: Why COVID is Still in the United States

This was going to be a criticism of everyone, including myself. Here’s a running list of what I’ve observed:

  • Not wearing a mask
  • Wearing a mask below the nose
  • Taking a mask off to sneeze
  • Loose and confusing restrictions
  • Allowing K-12 schools to be open without mask mandates
  • Not washing hands
  • Wearing a mask in the restaurant when you walk in, and then taking it off while you’re sitting down eating and socializing
  • Gatherings of more than 10 people, inside or outside
  • Having rules for your establishment and not enforcing them
  • Spreading false information. My daughter works at Starbucks. According to her manager, if you have COVID, you can come to work three days later, because you won’t be able to spread it to others. Let that sink in. Your latte may be coming with a dose of something unexpected.

The American Dream and other Fairy Tales

This was probably going to be a critique of the myth of meritocracy and pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps, but I don’t remember. I stand by the title, though.

Emotion Words

The next time you interact with someone, remember this: everyone doesn’t know how to use their emotion words, so be kind.

As usual, please feel free to comment on any or all of these, or if you’re a writer, feel free to tag me if you’re feeling inspired to take on a topic 😉


Monday Notes: Vegan and Plant-Based: A Criticism*

Have you noticed there’s a push toward vegan and plant-based living, or is it just me?

Let’s start with the obvious: food. My friend, Jermaine has been trying to convince me that vegan is the way to go for a decade. He’s encouraged me to swap ground turkey or beef with Morning Star Farm’s Crumbles. The ingredients include food like soy, water, and carrot juice concentrate. To be fair, I’ve never tried it, because I’m not into the fake meat. But if I did, this seems like the way to go. What I don’t understand is sometimes plant-based patties like these include chemicals I can’t even pronounce, like tertiary butylhydroquinone and ferric orthophosphate. Not to mention, they’re still processed foods. I’m no dietician, but it doesn’t sound healthy to me. And even though many plant-based burgers include pea protein, this protein substitute isn’t considered a vegetable, which is consistent with what I’ve noticed—plants nor vegetables seem to be a main ingredient in plant-based or vegan foods, but rather the juice or extract from plants and other sources. Although research has shown there are health benefits to consuming meat-replacements, it just sounds weird to me to swap out one processed food with another.

Over the past two years or so, I’ve also noticed vegan and plant-based living has filtered to things like cleaning products, such as Mrs. Meyers. The purpose of using plant-based cleaning products is plentiful, ranging from being biodegradable to being cruelty-free. However, sometimes these products include harmful synthetic chemicals for fragrance, leading to seemingly toxic effects. Like a plant-based burger, some of these ingredients include words I cannot pronounce, like phthalates or octoxynols. Huh? I’m not sure about you, but I’m all for saving animals from being experimented on, but I’m not down with sacrificing something like my reproductive health to do so. I’m no martyr and it sounds like a win-lose situation.

I’m all for saving animals from being experimented on, but I’m not down with sacrificing something like my reproductive health to do so.

Finally, let’s talk vegan/plant-based clothing. Clothes like TOMS have existed for over a decade. But I’ve noticed more companies cropping up or jumping on the vegan clothing bandwagon, mainly in the form of vegan leather. According to Harper’s Bazaar, vegan leather is a material that mimics leather, but is created from artificial or plant products instead of animal skins. From what I’ve read, plant-based clothing can be made from chemicals, like polyurethane, or plants, like pineapple leaves. Some companies use fish skin, and they can’t be labeled “vegan,” but rather an animal alternative … which ends up being another animal.

All of this has my head swimming, and here’s why:

I tend to always think about the unintended consequences. For example, we all enjoy our cellphones, but somehow, we’ve created a negative situation for honey bees and disrupted the ecosystem. Similarly, I wonder what we’re doing to our bodies and the world with our vegan and plant-based alternatives. Are we ruining our bodies by eating processed “vegan” food because we don’t know what the real effects are?


I’m not a medical doctor, but I read a lot for my own edification. Here are some suggestions that seem to make more sense:

  1. Read labels. Just because it says “vegan” or “plant-based” doesn’t mean it’s automatically good for you.
  2. Know definitions. There’s a difference between a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based meal, especially when it comes to burgers. For example, a Beyond burger, black bean burger, and a veggie burger are completely different.
  3. Eat vegetables. There are thousands of healthy vegetable-based recipes that require real food. They fall more into the vegetarian category.
  4. Consume less. Don’t buy more food than what you and your household can eat.

Point number four probably requires its own blog post. While I think of how to expand the
“consume less idea,” let me know if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or a staunch meat eater. What do you eat? How do you maintain your health in such confusing times?


*Information presented is a combination of blog, magazine, scholarly articles, and my opinion.

Monday Notes: 3 Reasons I Didn’t Watch the Derek Chauvin Trial

As I write this, it is Day 10 of the Derek Chauvin trial, I haven’t watched any of it, and I don’t feel guilty, either. Here’s why.

