How To Make Decisions And Move When Your Faith Wavers

"Let's go across to the outpost of those pagans,' Jonathan said to this armor bearer. 'Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!" 1 Samuel 14:6

When people talk about faith, they are talking about a daring faith: A faith that is confident and secure; a faith that suffers no doubt; a faith that never shakes no matter what is thrown its way; a faith that just knows; an impervious faith. But this is not my reality. In my walk with God, I have rarely had this kind of faith. In fact, I remember moments of doubts more than moments of unshakable faith. I doubt too much. What has never, ever shaken is the knowledge of God's greatness and sovereignty. So what about faith that wavers? Faith that is unsure? Who will write about that? I will.



The first time I heard that it was okay to not have the more popular type of faith, that it was okay to not be so certain was from Pastor Furtick. Every definition of faith tells you, it's the confidence of things not seen. How should I be confident about something that I have not seen? Why should I desire something I might never get so strongly? That was a struggle. Then Pastor Steven mentioned the notion of a 50/50 faith in his "Maybe: God series" talking about the will of God. Huh. That's new. You mean, it doesn't have to be a hundred percent? Wow.

And then I recently stumbled on that chapter again, and read about Jonathan myself. Woah. Pause.

Perhaps the Lord will help us.

PERHAPS?!

Er. Jonathan, what we often hear is that you gotta know for sure. Let's take a step back. Jonathan was going to fight the Philistines. Describing the Philistines' army is a post on its own. But he was  going to fight them without the knowledge of his father (Saul, the king), and he was going with his Amor Bearer. The thing was he didn't know whether he would succeed. He also didn't know what the circumstances were going to be. Normally, you would expect he would have been a hundred percent certain of his success before embarking on this journey. But he wasn't. He also was not sure whether God would even help him. But he went anyway. Saying, Perhaps God will help us.

I feel like this is the reality for a lot of Christians. The problem is many other Christians tell you how they knew for sure. They do not hesitate to let you know how God directed them in his clear, loud audible voice. I'm not saying this is not the case (I don't know). I'm saying a lot of times you won't know whether God will help you, whether that business venture will succeed, you won't know what you want to do with your life, you won't know whether you should actually marry that person, you won't know if you will get accepted, you won't know what tomorrow will bring. However, something Jonathan knew, was the capacity of God.

...nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few.

Sometimes, all you gotta know is the capacity of God. You don't have to know whether for sure He will help in that circumstance, but you have to know that He CAN. He CAN, but the question is, WILL he?

I KNOW He can, I think He will

I know God is with me and I think this is where He is leading me

You don't have to know that part BEFOREHAND. You just have to know that He can. Yet many Christian thought scholars expect you to be absolutely confident that He will. The thing is, I don't care if you speak tongues that bring down a high-rise, you still don't completely know God. No one does. I always used to marvel at all the: God told me to marry him. God told me to take that job. God told me to wear color purple. Girl Bye. The actual truth is, *come closer and let me whisper it to your ears* many people are just making it all as they go; we are all just winging it. So don't feel bad when you feel that way too.

Let's take a step further into Jonathan's journey. When he said perhaps, he was still in between two rocks and had the opportunity to turn back. To actually fight the Philistines, he had to go across to their outpost, and then go up to them. After deliberating with his Armor Bearer, he decided to cross over and make himself seen by the Philistines. Do you know how he decided on whether to actually then go on up to them? He said, when they cross over, if the Philistines said "Stay where you are or we'll kill you", then they would not go up to them. But if they said "Come on up and fight", then they would go up because that would be God's sign that He would help them defeat the Philistines. Wait, you mean God didn't actually say audibly to Jonathan to go on to the Philistines? Nope. God gave Jonathan victory without saying a single word.

Sometimes you just gotta work with what you have. And literally, li-te-ra-lly decide that if that thing works out then yay, that means God will be with you. It can, in fact be so basic. But we love to complicate things. If someone disagrees with you on your fundamental principles, if they are on a completely different path than you, or if you are not in the least attracted to them no matter how hard you try, maybe that's sign enough that you are not meant to marry them? Why overthink things? Why not work with the knowledge you have now. Look, it might not work but that does not mean God is not working. Like Pastor Steven said in that message,  maybe God will use this thing that i think i'm supposed to do to lead to something that i was really supposed to do so that even if the first thing fails, at least i'm not sitting in fear.

The thing this does is help with decision making. Because in waiting for God to speak or call us, we become paralyzed into inaction. My favorite saying of Bishop TD Jakes goes something along the lines of, "God already gave you trees, He is not going to come and make furniture for you." Similarly, Steven Furtick said, "why would God do for you what He gave you the strength to do?". God has given us critical thinking skills and capability, and I feel like given that, you should be able to, for instance, decide on what to wear yourself. I mean, COME ON!

So if you waver, it's okay too. Just remember  his love and his redemption are certain and constant. Know that part well. Everything else, perhaps?

The point being, there is a faith that can withstand the silence from God, that can withstand ambiguity and mystery, that can withstand the worst kind of problem

Love,

I

For Rachel

Last week, a formidable Christian writer, Rachel Held Evans (RHE) passed away. Her death was tragic and not just because it all started as a "simple" allergic reaction to antibiotics she was taking for the flu, which she tweeted about (!), but because of the impact she had on everyone. As testimony poured from several people about her personal reach in their lives, I couldn't help but marvel at this wonder of a woman God crafted for earth and well, decided to take at His own time...because He is ALL KNOWING.



I was so heartbroken because we lost a brilliant and courageous writer. She used her writings to embody compassion, to challenge norms, and to help people better understand their faith. She never shied away from controversial topics, and she understood her spiritual journey enough to acknowledge that God is never afraid of tough questions. She was a force. My favorite thing about her was that she constantly demonstrated that to know God is to have unanswered questions and moments of doubts. She welcomed ALL to the fold of Christ. Another thing to love about her (and there are a TON: see #prayforRHE and #Becauseof RHE on Twitter) was that she did not have that condescending smugness lots of social media Christians tend to have. There was a humility to her profession of the Christian faith that drew me to her. What a devastating loss!



As many women have also mentioned, she was a "catalyst for a freedom they didn't know was possible because of the wounds of patriarchy within the church."

I guess you probably know how I found her now. She was a Christian feminist. That's not something that is commonplace. She loved the Lord but she also believed women were first and foremost human beings, and also equal to men (including their husbands!) in the sight of the Lord.  RHE was as Bishop Curry put it, "a fearless seeker of truth and servant of God." A lot of Christians are often afraid to question, to dig deeper, to uncover truths, to challenge norms, as though if they went any deeper, they would find out it's all a lie. However, what such depths bring; what they uncover is the majesty of God, the kindness of God, and a fierce and powerful love of God. RHE knew that.



She was only 37.

Here are some befitting tributes to her and her work: on religion news; in New York Times; Christian Post; and CNN.

In honor of RHE, I want to share some of her writings that inspired me and emboldened me in my walk with Christ, and belief in equal rights for women. For instance, she writes here that if you really think the husband is the head of the wife, then you must also argue for a relationship between slaves and masters, no? She attempts to remind us that adhering to the wives submit to your husbands reasoning is accepting Greco-Roman household codes. And yes, God created them man and woman, but did he make man dominate woman? In addition, see the common misconceptions about egalitarianism. As a bonus, here she is explaining how she can be pro-life but still vote for Hilary Clinton. Oh Rachel, eshet chayil.

