Why The U.S. Women's Soccer Team is the Best Sports Team Ever and Why They Deserve Equal Pay

Yaaaass.

The FIFA World Cup Finals was just recently concluded. By recently, I mean less than an hour ago (as of writing this). And yes, the USA won Lol. Of course, I was rooting for them so I am very happy. Apart from my own bias as an American, the team is quite an exceptional one. Ordinarily, that's all fine and dandy. Of course, you should be great at what you do, what's the big deal yada yada. But what makes this win even all the more amazing is that members of the team, especially the great Megan Rapinoe, are quite the political activists. Like their coach said, they are great players, but even better human beings.

The thing is, these women have been fighting for equal pay for a while. The unfortunate irony is that the mediocre men in the U.S. men's team get paid more the women's team despite the blatant superior performance the women always display. This is the fourth time America is winning the World Cup, and the second consecutive win for this team, but the men's team has NEVER won and they don't even play as well. Yet they are paid better than the women. Now, there is in fact an inherent sexist approach to sports. Women's sport generally get less acclaim than the male sports no matter the quality of the actual game. I mean, the men's competition is the "World Cup" but the women's is the "Women's World Cup" as though to imply that the actual and original World Cup is the men's. If they were given the same weight, then the men's World Cup would be called: "Men's World Cup".



People always argue for unequal pay in soccer by saying women's sports get less viewership than men's  and chalk it all up to economics and a sound business model. False. The US men's team do not get as much views as the women's. According to the Wall Street Journal, from 2016 through 2018, the U.S. women's games pulled in $50.8 million in revenue compared with $49.9 million for the men. Not to mention, the same people who complain that women's teams don't get as much viewership are the same folks who refuse to watch. Such people dismiss women's sports simply because women are the ones playing. Such chauvinistic, myopic, and ignorant tropes hurt the quest for gender equality overall,  but also specifically hurts pay equality. The fact that we are still fighting for equal pay in 2019 is heartbreaking and another reason why should all be feminists.



See, I always say if you are going to fight, you better be excellent. This team has reinforced that idea for me. They have embodied the idea that sometimes [because we live in an unfair world], you have to demand what you have earned; what you deserve. You can't just take what's handed to you, you gotta get up, and you gotta PUSH back. They refused to accept defeat. And even in this final game, after they had scored twice, they refused to relax, they kept working hard. That's the spirit. In that, I saw diligence and relentlessness (is this even a word?). They are not just asking for more for the sake of it (although even that is not always wrong), but these girls armed themselves with preparation and excellence. They knew their shit.







And that's exactly how you fight. That's how you respond to critics. They have faced so much criticisms. First, it was that they celebrated too hard after beating Thailand, 13-1. Then it was that they are arrogant. Then it was HOW Alex Morgan celebrated after a historic goal against England when she mimed sipping tea. No matter what they did, it was one thing or another. People wanted them to cower, to apologize. But it was as if these girls knew their worth. You have to be extra ballsy to sue your employer before the World Cup.  They knew the burden this placed on them. But in the words of Alex Morgan, "having success gives us the platform to fight for equality". Now, the team is already capitalizing on this success. ESPN has agreed to televise 14 of the league's matches this season; 55 players on the World Cup rosters play in the leagues. Budweiser also announced a multi-year partnership agreement with the NWSL. The equal pay suit is headed for mediation. Ladies and gentlemen, THAT is how you win. 

This World Cup was historic in other ways. According to Time Magazine, in Britain, England's semi-final match against America had 11.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched TV broadcast in Great Britain this year. France's quarterfinal game against the U.S. had 10.7million viewers and was the most watched broadcast of the year in France too. In Brazil, 35.2 million people watch and that was the highest ever audience for a women's world cup game. 








These girls don't even deserve equal pay with the mediocre's men's team, they deserve MORE. And let's face it, a team that gets me interested in soccer is one that has earned every single coin. SO PAY them.