#1 Racial trauma: “Racial trauma refers to the mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and crimes.” It can occur directly, such as when people experience racism and microaggressions at the workplace, or it can occur indirectly, such as watching a white person repeatedly be acquitted for murdering a black person during public trials (e.g., George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson, Timothy Loehmann). Racial trauma is real, and I decided ahead of time I had no intention of putting myself through it again.

#2 Who’s being tried? Every time there’s one of these public court cases, it seems as if the unarmed, deceased person is on trial, not the person who committed the crime. With George Zimmerman, there was a discussion of how menacing Trayvon Martin looked with his hoodie, and even though Zimmerman stalked him, there was confusion about who was standing who’s ground. With Darren Wilson, there was talk of Michael Brown selling illegal drugs. Even though I haven’t watched the Chauvin case unfold, I’ve been in the room when newscasters have recapped the day’s events. Apparently, there was a conversation about the drugs found in George Floyd’s body as a rationale for why he died. I can’t. It seems ridiculous to go through these theatrics when the world literally watched how Floyd died.

#3 The outcome: Again, I’m writing this on April 9th, and I don’t know what the outcome is going to be. This makes me afraid and distraught. I fear what will happen should the American court system follow its own historical precedence, which is to acquit the perpetrator (i.e., Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam). Will there be riots if Chauvin is acquitted? Will it be American “business as usual?” Have vaccinated people gone on about their lives with no care for justice and its repercussions? I’m distraught that I even have these thoughts. The fact that I cannot trust the U.S. justice system to be just is disturbing. What does it mean for all of us, who collectively witnessed a murder, where the murderer may not be penalized? I promise you this is a thought that some Black people have had. We are all holding our collective breaths, because we understand what could happen. Conversely, if Chauvin is convicted, what does it mean that the world had to witness one man’s murder just for there to be justice?

All this upsets me, and I can’t expend my emotions in a daily frenzy, worrying about what it all means.


Tomorrow, May 25th is the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. I’m glad to see that Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three counts: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. I hope this means we’re turning over a new leaf in the United States, and even though this is an inspirational blog, I’m sad to say I’m not hopeful.


Monday Notes: Being a Woman: Facts and Receipts

Being a woman feels like being everything and nothing all at once.

            It feels like being the gender who bears children, but not being the gender who is protected while bearing children. Because any country that allows Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women to be two to three times more likely to die during childbirth demonstrates a woman’s value with each subsequent death.

            It feels like choosing a lauded profession, like teaching, which in the United States is seventy-six percent woman dominated but not being heard, paid, or respected, while educating the nation’s children. Mississippi teachers, for example, are expected to live off of $45,574 per year. It’s no wonder eighteen percent of U.S. teachers work another job.

            It feels like wanting to subscribe to a power higher than yourself, while signing up for your own oppression if you choose to worship with one of the top two religions. Eve is praised for being the mother of civilization, while being condemned for initiating the fall of man. A study showed that while there are ninety-three women in the Christian Bible, they speak a little over one percent of the time. This isn’t surprising as there are still seven religious groups that don’t allow women to be ordained; Islam is one of them. These may not seem like big deals, but implicit subjugation can be just as harmful because it is an indoctrination of subliminal messaging by which one may shape a future life.

            It feels like living in India where the very idea of having a girl child is repulsive and unwelcomed, where throwing acid on women’s faces is such a common practice there’s a name for it. It’s called an acid attack. India leads the world in these intentional crimes against women. Likewise, women are more likely to suffer domestic abuse and rape, while the justice system oftentimes acquits their husbands.

            It feels like the government regulating your reproductive rights for population control as they did with women in China from 1979 through 2015; it was called the one-child policy. And even though the Chinese government now encourages women to have up to two children, having a girl child oftentimes leads to infanticide and abandonment because boy children are preferred. Consequently, China’s demographics are now off balance; there are thirty million more men than women.

            It feels like fearing one’s life in South Africa, where femicide, the intentional murder of women, is five times more than the global rate; in 2017, every eight hours a woman was killed…by her intimate partner. If a South African woman does live, then she is likely to be raped, as this country was once considered the rape capital of the world.

            Yes, I’m convinced. Being a woman is like being everything and nothing all at once, like being the seed of civilization and the unintentional cause of your own damnation. At this point, I just have one request: Prove me wrong.


Happy International Women’s Day. We have work to do.

Monday Notes: Since George Floyd’s Death…

No Justice. No Peace.After George Floyd’s death, the first thing I did was search for a way to be more active in my city. My journey began with contacting the editor of one of the Black newspapers. I was taken aback by three things: 1) every other one of her words was a cuss word; 2) she denigrated Black citizens by calling them “lazy”; and 3) she was dismissive of White people. Even though my decision was pretty clear, I slept on the meeting I was supposed to have with her and decided it wasn’t the best place to use my skill set and talents. I also reached out to a civil rights activist that I’d once interviewed to ask how I could be of help, but he never returned my call.