I hope that each time I remember RHE, I remember to be bold; I remember that social justice is a core of our Christian faith and principles; I remember to write without bother or fear because after all, God has not given us the spirit of fear but of LOVE, POWER, and a SOUND MIND;  I remember to be courageous; I remember to dig in on the values and principles I have come to cherish because my father in heaven cherishes them; I want to remember and see God as compassionate the way RHE saw God; I want to remember that it is sometimes okay to doubt; and if I can find just one gift to utilize the way RHE used her gift of writing, I think I will be okay. Because of RHE, I will speak out more. Because of RHE, I want to be brave.

Rest in peace and power, Rachel.

eshet chayil

Love,

I

Can the Internet Hurt Your Child?

The answer is yes. I want to talk about kids. This is a first for me and will probably be a rarity. See, I don't have kids but I was very bothered and sick to my stomach by this article. So much that I have already decided my unborn kids will not have smartphones and social media until they are about 16 or so. The article is by an amazing mom who wrote about her experience on a social media app. Her child had begged her to sign on to it, but mom wanted to try it out to be sure it was safe. And my God, thank goodness she did. That app is HELL. Preteens dealing with body issues; older men sending naked photos to little boys and girls; little girls posting nude photos of themselves; little boys using sexually graphic and violent names; little boys and girls talking about suicide and violence; and these are not the worst of it. Just read that article for a better description. I'm so glad that mom said no to her little girl. In fact, the woman also wrote another article one year after showing that it is possible for your child to not have a smartphone and still SURVIVE. Yes. Now if you go ahead and listen to this cop whose job it is to protect your kids from the internet, you might altogether give up having kids because this world and the internet is crazy.



Think about it, what is a ten year old doing with an iPhone? I'm a fully formed adult with fully formed frontal cortex in my brain and even I find social media to be too much and overwhelming sometimes ALL THE TIME. So imagine a child on social media. A lot of parents are convinced they KNOW their kids, but they don't. A lot of parents are also to concerned with being "besties" with their kids. This is hard, because examine your life: how many of your best girlfriends can you say no to? The answer is, not many. Yet, children need to hear NO. Their brains are not even fully formed yet.

"Tweens and teens have an underdeveloped frontal cortex. They’re impulsive and self-centered. They make terrible decisions and they can be meaner than a bull shark. Also, their conflict-management skills are lousy. Sixth graders have yet to master the skill of fully rinsing conditioner from their hair, and we’re giving them the power of unfettered public expression?"
- Anastasia Basil

I, myself did not have a phone till I was 15 or so, and there was no social media in my time. I mean, there was Hi5 but I think it was mostly for losers or something haha. Anyway I begged my mother for a phone: BEGGED, appealed to her ancestors, I even went for those extra lessons she organized for me. A little background on those lessons: some kids rebelled by smoking or partying, my form of rebellion was never attending after-class lessons my parents organized for me. I'm laughing while typing this because it's a touchy subject for my mom. I mean, they paid so much for those lessons and I really had no reason not to go except again, teenagers can be sociopaths. They don't think. So no, I would chat away instead of proceeding to my lessons. This time around though, I even went to lessons/classes I hated to appease my mother. I thought, perhaps, I would get a phone. Noooppe. I resorted to anger and silent treatment because ALL my friends already had phones and were therefore cool kids so I needed one. Nope. I did everything short of offer myself as a living sacrifice so I could have a phone. The answer was No. Now, my parents, bless their souls, were a very unified front with us. If mommy said no, it meant daddy was saying no too and vice versa. So no, I never got a phone until towards the end of secondary school (high school) or maybe after secondary school graduation? And you know what, I did not die. I was fine. So if your child does not have a smartphone or access to Instagram, they will be okay. More than okay; probably great.

"Kids don’t belong to parents. Their childhood is on loan to us. It’s our job to raise the kid part the best we can, and then they’re supposed to take it from there." - Anastasia Basil.

Hey, do what you want with your kids of course, but please try to monitor them. Ultimately, there is only so much you can control but there are still some measures that can be taken to protect them. Again, take this with a grain of salt because I do NOT have kids and know nothing about raising them. And if there is one thing the internet has taught me, it's that y'all really despise hearing advice about raising your kids generally. But this disgust is multiplied by 100 when the advice is from a childless person. So ahem, don't be too angry.

Love,

I


Book of the Month: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

First of all, the fact that the book of this month came early is a testimony in and of itself ha.

This is an unusual book because while I like nonfiction, self-help books are not always my jam. But this one is actually pretty interesting. Now I had heard a lot about the book and the author, Mark Manson, from my brother and just everyone, but right of the bat, I was hooked. It takes a matter of fact approach to actually argue against typical self-help books that preach a culture of mindless positivity. He uses his own personal experiences to show that life's struggles are a necessary component to living and that we should learn to embrace it instead of trying so hard to be positive all the time. It is a surprisingly great book and quite hilarious too.



Basically, it tells us to stop trying to be positive all the darn time, and for us to get true, genuine happiness, we need to stop giving too many f*cks. So really, what are you giving an eff about? Simply put, what are your values? Because he argues, and rightfully so, that your values drive everything. What are you choosing to care about? As someone who gives too many f*cks, I feel like I needed this book as a not-so-gentle reminder. You probably do too. Let's recap some interesting points, shall we? And hopefully in the process I can get you to become interested in the book, despite being somewhat of a self-help type book. Now the sentences in bold fonts are the opinions I formed from reading the book. Is it possible that you would read it and leave with completely different opinions? Perhaps. And that's fine too.

Stop trying too hard.
There is too much fixation on being happier and being positive, but what that really does is remind us over and over what we lack. And if you are really happy, you would not need to tell yourself or tell everyone [in yet another Instagram post] just how happy you are.  You would just be...happy.  Same goes for being wealthy. You just are or you aren't. The obsession to be more: happier, richer, thinner, prettier is unhealthy. Might I add, same goes for being great: people who are great don't make noise everyday about being great; they are too busy working hard.

"The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it's giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important." - Mark Manson

Having negative experiences in life is fine.
Social media (YES, the mother devil haha), and everyone and their mama would have you believing that experiencing negative things like guilt, fear, anxiety is totally not okay. I mean, the flood of pictures and tweets from other people enjoying their lives is enough to convince you that your life sucks. So now you feel bad about feeling bad, and feel guilty about feeling guilty. Manson calls this the feedback loop from hell.

"The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. and paradoxically, the acceptance of one's negative experience is itself a positive experience." - Mark Manson

The one thing that he doesn't really say and I wish he said was, suffering through some emotions are good. Sometimes it's okay to be anxious, nervous, and you don't have to get rid of it. Live through it and experience all of it. BUT, like Manson says in the book, don't base your entire life on your emotions:

I dropped out of school and moved to Alaska just because it felt right.

No honey. Like Manson again mentions in the book, only three year olds and dogs should base their entire lives on emotions. This is because emotions seldom last. What makes you happy today will not necessarily make you happy tomorrow.

