25 Things I Learned Before My 25th Birthday

events, happiness, life, love, me August 9, 2020

As of yesterday, I am twenty-five years old.

It wasn’t a particularly Earth-shattering event, in fact, I’m currently waking up in the same bedroom I was dreaming in, crying in, and generally, being bratty as fuck in from age 10 to 18 . It has been a cool 7 years since I’ve experienced the stillness (and mania) that comes with this long of a stay at your childhood home (but I am enjoying the perks, like the six-layer, rainbow, explosion cake that my mom made me.)

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And with that comes a lot of time to reflect on how I’ve spent my life, where I’m at, and where I’m heading.

Here are 25 things I’ve learned about life:

  1. Treat yourself like an asset with appreciating value. You are your longest relationship, so treat yourself kindly for the long haul! Furthermore, not treating yourself this way just increases the likelihood that others also won’t show you the respect you deserve.
  2. Trust in the divine, and your angels. No matter what that divine looks like for you, they’ll never lead you astray. My God is a faceless, nameless God that I believe in without books, or any other rhyme, or reason; my faith has been tested on several occasions, and I’m happy to know that my God is very much so walking with me through this life.
  3. Cut all the bullshit, and expeditiously! Call yourself on your own crap (limiting beliefs, biases, and unhelpful habits), cut out fake friends, lousy partners, and unsupportive family. You cannot reform anyone’s hateration other than your own, so when you see that someone’s heart isn’t in a place that feels good to you, leave, and expeditiously!
  4. What’s in your head and what’s in your heart will always take you farther than what’s in your bank account.
  5. Celebrate who you are–especially if you’re seen as “other” within your community. Your mind, your heart, and your vision are very needed in this world.
  6. Don’t second guess yourself, and don’t let anyone make you feel like you should start doing so.
  7. Set BIG (and sometimes, seemingly unrealistic) goals; go for what your heart truly wants–it always knows.
  8. ….THEN, pair that with setting achievable mini goals. Whether it takes you 2 days, 2 years, or 2 decades, your big goals can happen when you commit to working towards them little by little, every. single. day.
  9. Stay curious about yourself, others, and human nature. Nothing stays the same; allow that to excite you, not terrify you.
  10. LOVE LIKE IT’S GOING OUT OF STYLE. This goes for all kinds of love, not just romantic!!! There is SO much love to experience in the world, keep your heart open to giving and receiving it whenever you can.Processed with VSCO with p5 preset
  11. …BUT, give your love with discernment. Loving people unconditionally is unrealistic because healthy relationships, whether they’re romantic, platonic, or familial, are reciprocal.
  12. Express yourself with your entire chest. Do not say something behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t have the courage say to their face; my mom taught me this at a young age and it has helped me avoid A LOT of conflict.
  13. You *really* don’t have to be friends with everyone. And honestly, you really can’t be because not everyone can offer you the same support.
  14. Give without expectation. Whether it’s a good deed, a monetary donation, or your freakin’ heart, pour from a cup that is full.
  15. Tell people how you really feel, always. You owe it to yourself to be transparent about your feelings, no matter if they’re reciprocated or not.
  16. Validate yourself on YOUR standards. What makes a good life is wholly subjective; believe in your vision and your vision alone.
  17. Most things are black and white, but the grey area is OK too. Sometimes just accepting things as they are is all you can do.
  18. Give your time and energy to people who celebrate you. Without question, no matter what–even when they don’t completely understand your life.
  19. ACCEPT YOUR FUCKING BODY. It is beautiful the way it is, no matter how “other” you are. Having a body that does what you need it to do (contain your insides) is much more important than how it looks.Processed with VSCO with p5 preset
  20. Your words have energy. Everything that you say is possible and can become true. Seriously! My grandma and I watched Oprah most days after school, and she always said, “T, I wanna see you on TV one day,” and it just so happened that I shared that vision for myself too. I kept believing in it–no idea when, or even how it would happen, but I kept putting energy behind it, declaring it, and shaking the hands I felt would lead me to it. Then, BOOM, 3 TV appearances later, I do not mess around with what comes out of my mouth. There’s no room for negativity, or speaking out of anger.
  21. Have some tact!!! Churchill was a real POS, but he told 0 lies when he said “tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”
  22. Failure is just an illusion if you look at each one as a lesson, and give yourself some grace. Perfection IS an illusion, and nothing will change that.
  23. Taking accountability will improve your quality of life in every sense. It will not kill you to admit that you’ve been wrong (I have), have hurt others (who hasn’t?), and need to look in the mirror (it’s part of life.)
  24. Stay playful. Life is everything and nothing all at once; it’s tiring, yet fleeting, but we are here to make the most of it. Keep laughing, loving, and accepting the lessons learned from the bad days, because better days are always coming.
  25. You will find someone who loves everything about you, but before then, the universe will send you lots of riff raff. As my Angel Reader, Ivette, says, “focus on having an abundant, joy-filled life, first and foremost, and the right person will be happy to join you for every inch of that journey.”