"In the last three games of the World Cup, the U.S. faced an ascendant French power on home soil, England, a team that won a tune-up tournament in the United States earlier this year, and in Sunday's final, the  reigning European champion, the Netherlands." - Sean Gregory

The U.S. beat them all.

Now, Megan Rapinoe. That woman is a legend on her own. She is really the one I knew beforehand because all her activism, that has gone beyond fighting for her own identity to protesting injustice against black people. She's a good leader, she's an inspiring person, and if all of that don't mean jack, well, she is exceedingly great at what she does. And I am always here for that. She was awarded the golden boot AND golden ball. From reading more about her and her story (particularly her complicated relationship with her brother whom she shouted out/wished a happy birthday during her post-win interview today), I am learning grit and determination.




It is sooo good to be on the winning team, I tell ya. I am very proud of them, and it's been a lot of fun watching them play and represent us at this tournament. They are the actual world champions. My overall greatest lesson from this is, whatever you do; whatever your hands finds to do, be excellent at it; be great at it;  be best at it.

Love,

I

Busola Dakolo, Biodun Fatoyinbo, and the Role of The Church in Sexual Assault #Churchtoo

I should preface this post with the disclaimer that I am pissed! Normally, I would take some time to reflect on an issue before writing about it, but I deliberately want to write this post while I'm still feeling very angry. So if you are Nigerian or somehow you have found your way to Nigerian Twitter then you must have heard of Busola Dakolo who bravely and courageously shared her story earlier yesterday. What is this story, you ask? She gave an exclusive interview detailing her alleged raped by COZA's Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo. She alleges in painstaking detail how Fatoyinbo found his way into her life, groomed her, and when the time was right walked right into her house and raped her. She was only about 17. There is a lot to dissect on this issue, mostly because this is a problem that is a symptom of a much larger problem we are facing today. Generally speaking, the Church as an institution has been notorious for protecting rapists and other predators. And I am SICK of Christians turning a blind eye to this. I am also sick of pastors and the likes being conspicuously silent on the issue of rape and sexual abuse in the Church. Most of all, I am sick of enablers who continue to worship these so-called men of God who are predators.



Let's start with this specific case. Ordinarily, any allegation of rape or sexual assault is enough to make any sane person angry. But this is far worse. In 2013, Ese Walters, then media personality narrated her ordeal with this man and how he allegedly sexually assaulted her in his hotel; how he took advantage and manipulated her; and worse, how he has done this to a slew of other girls. He went unpunished.  His response was that he would give a "robust response". He never did. For years, whispers have been circulating of how this man used his position and charisma as a "man of God" to lure girls, convince them that he was their "spiritual father", and when they were completely vulnerable, would rape them or sexually assault them in one form or another. The unfortunate part is this man has never once been held accountable. His church has been growing. If anything, he kept on being ostentatious: he would throw fancy yacht parties in Dubai, and he would throw banquets to welcome dignitaries and pastors from America. For lack of a better word, the man is tacky. I have read my Bible enough to know that that kind of greed and excessiveness is not of God. And since by their fruits you shall know them, I knew something had to be up with him and frankly, that specific church. This man is so audacious that when he would finally respond to Busola Dakolo's accusations yesterday, homeboy basically equated himself to the Church. As far as he is concerned, an attack on him is an attack on the church. I can't even. I really can not.

Secondly, churches in Nigeria are too powerful. There is no oversight of any kind, no regulations, so they do what they want and when they want to. Now because Nigerian Christians worship their pastors a little to much, you can see the problem. People, develop your own personal relationship with God. Yes Christ really implored us to find a community of like-minded people to worship with and that will always make it necessary to be a part of a Bible-believing church. But no man is your spiritual leader, your pastor is not your "daddy".  Jesus died and rose on third day, and then left us with the holy spirit for direct access to God. Most of all, we are charged to call out BS in the Church. When Jesus was here in human form, He did not suffer fools gladly at all. Over and over and over again, we see how the Church in the Bible brought issues to the forefront and dealt with it.  Not cover it up and hope that by some magic it disappears.  We need churches [all over the world] to maintain this same energy. When there is evil in the church, call it out and when necessary hand the guilty parties to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Protect victims and fight for victims.