You are not that special.
When we have a problem, we have a tendency to think it's just us. We think we are special. But this book points out that many others have most likely had the same problem, are having it, or will have it. The fact that you are going through something bad does not mean you deserve special treatment. It's just life, mon ami.

Along those lines, if you want to be truly exceptional at something, you have to keep working at it. You have to become obsessed with improvements. People who are like this are certainly not entitled. If someone tells you every person can be extraordinary, they are lying. The vast majority  of your life will be boring  and most of your actions will not matter in the grand scheme of things. Accepting this fact is the "ticket to emotional health".

The author gave five counterintuitive values that are beneficial to adopt. One of them is taking responsibility for everything that occurs in your life, regardless of who is at fault. This was such a brilliant point: distinguishing between taking responsibility and being at fault. The second is uncertainty. The third is failure and the willingness to discover your own flaws. The fourth is rejection: the ability to both say and hear no. And the fifth is contemplation of one's own mortality. His expansion of these points were the core aspects of the book and what made it worth reading.

In a nutshell, the book is telling you to find something meaningful and important in your life: this is a much more productive use of your time, instead of choosing to care about every and any thing. You can also check out his post here for an abbreviated version of the entire book.

Love,

I

Friday Reflections

1.) Please read this devastating story about this adjunct to understand the systemic injustice that happens in academia and America's shitty healthcare system. But even more, I hated how that woman died alone. Her life was so sad, but her death broke my heart. I mean her friends who she had not heard from in months had to create a gofundme for her funeral, because there was no one else. She just had no one.

2.) Nipsey Hussle's death was extremely tragic, but his life was very inspiring, especially in the ways he gave back to his community. Here are ways you can honor his memory and give back in your own community.

3.) Fake healthy foods to avoid.

4.) Still on academia, this Ph.D. student discusses some ways she is dealing with depression in grad school.

5.) Michelle Obama gives advice on changing your path.

6.) What a world renowned cancer researcher eats in a day to beat the disease.

7.) Should you date outside your race?

8.) How come I just found Aaron Sorkin's 2012 commencement speech at Syracuse? Pretty dope.

9.) Happy Good Friday. Don't forget, no matter what the situation in your life currently is, SUNDAY IS COMING.

How Provision is Central to Who God Is

Many people know God or know about God, but do we really know God? Often, the bulk of God's character is surmised as this invisible being who can cause destruction if we piss him off, or the author of the incredibly long list of what we ought not to do. Now however you view God is really between you and God. Personally, I think it's important to have a better understanding of God's character. After all, to love someone is to know that person. When you love someone, you want to know all about them. And what better way to know God that seeing how He dealt with people. So in this post, I want to tell a story about an important character trait of God: provision. Previously, I wrote about his compassion, which when you think about it provision or generosity is an aspect of compassion. Isn't it?

Today's story can be traced back to Exodus 31 in the Bible, when God was instructing his people on how to build certain necessary tools for worshipping him. When that chapter begins, God is telling Moses He had chosen some dude named Bezalel, and filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with knowledge, with understanding, and with all kinds of skills to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze; to cut and set gemstones etc. I really liked the fact that God chose him, and THEN He gave him all sorts of expertise and abilities and in all kinds of crafts. Now, if you go to the preceding chapters, you would see that God had some elaborate and intricate requests about designs of  the tabernacle, garments for priests, the ark of the covenant, and the incense altar. You would also realize that even with contemporary technological advancements, some of those requests sounded incredibly hard to make. But then in this chapter, God is saying He has made provisions and in fact given special skills to craftsmen so they can make ALL the things He had commanded Moses to make. So now they had all the needed to make it happen.



Let's back up. When God first called Moses, He was sending him on what looked like (and eventually turned out to be) an overwhelming mission with difficult challenges. So of course, Moses was afraid like any sane human being would be.  He worried about his inadequacies. So God empowered him: He gave Moses every single thing he would need for that mission. If God has given us a task, He would see us through. It's just who He is; that's just his nature. He told Moses what exactly to say; He also provided Aaron to help; in fact, He even gave him sample miracles to use if he needed to. What a good father, huh? One who sees and anticipates our needs and then does something about them. Here again, God chose Moses. Nothing Moses or even Bezalel above did that prepared them for their individual responsibilities and jobs. No amount of networking, practicing, doing the most, or being extra could have prepared them for the job. God just ordained them. There is a sense of relief that comes from this, to be honest. In this world we live in, the pressure to be what you aren't is way too much. All of that greatness from Moses and Belezal and and it had everything to do with God.

I know we like to think of provision only in terms of money or a new car or what not. But God's provision is much more encompassing and the breadth of it is in fact more amazing that we often realize. God's provision looks like a myriad of things: it looks like providing the zeal and enthusiasm to do your job; it looks like provision of excellence and knowledge to excel; it looks like provision of wisdom and discernment to deal with difficult people; it looks like provision of gifts and talents, and the list goes on.

Hopefully, we are more cognizant of the seemingly little ways God comes through and the ways in which he provides in our daily lives.

Love,

I

How To Spend a Weekend In Chicago And Still Enjoy It; Chicago, 2019

Hiya!
I visited Chicago this past weekend to present my work. I remember the last time I went, I was so sick I couldn't walk for two minutes without crouching. It was a disaster. Because of that I was barely able to do anything. So I was happy to be back, and just felt very grateful to God for being alive. Chicago was still cold but not as cold as last year. I also realized I quite like staycations. Let's just say I like the good life of being in a hotel and getting someone else to bring your food right up to you. I was at Club Quarters at the Central Loop. This was good because The Loop is in downtown Chicago and pretty close to many interesting things: lots of businesses, hotels, fun stores to shop at, and touristy sight attractions. So if you can, definitely stay somewhere around here cos then you can walk everywhere and save cost on cabs, but also really get a feel of the city.
As nice as this breakfast looks, it wasn't as memorable
                                   
I was only there for two nights, so when I was done with my work I decided to do some sightseeing. Solo vacations are not particularly bad at all. I had some time to clear my head and think about what I want for my life (for real!) while walking. And since I burned some calories and got some exercise in, it was a double win. In fact when it started raining, I chose not to be bothered. For the first time, I sort of understood while leaving your regular routine or just going away (even for a brief period) by yourself can be helpful. Because of that walk, I came to certain realization about myself, which I might not have if I didn't travel. Or that's just some BS, and you can have a self-retrospection literally anywhere.  The one problem though, was there was no one to take pictures of me! And I didn't feel like asking a stranger to take pictures of me. Nah.  I eventually had to hurry up though as it was almost time for my flight back, which was a whole other story entirely. Goodness! I'm so glad to be back. So enjoy a few pictures; I couldn't take as many pictures because I was trying to preserve my phone's battery.



Chicago (or at least downtown where I was) is really solid with its architecture. Lots of skyscrapers and you can tell lots of thoughts went into designing the city in that sense.






The famous bean
The bean is in Millennium Park, which offers a lot of attraction for tourists. This is also a place you can walk around and just take in the sights.









The Art Institute
So bummer, the Art Institute is not free. But it's also not very expensive if Arts is really your thing. If it's not, then still walk by and take cute pictures of a historic building.

















I quite liked this pedestrian bridge. Such a great design!




I always feel very reluctant to post my own pictures here for no reason whatsoever. I am definitely not anonymous nor am I ashamed of how I look (duh!). I think it's just part of being introverted or shy. So as part of "doing it afraid", I will attempt to post more pictures of me.

