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Contentment

One reason I rarely blog is because I feel like I have to say something grand all the time. This is of course ridiculous; just write is often is advice. To be fair, the main reason for my absence is busyness. I am busy; am I ever not? Are we ever not?

I just took what was my last exam ever (I think for the rest of my life), and let me say, I feel relieved. Relief. Joy. Hope. Excitement. I will be honest, it was an all encompassing, thorough, and HARD exam. But I am grateful to God because it represents an advancement in my career.

I am taking a few hours to not think; you know, re-watch Grey's Anatomy from season one, or maybe West Wing? Who knows? I just need to chill.



I have been wanting to blog about contentment for a while, and today feels like a good day to talk about it. I remember reading in my September devotional that we often conflate what we want with what we need. The Bible says we really only need food, clothing, and shelter.  But then we crave more and more and more. If you took away competing with people you know, showing off and the likes, would you find you have all you need? Could you actually enjoy all you have without an audience? Without anyone liking or validating your experiences?

Satisfaction should not be found in money. Money is meant to provide our needs, the needs of others, and an opportunity to give back to God as an act of worship. In Philippians 4:15-19, Paul mentioned he was content. When all the gifts they sent were enough, Paul said, enough, and kind of returned the rest rather than acquire more and more and more. Now, I don't mean to badger pastors (because frankly, it's trite to keep abusing pastors every time Lol) but our current spiritual leaders never say they have had enough. They continue to acquire and acquire and acquire. We live in a world with no contentment whatsoever. Everyone of us is freaking greedy.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his riches in glory." Verse 19.

This part, he has proven to many of us over and over again. We can trust that God will meet our every need. His generosity exceeds ours exponentially, so there is no need to worry.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for moment, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."  
- 1 Timothy 6: 6 - 10

This one is filled with many truths: we came with nothing to this world and will leave with nothing. So why can't we be content with with what we have and especially when we have enough? Why do we get carried away? The temptation to acquire more and get more can lead us into more temptation and make us get carried away. When the truth is we will leave this world with nothing.

Maybe this will give us rest and peace. We need to know that peace comes from God; security comes from God not money. Forget competing with friends,  forget living your life just so others can have a certain perception of you. Stand your ground on principle and don't be afraid of being different.

"I can't afford it"  is a perfect response.

True godlinesses with contentment is itself great wealth. Longing too desperately to be rich can push you to be trapped by harmful desires that plunge you into ruin and destruction. Don't we see this everywhere? People will do just about anything, and I mean, anything for money. For fame. For attention. I don't know that a lot of people can live without attention.  Let people think what they want, but live with your means and on your terms. All of this is of course, counter-culture. Even spiritual leaders want to fly in private jets and own as many cars as the colors of the rainbow. So feel free to ignore this, but know that we can strive and strive and strive, ultimately except we get peace from God, it will be chasing the unattainable. You will find that no amount of cars, designer clothes, Instagram likes and comments can feed the giant hole in your heart.

Yeah, I'm telling it like it is today, sorry.

Love,

I


Book of the Month: When Affirmative Action Was White

We read this book for my book club and I knew it had to be book of the month. The title tells you a lot about what the book is about. The author, an actual academic, traces history by detailing how economic and social policies in America’s history excluded black folks and were racist. This is truly the perfect book for the people who always complain about affirmative action. But it also is ideal for Africans and others who genuinely thing African Americans are merely lazy or complain way too much.


Instead of viewing affirmative action as developing after the civil rights movement, this book goes back in history to the New Deal policies of the 1930s and 1940s. Also, ask most folks and they will tell you affirmative action was designed with a bias for minorities. However, history is truly missing from public debates about affirmative action, because people often start the conversation with the 1960s, when beneficiaries shifted from white to black. This book details how social security programs like the New Deal, GI Bill, the Fair Deal created powerful programs for whites, even if they were not explicitly called affirmative action at the time.  History will also show you that affirmative action was in fact designed for the majority, with and (by?) racist Southern Democrats who were in support of staunch racial hierarchy. Before the civil rights movement at all, policies were created to enable the prosperity of whites and deliberately leaving out blacks. For instance, while the Fair Labor Standards Act was great for factory workers, it was practically useless for maids and agricultural workers, the fields that were dominated by blacks, and this was because of the Southern Democrats. Reading this book makes you feel like going back some decades just to punch those racist, annoying, moronic Southern Democrats.