If you are privy to atrocities committed by your pastor or by your church, and you don't speak out or if you still go and worship in that church (COZA, in this case), you are complicit. You are not a person I want to know  because light has no business with darkness. And if you stand for evil and injustice, we have nothing to do with each other. My loyalty is not to any man of God or any church. my loyalty is first of all to God. I can wake up and leave my church today. Hell, I have done it before. I don't understand the silence of other Nigerian pastors on this matter. I don't understand how those Instagram pastors whose voice are normally loud and vocal when it's time to say feminists are going to hell fire, I don't understand how and why they are quiet now. I do not understand how those "mommy pastors" and "mommy GOs" who know how to condemn women for wearing short skirts or not being virgins, why can't we hear from them? Anyway, the rest of us will speak up for them.

The part that scares me is the amount of Nigerian parents that have subjected their kids to abuse in the hands of pastors or so called respected people in the society, only for those kids to be sexually assaulted. When they dare speak up, they are accused of one thing or another. I have never really understood what it feels like to suck up to a pastor. I have never even had a personal relationship with any pastor in any church I have attended.  This is largely due to my upbringing. First of all, we went to a church where the pastor could get audited. So accountability is at my core. But second, my parents were never those weirdos who would send their kids to the pastor's house to do chores or some nonsense. Olorun maje.  I want to emphasize that I do not think Busola's parents were like this. In fact, her mom was initially skeptical of the man, so props to them.

But this is a larger issue in Nigeria. Too many Nigerian women have been sexually assaulted and mostly by people they know and people their parents trusted. Women have been sharing their stories since yesterday and it's disheartening. It is also not an exaggeration to assume that about 80% of Nigerian women (in my generation) have been assaulted at one time or another. This is why I always implore men [and women too, of course] to watch how they react when stories like this come out because some of your loved ones who have been victims are watching you to see if you can be trusted to listen when they eventually share their stories.  And I promise you, I am certain you know someone who has been assaulted even if they still cannot share their stories because of fear of stigma or shame. And if someone reading this is one of those people, you still do not have to share your story if you don't want to.  Many people are also wondering why Busola is only just coming out with her story. The Igbos have a saying, whenever you wake up is your morning. This is Busola's morning. I will also say Nigerians are an interesting bunch. How is someone supposed to report rape when your lawyer, your first point of defense is already judging you? We see them on Twitter, we see how they talk about victims. Or when the police is acting as a mediator and begging your parents to just forget about reporting.

Let me make this clear, even if Busola was a full blown prostitute, she did not deserve to be raped. But Busola was a seventeen year old girl whose naiveté was taken advantage of and who was violently raped by a man who told her to be grateful that a man of God raped her. Pause. I need to breathe. Nigeria is an interesting place because there is a faux morality everywhere. So Busola was a perfect victim, if there ever was one. She is married to a successful and famous musician, she is a Christian, a businesswoman: the point is she needed to be perfect before she could be believed. If she was single, or if she smoked and drank, or had piercings and tattoos, well, I guess you can guess what comes next.  So I want to commend Busola's bravery and courage for doing this. Busola, we see you. We stand by you. We support you. Most of all, we believe you. We also need to do better for every person that has been a survivor of rape and sexual assault. You do not need to be perfect to tell your story. For every Busola out there, we need to do better by them.

One more thing. When a Muslim does something bad, y'all start disturbing other Muslims to "denounce" that Muslim. This is nonsense by the way, because when one White man shoots up a school because mommy hurt him as a kid, I don't automatically think of all White men as shooters, neither do I automatically make it the burden of all White men to criticize him. I will make an exception this time around: y'all, DRAG us Christians. Call out the BS and make sure that every Christian you know denounces this man and this act. Because if they don't then they are complicit so CALL THEM OUT. If you are quiet about your pastor’s rape, you are complicit. If he continues to be your pastor, then you’re just weird at that point.