So yes, this was my first big travel of the year and all the while I was away, I spent every minute wishing I was back in my apartment. What's that about? Although I spend a lot of time criticizing bougie folks who won't shut up about the miraculous powers of traveling (insert rolling eyes emoji), I think traveling is okay if you can afford to. If you can't, stay home, cook yourself a nice meal, and binge-watch your favorite show. I promise you, THAT is the really miraculously powerful thing.

Love, and some adventure,

I

The Daughters of Zelophehad, Equal Rights, Feminism, And Taking Control

You know how when you love a story, you tell it million times? I feel like that with today's blogpost. I have told it over and over again, and perhaps alluded to it a couple of times on this blog. And will probably allude to it a few million times. However, it's a good story so it gets a pass. It is one of my favorite stories in the Bible, and it can be very easily overlooked. It's not profound on the surface, until you dig deeper to really rethink the context surrounding it, and the times they lived in centuries ago in Biblical era. So what is this story, you say? Come along with me to the book of Numbers.

It was a dark, dreary night, and the moons roared. No. That's the beginning of a bad story. This one is good. Let's try again. The daughters of Zelophehad were five sisters, who were the children of...you guessed right, Zelophehad. I promise I will start the actual story now, for real. The story of these five sisters—whose names you don't necessarily need to know so you don't get overwhelmed—can be found in Numbers 27. We first met them when they petitioned Moses after the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and during the preparation into the new land. Now although it seemed like the Israelites were in limbo, neither in one land or the other, they actually had rules they lived by. There were laws. One of such laws was that only sons could inherit their fathers. Unfortunately for these babes, their father had no son.


Now some other person(s) would take the law for what it was, accept it, and move on. Some other person(s) would say, meh it's the law, what can we do about it anyway since the law is right. Not these babes. They took their case before Moses. You have to understand the amount of boldness it must have taken to do this. Even in the twenty first century, many women don't speak up. Women are less likely to be entitled and certainly less likely to go for what they want, because half the time we worry too much that people would misinterpret our intentions. Many people still believe women should be seen and not heard; that the place of the woman is in the kitchen. And sometimes, when we do speak up, no one listens. Not Moses, but we will come back to him later. Now, if women face so much barriers in the current world we live in, if women are deemed less than men in this century, can you imagine how bad it must have been in that society? Exactly. Whatever it was that fueled them, these girls went to Moses and the entire assembly to make their case. Why should the name of their father disappear from his clan just because he had no son?  See what they did there? The articulated the problem. But they didn't stop there. They knew exactly what they wanted and demanded a solution.

"Give us property along with the rest of our relatives." verse 4B

What I would give to be a fly on the wall in that room. Those men in the assembly would have been gobsmacked. That sort of astounding bravery and boldness from women was not commonplace in that era, and frankly a lot of men still don't know what to do with women like that. It's why people are shocked by Ocasio-Cortez. I mean, how dare she, a first-term congresswoman, be so outspoken? How come she doesn't cower and wait her turn and be generally timid like many women usually are? Ha.

Nevertheless, they persisted. 

Moses, being an amazing leader that he was (one of my favorites in the Bible) took their case to God. He didn't rely on his hubris as a prominent leader; as FRIEND of God; one whom God actually trusted. He didn't admonish them for being terrible children of God who just could not stick with the law. He accepted that ultimately God calls the shot. Your favorite pastors and Instagram Christians could never. They think they have the monopoly on the word of God and every other person can kiss their behind. But today is not the day I go in on your narcissistic, self-conceited, vanity filled Instagram pastors :-) That's for another day. Interestingly, but not at all surprising (because God is very pro-women as the Bible shows us in numerous ways), God sees reason in the argument of these sisters and grants them their wish.

"You MUST give them a grant of land along with their father's relatives. Assign them the property that would have been given to their father."- verse 7

The implication of this, if you must know is that, by asking Moses to give them what he would give the male relatives, God was saying those chicks were just as equal and able as the men.

The wildest part of this story is that because of the sisters, God gave a more general rule to the people of Israel.

"And give the following instructions to the people of Israel: if a man dies and has no son, then give his inheritance to his daughters...this is a legal requirement for the people of Israel, just as the Lord commanded Moses". verses 8, 11

Yeah, the laws were changed because of them. Because they dared to challenge the status-quo. Because they dared to challenge tradition, or y'alls favorite word, "culture". Reminding us again, that cultures do not make us, WE make culture. Reminding us again that a culture that insists on oppressing a segment of the population is not a culture that should remain. To be clear, if these women kept quiet and did nothing, nothing would have changed. But by speaking up, by being so radical, these women made history and broke barriers in women's rights. These women were counter culture. These women are feminist pioneers. They are, to me, my first and foremost feminist icons.

But more than feminism, these women show us the importance of taking action; of taking a hold of our lives. Too often, we just accept what comes to us or what happens to us without pushing back. Too often, we accept defeat too easily, and then go and sulk in a corner. Everybody hates me yen yen. Don't just sit back and let life happen to you. Fight back. Take this literally or metaphorically. Believe me when I say this, because it's been me too. I have lost the will to fight and I just accept whatever comes or is said to me. However, I don't know about you, but I refuse to cower or be subservient. At least not anymore. Push back.  That's my word/phrase for the remainder of this year: PUSH BACK.

Now, a caveat.  These women did not just go to Moses and the rest of the assembly without preparation. No, they armed themselves with knowledge. They knew the law and all the technicalities that came with it. If you must fight a thing, you must first know that thing. You must, excuse my french, know your shit. I don't care how afraid you are. Let that fear propel you. Let that fear push you. I'm now realizing that my fear can often be my greatest strength. Because when I'm afraid of something, that thing better be afraid. I would literally go without sleeping just to prepare for something if that's what it will take.  The result is that the times I have succeeded the most in this life were the times I had been deathly afraid. My point? You can be afraid of what people would say, or failure or whatever, but don't take defeat lying down. Use your agency, because no matter how little, we all have some.

Speak up, fight back, push back, because in this world you and I live in, if you don't, the silence will kill you.

Love, and a little bit of fierceness,

I


Friday Reflections

1.) Watch this prank on David Beckham to brighten up your day. It's hilarious!

2.) Issa Rae is STUNNING in this cover pictures. But she is also an incredibly brilliant person, so check out the cover story as well.

3.) This girl found out her boyfriend cheated the same week he found out he has cancer. So now she is staying with him out of guilt even though she is pissed as hell and no longer love him. And oh the moron's family knew he was cheating and now they are thanking God she stayed cos God knows the other girl would not have. Either y'all out there are the kindest people ever or the most foolish. I can't figure it out which.

4.) Read this poignant true life story of the woman who is friends with the daughter of her mom's killer. It's quite an intriguing story

5.) Last night's Grey's Anatomy is being tagged as one of the best and most emotional of the show's 15 year history. That's true. It had be bawling. It was such a beautifully written episode about sexual assault.

6.) I was still thinking about last night's Grey's so I went to their FB page. Only to see women in the comments sharing their (sexual assault) stories, and strangers (all women) on the internet standing together & offering hope and comfort to one another. I hate and love this world.

7) Success is a lifestyle not a destination.