I’m sharing these situations because I want you to know that it wasn’t easy just because I was Black and motivated. Even in the midst of everything, it was challenging for me to find a solution that was a good fit. That’s when I took my own advice and joined Color of Change. What has been reinforced in each meeting is the importance of unity and direction. Thus far, we’ve been asked to use an app to be sure that people are registered to vote (at the least). I’ve also learned about how specific organizations are connected to why Black people do not receive justice when murdered by the police. I’ll discuss that later.

1df45dfe-5408-45a9-90c0-22faebf2fa5cNext, I decided to lean into hard conversations centered on race. Part of this includes speaking up when I feel someone has made a statement that seems to fit in the covert or overt racist category. For example, when an IG acquaintance posted about how her church fed police as a way to demonstrate “unity” during global protest focused on how police were killing Black men, I asked her a simple question: Has your church supported the BLM movement? Her answer was a disappointing no that she wholeheartedly stands by, but I feel better having broached the subject, as opposed to ignoring it altogether. And I don’t have to assume where she is on the subject. It’s quite clear.

A third thing I’ve done is begun attending our homeowners’ association meetings. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. How can I say I care about a community (e.g., our city), but not be active and care about a microcosm of that community (e.g., our neighborhood)? Guess what happened? During the meeting, I witnessed firsthand what some White women think about breaking laws or rules, and how they end up being the proverbial “Karens” we’ve seen in videos. For example, a board member’s response to college kids caught swimming in the pool at one in the morning was to call the police. Her response to people who are able to walk onto our property because there’s no gate at one entrance was to call the police. I was surprised. One of these activities is illegal, and one is not, and the consequences of calling the police depend on who the police or perpetrators are. I plan to address it from a place of concern in a letter to the Board.

pollsThe last thing I’ve done is educate myself. While some White people have been reading up on racism, etc., I thought I’d learn a little bit about two topics: voter suppression and the Fraternal Order of Police. I’ve written about voter suppression here. But FOP was new to me. Basically, elected officials sometimes take donations from the FOP. When they do that, then it makes it easier for policemen to cash in on favors, and more importantly for union leaders in different cities to speak unfavorably of the victims (unarmed Black people), as well as to deny that the killings are racially motivated. The FOP literally shapes a specific narrative. You can read more here. These two concepts have been enlightening to me, and at the least I’ve been able to share what I’ve learned with my social media community.

I think that’s about it.

What have you done since George Floyd’s death? This is more of an accountability situation than it is bragging. Plus, we can help one another do more than we’ve been doing.

If you haven’t done anything, then that’s fine too. I mean it took me eight years and several more deaths to be more involved. But one thing I realize is the only way we can do better is to actually do better.

Monday Notes: Democracy and Voter Suppression

pollsA democracy is “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.”

Sounds simple, right? The people have the power and we vote in elections so that other people can put in place the things we care about and want.

Well, just a second. I learned years ago that the United States of America is actually more akin to a republic, which specifically has an elected president, not a king or heir, and is “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.”

Tomato…tomato, eh? I don’t know and I won’t bore you with more definitions. I’m just confused about what we’re doing here in America, which is supposed to be a democratic republic.

As I’m writing this, Kentucky successfully removed 3,530 polling locations. Closing polls made little sense to me. Even if this were a COVID-safety move and the government was concerned about social distancing, I don’t understand why the state would have fewer polls, instead of more. Wouldn’t more polls facilitate an easier process?

AmericaBut you know what people in Louisville and Lexington did with one polling place? They stood in line for hours. The Kentucky primaries have ended. Joe Biden won. Charles Booker, a Black representative from Louisville, who ran to be the democrat on the ticket for Senate, lost. Was closing the majority of polling places purposeful?  Will Kentuckians demand their polling places re-open, or will this be the norm for not only that state, but also others?

Furthermore, whether we live in a democracy or a republic, I’m concerned that voter suppression, a common occurrence in our country, continues to be a thing even though supreme power is supposed to lie with the people, not its leaders. Is supreme power of the people an illusion? Did we ever really have this power?

Maybe we’ve acquiesced our power for something more entertaining. For example, what else happened when Kentuckians found out there would be one polling place? Did people complain a little bit and go back to binge watching their favorite online show? Listen, I don’t want to bash the good people of Kentucky. And I’m not a sky is falling kind of person, but we are living in critical times. Life is exhausting. We are experiencing all of the things all of the time, but we still have to use our collective voice to attain fair and equal treatment within our republic. Don’t we?

Poll closing is a form of voter suppression and can occur anywhere, in any state. So, I have a few questions: What would you do if your state closed 95% of the polling places? Would you stand in line for six hours and hope they didn’t close more in November, or would you demand that your democratic right to elect officials be easier?

***

Think this can’t happen in your state? Here is more information about voter suppression and how it effects specific socioeconomic classes, races, and ethnicities.