People are asking him to step down from his position, that's his life's problem. I want the law to take effect. I want a world where rapists and sexual assaulters are tried, prosecuted, and sent to jail. I want justice. And I want victims to be protected at all cost. I want a system where people are not raped, but if it does happen I want a system that does not fault the victim for the actions of the perpetrator.

Love, and some justice,

I

Book of the Month: The Sun and Her Flowers

Hayy book of the month, my favorite! I missed it last month and may overcompensate by having two books this month. Let's see. The book featured today is by Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers.  It's a collection of poems divided into five chapters: Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising, and Blooming. It has themes of love, loss, immigration, motherhood, heartbreak, trauma, equality, sexual assault. Yes, all of it.



Some people might find the book too all over the place, but that's what makes it endearing in my opinion. It's a very emotional book because I think the author really digs deep to write the poems. But isn't that the problem with poetry sometimes? That it can too easily come off as corny or as trying too hard. Honestly though I didn't feel that way with this book.  I think it's smooth and the author is quite talented. Some words jump out to me and I will emphasize them in this post of course. Know that this is also a very, very easy book to read, and you can be done in days even if you're the slowest reader ever. Some of the poems, you gotta pause and think. Many others, you just keep flipping through. I posted a lot of the words on Instagram. Speaking of Instagram, follow the blog(!!). I really have been posting a lot there these days.


Oh I forgot, it has nice drawings that accompany the poems too, which make them really artistic. And I think I'm supposed to warn that some of the content were a little bit too much; too graphic and I would certainly not recommend the book to a minor or frankly, neither would I recommend it to an adult struggling through emotional and mental issues. It requires a LOT of trigger warnings so just be aware of that. The interesting part is I'm told it is with this collection she demonstrates self-love and growth. Apparently, previous collections were even darker so LOL.


The above was definitely one of my favorite poems in the book. I think a lot of people (particularly immigrants from parts of Africa and perhaps Asia) are not raised to be assertive the way our American (ahem white) counterparts were. She raises a very valid point: how can a person verbalize consent as an adult if they were never taught as a child. If a child was always told they had no say; if a child was never allowed to partake in conversations because "adults are talking"; if a child was never allowed to have debates and challenge the positions of the "adults"; how can they be expected to embody any of these skills? They will always view people in authority as demigods. And the facts have it: many immigrants are never able to speak up in class to contribute; they find it hard to negotiate salaries, and are usually less assertive.


Another important theme was immigration.



A third theme I was absolutely in love with was feminism. She tackles matters of equality and womanhood in a way that made you embrace your femininity, yet embrace your power agency.


In a nutshell, she was very raw, honest, and open, and it certainly made for better poems. Oh also, shout out to my lovely friend R, who gave me this as a birthday gift. Thanks girl!

Love,

I

On the Joy of Really Living

I was going to tweet this—I'm pretty sure I still will (I did eventually tweet this). But here goes for the blog too! It's Sunday morning, and knowing me, I won't hit publish till days later (I was right...exactly two weeks later and I'm only just publishing haha). Anyway, I am in London. I may or may not write an entire post about visiting England and the fun time that was had. Anyway, I'm feeling very introspective (even more than usual). I just read a money diary of 31 year-old dying of cancer. She has just six months to live. I'm thinking dang. She's also handling it very gracefully. I'm pissed about the people telling her to just pray and find God because then the cancer would disappear. Such baloney. Anyway, she's handling it well. She's anxious and worried, like any sane person would be but she's handling it well. Yet it caused somewhat of an unrest in me, you know? I started to think about how many of us are passing through the motions instead of living.



London also means I got to hang with  my amazing cousins. And I was truly  inspired by how creative they are, but not just that. They seem to be pursuing their interests, and they have sooo many: dancing, singing, drawing, designing, acting etc. Even their coursework in school; they don't do stuff because it's what they are supposed to do, they do because they love it. I especially love that. And yes, I found it very inspiring. I'm not naive, so I know not everyone can afford to this this. I know some people just need to survive, and that's fine. You gotta do what you gotta do.


