Why Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Context Matters in Feminism

Below is a reading reflection on three pieces jammed into one:

Bell Hook’s “Beyond Lean In” 

Kimberle Crenshaw’s “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color”

Donna Hathaway’s “Situated Knowledges”

I think Hooks critique on Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” is valid and worthy of noting. Sheryl Sandberg provides a very narrow minded approach towards feminism. I believe her intentions are well but if you are going to write a book on the important and popular topic of feminism, as a heavily influential figure in modern day America, it is important to do some research on the subject before writing such pieces. Research includes reading the works of past feminist woman who represent all walks of life, to fully grasp the idea of feminism for all. Sheryl Sandberg, as many other modern day feminist, came into their feminist title by realizing the ideals behind the title were much simpler than they thought. Feminism is simply gender equality in social, political, and economic spaces within society. However, Hooks is here to contradict this simplistic notion, particularly in Sandberg’s novel. Sandberg’s “feminism for all” creates a faux feminism by disregarding the differences between groups of women, according to Hooks. These differences include race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, and socio-economic class. Sheryl Sandberg writes this novel from the social location of a upper class white woman. Consequently, her novel provides simple approaches to her simpler journey towards gender equality, as opposed to the journey of majority of oppressed women’s groups. This is in no way to discredit Sandberg’s journey, however, if you are only targeting one group of women it is extremely important to note that context in your writing. Just a personal anecdote, I was given Lean In as a gift from a friend. As he gave me the book he said, “You may not be able to relate as much because she’s a rich white woman but I still think you can get something out of it.” I read about a quarter of the novel and felt disconnected. As a young, lower class, black woman I felt as if it were a half way attempt to cheer me on to encourage me to fight for gender equality in this patriarchal American society. What’s sad about this reality is that some people who identify with my race and class may not come to this intersectional reality early on by reading Sandberg’s book. My fear is that they will belief that Sandberg’s book is a representation for how all women should go about fighting for gender equality. My fear is that that woman will be unprepared for the harsh realities of being a black woman in America and not just a woman, and will not be physically, mentally, or emotionally prepared for what she is to face and will not know how to handle it. The reality is, Sheryl Sandberg was given such praise for her novel because of her social location as a rich white woman. The thoughts and ideas she presented were nothing new and they captured only half of what women of color feminist have been preaching for decades. The question that resonates the most while analyzing this reality is, how do marginalized groups such as women of color and gay women fight for equality within the mainstream feminist movement and how do we make our concerns as just as important as white ones? Is there a way to bridge all forms of oppression against women under the umbrella of feminism or is it necessary to form separate feminisms for different groups of women? I personally feel like the former is achievable but only if intersectionality is at the center of its mission.

I think when a lot of people speak, they don’t make it clear the context from which they are speaking from. For example, Sheryl Sandberg received a lot of criticism from WOC feminists who said that her book “Lean In” only address a certain sector of people. They argued that Sheryl Sandberg only narrated the oppressions of middle-upper class, CISgendered, white women and did not include the perspective of other minority groups such as gay, transgender, women of color, and disabled women. On the contrary, some people argued that it is nearly impossible to address every single woman in her book and that the progress she achieved in feminism with her book was substantial enough, regardless of what type of women it was written for. People also argued that it would be problematic if she did speak on the behalf of other women because how would she understand the oppressions against intersectional women if she’s never experienced it herself. My stance on this Sheryl Sandberg argument is that stating context is very important. Sheryl Sandberg wrote Lean In with the marketability of it being for all women, which is problematic and misleading to many. I think in Sandberg’s case, it was extremely important to state the social location that she is speaking from to distinguish to the reader if this book will necessarily fit their life experiences or not. However, if she clearly stated this in her book, it probably wouldn’t sell as many copies because the majority population would realize that she is not writing on feminism for people like them. From a personal standpoint, whenever I speak on things that affect society at large, I always make sure to at least reference my location. For example, I would say “As a black woman and based on my experiences, I feel…” This allows for their to be a distinction in what I’m saying compared to how someone else my say because I am making my statements personal. This is on a small scale of communication, but I think it provides for a good starting point in actually enforcing intersectionality within feminism, and quite frankly, all walks of life. With that being said, I think the argument that “intersectionality within feminism is too hard of a concept for people to grasp” is a weak stance, in my opinion. The author states that intersectionality will make it difficult to set standards and processes when speaking, interacting, and dealing with people and situations. This is so because intersectionality argues that every single individual has a different set of experiences and frame of reference that shapes who they are as a person. This inevitably means that not everyone should be treated the same because everyone is different. Everyone has their own “personal narrative” and generalizations are not longer accepted norms. This can be tricky when dealing with things such as laws and government. I don’t have the answers to the best way to navigate those spaces, but I do believe context in everyday communication is a great start.