What this book does well is making a case for how and why we need to close racial inequality; rather than ambiguities like "reparations", which are messy, and quite frankly not feasible, isn't it better to enact policies that benefit minorities and *attempt* close the gap that racism and slavery and discrimination have created? Let's face it: although the Civil Rights Acts in theory shut down and forbade discrimination, it didn't address the centuries of discrimination black people had gone through. So President Lyndon Johnson initiated a new government policy, affirmative action, designed to repair some of the lasting damage that years of racism, slavery, and brutal discrimination inflicted upon blacks. And there was and (there still is) damage. While white folks or perhaps some others might find some of the contents of this book shocking, I didn't. I knew for instance, that for the longest time, blacks were excluded from receiving mortgage loans. This meant that while whites were able to build equity through owning homes and thereby multiplying their net worths, blacks were stuck. Consequently,

"at the end of the twentieth century, as a major study reported, 'the net worth of the typical white family is $81,000 compared to $8,000 for black families...only 10 cents for every dollar of wealth held by white families."

Black families have still not caught up. And with what was lost, you can see how it is easy for a white person to go to college and a black person wouldn't be able to. You can understand where privilege comes in. Privilege is many, many things, that one blog post can't cover, but one of them is never having to worry about the color of your skin being a hinderance to your progress. Privilege is having a trust fund for your education created by your father's father's father, whereas another person's father's father was restricted in the kinds of schools he could go; or the kinds of water fountains he could use. There are also *still* tons of policies that exist in favor of white people, but work against black people. Even post Civil Rights Acts, truth is (and this is especially for all the people with the rallying cry against affirmative action because it favors black people yen yen yen) white women as group are the single greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action.




One thing that stands out is how, although the book is more than a decade old, it actually feels fresh, like it was written this year. My favorite part of this book is how it is able to bridge the divide between policy and academia; it fits very well into both worlds. Of course as a true academic, he concludes with policy recommendations for American policymakers in their dealings with the legacies of these policies by reexamining the original vision of  Lyndon Johnson and affirmative action itself.



I put some excerpts in form of pictures across this post to truly give you a better picture. I will warn that the book is a little bit dense, but that's to be expected in a book by an academic. I implore you to read it though, because I couldn't possibly adequately explain the importance of this book in this era, and indeed for posterity as we have conversations surrounding race.

Love,

I

Friday Reflections

1.) How to conquer negative thinking and give in to hope.

2.) How to sharpen your concentration for bible reading...or really, any reading. I read a lot of journal articles and book as part of work, and frankly this was helpful for that too.

3.) This excerpt from Lisa Brennan's (the eldest child of Steve Jobs) memoir makes me think he was an annoying or worse, horrible person.

4.) Okay this essay on motherhood was equal parts breathtaking and terrifying.

5.)  What happens to #Metoo when a feminist is accused?  I don't know where to begin with that story. Why do people have no sense of boundaries? Why are we so readily okay with allowing people into our personal spaces?

6.) Know that if some random person addresses an email to me with "my beautiful and astounding Ife", or "my sweet baby"...in a PROFESSIONAL SPACE? I too would report it as sexual harassment. Please people, keep work spaces distinct from personal spaces.

7.) If the emails in that story happened, then the accused is nothing but a BIG CREEP, who thinks she can hide under the guise of being a hippie or "queer". Get outta here with that.

8.) Also since when did it become okay to blame the victim, just because he is a man or because your creep of a colleague is a "global feminist star with keen wit"?

9.) Sandra Oh is one of the BEST actresses on TV. She also is a fave because she played my best character ever, Cristina Yang, MD. Read this article where she talks about her recent Emmy nomination and her love for self.

10.) I always wondered what it was about Beyoncé, and why everyone idolized and adored her. I kinda see it now after reading this. She truly is a force. And I love how she mentioned generational curses. Too many people are walking around with the sins of their ancestors and progenitors hanging over them.

11.) The world has finally caught up to Jane Fonda.

12.) "This is personal", Steph Curry says about feminism and the fight for equality.

