January 31, 2016

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT BARBIE

Photograph: Mattel/EPA



If you do not know by now that Mattel the makers of Barbie released a ton of new dolls this week than you have been living under a rock or just paying attention to Kanye's rants on Twitter instead. Since the release there has been quite a range of media reactions with a variety of thoughts and opinions on Barbie's new figure; so of course I needed to add my two cents. 

January 29, 2016

LONDON CALLING


My friend Adam and his wife moved to London last January for work and I have been meaning to get down to London to visit, since I got to England. Virgin had a flash sale and I was able to get a round trip ticket to London for 20 quid, so now seemed like the perfect time do so. It was about a 3 hour train ride from Newcastle to King's Cross station (yes, that King's Cross Harry Potter fans).It was the day that Alan Rickman passed away and so Celete and I decided to be tourist and take a picture at platform 9 3/4 , while waiting a journalist came up to us to ask me my thoughts on his death. I forgot the name of the paper but it was a cool way to enter London.

January 24, 2016

SUNDAY ROUND UP

I am in the last week of my winter break and preparing for one more exam and then classes start on the first of Feb. I am also planning for an epic trip to INDIA in March! I just wanted to do a quick post on some things that have been happening this week and half and do kind of a weekend round up.

Getting my 1990's fit on

So I am still not sleeping well, I take melatonin as a last resort but I do not want to become dependent on it. I know exercise is something that is often recommended, I have noticed on my trips after long walking days I sleep like the dead. So I decided to find a water aerobics class, I took my first class on Thursday and slept like a baby through the entire night. I hate working out, and since I am comfortable in my belly rolls and have committed to never losing them I avoid it at all cost. I do love the water though, I'm and island gal , water is in my blood, so being able to work out in the water is the ultimate blessing. The class was a good mix of young and old and a ton of fun. I am going to try and go to all 3 classes a week but at the very least attend 2 of them.

#Oscarssowhite

The Oscar drama has been everywhere since the nominations came out and I have my feelings on them. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement saying that they are going to take strategic action to increase diversity. A lot of people have a lot of different feelings about that. I feel as though there needs to be movies with roles for people of color to act in that are worthy of accolades. Simple answer diversity has to come in all aspects of the industry. Executives, Producers, Writers, casting directors, agencies and so on. I just finished a huge paper on the subject a few days before the nominations so the topic was fresh on my brain. If you are a person that likes hard numbers check out this study done by UCLA (found here) they have great facts and figures that go pretty deep.What surprised me the most was how little other people of color are represented in Hollywood as well. Is it the most serious thing happening right now, NOPE but it is interesting and representation matters.

Snapchat
Similar to DJ Khaled, I too have my daily thoughts with Snapchat. I have gotten several comments on my snapchat videos, I love snapchat because if it wasn't talking to the imaginary people on it,  I would just be talking to myself. It allows me to get out thoughts through out the day. People seem to like them so I wanted to maybe include them every so often on the blog. This week I caught up on the Bachelor. I watch it for sheer entertainment but this guy Ben seems like a legit nice guy. He is almost too sweet and surprisingly not douchey. Well one thing I always notice on the Bachelor vs. the Bachelorette is the jobs that the women have. They are the most ridiculous made up jobs ever, like even Barbie never had some of these. Currently my favorites have been fit model, chicken enthusiast, and straight up just unemployed. There are twins on the show this season and the show just has "Jenny - Twin" as her occupation. Seriously?! You couldn't put like student or intern on there. They do not seem to do that to the men of the Bacherlorette, they always have legit jobs OR their jobs are not mentioned at all. Why is that? Is it intentional or and oversight? Who is in production at ABC that thinks this is clever, it's not, I see what you are doing! This week's snap story also has me sharing my thoughts on the next Bachelorette being black. Check out the snap story below.


video

January 22, 2016

"NO, MY NAME IS NOT SPELLED WRONG"