To relate this to Donna Haraway’s “Situated Knowledges” I think what she is saying is that there is no “right” feminism. There is no “correct” way of practicing feminism and joining this movement. Though we all fall under the same umbrella, we all have our definitions and ranging perspectives on feminism. I remember reading articles written by middle-upper class white women who critique women of color feminists like Beyoncé or Nicki Minaj and say that they are hurting the feminist movement. They say that these women are too sexual and expose their bodies too much to be feminists. Kristen Stewart recently said plastic surgery is considered “vandalism” to the body, as if a woman doesn’t have agency over herself. I think this ideology that feminism only fits the size of “respectability politics” is absurd and is restricting to women and the freedom that they are born with. Personally, feminism to me is more than the equality of the sexes in the social, political, and economic realms. It’s more than closing the wage gap between men and women in the workforce. It’s more than putting a stop to the objectification of women in mass media. It’s about removing the box that women are surrounded by. If a woman doesn’t act a certain way or dress a certain way, she is perceived as lesser than a woman or not “lady-like.” For example, if a woman dresses to revealing, she is considered a slut. Or if a woman decides to be a stay at home mom, she is considered too lazy to want a “real job.” This box dehumanizes women to the things that they do and the things that they wear as if women can’t be multifaceted individuals. As if it is impossible to be a proud sexual being and educated. Women are not one dimensional beings. Feminism counteracts this box that women are placed in and frees women to be whomever they decide to be. Feminism also counteracts the patriarchy that exists in today’s society. Patriarchy is a system that says that a man is always at the center; always in charge. Society has a tendency to always center a woman’s existence around that of a man, as if she has no free will of her own. Going back to the example of Beyonce and her owning and showcasing her sexuality in performances and appearances. Majority would say that she does these things to please either her man, Jay, or other men in the world to gain popularity. It never occurs to anyone that maybe Beyonce wants to look sexy to please Beyonce. Everything a women does is not for the male gaze. More importantly, even if a man is satisfied by the sexual appearance of another woman does not mean that it was that woman’s intention. Women have the freedom to do whatever, whenever, and however they want. I say all of this to say, it bothers me when other women, particularly other feminists say things like that of Kristen Stewart. Comments like that are what’s counterproductive to feminism, in my opinion. Feminism is intersectional and we all have our own “situated knowledges” of what that means to us. Therefore, it causes harm when others talk down upon those knowledges that they don’t agree with simply because they don’t understand. It is possible to respect something that you necessarily don’t understand. So instead of further dividing this fight for equality and attacking other forms of feminists, it is better to ask questions and try to learn about those “situated knowledges” that you know not of.

Hope I made sense. Still learning. That is all.