8.) Grey's producers on the scene from last night that took our breath away

9.) I have been thinking a lot about how women are conditioned to prioritize their romantic relationships above every other relationship (parents, friends, siblings etc.).

10.) It's why you see girls forgive their male romantic partners for the worst betrayal, but "cancel" their (girl) friends for trivial things.

Book of the Month: Strangers in their Own Land

I will be honest, I was skeptical about this book. I will tell you why. I am sick of think pieces examining America's right and middle America and all the likes, trying to figure out what makes them tick. Blah bla blah. No one cares. They are not that special, I always thought. And poverty is not exclusive to people of a certain ideology or to people in a particular geographical location. Black people are poor too. People on the East Coast are suffering too. People on the left feel left out too. Non-Trump supporters have issues to gripe with as well. So no, no one cares why you voted Trump or frankly why you voted for anyone for that matter. You voted. Okay, and? That doesn't make you special But this book...this book was something. A good something. I actually loved it. I should start by saying, while Hochschild is a renowned academic, she tries her best to not fill the book with academic jargon. It's a book that anyone can read and enjoy. I had a hard time putting the book down from the moment I picked it up.



So yes indeed, the book explains the worldview and emotional underpinning of right wing America and supporters of the Tea Part movement and Donald Trump in Louisiana, the Deep South. Now, she began the research for this book way before the 2016 elections. She was immersed in the community around Lake Charles, Louisiana and centers the book around five (?) people. But instead of just talking about a whole bunch of policies, Hochschild, like most great academics, knew to focus on one major issue: environmental politics. Despite the high concentration of petrochemical plants, the high levels of pollution that was LITERALLY killing people in this community, why were they so vehemently against environmental regulation and voting against their own interests. We come to find out a LOT about people living in this community. Hochschild argues it's because these people hold true certain cultural values that motivate them to oppose environmental regulation. I, on the other hand, see it as people believe what they want to believe...as long as it confirms their bias. Most people do not care for facts and for evidence. Interestingly, the ongoing Jussie Smollet fiasco case confirms this reasoning.

Basically, the Tea Party supporters are angry about the changing face of America that values immigrants, women, blacks, and other racial minorities, who they view as "cutting the line" to achieve the American dream. So ahem in anger, they are voting against their interests. Basically what my people describe as, o n bínú orí ó fi fìlà déèdí. We come to find this out because of the "deep story" of each interviewee which the author uncovers. The deep story is how the conservatives feel about themselves. And she tells us this so that we can both know where they are coming from and show why we need empathy to heal the political divide in the country. The key thing to take away from this book is that no matter our differences we should reach across the line, remove our "empathy walls" and seek to understand people who think differently from us. We need to get out of our bubbles and echo chambers and understand other people to see the humanity in them. Ultimately, this is NEVER a terrible idea.

Before signing off on this post, some things stood out to me in the book that I will share, as I do for most books of the month. The most salient thing in this book is the influence of big oil and pollution: their animals were literally dropping dead. One of the main subjects, every single member of his family had been diagnosed with cancer. This is not an hyperbole: every single one of them had one or two forms of cancer. But they are still so adamant that federal regulation or accepting any form of government help is a stain on them. Yet the party they support favor giving big tax breaks to the same organizations that are responsible for deaths, loss of jobs, and destruction. Even when the evidence were laid in front of them, they chose to twist it.

Across the country, red states are poorer and have more teen mothers, more divorce, worse health, more obesity, more trauma-related deaths, more low-weight babies, and lower school enrollment. On average, people in red states die five years earlier than people in blue states."

A bulk of them kept denigrating people on welfare and insinuating that those on welfare were lazy pieces of trash etc. Yet one of her main subjects randomly hinted that one time while working at one of the plants, he got injured and had to go on disability for a while. Pray tell, what was used to finance that? Some of the richest people in this country benefit significantly from the government. Stockholders in these petrochemicals are not spending their dollars in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Nah, they bought their mansions and pools in Connecticut, California etc.

I also noticed how most of them would not shut up about God. I have found that people tend to use God as a crutch to do the most heinous things. And when it comes down to it, some still idolize country over God. They think their belief in God gives them the audacity to hate others, to lack empathy, or to hurl unkind words at people, as far as they end whatever they say with "God".

"I am going to believe what I believe even if you do give me scientific evidence."

They all kept insisting they were not victims or they were not "poor mes". They are proud to endure the loss of their homes and communities, their drinking water, and even their jobs, but the one thing they were not was victim. But...they are quite literally the textbook meaning of victim.

The amount of fact checking she had to do at the end of the book also tells you everything you need to know. When you do read the book, please read the afterword. Sorry for this lengthy essay on what was an intellectually invigorating book. I hope you read the book because I know you will at the very least find it interesting. And the best possible case scenario is that henceforth, we all bring down our empathy walls, listen to others, and bridge the divide.

Love,

I

Re The Complain Challenge

Hayyy, I'm back like I never left to report on the complain challenge I created for myself. How did it go? Well, it was hard. It wasn't impossible but it was hard. And I really don't think it meant that I stopped complaining entirely or that I will stop complaining entirely. It just means that I am more aware of my complaining, if that makes any sense. To be fair, since the amount of times I complained reduced, one might say the challenge did work. But I still complained. Each time though, I was mostly able to quickly revert to gratitude of some kind or focus on someone else's problems by helping them come up with solutions and/or praying for them. That's a very helpful strategy by the way: shifting the focus away from yourself to others. When life throws you lemons, you can try to think about your friend or family or I don't know, just try to be there for others. Honestly, life is not always about you and your problems. It always helps to just think about others; it helps you put things in perspective. I am definitely not referring to any one person. It's all of us haha.



I want to reiterate that complaining is not inherently bad. Complaining is cathartic. Sometimes it even helps you figure out the problem. David in the bible was a complainer. Man, was that man whiny, lmao. But, to be fair, if anyone needed to complain, it was David. He went through HELL. However, look at it this way: he was a man after God's heart. But reading the book of Psalms reveals his myriad of emotions: sometimes he was deliriously happy, thanking God for being so awesome, for being so great. Other times, he was alone, depressed, and worried. And some other time, he was basically scared; REALLY scared. Job complained: I mean, he did have tons of reasons to lol. Moses complained. And not only did Moses complain, he let his complain affect his actions. Moses is not a very good example because his complaining actually cost him a LOT. Sometimes, I still think the whole Moses thing was unfair, but that's between God and me :-). 

So yeah complaining is not a fruit of the spirit. I say this to say, our emotions don't scare God at all. If at all, he needs to hear it. Don't let this make you feel awful for complaining. But try to be more aware of your emotions. Or at least, that's my plan. Make sure your complaining is not doubting the essence of who God is; that your complaining is not faithless. That even in the midst of your complaining, you know, UGH I hate this inconvenience, but I also know God is good and capable. So tell it to God like it is, but rest assured, at his core he is compassionate.

Love,

I

Friday Reflections

1.) Don't find a job, find a mission. This was brilliant.

2.) "Who are you really?" Find out more about the puzzle of personality here. This was very intriguing and it sorta confirmed that err...I am a textbook introvert but...that's not all I'm about. There is more to me than my introversion.

3.) How to have a good conversation.