The rest of us though... Me for instance, I have decided to pursue things I'm interested in, and let me tell you they are many. Ha. I have been too laser-focused on ONE thing for like five years now, at the expense of others. And to be honest, I don't even know if it still brings me any joy. For sure, it has taken more than it has given. Look, my sister had to practically beg me to take this trip, and even at that, I barely slept because I would do touristy stuff during the day, and work all night. So yeah. I'm now interested in LIVING. Making memories, taking adventures, loving more, spending even more time with my family (my favorite thing to do in this life LOL), laughing with said family and friends of course, and doing things I love, especially writing for fun and telling stories through writing. Fin.

End of emotional, but necessary rant. I'm not going to lie, I am BLESSED to have the kind of life where I can even afford to do this. Hashtag blessed (you know I never pass up the chance to take a dig at instagram influencers lmao). Seriously though, I don't think I have any regrets at all. I think I have a great life with a good balance of the good and the bad as it should be. But man, I want to experience them not chase the next high of making another deadline or getting another fellowship or passing another hurdle. nah.

Okay for real now, fin!

Love,

I

Friday Reflections

1.) As a Grey's fan, here are nine monologues by Miranda Bailey everyone needs to hear.

2.) Chimamanda's striking essay on Lagos.

3.) Why you will marry the wrong person.

4.) The Showrunner SHONDA RHIMES: First woman to create three hit shows with more than 100 episodes each.

5.) Why you will marry the wrong person. Lol marriage is such a gamble.

6.)  Chimamanda Adichie is such a profound human being. Check out her BRILLIANT commencement speech at Yale and then the one at American University.  No seriously, the one at Yale is really, really good.

7.) Be careful. Your dream job might in fact be  a nightmare.

8.) Three women on what following your dream looks like. ooooh another reason I alway say I don't have a dream job. Look, things are pretty attractive when you are only dreaming about them. The nitty gritty of anything can be very daunting. No matter how sexy or aspirational a thing is, it is still a JOB.

9.) "Follow your passion" is bad advice.

10.) Y'ALL. A white woman with no college degree turned herself to a savior, travelled to Uganda and has been practicing medicine on CHILDREN under the guise of an NGO. The caucasity yooooo. As in, practiced high level medicine on kids (some of whom have in fact died now)...I actually CAN NOT.

11.) Soooo except you're under the rock, you must have heard of the new Netflix series shedding some light on the Central Park jogger case and the five boys who were wrongly charged. Okay, now read this chilling article on the other women whose lives were forever changed because the actual perpetrator in the Central Park case was not arrested on time. The consequences of injustice reverberates, I tell ya.

12.) And goodness, NYC was something in the late 80s/early 90s. It's really hard to be a woman in this world, I say as I double check to make sure my door is securely locked. This world is too insecure.

When They See Us, The Heartbreaking Story of the Exonerated Five.

When I first heard of Ava Duvernay's latest film/mini-series/documentary, When They See Us, I knew it was something I needed to watch, but I also wasn't sure I wanted to watch it. I wasn't sure I had the emotional capacity to watch it. I am after all the person who refuses to watch slave movies, because hashtag self care. Even more, I am actively staying away from what I like to call sad porn: motion pictures that are specifically engineered to make people sad. I remember stumbling on one episode of Station 19 (not even a show I watch), and somehow, they made a main character and love interest of another main character pass away senselessly, and he was about to die and was saying last words to his lover. That was already a particularly hard weekend for me, I was like nope, nope. Not today, satan. Real life is hard enough as it is.


But When They See Us isn't fiction or a carefully curated piece to get y'all weeping for no reason. When They See Us is real life. So I knew I would watch it. I had to. When I started watching, and just about twenty minutes into the first episode, I was FURIOUS. I needed something to scream into. I was mad. I thought, for the sake of my mental health I better not complete this. Boy, I'm so glad I wasn't that foolish. I'm so glad I did in fact watch all four parts. If those little boys could go through that injustice, if they could LIVE it, then the least they deserve is that we ALL watch it and learn. Because as a society, this country and the justice system failed those boys. They were robbed of their innocence and childhood. And we need to do better.