In conclusion:

All the glory onto God;
I will never be ungrateful.
God blessed me in real life;
I don't fear demons nor enemies.
I'm protected by the most high.

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Revolutionaries You Should Know

activism, america, art, creatives, politics, thinkpiece July 26, 2020

Between half of the Black Twitterverse declaring, “I am not my ancestors,” and the rest of America gobbling up the Disney-fied stories of Civil Rights leaders, the amount of cap we’re producing as a society right now is truly unprecedented.

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I’m no historian, but the re-writing of history that is occurring on social media in threads that contemplate all things headass, from “why MLK Jr. wasn’t more radical?” to, “why can’t Black men stop killing Black men?” and even, the K*nye W*st special, “why didn’t Black people try harder to end slavery? is beyond concerning and asinine, but luckily, it can also be easily debunked.

History shows that Black freedom fighters sought their basic human 
rights knowing that they would face some combination of social 
blackballing, financial retaliation, violence, or death.

And the threat of death continues to this day. A piece published in Rolling Stone in 2019 explores the ‘mysterious deaths of six Ferguson Activists:’ In 2014 Deandre Joshua, 20, was found dead inside of a torched car, bullets in his body; two years later, Darren Seals, 29, was found the same way. Three others, MarShawn McCarrel, 23, Danye Jones, 24, and Edward Crawford, Jr., 27, died in apparent suicides; though Jones’s mother, Melissa McKinnies publicly revealed that she felt her son was lynched. In 2018, Bassem Masri, 31, was found unresponsive on a bus and was later pronounced dead by overdose.

Their deaths (suspected murders, really) have spurred widespread conversation about surveillance, and full-on campaigns that independent journalists and media outlets blur protesters and organizers faces to protect them from violent, systemic retaliations. We have yet to see if their deaths, or if the mass of Black deaths (and if not death, the physical, mental, and emotional scars, losses, debilitating anxiety, and experiences of upheaval) in the freedom fight, can convince the collective that protest, in all of its forms, was nothing short of revolutionary, but if any thinkpiece hopes to change that, it’s this one.

It’s been time that we put some fucking respect on ALL the names of the people who fought for Black liberation, expression, and excellence, beginning with, the great, Bob Marley.

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From his, “Redemption Song:”

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.”

Though Marley became a household name from his hits “One Love,” and “Three Little Birds,” the lyricism within his discography explores the history of slavery, the brutality of capitalism, punitive justice, and of the system as a whole, while promoting Pan-Africanism. Despite The Wailers’ lively instrumentals, Marley’s recounting of life in Trenchtown, the lasting effects of Britain’s rule on Jamaica, and the violence levied at activists like himself, is as raw as his many philosophies on life. 

His final words? “Money can’t buy life.” 

Lorraine Hansberry

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Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun, the first play written by a Black playwright to debut on Broadway on March 11, 1959; it was revolutionary not only for its subject matter, but also, its majority-Black cast. One year after its debut, Hansberry’s play was nominated for four Tony Awards. In 1983, Frank Rich, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, declaring, “A Raisin in the Sun changed American theater forever.” Several revivals of Hansberry’s play have been performed all over the world as recently as 2017, leaving no question of its enduring influence.

Beyond her writings, Hansberry inspired her friend Nina Simone to write “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” an anthem during the 1970s era of the American Civil Rights Movement.

Gil Scott-Heron

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Ironically, my own introduction to Gil Scott-Heron’s, “The Revolution Begins: The Flying Dutchman Masters” is due to K*nye’s sampling of Heron’s “Comment #1” on “Who Will Survive in America:”