13.) The role of faith and modern belief in Africa

14.) If these seem to be a combination of both old and recent events, it's because I sometimes have these post in draft for monthsss (without posting) haha and keep updating it.

15.) Also, I am posting "Friday" Reflections on Saturday because I haven't gone an entire week without traveling in quite a while and I am exhausted and sleep deprived, so I can basically do what I like.

16.) JK. I forgot to post it yesterday. No kidding about being tired though.


Of Dangerous Ponytails and Costly Hair

Let's talk about hair! I found this post on Refinery 29 about the perils of sourcing human hair. Traders scout women desperate enough to sell their hair for cheap to feed their family. Granted, some of these women are offered $100 per ponytail of hair on their head, and while that sounds like nothing, it's a lot in Vietnam and some of these women can even "retire" afterwards. The truth though is, it is seldom so straightforward with honest buyers empowering women. Apparently, what is more common is that this [unregulated] business (reportedly worth billions of dollars) opens up the opportunity for scammers and con artists who prey on desperate women, luring them to cut off their hair for a few dollars and then they sell the same hair to those of us in the Western world for exorbitant prices. What's worse? some of these hair brokers flood war-torn and conflict ridden countries to find these women. Women are attacked, rubbed at gunpoint, and violated for their hair. It's a problem and I implore you to read the entire article and maybe even go a little bit further to understand what exactly is happening.

It got me thinking too, and particularly something in that article stuck out:

"There’s nothing wrong with wanting to wear someone else’s hair"




I wanted to puke. Like actually reading it out loud. Someone else's hair. On my head. See, I am a self-proclaimed germaphobic. I don't even like people touching me because I worry I don't know where their hands have been. I go over hand sanitizer like crazy. But I also wear hair extensions. I posted on Instagram stories, asking isn't it hypocritical of me? Why doesn't it gross you out that you have another person's hair on your head? Don't get me wrong, this is not about extensions in general. Because there are tons of hair extensions that aren't  actually human hair. Crochet hair, for instance is mostly synthetic; in fact some hair peddled as human hair, are not people's hair.  But...someone's actual hair?

What is more worrisome is that despite the injustice against the owners of this hair and proclivity for this business because its unregulated and opens up to violation, no one is boycotting it. But people (rightfully) boycott H&M and forever 21 because they expose factory workers to inhumane conditions. People boycott shea moisture and others. But not this industry. Now, I no longer boycott organizations and I explain why in another post.  However, the hair situation is one easy industry where we can say you know what, without a regulated system, we ain't buying jack. Because yes, it might be more expensive when it is regulated, but hell it's something we can do without..

But that's what fears me. What if we actually can't do without these weaves. What if we have been so conditioned to think out hair is just not good enough. What if we have finally accepted that European standards of beauty (longer, straighter the better) is indeed the hallmark of beauty? What is wrong with our own hair? Why do we need someone else's hair??

I know we always say we wear weaves because we can and not because we hate our own hair. But do we really?  I wear weaves too (I have drastically reduced it though) because truth is our hair is hard to manage and its always easy to put them in protective styles. But honestly, I am tired of conforming to the European/Western standards of beauty. So I am now turning to other means of protecting my hair like braids, crotchet locs (I see the actual, natural locs in my near future), and synthetic wigs. Of course again, when I wear the stupid wigs, they are mostly always straight. I am not judging or criticizing anyone here, I'm just really becoming uncomfortable with it.  I am increasingly becoming tired of human hair: the price, the ridiculous lengths UGH. And I wish we all were too. I wish it bothered us to have someone else's hair on our heads. At the very least, let's not contribute to a system that exploits disadvantaged women. If they willingly choose to sell their hair to empower themselves, then great. But how many are actually willing? And how many only do it because  conditions of hardships and systemic corruption have pushed them too. It truly is something to think about more and more. While embracing our natural hair is becoming more popular, it is not nearly mainstream enough. And yes, I know black women are not the only ones that wear extensions. I talked about that here. I also believe we can choose to wear our hair any which way and still be gorgeous. This is just something to think about.

Love,

I

Banana Bread

I feel like people might think the title is metaphoric and I have something deep to say. Except, the post is really about banana bread and nothing more.