4.) Read this chilling story about how a Game of Thrones' star suffered two life-threatening brain aneurysms in the early years of the show. Now, as a Grey's fans, I already knew aneurysms are never good, but to read about her scary recovery...whew. Happy she is well.

5.) Watch Chelsea Fagan pop off on a bunch of useless things tagged "healthy" that people waste their money on. If you have ever taken any of those detox teas, close your eyes in shame, and then listen to the first four minutes (at the very least) of this video.

6.) Fighting the scourge of "30 under 30" and other such ridiculous lists. You have to map out what success means to YOU and only YOU, not the world's version of success.

7.) I brought all of myself this week to all the important [work] places I had to be: blonde locs, teal nail polish...I was unapologetically me, and I'm still so proud of it. I first thought about making myself shrink and conforming since I do not like attention on me, but my mom and sister told me to do what I want not what I think others want. So I did the hair I wanted. And boy do I love it?

8.) One thing I really told myself, or felt like God impressed upon me through his word, this year was to "do it afraid". And that's precisely what I have been doing. Despite being really afraid and scared, I have approached most difficult, anxiety-inducing situations with confidence, a humble confidence, if you will. Doing it anyway.

9.) I have NOT forgotten about an update to the complaining challenge. I will get to it, this week was just a lot for so many reasons.

Friday Reflections

1.) You DO NOT have to monetize your hobbies or turn them into side hustles. Sometimes hobbies should be left as that: hobbies.

2.) The secret to cultivating adult friendships. MANY millennials I know all complain about how one of the many traps of adulthood is the increasing difficulty in making friends as we get older. It's very true but as the post in this link shows, there is an easy way to solving this problem.

3.) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. An enigma. The woman at the center of the latest Right wing and Republican obsession. Buhahaha. Still, she doesn't consider herself a superhero or a villain; she's just a person trying.

4.) Stop picking up random African children and posting them on Instagram. I'm looking at you, Ellen. The world needs fewer  white saviors.

5.) Read about Olivia Jade, one of the teenagers at the heart of the college bribing scandal, and tell me that does not make you want to puke. Man, rich people are something. Whew.

6.) And make no mistake, I was not in the least bit surprised about all of it. Nope.

7.) Like I said on Twitter, the worst part of this nonsense is that POC have to literally work twice as hard (this is NOT a metaphor, for real, for real we do) to prove we didn't get in because of the color of our skin; to show that we earned our spots, and they STILL express disbelief at our excellence.

8.) For all my fit fam, here are seven portion-size mistakes you are probably making. I'm so into eating healthy and exercise that I feel like I should talk more about it on this blog but somehow I don't. I will try to henceforth.

9.) What women mean when they say, "men are trash" or "men are scum".

10.) Happy birthday to my daddy!!! I can say that most of my love for book, reading, writing, learning, curiosity, and social justice comes from my dad. And I am incredibly proud to call him my father.

Much Ado About Complaining: The Complain Challenge

Ennui. Haha. That's what I feel right now. I honestly don't know how I am able to blog. Okay moving on. Many moons ago, I did an anger challenge, where I went an entire week (or month?) without getting angry. I even came back with my results. I want to do something similar but not about anger. This time around, I want to do a complaining challenge. At first, I thought about doing it for an entire month, but that's a tall order. So I will do it for a week: I plan on going an entire week without complaining. The thing is, there is sooo much to complain about. Life can be pretty challenging. People are even more challenging. And sometimes things just don't go your way. So I find myself complaining a lot about these things, but I am  getting to a place where my own whiny ramblings are irritating me. I have therefore, decided to chill. I want to see how long I can go without complaining about one thing or another. I promise you, this was not inspired by anybody or anything. I literally woke up one day two weeks ago and decided to do this.



This will be hard. Maybe even harder than the anger challenge. Instead of complaining, I will express gratitude towards God for something he has done for me. This will take conscious and very intentional willpower to adjust my brain. And yes, it sounds cliche to exchange complains for gratitude. But it works. I will fix what I can and just ignore what I have no control over. Simple. The truth is for most things, there is just no way we have any control over these things. Not to mention, apart from a few people who have everything going on for them, most people are having such a hard time with work and life. Navigating the challenges of work and life is freaking hard. But enough. For one week. One whole week, I want to be free. 

Let me be clear, by itself complaining is not completely terrible. In fact, we sometimes need to rant and it can be cathartic. The thing with seeing things so black and white is, for someone like me, the complete opposite is nonchalance but we will see. I say we will see, because I am not exactly sure I want to be nonchalant about my life. Don't get it twisted, life is hard out here. Forget all the pretty pictures on Instagram, well formulated words on Twitter, or What's App stories; people are going through hell. So honestly, if you find yourself complaining a lot, it's okay. Don't feel too bad.

I know this is is very unlike what people talk about or post about, but this is real life. People are too busy dealing with real life to pay you any mind, and that's fine. People tell you to suck it up or to smile through the pain or whatever cliches people post on their feeds. However, cliches became cliches for a reason. So maybe you might need to listen to people who ask you not to complain once in a while. Or maybe not. I will try this and per usual, come back with results and tell you how it went. I will try to post feedback in exactly a week from today. So help me God.

Love,

I

International Women's Day 2019

Instead of Friday Reflections, today will be a full blown post. I was going to do the regular Friday Reflections but I realized I have done an International Women's Day post for the past four years and I am not about to break my streak. Nope. Plus I will always have something to say on a day for phenomenal people. Okay? Okay. First, see the International Women's Day posts for 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. A lot of things I said in those posts and will say in today's posts, I have said variants of elsewhere on this blog and frankly in real life too.  The point being, don't just talk, DO!

Google Doodle, March 8, 2019


As my old posts will show, I always celebrate International Women's Day. But I now worry a lot about romanticizing what it means to be a woman in this world. I will do you one better, we now romanticize what it means to be a woman of color in this world. Even for a relatively privileged woman like me, being a [black] woman is not the easiest thing in the world. You have to worry about what to say, when to say, your hair, your skin, YOU. Am I too much? Am I making them uncomfortable? Have I said too much? Is my hair too big? Is she being racist or am I just making a big deal of it? And these are first world problems. When you go down several notches to the feminization of poverty, to rape, to sexual harassment, to domestic violence, to servitude (because some of you aren't wives, you're servants. Yeah, I said it), you realize the current state is not very bright.

So if you are not actively supporting and empowering the women in your life (romantic partners, friends, sisters, subordinates, coworkers etc.) but you are on social media posting shit. Screw you. And erm, do better.

Happy International Women's Day to all the phenomenal and hardworking women in my life. I love you ladies! The best part is, you know this. Or at least, I hope you do.

In some interesting coincidence, IWD is a day after my birthday. This year's birthday was awesome. It was truly, truly great. Apart from spending time with my amazing family, I also realized I have outgrown several pettiness. Before, I would be angry at the friends who didn't call me or didn't at least try to get me gifts or whatever. This year, I didn't care about all that trash Lol. What I remember is my friend E waking me up with a video call, and since she is very hilarious, I can honestly say I woke up with the kind of bellyaching laughter I love. What I remember is laughing and celebrating with my family all day. I remember the hour long phone call with my S. I remember the lovely note my friend, R wrote in the card she gave me a whole week before my birthday. I remember messages from my other friends. And I remember missed calls from other friends and family. Nothing else matters. And this kind of growth really, truly surprises me because before now no one was as petty as me. I guess that's growth? Or not? Who cares? Right now, I'm worried I won't remember which initial belongs to whom when I read this post in ten years. Oops. But I also don't want to write their names. Poor things. They didn't ask for a big-mouthed, blogger friend and that's all they got. So no full names here.