Whiteness

White privilege will always exist as long as white is not acknowledged as a racial category. Even though white is acknowledged in its denotative definition, it is not in its connotative. For example, when asked about your race on a job application, there are categories such as White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. In that denotative sense, white is acknowledged as a race. However, in American culture, the connotative definition of white equates normativity. White is the standard and anyone or anything that deviates from this standard is categorized as other. The invisibility of this white standard perpetuates violence by pitting others into a systemic disadvantaged state, hence the realities of white privilege and white supremacy. Whether or not whites in today’s society are responsible for the sins of their ancestors for creating this oppressive structure is where most debate comes in. It is important to understand the difference between opposing white supremacy and opposing white people. White supremacy is a cultural structure that perpetuates the invisible white standard; white people are a group of individuals who share the same race but individually have their own ideals, personalities, and beliefs. I do belief that white individuals have a responsibility in destroying white supremacy. The same way all black people are subject to the oppression of our race is the same way all white people are subject to the advantages of their race. However, I do not believe many white people will participate in destroying this systematic structure. To destroy this system will require white people to give up power. In order for equality to truly exist in America, white individuals must share their power of freedom, representation, and decision making with groups of other races. This will never happen as long as capitalism, as we know it, is the basis of our nation. Capitalism is a system intended for competitive markets to compete in industries for profit. But how fair is this competition when one group of individuals was given an upper hand to begin with? At the moment, capitalism serves at the feet of white people, specifically white male patriarchy. On a structural level, it is the edifice that they have to fall back on. Even if we lived in a racist free society, capitalism will always have the best interest of whiteness at heart because that is the structure that it was built on. In order for white supremacy to end, capitalism in its present state needs to be redefined and restructured to provide all diverse groups in American society with equal opportunities to succeed. But how is this possible when majority of the superior group doesn’t even acknowledge, or even realize due to its normative nature for centuries, the invisible hand that serves them? It makes me wonder if the end of white supremacy and the oppression of other groups is even a realistic goal for American society.

 

Between a Stall and a Harsh Space: HTGAWM (S1,Ep10) Bathroom Scene

Bathroom gossiping just became a bit more difficult.

Last Thursday was the How to Get Away with Murder mid-winter premiere and it was amazing, to say the least. I have an undying urge to write a 10 page thesis after every episode. That’s how analytical it could get. Because of strained time, I unfortunately do not have the time to indulge, however, there was one scene that I couldn’t let slip by.

The infamous bathroom scene.

It revealed a lot of gender and racial issues within the 2 minute and 37 second time slot; too many to tweet, hence this post. For your recollection, here is a briefing of the scene.

So here we have 2 white women critiquing Annalise, a black women, for throwing her guilty husband, a white man, under the bus for murder.

Read that sentence again and prepare yourself for what’s coming next.

First and foremost, let’s acknowledge the simplest problem with this scene.

Guilty is guilty. No matter who you are, what position you hold, and what high stature you’re held upon. Consequences should be dealt accordingly to whomever is guilty of committing a heinous act. Why protect a murderer? Annalise was being judged for exposing a criminal. Is blind loyalty really that encouraged in todays society?

Now let’s get deeper…

A white man committed a heinous act yet and still a black woman was expected to protect him.

Are white lives that glorified that they can not possibly be seen as criminals, even when all fingers point in that direction?

White savior knowledge has become so ingrained in our culture. Whites are, primarily, always given the benefit of the doubt, or even acquitted, when accused of crime.

I couldn’t help but think of Eric Garner, Aiyana Jones, Trayvon Martin and other black bodies murdered at the hands of Daniel Pantaleo, Joseph Weekley George Zimmerman, and others who were acquitted of their crimes.

 

But to continue…

Why was the conversation stuck on Annalise exposing her husband and not on Annalise exposing a murderer?

Why are we crucifying the messenger and not the actual criminal?

Where was the sympathy for Annalise after her realization that she has been sleeping in bed with a criminal?

From white men to white women to black men to black women, the sense of bare human acknowledgment just goes downhill.

Why are black women always picked upon and critiqued even in the most difficult/fragile of moments?

 

Now, to bring focus on the gender roles…

If Annalise knowingly covered for her husband’s murderous act, would she have been glorified?

Wives, for centuries, have been pressured to keep silent when it came to their husbands treacherous secrets.

Wives have endured heartache and pain, mentally and sometimes physically, out of fear of speaking out against their spouse.

So here we have a women speaking out on her husbands misbehavior and she is demonized.

Even in the 21st century where female acknowledgement outside of her “motherly duties” is progressively becoming realized, we still have incidents like this. What happened to female empowerment or was that just jargon to stay trendy?