This blog is mostly dedicated to my time here in England as a grad student but in the New Year I wanted to add more posts with more meaning to me. Right now it is my job to study the media and the messages behind it so my brain is always spinning when I see content online.  In the last year it seems as though race relations, racism, privilege have been on the forefront of many discussions. It does not seem like we are getting any better at understanding each other as people. I watch arguments and comments unfold and I find myself saying wow these people do not get it, but I realize that they haven't really needed to up until now. Often when situations arise I have found many white people get super defensive or just do not  believe things like this happen because it doesn't happen to them so when a large group of minorities try and explain it to them it becomes too overwhelming. I also happen to think that people just do not want to believe in 2016 the color of your skin still matters.  I wanted to create a series of posts that talks about experiences first hand in hopes to educate people about theses situations but from a more personal level. Sometimes it is easier to feel connected to a cause when you can personally connect to it. All the experiences shared have either happened to me personally or I have been given permission to use on this blog. If you find yourself feeling guilty or put off by this, I would invite you to spend some time thinking about why, what in your past or present have you said or done that could have led to this guilt? Then I was advise you to refrain from doing those things again.

To kick of the series is a friend who did City Year with me way back when, below she speaks about a situation that happened to her at work in regards to her name. She shared this on her Facebook and then give me permission to post it here.

"This is long, but if you read this, you might learn something. Some people question what minorities are always talking about when we use the terms white privilege and microagressions. I'll explain. This morning, a white woman comes into my office and looks at my name plate. She greets me as "Keela". Many people do this, and it is no big deal to me. However, as I correct her, she laughs in my face, looks back at my name plate, and says, "That's not how it's spelled. It's spelled wrong. What was your mother thinking?" One, she assumes that I don't know the phonetic alphabet, and two, she is implying my mother, who named me, is dumb and should have known better. Whether she would have done this with a white man named Johann (Yohann) or a white woman named Calais (Calay), I doubt. Those names are European in origin and denote "culture." White people don't laugh at those names, and if they do, they show their ignorance. If I was a white woman, would my name have been laughed at and denigrated? What do you think? You might say I am reading into this, but no, just because my name isn't Watermelondrea doesn't mean I don't receive judgments on my character for the spelling of my name. I have my whole life. Most people ask me about it or just correct themselves when I tell them, but this women decides to tell me my name is spelled wrong. This could have been a teachable moment for her, this typical "basic, self-important, DC narcissist," but I didn't bother. Her implication of ignorance on the part of both me and my parents told me it would be moot. The look of condescension that flitted across her face as she told me my name was spelled wrong and the flip she gave of her hair as she walked away is called a "microagression". In her verbal and non-verbal language, she told me that as a white woman with a strong command of the English language, that my name was an affront to her and her whiteness. She communicated to me with a sentence and a turn of her head that I was not worth further addressing. If she had bothered to get off her her high horse, I would have told her that my name is not American, it is Polynesian, and it pays homage to my birth name of Sara. When I was adopted, my parents took my brother and me to Hawaii. After speaking with the native Hawaiians, my mother gave me this name. My name translates to Sara in their language. In their alphabet, E's have an A sound. So, yes, my name is pronounced Kayla. My name is also the namesake of an ancient tribe in the African nation of the Congo and also the name of a Muslim community in West Bengal India. Both pronunciations are Kayla in their languages, as well. I did not go into all that with her, because she was garbage and her smugness was garbage. Her name was Lindsey. I would have informed her that, not even 50 years ago, Lindsey was a man's name. I would have laughed in her face and told her, as she was clearly over 50, that HER parents must have wanted her to be a boy. I didn't. See, her white privilege affords her the opportunity to offend me and walk away, while I have to bite my tongue and take it because she is friends with the CEO. THIS is what people of color have to deal with on a daily basis. THIS is the pain and anger many of us carry with us. THIS is why it's 2016 and I know that when I name my children, it will matter so much more to me than it will to a white mother. Everyday, I wade through racism the minute I walk out of my door. Today was a reminder, that no matter how much education and success I attain, to someone like Lindsey, I am nothing more than a ghetto name."

