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Do What You Love With Those That Love You Back

This year I have witnessed magic time and time again.

I have forgiven many who have wronged me while taking away their power by not waiting for their apologies or bothering with their excuses.

I have climbed more than one mountain at a time, by learning many things at once. I always knew when someone said I was stretching myself too thin it was because they didn’t understand the power of baby steps, discipline and passion.

I have reached a point where I am addicted to progress. Or addicted to what many call the journey. I enjoy the walk to the destination so much that at times I just keep walking.

I Learned to use my ‘flaws’ as my strengths and learned to love myself not for the person that I could be but the person that I am.

I have learned to accept love from myself and others.

I have learned that an angry introverted child translates into a passionate disciplined adult.

I no longer regret not being different when I never had the option to be anyone but myself. I would never want to be anyone but me. This being something that I not just know, but understand is the gift of being able to live another year.

To constantly connecting.

To doing more of what you love with the people that love you back.

To understanding ourselves and the world around us more and more each year. Wishing my readers another year of magic! I am grateful for you all.

 

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Building Communities: Afro-Latino Fest & Curlfest

The first time I left my house without straightening or putting my hair up, I just wanted some food.  It was a hot summer day with a small chance of rain and I was not about to stop myself from enjoying this summer because of my hair. I was not about to take 20 minutes of my life for a 5-minute trip to the bodega. Not again.

There were so many things I wanted to do, and could not because I was risking the chance that spirals would form from my once-straightened follicles. It wasn’t an act of rebellion. It wasn’t an act of reclaiming what’s mine. It was the complete opposite. It was an act of laziness.

It was the same act of rebellion as when some feminists refuse to wear heels or shave their armpits. The constant primping and poking at ourselves is not only unhealthy, but a waste of time. To think that the only time you are worthy of being viewed by the world is when you have fixed your hair, nails, put makeup on your face and have on the right outfit is unhealthy. Yet all a man has to do is wake up, throw some water on his face, put on shoes, a t-shirt and some pants and head out.

This summer I had press passes to both the Afro-Latino Festival and Curlfest in New York City. Attending the Afro-Latino Fest is always a magical experience because although the crowd is saturated with beauties and their natural hair, we are there to be reminded that it is not just about the hair. It is about self-acceptance of all that we are. The fact that our hair has spirals and kinks because of our beautiful, rich African and Taino background. The reminder that if we don’t accept and embrace ourselves and each other, we can’t expect anyone else to do the same. But also the reminder that we don’t need validation from a world that puts European ideals on a pedestal while putting our Afro Caribbean ideals down. With the embrace of the self, the rebellion from that which has been forced on us happens automatically. It is not just about the hair; it is about the art, the music, the culture. The hair is just a representation of that.

While the Afro-Latino Festival and Curlfest have a similar crowd, Curlfest is about learning the ways in which we can maintain what was given to us. For years I would shampoo my hair three times before conditioning. Leaving conditioner on my hair after a wash was a sin and on top of that I never used the right products. While curly hair becoming a trend is sad for those of us who struggled to be seen as beautiful when it wasn’t a movement, I am proud of how far we’ve come in educating one another on the maintenance of our crowns.

After more than a decade of facing the world as a naturalista, I know that I am not my hair. I have dreams of cutting it short, straightening it and dying it blue all the time. But from wearing my hair as the universe intended I also know now that although it is not what defines me, it is part of why I learned so much about where I come from and why I am here. In defending the follicles on my head I had to defend myself, in defending myself I had to defend those who look like me and in that I had to defend our past. Now there is not much defending to do, we have come a long way. Now we are building. Thank you Afro-Latino Festival and Curlfest for making sure that our community is growing, learning and distributing that knowledge.

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Chester Bennington’s Story Through Song

I watch how the moon sits in the sky in the dark night
Shining with the light from the sun
And the sun doesn’t give light to the moon assuming
The moon’s gonna owe it one

On July 20th 2017 I learned that you can be a savior and not be able save yourself.