After lots of blood and sweats, with [a little bit of] help from my mama and sister, I baked for the first time. Like I said on Instagram, I only have time for this kind of nonsense when I'm visiting my parents haha. Because, seriously, why not just buy it? Cooking, I have down, almost to a science. I'm good at it, it's almost innate even if I don't enjoy it very much. But baking is not my kettle of fish; that's more my sister's specialty.

But it was Sunday night, so I baked. And I have pictures to prove that I did.

So find below.

There are tons of recipe online if you are interested so I'm not going to bother typing down the recipe I used. This was the one that inspired me. I added my own twists like shredded coconut and mixing an egg white (with that mixer thingy) for a fluffier cake/bread. And it turned out delicious, if I say so myself. No really, it was great.




On Gifts, Talent, Wealth, and Privilege

"In the end, we win." - Priscilla Shirer

That's legit the best news of the gospel. In the end, we win. The devil knows this; it feels like some of us aren't fully aware of this though, so we don't act like conquerors, we act like the conquered. But that's not why we are here today.

Aretha Franklin passed today. I wrote on Twitter and Instagram that my dad first told me about her legendary song, "Respect" when I was about 16 or so.  I'm not a music person per se, but I loved that song so much that for several years after I called it my best song. Now, I no longer believe in such absolutes but I will always love what that song embodies—what Aretha Franklin herself embodied. So rest in peace, you Queen of Soul. She was in every sense of the word, legendary.

Now why we are here.



I reread a parable in Matthew 25 (14-30); it's a parable on talents. The popular one in which a rich farmer left some coins for his servants and went on a journey, and then when he came back, the ones with the most talent made the most of it. And the one with 1 bag of gold literally went and buried/hid the master's money.

I thought perhaps this is more that just gifts or talents that God has blessed us with, though those certainly matter. It could more broadly apply to what we do with our lives; the privileges, opportunities, families, abilities that we have been blessed with, how do we use them? It goes way beyond money, in my opinion. How do we make the best use of our privileges and opportunities, and how do we use it to benefit and impact others. Often, we think that making an impact means something GRAND, but it is usually not. We must make sure not to be too egoistical as to think the deliverance of the world lies within our hands. Get over yourself, honey. Rather, think about the unique way you can help even just one person. It could be mentoring. It could be volunteering. But what are you doing with what you have. This also means if you are one of the people with the privilege of getting an education, you better apply yourself to it, because not everyone has that privilege. If it's a job, do it well too. Remember, God did not distribute talents and gifts and privileges and everything equally, and he expects according to what we have.

While we should not be greedy, we also must never be complacent or play it safe in life or even worse, do nothing. Many people do this: choose the option of doing nothing or playing it safe because, well Jesus can come anytime or YOLO. Nah B. We have to make excellent use of each moment spent on earth so that ultimately Jesus can say, "Well done, thy good and faithful servant".

Bottom line is, Jesus IS coming back and will most definitely require us to give account of how we spent out lives. He does and will hold us accountable.

For whoever has, more will be added and they will have in abundance. Whoever doesn't have, even what they have will be take from them. v.29

Love,

I


Friday Reflections

1.) One thing about Chimamanda that most people would know if they bothered to even read about her is her ability to include nuance even in very difficult conversations. This interview was another instance.

2.) Trevor Noah is a comedic genius. I mean, Trevor is what happens when you are talented, but you are also very well read.

3.) This is the closest to an academic explanation of the identity cleavage in liberalism generally, and specifically, the clash between French Ambassador Araud and Trevor Noah. I stand by my initial argument that both had valid arguments and were in fact both right, but Trevor was righter: context matters in everything!

4.) Research shows that positive thinking might be helpful in anti-poverty programs. What that research doesn't mention, which I think might be significant is that the beneficiaries watched people who look like them.

5.) There is an underlying millennial financial resentment, and it was obvious in the recent Money Diary that trended on Refinery 29 about a very rich millennial. This New Yorker article perfectly describes that angst. Can you blame us though?

6.) Shonda is business, man.

7.) Please read this author's description of her great grandfather's atrocities, and her family's way of coming to terms with it. I gotta say, I wish Americans would read this.

8.) The hierarchy of a Nigerian wedding. Yup, you guessed right: the single woman is a the bottom of the totem.

9.) Her son's death at 23 gave her a crazy gift, and I think it might give you too.