The time is in the street you know
Us living as we do upside down
And the new word to have is revolution
People don’t even want to hear the preacher spill or spiel
Because God’s hole card has been thoroughly piqued
And America is now blood and tears instead of milk and honey
The youngsters who were programmed
To continue fucking up woke up one night
Digging Paul Revere and Nat Turner as the good guys. America stripped
For bed and we had not all yet closed our eyes. The signs of Truth
Were tattooed across our often-entered vagina
We learned to our amazement untold tale of scandal
Two long centuries buried in the musty vault
Hosed down daily with a gagging perfume
America was a bastard the illegitimate daughter
Of the mother country whose legs
Were then spread around the world
And a rapist known as freedom: free doom
Democracy, liberty, and justice were
Revolutionary code names that preceded
The bubbling bubbling bubbling bubbling
Bubbling in the mother country’s crotch
And behold a baby girl was born
Nurtured by slave holders and whitey racists
It grew and grew and grew screwing
Indiscriminately like mother, like daughter
Everything unplagued by her madame mother
The present mocks us, good Black people
With keen memories set fire to the bastards
Who ask us in a whisper to melt and integrate
Young, very young, teeny
Bopping revolt on weekend young dig
By proxy what a mental ass kicking
They receive through institutionalized everything
And vomit up slogans to stay out of Vietnam
They seek to hide their relationship with the world’s prostitute
Alienating themselves from everything
Except dirt and money with long hair, grime, and dope
To camo-hide the things that cannot be hidden
They become runaway children to walk the streets downtown with everyday
Black people sitting on the curb
Crying because we know that they will go back
Home with a clear conscience and a college degree
The irony of it all, of course
Is when a pale face SDS motherfucker dares
Look hurt when I tell him to go find his own revolution
He wonders why I tell him that America’s revolution
Will not be the melting pot but the toilet bowl
He is fighting for legalized smoke, or lower voting age
Less lip from his generation gap and fucking in the street
Where is my parallel to that?
All I want is a good home and a wife and a children
And some food to feed them every night
Back goes pale face to basics
Does Little Orphan Annie have a natural?
Do Sluggo’s kinks make him a refugee from Mandingo?
What does Webster’s say about soul?
I say you silly trite motherfucker, your great grandfather
Tied a ball and chain to my balls
And bounced me through a cotton field
While I lived in an unflushable toilet bowl
And now you want me to help you overthrow what?
The only Truth that can be delivered to a four year
Revolutionary with a hole card i.e. skin is this:
Fuck up what you can in the name of
Piggy Wallace, Dickless Nixon, and Spiro Agnew
Leave brother Cleaver and Brother Malcolm alone please
After all is said and done build a new route to China if they’ll have you

He did far more than saying, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”

Afeni Shakur Davis

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To many, she is Tupac Shakur’s mom, but to her fellow activists and Black Panther Party members, she was a consummate guide. In an interview, Jamal Joseph recalls seeking out the BPP “[to get] a gun, but was instead given books and a mentor in Afeni Shakur.”

“Afeni would teach people how to lead themselves. She would not just help people, then leave...She made sure you knew how to get out of your own circumstances and your march toward liberation, being able to transform personally and in the community.”

She was known for running the BPP’s free breakfast program for Black youth, and was the youngest of 21 Panthers accused of conspiring to bomb department stores and police stations in New York City. Pregnant, with a $100,000 bail (in 1970s $), and 300-year sentence over her head, she represented herself after reading “History Will Absolve me” by Fidel Castro; she was the first Panther released, and played a major role in their 1971 acquittal on 156 charges.

Her legacy? Showing people how to defend their constitutional rights.

Adrian Piper

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Piper is easily the most underrated, conceptual artist of our time. Her 50 years of work can be identified by her many street performances, which addressed “ostracism, otherness, and attitudes around racism,” a shock within the overwhelmingly white, male-dominated industry of conceptual art.

"In Catalysis (1970-3), her earliest sets of street performances 
aimed at testing public perception," she boarded a peak hour train in New York in clothes that had been soaked in eggs, vinegar, and fish 
oil for a week [intended to see how the public would react to someone deemed ‘unwashed’ or ‘repulsive’], walked around Central Park with 
helium-filled Mickey Mouse balloons tied to her ears, [and] travelled on a bus with a bath towel stuffed in her mouth."

Like many other artists, performance art wasn’t her only ‘thing,’ but regardless of how she created, she used “direct action to generate change.”

"In Catalysis III (pictured), Piper walks down the street and 
around a Macy’s department store with a sign on her body saying 
‘wet paint’, just like a freshly painted handrail. Many would have 
witnessed Piper and been intrigued to touch the board to see if the 
paint was actually fresh or not, but no one did because of society’s restraints."

Piper’s work relied on confronting the uncomfortable, repressive, and deadly, as did Davis’, Heron’s, Hansberry’s, and Marley’s. They, and all other Black, freedom fighters in history, chose not to shield themselves from the proverbial fire and brimstone, set upon them for speaking truths of the past and present, whilst fighting for a better future.

Until you do the same, who the hell are you to say that their actions weren’t radical, or revolutionary enough?