More seriously, this new chapter, I am hoping for daring faith and a shift in perspective. When Moses sent those twelve spies to the promised land. Ten of them came back with daunting reports filled with fear. "There is no way we can conquer those folks. They are bloody giants." Of the remaining two, Caleb said, "erm nope. We should go now to take that land, for we can certainly do it." I want to be Caleb. This is not some faux optimism. This is believing in the capabilities of God. This is understanding the inherent nature and core character of God. This is faith

So to daring faith, love, and bellyaching laughter.

Love,

I

Friday Reflections

1.) Follow the blog on Instagram! I'm hoping that will encourage me to post more. Also you'll get to see pretty salad pictures like this:


2.) I never put pictures in Friday Reflections, soooo you're welcome haha. I'm kidding

3.) Jussie Smollet. Jussie Smollet. Jussie FREAKING Smollet. Where I'm from, when your name is called three times, that's basically, enough said. I mean, where do I even begin? The insanity of it all.

4.) You and I know God didn't tell you that person was your husband/wife. Neither did God tell you to wear a purple shirt today. Stop lying, and worse, stop putting words in God's mouth. Joseph Solomon agrees.

5.) Seventy women ages 5-75 tell us the scariest moments of their lives

6.) "I've been in this business almost 40 years and Sandra Oh brought something very special to every scene." James Pickens says of his former costar, in this brilliant interview of the cast of Grey's Anatomy as they celebrate being the longest running medical drama on a primetime network, beating ER.

7.) I truly think there will never be a character and actress as phenomenal as Cristina Yang and Sandra oh, respectively, on TV. Never.

8.) Only six countries in the world give women and men equal legal work rights. America is not one of those. Man, we have a long way to go.

9.) It's March, people! Happy new month, folks.

Book of the Month: Woke Church

I am very excited about the book of this month. I honestly don't know where to begin. So let me start by saying it is incredibly befitting for Black History Month. My hope for racial issues is that we do more than talk about it. What the book of this month does is give practical steps for the church to get involved. I should give a little bit of context for better understanding. In contemporary times, there has been a mass exodus of black folks from the church. Specifically, a lot of young black Americans are quietly leaving the evangelical churches because of its conspicuous silence on social justice. Somehow, Christians have forgotten or willfully ignored the salient fact that more than many other trivial things, Christ was for justice. Anyway, a lot of people have become disillusioned  with the church, especially when despite the unfair killings of black boys, and the generally brutality many black people endured in the hands of police in America, their white pastors were quiet. But there were prayers for Paris, Brussels, Law enforcement...prayers all around until "Black Lives Matter" is mentioned, and suddenly, everyone becomes uncomfortable. I too, wrestled with that type of Christianity; the one that willingly celebrates racists and their racist policy preferences; the one that embraces hostility towards black and brown folks.



This book was not afraid to tackle uncomfortable racial topics. If the church in America should have rejected the first whispers of slavery and didn't; if the church should have stopped segregation, but didn't; if  it should have been vehemently against police brutality and racial profiling, and still isn't, how do we move from there? Dr. Eric Mason, the author of Woke Church, argues the Church and Christians generally have been asleep and need to be woke. Defining woke as being "able to understand how cultural, socioeconomic, philosophical, and historical realities inform our responsibility as believers in Jesus Christ",  Mason challenges the Church to take action and stand together against all forms of injustice and indignity in our world.

Not only is this book important, it is extremely biblical, and pursues reconciliation, justice, love, and the gospel. But it doesn't do so blindly. It doesn't just say, "Love wins" or "Just Love". Nah.. It shows love in pure unadulterated action. Love, undiluted as Jesus would. Love that disciplines, encourages, and is practical. So if you are white and perhaps grew up in a white church; or if you are black and you are dealing with serious anger against your white brothers and sisters in the Lord because of their deafening silence; whatever side of the ideological line and spectrum you are; or if you are just oblivious on racial matters, this book is for you. This book has something for everybody. I am NOT kidding you. I have read a lot of books on race, love, Christianity, and all of the above, and I tell you, this book is excellent.

We need an urgent call and Dr. Mason delivers. This has always been such an important topic to me. I really, truly believe that God has created a fire in me for equality, for justice, and for what's right. And yes, though I am undoubtedly and unapologetically a Christian, I have also criticized the Church time and time again. I probably won't stop. I really dislike the monopoly of Christianity by white folks in America. But this book convicted me in a way I love: to approach things from a place of love; not enablement, not excuses, not anger, not indulging, but love, like Jesus would. This means first and foremost, I must see other Christians not as the enemy, but as siblings in Christ.  After all, the bible did say,

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18).

So many, many parts of this book stood out. But I will mention some of them, so you can BUY it and read the rest. Please, please, buy this book. So we can support the author but also so you can reference it every time. Okay, so I loved that he mentioned the tendency of Christians to want to gloss over injustices for the sake of unity. We are NOT here for that. Everyone must attempt to understand the history of black people in America. The church must be willing to acknowledge the difficult truth about the history of white and black relations in this country. In Matthew, we see Jesus rebuke the Pharisees for their attention to tithes and their neglect of more important issues like Justice and mercy. Justice and mercy.



To understand this history is to understand the vantage point of several contemporary racial issues. As a Christian when you see the trauma of others, their pain must become our pain. To understand this history is to acknowledge, as Dr. Mason puts it, that many leaders of our faith were slave owners. All over this book, we also see how the Church should be the beacon for answers. Unfortunately, as Dr. Mason explains, justice is now seen as a 'liberal' word. Yet, the bible is filled with justice. Indeed God is a God of Justice.



And justice has to be done not just talked (to death) about. Jesus got involved in real, practical day to day problems of people, and this book urges the church to do the same. If systemic changes are overwhelming, then start from immediate needs in your community. Do something. The presence of the church must be felt and not in an oppressive way, but in a way that changes minds and hearts.

Read this book. I promise you, you will not regret it at all. There is way too much to unpack in the book and it makes for a great book club read. I want to talk about it, discuss it, practice what it preaches, and hear more about what non-black christians think of such a daring, yet excellent piece of literature. Of course, if you do read the book, let me know what you think!

Love,

I

How does boycotting help?

A company has done something that is fundamentally against your ideology, maybe even borderline hateful to a subset of the society. The problem with such big, oftentimes faceless organizations is there is no way to directly sanction any one person, so people resort to boycotting the entire organization. For instance, there are very many people in America angry with Chik Fil A, and would never step a foot in any of their locations; some people have sworn off Target forever; some others have burned all of their Nike sneakers; some people would rather poke  a hole in their own skin that shop at H&M; some would soon rather become Chewbacca with all that hair, than use another Gillette razor; yet another group of people would rather go bald than buy one more Shea Moisture product...and the list goes on and on. You probably get the point by now. If you also look very closely, you'll notice boycotting is not specific to any one ideology: conservatives, liberals, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Atheist, cows, goats, hens...everybody and their mamas boycott companies and people. So this is not a "snowflake" thing, except everyone is a snowflake, then okay.