What saddens me the most about this scene is that she is demonized by other women. Two humans who share the common struggle of being a woman. Two women are demonizing another woman for standing up for her self.

Annalise was not only protecting her client but she was protecting herself from her murderous husband. How can we not appreciate that? Protecting oneself should not be ridiculed, it should be encouraged.

The silencing of women have taken place for so long that when one finally speaks up, she is seen as “out of line” and is outcasted from the circle of “proper women.” Proper is a constraint on women’s ability to be powerful.

Why is it assumed that women are to fix the problems created by men?

This one scene painted a picture of what our society in 2015 reflects. These are questions that we must take into account, no matter how uncomfortable it makes people feel. Gender roles and racial barriers have been in existence for too long to not acknowledge and work on fixing them.

 

My #MillionsMarchNYC Moment

A little less than two months ago, I attended the Millions March in NYC and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was not until mid 2014 that I became heavily involved in learning of different ways to further the efforts of blacks in America. I guess you can call mid 2014 my “awakening” period in my blackness. The reality of being black in America was at the forefront of my brain and there was no turning back. I then decided to dive into articles and books to relearn my history and the back-story behind the events happening today. I also began to follow great thought-provoking leaders with a mission to advancing the black community. I also deemed myself a “Twitter Activist” and began expressing my frustrations on the platform and joined the community of “Black Twitter.”

Fast forward to 12.13.14 and I am preparing to march with a plethora of my brothers and sisters in this fight for justice. Man, was I excited. It was my first march and I knew that this was going to be something to go down in history. It was a cold but, thankfully, sunny day. My poster  with the quote, “” by was ready. I was dressed comfortably and warmly. I had my bottle of water and granola bar to relieve any quick feelings of hunger. I was ready to march. I was ready to fight.

When I arrived, I was awed by what I witnessed. People from all backgrounds coming together for one cause, letting the world know that black lives mattered. Any hope that I had lost in this fight was restored. People were finally paying attention to the needs for justice, fairness, and equality for blacks in America. We finally had mass media’s attention.

However,  I could not help but note the overwhelming amount of whites over blacks. I had a conversation with a friend and she explained to me that she became extremely angry and left after three hours of protesting because she felt as if “the focus was lost” during the march. She said that instead of making the march about the issue of racism in America, it merely brushed upon the racist police force. While I completely agree that the issue goes beyond the police force, I think it is a good start to begin the conversation. The amount of police brutality against black lives is obscene and it is about time that people call the system out on their crap.

She also made the comment that whites should not be at the forefront of this fight and I one hundred percent agree. This is not your fight, it is ours and while we widely appreciate your support, please do not steal our moment. Stand beside us, not in front of us.

In all honesty, I do believe that we blacks have a role to play in why this is the case. Every black person who lives in NYC should have made their biggest effort to attend that march. Whether you believe in protesting or not, this fight was for us and showing face was the least we could do. The amount of blacks I saw at the march, compared to whites, was disproportionately disappointing.

My white co-worker made a comment saying how race is such a big deal in America. Where she is from, Estonia, no one cares about where you’re from as long as you live in the nation, you’re pretty much accepted. I explained to her that race is such a prevalent thing in America because we are literally a nation of immigrants. We all come from foreign countries, whether we were brought here willingly or unwillingly.

I then went along to show her a timeline to try to explain the recency of racial events in America. Jim Crow was abolished in 1965 but remnants still remains.  My mother was born in 1958 which means that my mother was born during Jim Crow. See the recency? See why protests like this are still happening and are still necessary?

I walked approximately 25 miles for the Millions March. We began in Washington Square Park at and walked a trail to 34 street back down from Flatiron to Soho over the Brooklyn Bridge down to the Barclay’s Center and onto Eastern Parkway. I began at 2 PM and ended at 10 PM.

It was worth every aching pain in my body.

The intensity was unmatched. The body was tired but the spirit was energized. Posters, chants, and live music surrounded us as we marched.

If you believe in equality for all, I urge you all to partake in one of these marches. It will restore a hope in humanity that you could never imagine.

