this is all i have.

I don’t want to have children. I’m dating someone who shares my feelings on not reproducing. There are a lot of reasons that I feel this way, and generally I am dismissed as young or not finding the right person. As if reproduction is not a right that I inherently have as a person to choose to use or not to use. Today, as I have many times over the past 3 years, I see my black-identifying friends asking themselves how are they supposed to keep their black children (born and unborn) alive in these times. Every time I see one of these posts, it’s just another confirmation that I don’t want to reproduce. When I see my queer friends worry about being safe wherever they go, particularly if they are gender non-conforming, I think how I don’t want to raise a child in a world like that. When my friends that were born in foreign lands or who have family members that were born abroad have people come up to them and taunt them for “imperfect” English, I don’t know if I could counteract this seemingly skewed view of what nationalism means in this and many other countries. I can’t even understand the hatred that comes, from many different sides and beliefs, to people who choose to practice or not practice certain religions. I cannot.

I like to focus on social justice and real world issues in my life, and that was my purpose of starting this blog. A lot of the blogs and youtubers I follow just talk about books as a way to escape reality. Which is great, becasue that’s a big portion of why I read. But I think it’s important to learn from literature and ultimately strive to become a better person. I’ve spent a long time constructing my moral code and what I feel is “good” and “bad” in this world. Perhaps I have become more liberal and outspoken the older I have become. I am legitimately heartbroken for my community. A community which at times I feel rejects me, because I do not fit an unspoken quintessential “blackness” that I’ve never been able to truly grasp. Because as a multiracial person, I am definitely not white. Nor am I LatinX. Nor am I Jewish. I think at various times in my life, trying to struggle with feeling like I truly belong as been difficult.I want to be liked (both in real life and those figurative likes on social media). I want to have a place where I feel comfortable and able to make mistakes and for it to be okay. I want my decisions and desires to be seen as valid and important.

I like to believe I’m at a point where I’m comfortable with the life I’ve been able to make for myself and the people that I chose (and honestly sometime forced) to be around on a regular basis.  But, I have to be honest with myself and know I’m not always there. Shitty things have and probably will happen to me based on a number of arbitrary and not so arbitrary situations and decisions. Somethings will happen by people who I consider close friends and others will happen by total strangers. My hope is that I can always stay true to myself and live a life that’s dedicating toward helping others and educating. I say this as a black woman who is trying desperately to pretend that the world doesn’t scare the shit out of her, and who has the unfortunate understanding that in her sphere of influence her life really is less valuable than a lot of others.

Philando Castile

Alton Sterling

Freddie Gray

Sandra Bland 

Tamir Rice

Michael Brown

Eric Gardner

John Crawford

Tanisha Anderson

Walter Scott

Monica Loera

Jasmine Sierra

Kayden Clarke

Veronica Banks Cano

Maya Young

Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson

Kourtney Yochum

Shante Thompson

Keyonna Blakeney

Reese Walker

Mercedes Successful

Amos Beede

Goddess Diamond

Keith Vidal

Zachary Hammond

Stanley Almodovar III

Amanda Alvear

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala

Alejandro Barrios Martinez

Martin Benitez Torres

Antonio D. Brown

Darryl R. Burt II

Jonathan A. Camuy Vega

Angel L. Candelario-Padro

Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez

Juan Chevez-Martinez

Luis D. Conde

Cory J. Connell

Tevin E. Crosby

Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez

Deonka D. Drayton

Mercedez M. Flores

Juan R. Guerrero

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz

Paul T. Henry

Frank Hernandez

Miguel A. Honorato

Javier Jorge-Reyes

Jason B. Josaphat

Eddie J. Justice

Anthony L. Laureano Disla

Christopher A. Leinonen

Brenda L. Marquez McCool

Jean C. Mendez Perez

Akyra Monet Murray

Kimberly Morris

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez

Luis O. Ocasio-Capo

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez

Eric I. Ortiz-Rivera

Joel Rayon Paniagua

Enrique L. Rios Jr.

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan

Christopher J. Sanfeliz

Xavier E. Serrano Rosado

Gilberto R. Silva Menendez

Edward Sotomayor Jr.