"In the movies, courage can be loud. In life, courage is something different. It's quiet. Courage means strength of heart. Courage makes it possible for a man to suffer adversity; to persevere; to prevail." - Michael B. Jordan

When They See Us is a mini-series by Ava Duvernay  based on the 1989 Central Park jogger case, in which a 28 year old female investment banker was brutally assaulted, raped, and left for dead in New York's Central Park. Five young boys (now men) Antron, Kevin, Yusef, Raymond, and Korey were accused, arrested, and and wrongly convicted of the crimes. The convictions were eventually vacated in 2002. So this mini-series shows us how these boys were brutalized by the media and our sick, twisted criminal justice system. We also get to explore how our criminal justice system works, especially how it was used against brown and black boys. We see how they were coerced to give false confessions after being held for 48 hours without food. We also see how they were interviewed without legal guardians, and how they subsequently were treated like animals by police.


The part that stung the most was that the minute the prosecutor decided those boys were responsible for the crimes, there was nothing else that could have changed her mind. Not the fact that DNA evidence revealed these boys weren't at the crime scene; not the fact that these boys did NOT know each other before the incidence (so how could they be a pack?); not the fact that these boys said over and over that they were innocent. Nothing. These boys were victims of a system that brutalizes the poor, the marginalized, and people of color. The media also painted these boys as victims even when there was no single evidence tying them to the crime. Ninety percent of the media coverage at the time of the crime never used "alleged" in describing these boys. Everyone just concluded they did it; they believed what the state said and took it as fact, even barely two weeks after the incident.  Our current president took out full page ads calling for these poor babies to be sentenced to death. No one person can explain or fully understand the trauma and terror these boys experienced, and at such young ages.



I really implore you to watch this mini-series no matter how hard it seems at first. In the words of Korey Wise, one of the EXONERATED Five (because yes "The Central park five" is a political moniker for the purpose of further victimizing these boys), "this is not a tragedy, this is a celebration of life". Korey Wise. Korey Korey. Oh please, just watch this film to understand how this boy specifically suffered soooo badly. His was the worst of it. And his words are what surprise me. I have been poring over the lives of Yusef, Kevin, Raymond, Antron, and Korey since watching the show. I gotta tell you, I don't know how people who went through hell, who were so viciously hated, and who suffered that much trauma (beginning at ages 14 to 16) can still be so positive. Yet, somehow they are. They are committed to changing the system and making sure that the innocent does not suffer the way they did.

As I was watching the show, I kept thinking why. Why, God? Why did innocent boys have to go through this hell? And what kind of world are we that allows that sort of injustice and wickedness? What kind of people are we? What type of injustice is this? I also can't imagine how those detectives, prosecutors, district attorneys and everyone else involved in this cover up...how do they sleep at night? How are they okay with themselves?

This already happened and I think moving forward as a society, we need to really ponder on our values, our moral fabric, and who we are. It means no matter where you are or what slice of this world you find yourself, day in, day out, you better remain committed to doing good. To treating people fairly and fighting for justice and fairness and equity. You better examine your prejudices very very carefully.

In thinking about this case, we tend to [rightfully] focus on the men, but what many people don't see are the families. The families of these boys that probably lost their jobs, suffered the stigma and shame, went bankrupt hiring lawyers, and so much more struggles. SO MUCH STRUGGLES.  The despair, the loss, the heartbreak, the confusion because a couple of people got together and decided that these boys (largely based on the color of their skin) were guilty of a crime they were probably too young to even comprehend. Just watch this show. If for nothing, just so you can feel that fiery, burning anger. Just so you can be unsettled. Because chileeee, we must never get complacent or comfortable. That anger should cause us to do better.

I am really thankful for Ava and to Ava for telling this story. I am also thankful for these men somehow finding the courage to turn their pain into something so strong and so powerful; for the willingness to share their stories.

Love, and some justice,

I

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