Chester’s story is one of both mental and physical child abuse and the way that abuse grows with you. (Crawling) How it seeks out the company of what you know to be familiar and causes you to live with paranoia. (Papercut) The only way to survive through such abuse when you are powerless is to numb it out. (Numb) But with the numbing comes the fear that you may one day turn into your abuser. (Breaking the habit) and that soon you will need to take responsibility for your pain. Take ownership of it before it runs rampant and turns you into the very thing you despise. And all the while all you want is the love you deserve. For those responsible for you to protect you as they should. (Points of authority) Realizing that their conditional love is based on conditions that are impossible to meet. (In the end) You venture out into the world (Runaway) knowing that what you were taught are negative ways to view and live in it. Because there is still a hope that you are worthy of love. But first you’ll need to know what love is and who loves you.

And it’s not always easy because most of us step out from abuse into the world to attract the same thing we ran away from. Making the walls we’ve created to save us during our fragile youth even tighter in our adulthood. Numbing us from the outside world. Creating dual personalities. One who knows the truth and one who acts as if it is happy, because based on facts it should be. But what it really is, is guilty for not being able to enjoy a life you’ve worked so hard to build. (Somewhere I Belong) Guilty for feeling like a burden to those who love you.

But please know, this isn’t life, you are worthy of love, that wasn’t love. Because it’s never too late to learn about the foreign concept of love. Follow the love. Find your tribe, love your tribe. Let your tribe love you back….

RIP Chester Bennington

Your fans love you, truly. Thank you for allowing us to process our pain together. Thank you for allowing us to understand our pain before many of us were able to heal.

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This picture I received from the LP Underground Fan club in the 7th grade and it hung on my wall for years.

P.S There is a part of me that doesn’t believe it was suicide. I won’t comment on that, but advice you to as a fan do some research…

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Collaborative Effort

I was watching a Joe Rogan special on Netflix from 2005 the other night. For those of you who don’t know who he is, Joe Rogan is a retired martial artist, the host of the original Fear Factor and a comedian. His style of comedy is known as “unedited,” famous for its constant line-crossing. Watching not just Rogan’s comedy special from a decade ago, but many other comedy specials, made me realize how the political correctness that I myself have even advocated for at times is hurting us. The things Joe said during his 2005 comedy special would not fly today. Yes, it would still be aired. Well maybe. But oh, the anger that would have followed that special had it aired today. This anger would be followed by persecution. “This person has to pay as an example for others!” Then his endorsements would be cut and Instagram deleted. In an electronic world, Joe Rogan would cease to exist. Then what the hell am I supposed to laugh at when I’m high and it’s past my bedtime?

We are not creating a more democratic or republican world. What we are doing is building a world out of the hatred we have for each other. Our hatred of the other is turning our country into one where none of us will be proud to live, one where we share all of our fears and burdens equally, by taking away the other team’s freedom. We are playing flag football with our freedoms in hopes that we will win, forgetting that even when you win in flag football, you still end up with way less flags than when you started. We are making the world more politically correct in fear of the racist, patriarchal and most likely republican assholes who wish to banish others deemed different. At the same time, we are taking away female rights in fear of liberals destroying the old way of life and building a modern world. We are holding on for dear life to what we want in fear of the other group taking it all away, forgetting that liberals can be racists and that there are countless atheist, gay republicans running around.

The reality we have worked so hard towards is happening right now. This is what we worked for, although it is definitely not what we wanted. Trump is in office. Our rights are being taken away by either the government or those around us. This is the world we have created and are creating together. Republicans and Democrats are paving the way for the dystopian novels that each party is either reading or burning to become reality.