Here are some pictures taken by me to account my experience.


Beware of the Busybody

“A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.” – Oscar Wilde. Othello and lago. Dorothy and the Wicked Witch. Autobots and Decepticons. History and art are full of heroes and their enemies. Tell us about the relationship between you and your arch-nemesis (either real or imagined).

Even though Decepticons seem a bit more exciting to battle, they do not fit in with my current stage of life. Right now, as a senior graduating college in five months, my biggest arch-nemesis goes by the name, Busybody. So who exactly is Busybody? Busybody is not a physical enemy that usually comes in the form of villains such as Bain or The Joker that we see in modern day action films. Also, the protagonists of this arch-nemesis are not superheroes that use their powers to fight crimes and save entire populations like Batman.

To simply put it, Busybody infiltrates the minds of innocent and ambitious men and women with the notion that busyness equals productivity. This, in actuality, is farthest from the truth. Busybody makes people believe that they should always be busy and if they are not, then something is clearly wrong with them. Busybody puts fear into people’s minds that the opposite of being busy is being lazy and unmotivated. Busybody guilt-trips people into thinking that it is wrong to take breaks to take care of themselves mentally and physically.

My relationship with Busybody is a forever changing one. I consider myself a workaholic and, consequently, I fall into this busy trap, at times. There was a time that I took pride and being busy and exhausting the life out of me until I realized that I wasn’t moving as fast and as far as I wanted to in life. I noticed that I was spending my time on things that didn’t have a direct impact on my the end goal that I wanted to achieve. I noticed the things that I was doing were substitutes for the harder and more necessary steps that I should have been taking. It wasn’t until I realized my increasing procrastination that I realized that maybe being busy wasn’t so beneficial after all. I learned that procrastination can become an easy act of rebellion when occupying yourself with fruitless activities. I learned that the hours worked on a project doesn’t exactly correlate with the quality of the outcome. And most importantly, I learned that the difference between being busy and being productive is focusing on things that render the best return on your investment, which is your time.

So, to keep myself free of the Busybody, I make sure to always ask myself, will this help me reach my end goal in the short or long term? And will I witness a direct benefit from this action that will help me come closer to my goals? My battle with Busybody is an ongoing on but so far, I seem to be doing a pretty decent job at whipping its butt.

Waging War: Beyond the Four Walls of Bedstuy

Below is a piece written for my Journalism class on gentrification in my hometown, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn NY, and its effect on the housing market in the neighborhood.

Whips of wire smacking the ground as young girls jump double dutch for hours. Smells of hotdogs and hamburgers glazing the grill in preparation for summer block parties that lasted from dusk ’til dawn. Swarms of churchgoers filling the sidewalks after their Sunday morning service. These are the simple memories that fill me as a young girl growing up in my community. Nowadays, it’s all about how much you can make and how long will it take.

Gang rivals do not make the 10 o’clock news anymore. Nowadays, the real newsworthy war in Bedford Stuyvesant is between rivals looking to capitalize off of multimillion dollar real estate deals. Brick by brick, the neighborhood is quickly gentrifying and the real estate market is it’s first target. Longtime residents fear the option of cashing out their home and robbing their children of a family heirloom. Renters fear that they will not be able to afford their apartments because of rapid rent increases while buyers flip properties like their flipping burgers in McDonald’s.  Buying low and selling high is the new norm for soldiers in this battle for property.

Brownstones in Bedford Stuyvesant were in existence for centuries but were overshadowed by the existing “ghetto,” caused by the drug and crime epidemic that plagued the community in the late 1980s. “We knew there was value in the neighborhood; we just didn’t know when outsiders would start to notice,” longtime Bedford Stuyvesant resident, Judy Frazier, said. With the help of restoration and reformation from local church communities and organization, Bedstuy was rebuilt but still has remnants of this daunting past. Crime is still an issue in the community. According to NYPD criminologists, overall crime citywide has fallen 4 percent in 2014 but has risen 10 percent in shootings, which mostly take place in neighborhoods where gang activity is still prevalent such as Bed-Stuy and Bushwick. However, this statistic does not scare realtors or gentrifiers in the other direction.