Shane E. Tomlinson

Leroy Valentin Fernandez

Luis S. Vielma

Luis D. Wilson-Leon

Jerald A. Wright

These blue lives mattered.

Until Next Time World…

The Audacity of Hope

Barack Obama. Commander-in-Chief of the United States Military. President of the United States of America. If anything, the political landscape of the current election has made him look like a true moderate. My mother is a huge Obama supporter. I am a mostly reluctant Obama supporter. This hasn’t exactly caused tension in our relationship, but it definitely has caused us to have different opinions on all those random “Thank God We Have Obama” t-shirts and memes I see around. My mom has been trying to get me to read The Audacity of Hope for a couple of years now, and I finally gave in to her wishes.

I was not disappointed. I went into The Audacity of Hope thinking that I wouldn’t like it at all. I really thought that the book was going to be a written version of his presidential campaign, and I wasn’t super interested in that. (Don’t get me wrong, Obama does do some politicking in this book.) However, The Audacity of Hope is a delightful and frank look at some of the partisanship that is occurring within our political framework. I found reading this book especially timely considering the political primaries that are occurring and how a divide is occurring, not just between Republicans and Democrats, but also within the respective parities.

Since this book is old hat, I’m just going to leave you with some insights that I found refreshing as a former student of political science. (And since I know I have quite a few non-American followers, please ask me any questions if something I write doesn’t make sense!)

1.) I appreciate that Obama went back to discuss the formation of the parties by the founding fathers. 

Sometimes I forget that politicians are actually intelligent interpreters of the law. As a political science major, perhaps that is embarrassing to admit. But I also watch the news where non-facts are often spun to narrate a story that usually has little to do with a person’s ability or education. I find myself making arguments for candidates and against other candidates with these non-facts rather than talking about their intellect or training that may have prepared them to do a job. These are the real things we should be talking about when we discuss candidates.

2.) Obama covers religion and how Republicans aren’t necessarily misusing it for political gains (as many Democrats try to spin it). 

Religion is something that is seldom truly discussed in politics. I think that because it is a sensitive topic, people shy away. At least that’s what I’ve found when I’m around my more liberal friends. Obama brings up an excellent point when he wrote about the Democratic party base shying away from religion and religious discourse because it “conflicts” with its base ideals. Despite the majority of the electorate being religious, including the majority of Democrats. I appreciate how Obama said that “morality” is important to both sides, but it’s important to understand how they manifest differently through the platforms.

3.) I appreciated that Obama talked about some egotism being involved in running for elected office.

Egotistical. This is a word that has been used to describe Donald Trump a lot this year. Obama admits that to run for office, specially national office, it does take a bit of egotism on the candidate’s part. You have to believe that you are truly what is best for the people, and that the other person is not better than you. I appreciated how real that statement was, and also how it should re-frame how we use that word when speaking about political candidates.

 

Until Next Time World…

Diversity of Gender

I live in the binary. Basically, I tend to categorize things into two piles. Things I like and things I do not like. Good things and bad things. Smart people and dumb people. Women and Men. Democrat or Republican.

To some extent, I think it’s human nature to put a label on something. Labeling allows our brain to categorize and better sort information to pull at a later time when we might need it. There’s been a big movement in the mainstream visibility of trans* individuals, largely due to Caitlyn Jenner and her fame. However, people who identify as gender non-conforming or gender fluid have not gotten as much public attention. I’ve been really interested in looking at how fiction approaches this topic, and this weekend I read Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin as my first foray into these types of books.

Symptoms of Being Human is the story of Riley Cavanaugh, the child of a California congressman. Riley is gender fluid, some days feeling masculine, other days feeling feminine, and other days feel a bit of both. Riley is struggling with these confusing feelings while also trying to survive high school and being thrown into the spotlight through her father’s public service. This book is the story of a teenager just trying to figure out which way is up.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Working with college students and known some individuals on both a personal and professional level who have struggle with their gender identity, I wasn’t exactly new to the topic. However, Garvin writes this story with such sincerity that I felt a little of what Riley was feeling while navigating the world. As you read along with Riley’s struggles and online blogging (!!!) life, you get a glimpse into how hard it really is to try to live up to others’ expectations.