This is what happens when people pick sides based on what they hate about the other rather than what they like. When rather than going, “OH, you like that too? Cool!” We go, “You like that too? We’ll I liked it first,” or “You like that? Then I fucking hate you.”  The situation we created is an advertiser’s dream, with the corporation being America. With statements like these, we create brand personalities. When the entire country is divided into two brands it is easier to control. Also, it slips by us that just because we are the brand, doesn’t mean that we aren’t also the products or consumers. We are dehumanizing ourselves and making it easier for those in power to discard us as the products that we have become.

When the biggest argument for voting is, “We have to stop the other from being elected,” rather than, “this person will make a great president,” we have already lost the election. We have already lost our democracy.

As a teenager, I read Ayn Rand. Although I was not and will never be a rich white male, I took in the parts of the her books that applied to me and I must admit that whether it was through misreading or my lack of knowledge of the world, in an odd way I learned to be a more independent, hard-working person. I took the parts that I loved and was inspired to play one of my all-time favorite video games, Bioshock. Now anyone with an Ayn Rand book is labeled. Yes, some people use her books as a way to say what they want without having to physically say anything at all. But that in itself is the problem. We need to stop using things to define each other. A sign of emotional maturity is being able to understand something even if you disagree with it. When we avoid the understanding altogether we turn into children who define themselves by the things they hate and like rather than the complex natures of our character.

The world we live in is our own creation and if you don’t think so then much like many dystopian novels have taught us, the next step is to look up. Aim for the top, for those who seek to control us. The wealthy and elite. Not each other.

 

 

Art by Steve Cutts
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The Quirks of White Feminism

The quirky girl is a girl who trusts life to its fullest. She is the girl who sits on the floor in the middle of the street because she knows her clothes wont get dirty and no one will trample her. She is the girl who leaves her purse on her chair at Starbucks while she uses the restroom because she knows no one will steal it. The world has her back. There are people looking out for her and she knows it. The quirky girl in our society can only be a white woman.

As women of color, we know better. Have been taught better by life. Not only is it easier for the world to distrust us, but the world does not have our best interests in mind. We never learned to trust the world because the world never trusted us. The feeling is mutual.

Brown girls can’t act on the full meaning of eccentric or quirky. Openly smoking weed and having a messy life is not cool or admirable for us; just careless and disastrous. We rarely leap without looking down, for if there happens to be a heap of nails below there is rarely anyone close enough with the necessary resources to stop our fall. We also know through experience that what awaits us below is more often a bed of nails and not a plush, queen-sized mattress.

We come from a world where not being good at something and trying anyway is not fearless, but a waste of time.

The quirky girl like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s lights a woman’s hat on fire as she carelessly smokes at a party, knowing that someone nearby will put it out with little effort, then proceeds to live her life without even noticing. Or leaves a lit match with articles of clothing. Without the firefighters in her life, the story of Hepburn’s character would have made for a much darker film.

In order for brown girls to claim the quirky girl status, we must start by building a community where we feel safe. And by letting the world know by peace or by force that we deserve moments where we can be carefree without the world collapsing at our feet. We deserve to take small breaks from ourselves before our big breaks without having a sugar daddy to act as an adult security blanket.

The quirky girl is white feminism incarnate. It is living life with the full knowledge that you are living above a safety net surrounded by those who are ready to catch you before you even get the chance to fall.

Those who try too hard to feel special envy the adversities we go through everyday. They preach equality, but never want to do the work. The daily work of uplifting and physically helping those with lesser opportunities for reasons out of our control. Because deep down inside they envy us for being different. They want us to make and do good, but never more or better than them.

 

 

 

 

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Precedence

Funny how many people have completed the highest levels of education, yet live with poor health or without ever seeing the world

To be important only within the constructs of our society is to be the smartest and most ignorant simultaneously

To have broadened our minds only to specific subjects is to become more aware yet confined

Our bodies can take us anywhere

Our degrees are only valuable in the small construct created by society which in turn was created by the powers that be

Learn all that you can, but do yourself a favor and eat healthy, meditate, move around more, moisturize and take your vitamins

Precedence
#quartervida

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