A friend of mine and long time resident of the neighborhood, remembers the frustration felt when a Starbucks was built in his area and what it symbolized for lower income neighbors in his community. He wanted to start protesting, I thoroughly remember him saying.

The motive for realtors sudden interest in Bedstuy real estate has been at the center of this debate and gentrification is the first thought that comes to many residents minds. To paint a clear picture of how drastic the demographics in Bedford Stuyvesant has shifted, in between the years of 2010-2012, the white population of has increased 6 fold, while the black population has decreased by 14%, according to a City Data statistic. Whether or not this shift in residents are the cause for this sudden peak in interest in Bedstuy real estate is up for debate. Neighborhood residents, new and old, black and white, are torn on this notion. Opinions range from simple carelessness to upright outrage to feelings in between.

“I think gentrification is mostly a positive thing. I’m all for the rebuilding and renovation of communities. But, displacement is the only negative thing about gentrification. By removing people out of their homes, you are removing the culture of the neighborhood. You can gentrify the community and still keep the culture. Culture removed, rents raised, and residents displaced is not a good situation for Brooklyn communities such as Bedstuy,” Bruce Toussaint, a Licensed Sales Executive at Choice New York Properties, said.

According to real estate website, Street Easy, the median price for homes has skyrocketed from $425,000 in the second quarter of 2013 to $630,000 this year. While monthly rent increases for apartments in Bedstuy are as follows: studios 10.66%, One-Bedroom 0.40%, Two-Bedroom 0.70%, according to the MNS October 2014 Brooklyn Rental Market Report.

Toussaint further on explains that gentrification “it’s not always a race related thing…it’s economic.” He attributes the race related accusations to blacks being “the face of poverty” in these lower income communities compared to higher income newcomers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010-2012 American Community 3 Year Estimates Survey, the African American population is just shy of of 65%, with a significant decrease in its median family income at roughly $41,000, compared to the five boroughs at $51,865. This supports Toussaint’s claims that the shift in neighborhood developments are not because of race shifts in the neighborhood but because of economic shifts from lower income residents to higher income residents.

Former Brooklyn and current Pennsylvania resident, Awa Ndiaye, disagrees on the topic. “In my opinion, gentrification always negatively impacts a community. Although investment in a neighborhood can be positive, it’s a shame that it comes at a cost to the communities current resident.” According to the 2010 census, in the past decade, the black population of Bedford Stuyvesant dropped to 34,000 from 40,000 while the number of whites grew to more than 18,000, up from just over 2,000. She further expresses that “a neighborhood should not be beautified and invested in only for an influx of outsiders, usually rich and white, while simultaneously moving out current residents, who are usually poor and black.”

Whether the fight is economic or racial, it is no doubt that a certain group of individuals are profiting and a certain group is hurting.

Last Night I Witnessed the Saddest thing…

Self-hatred. It is such a sad sight to see. To watch a person become the product of a misconstrued representation of his cultural substance and human worth. It’s one thing for society to tell a black man that he ain’t shit and that his life is worthless. But for a black man to believe this of himself brings a level of sadness that I was not prepared to accept. The method of divide and conquer is ever so prevalent within our own community. Since we can not possibly bite the powerful hand of the white man, let’s misplace our anger and frustration and bite the hand of our own feeders. But what we need to understand is that we are indeed powerful; VERY powerful. The oppression that blacks have endured and fought through with grace and strength is to be noted. It is an example of our perseverance and capabilities and there is absolutely no reason to not have faith in this. The notion that separating yourself from your people will make you the exemption to racism needs to die along with the ego that perpetuates such thinking. Differentiating yourself from the “niggers” by attending college to make yourself feel one up above your people. Degrading the very people who fight for your right, on a daily basis, to exist in the midst of white supremacy and agenda. Turning your back on the people who only hope to enlighten, uplift, and restore you to the greatness that you and all blacks are capable of achieving. What does one do to heal the wounds that society inflicts upon these black bodies? How do we, as his brother or his sister, undo the damage of this lackluster image of himself and his people? And most importantly, how do we give this knowledge to a person who refuses to hear, let alone accept, the real truth? I don’t have a defined solution and this alone, frustrates me. All I can suggest is LOVE. Love them, even when they are ashamed to love themselves. Ephesians 4:2 (NIV) says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Love unconditionally, until they are willing to listen. Be their love that is sadly missing from their lives. Be their beacon of hope. Be their restoration. Love with the mission to knock down brick by brick the self-inflicted hatred seeded by the horrors of white agenda. Love conquers all, even the saddest of realities. Love heals all.