January 20, 2016

BELFAST AND BEYOND



After 3 days in Dublin we were on to Belfast, we got on the train and took the 2 hour train ride north to Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Belfast isn't as shiny as Dublin but it has its own charm that is palpable. 

January 12, 2016

THREE DAYS IN DUBLIN



One of the best things about going to school in England is its proximity to so many other countries. Several are very inexpensive to get to. My friend Celete and I flew to Dublin for £10 quid. I can't even get a bus ticket to New York for that. We spent three days in Dublin before taking the train to Belfast (post to come). 

January 10, 2016

WHY I LIE ABOUT BEING AN ATHEIST


In the New Year, I want to be committed to writing more of what I wanted and less of what I thought people wanted to see. I post so much stuff on social media that I feel like people will read me or not and that should not be what fulfills me. I wanted to share a post that is drastically different but has been on my mind for awhile.

Recently, I was getting my hair braided and the woman and I had been making great conversation for majority of the day. After almost 6 hours together she asked me if I had a church here in England. My answer should have been "no, actually I am atheist I don't believe in god or practice any religion" but instead I simply said "no, I haven't found one here" WHY?! This was almost a month ago and clearly I am still bothered by it. I started reflecting about how many times in my life, I have said similar things or said nothing and sat in silence uncomfortable AF as to not make others feel the same way. I think over the  years I have just gotten a range of responses so as someone who gets annoyed with explaining themselves I avoid or straight up lie.

Some of the most common responses I have received are below, and they are not exaggerated:

1. "oh wow, really? I will pray for you" 
Please don't, my atheism isn't a disease or a disorder or lack of well being or even a lack of faith. I accept when people want to pray for my well being but don't pray for me to start believing in your god OR because you think my soul is damned to hell.

2. "are you sure? you are probably actually agnostic"
No, I am an atheist, and have been one truly since I was 8 but committed at about 18 or 19.  I know the difference thank you. Please stop telling me what I am, person who is not inside my head.

3. "this is a phase, you'll come back to your faith"
see # 2. Also being an atheist in my opinion isn't an absence of faith or belief it is just the belief and faith in something else. I feel confident in my feelings on the nonexistence of a God and my presence here on earth.

4. "Oh, does that mean you believe in the devil?"
STOP IT RIGHT NOW! 

I remember a former coworker of mine saying that as a black man he is cognizant of what that means to other people. He said that if he is walking down the street and sees a woman, particularly a white woman he will go ahead and cross to the other side of the street as to not make her uncomfortable. I found that interesting and quite profound, he said for him it isn't a big thing to do and I often think about my atheism the same way. I literally will place others comfort levels above my own.  In my reflection, I realized that my atheism makes people really uncomfortable and as a person who barely can process my own awkwardness it is nearly impossible for me to then process those situations as well. Ultimately, I do not want to bring people discomfort. I have found that people take it really personally, almost disrespected by it. That confuses me, as if my thoughts on religion challenge their personal beliefs. Trust me when I say I am not here to do that.

Interesting enough I enjoy talking about religion and faith with people, it fascinates me and I understand why it is so important to people; it just looks different to me. I like when people ask me serious questions about my beliefs and it leads to deep conversations and understanding. So why post these thoughts? Well it is my blog and I can do whatever I want but mostly I realized that in 2016, I don't want to tell this lie anymore it conflicts with my message of being the best self you can be and owning who you are as a person. To me, lying about it or staying silent is similar to staying quiet about other key issues in my life, ones that I have no problem sharing frequently. This is just a step to doing a better job at living my truth in the new year.

January 5, 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR


Happy 2016 , one and all! I felt like I blinked and the year went by