Although there are many things that I could highlight in this book, I want to talk about this concept of the binary and categorization. A couple of chapters into the book, Riley misgenders a classmate. When I first read the scene, I was kind of horrified. Riley spent the first couple of chapters trying not to spiral out of control as people referred to Riley as “it” and other completely inappropriate pronouns/names. And then Riley is (although not to the same extend) passing on binary judgement of others. I stopped reading at this point, because I was attending a conference and had to go to some sessions. As I reflected on what I had read and discussed the book a little with some of my colleagues, I hoped that Garvin would spend more time addressing Riley’s own use of the binary.

When I returned to the book, I found that Garvin did just that. Riley reflected on using the binary to describe Bec, who later turns into a love interest, and comments on how prevalent the need to categorize is in our society. This is the point I want to drive home. Sometimes what is right is not what is easy. And it’s really easy to try to put others into convenient predetermined boxes. I think this book helps the reader recognize the danger of categorizing people. It’s something I have to actively work at not doing, but it’s absolutely worth it.

Until Next Time World…

Racism has no context.

Pretty recently I “rediscovered” Lupe Fiasco. By rediscovered, I mean he came up on shuffle while I was listening to my iPod. He’s a rapper that is pretty well known for the political undertones in his lyrics. The title of this post comes from his song “All Black Everything” which is a narrative about what the US might look like if slavery had never existed. As a black woman, I cannot remove my race from the experiences that I have in life; so I think that the song is pretty fun to think about. Unfortunately, racism has a lot of context in our world today, unlike the imaginary world Lupe Fiasco creates in his song.

I should preference by this post by saying that I am not the most well read on black politics or black thought in general. There are some great bloggers out there that devote all of their time to issues of racism and race relations in the US. (I will also create a page on this blog that links to some of these bloggers.) However, I think that talking about racism and thinking about racism are valuable uses of one’s times. I recently read (and tweeted about) Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book Between the World and Me. It’s critically acclaimed and has been a hot topic in both my worlds – higher education and the book community.

Continue reading “Racism has no context.”

Another Day, Another Mass Shooting

Yesterday, the US wept for the citizens of San Bernardino where a mass shooting has left at least 14 dead and incited another heated debate among citizens and politicians alike. Many people completely missed the shooting that occurred in Savannah, Georgia (my home state) leaving one dead and three others injured. Looking across my social media platforms, I see a Washington Post article that talks about how the number of mass shooters has surpassed the number of days. In what is seemingly an age of fear, complete with bulletproof blankets for your elementary school children, there have been two responses to the endemic in the US.

#1: Prayer: The favored approach by many on the right, and almost all of our politicians. We are often told that the families of the victims are in “our thoughts and prayers.” Not to sound insensitive, but it would be ludicrous to think that I have enough time to name all the victims of these attacks, let alone to say individual prayers for them AND their families. Unless it’s something general like, “Dear Deity, please pray for all those who were murdered at some point between January 1, 2015 and right this second.” That being said, prayer is something that is very important to me, and I really appreciate the sentiment behind it. But is that really the best we can do?

#2: Apathy: Unfortunately, I often find myself falling into these category, as I imagine many US citizens do. We read the news, shocked and appalled. Then we watch the response of our political and community leaders (i.e. prayer), shake our heads and go about our lives. Maybe if we’re really feeling inspired or impacted we might donate some money or post an angry article on our social media accounts. This is clearly not the answer.

Okay, so if these two things are good enough, well then what is? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to that. However, I do think understanding how individuals can come to do things like this might be a good place to start. I recently read a book, Hate List by Jennifer Brown, that follows the life of a teenage girl in the aftermath of a shooter at her high school committed by her boyfriend. While this is a book that hits a little close to the events of (what seems like) every day life, I believe that Brown’s work allows the reader to ask different types of questions in the wake of tragedy. Continue reading “Another Day, Another Mass Shooting”