7/11 (Not the Beyonce song)

Yes, I know. I have Beyonce as my cover photo (who wouldn’t? She’s amazing!) BUT, I promise this post isn’t about her.

So…something strange happened today, but a good strange. I was standing on line in 7/11 to pay for my food. When I went to pay, the guy in front of me abruptly gives money to the cashier clerk and pays for my food. After insisting that he does not have to, he still pays. In my mind, I automatically think “what does he want in return? My time? My number?” Because, you know, male entitlement and ish. I could tell he was a few years older than me, so these assumptions aren’t far fetch. Surprisingly, he said “have a nice day” and went about his day. I was shocked. I’ve never encountered such a scenario. At first, I felt a little silly for assuming his intentions were influenced by personal desire. But then, I thought of all of the encounters I have with self-entitled, pompous men on a daily basis and scratched that idea. But today showed me that we are indeed making progress. Men, or at least some men, are getting it. The notions that we feminist preach on a daily basis are not going to waste. Men are listening and it gave me hope in the future of men/women relations. Now, don’t get me wrong, we still have a long way to go. But today was a reminder that we’re getting somewhere. God bless you, stranger in 7/11.

Multifaceted

Whomever I’m around needs to understand that I’m multifaceted. I enjoy listening and dancing to trap music. I have strong spiritual relations. I read and write like it’s my full time job. I’m passionate about social issues and express my frustrations on a regular basis. I make dramatic facial expressions (I’m the queen of eye rolls). I enjoy my quite time. I’m a workaholic and can conduct myself in any professional setting. Oh yeah, and I’m just a tad bit crazy (but the good crazy, of course.) And I need whomever that person is to love every side of my being.

Too much to ask for? I don’t think so…

A New Year, A Fresh Start…

2014 was a year of lessons well learned. 2015 is the year of implementing those lessons for my greater good. This year, my biggest lesson learned was to value myself even more. I always respected myself as an individual but I noticed this year that I too often put others in front of myself. I put others wants/needs/desires in front of my own and they were robbing me of reaching my fullest potential of happiness. I guess you can call me a people pleaser. Below is my favorite monologue from my favorite TV show of all time, Scandal. It was spoken by Scandal’s main character, Olivia Pope, who is a “fixer” of Washington DC and all things White House related. It resonated so well with me that I couldn’t help but realize the unfortunate similarities:
“What else do you need? What service can I render for you today? Am I here to stroke your ego? Am I your cheerleader? Am I here to wipe your tears? Am I your nanny? Am I here to fight the bullies? Am I your bodyguard today? Maybe I’m here to make you feel good? Maybe I’m your dealer. Or maybe I’m here to make you feel hot and manly and ready so you’re not jealous of your wife’s boyfriend. Is that it? Am I your fluffer today Fitz? What service am I billing you for today?”
This year, I promise to put all of myself first. This includes not only my needs/responsibilities, such as school, work, and my career (I’ve never had a problem with that, ever) but with my wants as well. This means my personal goals and achievements. I notice that I often wait for peoples company to do things. If I don’t have someone to do something with, I rob myself of the opportunity. Perfect example, I’ve always wanted to study abroad but I never had a friend that was willing to go with me. So out of fear, I never went and I hugely regret it. I learned this year how to be alone, even in the worst of circumstances.
So 2015 is there year of valuing myself even more, my needs AND my wants and happily enjoying life, even if it is alone. And I couldn’t be more excited to embark on this journey.