So yes, boycotting is the new norm; it's the new form of protest and activism. People that boycott often think they have done their good deed of the century and can now go to rest knowing they have saved the world. Er not quite. Let's start by asking, how fruitful is boycotting? Chik Fil A is one of the highest grossing fast food restaurants; H&M is booming. Nike's stocks is off the roof. So again, what is the point? For me, it was just a thing of principle. My money is my power and my voice, so I am not going to waste it. But even this makes less sense. Because this is where collective action comes in; a la stronger together? Honestly, let's forget the utility of boycotting for a second. Whether or not it hurts the company, I am not really about boycotting anymore. Or shall I say I am more selective about boycotting. I would probably never listen to R-Kelly again. Kanye needs to read a history book and till he does, boy bye. The NFL is cancelled. To be fair, not watching the Super Bowl was like me giving up burgers and fast food; I never liked them to begin with.

The next question, I guess is, is selective boycotting not even worse? Remember my post about the ethics of hair? I was enraged that more people were not boycotting hair vendors considering the suspicious circumstances many of them acquire the hair. Again, when people boycott H&M, and other corporate organizations, it's not really the big bad, racist boss that suffers, it's regular joes and janes who work there to make ends meet. The executives that made these awful decisions would not be affected, it's the black people and other minorities working retail hours in the stores that would lose their jobs ad means of living. Remember, the 2008 recession. Guess who was rewarded?  When the banks were bailed out, they literally paid executives on Wall street. The same executives that caused the housing crisis and entire recession. Yup. regular folks like you and I who work their behinds off were laid off, lost their own houses, and went in debt. And that's what makes me uncomfortable.

Yet, there has to be some other way to hold these people accountable. So I will not necessarily ask others to stop boycotting. Not to mention, asking people to boycott stores like Forever 21 and H&M can easily come off as elitist. Not everyone can afford to shop at JCrew or Express or Nordstrom or even Target (which is arguably relatively cheap) or some other place with all the right, ethical standards. For most people, they can only shop  in these places that you want them to boycott. There is also an outcry for the boycott Walmart. I don't doubt that Walmart is unethical; it's just, Walmart is the only place some people can afford to buy groceries. Walmart is the only place some people can get a job. Getting my point?

I think that's the nuance I'm beginning to see as I grow older, that things are not always so black and white. To be clear, sometimes, and this might sound contradictory; but it's as easy as just boycotting. When racist, uncouth, loud mouthed, rude Roseanne messed up again like she always had, I wanted her show off air. But I also worried that people with jobs on the show lost their jobs. We also have to realize some people are more easy to boycott than others. The point being, think more carefully about your choices, about your rage, and about your decisions. Think carefully about your expectations of others as well, and in this world of extremes, consider some nuance.

Love,

I

Friday Reflections

1.) You know how when we were little, they would tell us, "you can be anything you want to be"? Well, this homeboy took it quite literally. He is a NAVY SEAL, medical doctor, AND an astronaut. And he is just 34. Excuse me, while I go ponder about my life.

2.) Okay so I have talked the dangers of [sourcing] hair extensions on this blog before, but please watch this video/documentary to get a better perspective, and let's all salute Dan for committing to ethical business practices!

3.) The human insights missing from big data. Good stuff!

4.) Why low skilled workers will win in the robot revolution.

5.) So Loni Love recently started dating a white man, and people were like, "oh I thought Loni was pro black",  "oh I can't believe Loni is with a white man", which is a completely lame in my opinion. I mean no one likes black love more than me, but I don't get it; she is a forty something year old woman. If black men don't find her attractive or aren't interested in her, is she supposed to remain a spinster forever?

6.) Successful relationships are successful for the exact same reasons. It's lengthy, but really helpful.

7.) 100 people tell us their biggest regrets.

When Your French is Not Good After Years of Learning And Why Quitting Can Be a Great Idea

There are a few things in life you're just supposed to do: read a lot, learn to code (SILLY!), take useless certificate classes, take random classes on Coursera that you and I know you will never need, learn a new language etc.We are here to talk about that last part: learn a new language. I feel the need to add that I don't believe in all of the personal development crap. Let me explain. Yes, you probably should invest in yourself or I don't know, take care of yourself somehow. But I don't believe everybody needs to learn to code. I think reading is good and can be very interesting, but please don't read obscure 18th century literature just to sound cool if it sounds like nothing you're interested in. Also except a certificate is directly related to your career, please invest that time in your sleep. I'm not kidding. This year, and henceforth we are resting (more on this in a subsequent post). We are not taking any more than necessary. Which brings me to today's gist: learning French.

I already speak two languages very well; one native and one...they are actually both native languages. I think I just know English better, because well, that's what I speak more. Somewhere along the line, around the time I was rounding up college and thinking about next steps, I got it in my mind that French was something I was supposed to learn. One reason for that, I think, was because it would just be cool to say you speak French. Another was I thought I would certainly need it for my career. Except not really; I don't and probably will never. My plan was to take an immersive three to five months class. This did not happen. Many years later, I picked up the idea again. I have tried YouTube, and now Duolingo, and I still don't speak French. I am angry about this because I feel like I have spent way too much time talking about learning French and then learning French to not be able to speak French. Learning a language as an adult is freaking hard! Don't get me wrong; I do have some knowledge of the language. I am probably approaching intermediary proficiency, and with a little more dedication, I might surpass it. But I am tired of it.


So now I am reevaluating my choices. What is my why? Honestly, it's just one of those things; no real why per se. I still want to visit Paris with my sister, so it will probably be useful. With everything I have said, the next question would be, how am I learning? Well everyone always says to use YouTube for everything. Been there done that. It was not structured enough for me. My main tool has been Duolingo but I don't think it is very helpful. Because now I know so many phrases and words, but complete sentences are still tedious. Which leaves me wondering if those daily fifteen minutes or less I spend on Duolingo are not a waste of my extremely precious time. I mean, could I spend that time doing something very meaningful to my life and mental health? For shizzle sure. People say to learn by immersion. Pray tell, where do I get the time and money to dump my life as is and move to Paris for a year? Er no. People say to learn by listening to French music. Excuse you, I haven't even listened to English music. Pass. People say to learn by watching French movies. When I eventually get a minute to relax from what is usually a very mentally stressful and busy day, believe me what I need to relax is NOT a French movie. If this sounds like I am making excuses. Well, that's because I am.

My point is, learning French brings me zero joy and fulfillment. And while I'm usually not the type to only do things that bring me joy (because if I did that, I would starve), there has to be a bigger why for me. This post is me admitting there is none. Although, I rarely ever quit, I am  not afraid of quitting. I can quit a friendship, relationship, job, whatever, whenever I like as long as I have a good reason to. Like a lot of things, I'm just not feeling it.  So...adieu Francais. This year I am trying my best to embrace joy and release stress and pain.

I probably will still go to Duolingo once in a while when I have the time. Since all bloggers always motivate y'all, I'm doing y'all a solid by telling you to know when to quit. Quitting is okay too, sometimes. So tell me, what do you find yourself doing just because it sounds cool to do but is incredibly tedious and time consuming? Let me know.

Love,

I