STFU and learn Black history

STFU and learn Black history

STFU and learn Black history

Everything I Baked in Lockdown

food, lifestyle, quarantine July 16, 2020

Before we get into this, I just want to make one thing really clear:

I didn’t become some baking Barbie because everyone else was doing it; I have a long (and well-documented) penchant for baking, and had the quintessential 6th-birthday party-at-a-bakery to prove it (just call my mother). To my super, not-green baking hands, lockdown was just an opportunity to manifest the hell out of my dreams about carbs; true story: one night, the vividness of my sex-esque dream about homemade fettuccini resulted in me purchasing a heavy duty, pasta maker before I could wipe the crust out of my eyes. So, if you ever questioned my standing in the food world, shame on you.

But, regardless, I’ll give you the recipes to make this bread.

My flirtation with making homemade pizza began with buying the pre-made dough at Trader Joe’s, which was extremely satisfying until I decided I wanted all of the credit for the pizza’s deliciousness, not just part of it (including the sauce, which I made with this recipe). Overall, finding yeast was the hardest part about making this, but once you sacrifice your first-born to the Saf gods, you’ll be good. I’ve been really satisfied with exclusively making Margherita’s, but I’m going to start getting really fancy and throwing on some spicy Italian sausage, peppers, and probably some mushrooms too. Whatever you fancy, I recommend starting with this dough recipe.

As for my precious sourdough…the first I’ve ever created (I’m so proud of her, even though I clearly forgot to give her the trendy slash); I highly recommend this with brie cheese, and for Italian sandwiches. If you take my foolish advice, report back with pictures.

My love of breakfast foods led me to make both of these, and along that journey, I found a new, deep respect for bagel makers (just check out this 7473-part recipe). They’re definitely worth the effort, but these southern-style biscuits  will require far less mastery.

Out of all my lockdown bakes, I’m probably proudest of this brioche (*pictured on the right with melted cheese), because it was the perfect pairing to the spicy, katsu chicken cutlets I made…and swiftly obliterated, before remembering that I wanted to write this piece.

…I won’t even lie, all of these recipes are probably going to have that effect on you too.

The Problem With Unlearning

society, thinkpiece July 9, 2020

 If you’ve read my last two posts, then you probably recognize that I wholeheartedly welcome this revolution, wherein oppressed people are finally able to exercise their basic human rights. And because of that, I recognize the things within myself that need to change to help facilitate that. With chants of “Black Lives Matter,” and “Abolish the Police,” fading into background noise, the real work begins. So, what does that look like?

A hell of a lot of unlearning.

It’s something that started some time ago for me, beginning with recognizing how I,  a fashion lover, was directly responsible for the suffering of garment factory workers in faraway lands, and the pollution of the rivers and streams they rely on, by avidly buying fast fashion. So, I stopped. And yet, in my unlearning, I’m recognizing that I’m still royally fucking up.

I’m still unlearning capitalist behaviors, and relinquishing many of the fairytales that I once hoped to bring to life, because in the grand scheme of things, they are (and always were) meaningless accolades and titles. You know, the sandcastle-in-the-sky type of daydreams, ones in which I considered what Instagram post I’d make to announce my appearance on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, or what The Queen and I might talk about when I marry Prince Harry (…I let that one ago around the Chelsy Davy days), or the five cities that I’d want to have homes in.

I’ve realized that if I’m truly to be as pro-Black as I claim to be, I have to take responsibility for what I’m contributing to this ecosystem, wherein we’re all simultaneously senders and receivers.

Screaming from the rooftops about wanting equity, inclusivity, and representation isn’t enough, because, as I’ve learned from being honest with my damn self, we’re constantly acting in ways that uphold hegemonic structures–the same ones that we claim to want to destroy. And for me, that means coming to terms with the fact that, as much as I want Breonna Taylor’s killers to die in prison, I want to abolish the prison industrial complex, rendering that impossible; I’m coming to terms with the fact that there is still anti-Blackness within me that I need to deprogram;  I’m coming to terms with the fact that capitalism has given me an inflated sense of self, which has caused me to cause harm to others. And so, I’m actively trying to expedite the unlearning that I have to do.

While recognizing that I’ve actively been harmful to others–even if it has been unintentional.

I’ve learned that you can genuinely try to be an ally, as I do to the LGBTQ+ community, and still misgender non-binary people unintentionally–as I have on two separate occasions between this year, and last. And I’ve learned that it’s not enough to own and apologize for the unintentional harm that I could’ve caused, but that I must also question my own brainwashing, from a perspective of “how can I unlearn my phobias towards non-cis-hetero people?” Going far beyond merely asking, “do I have these phobias?”

A draining amount of self-discernment led me to become absolutely disgusted with my lack of allyship to Indigenous people. It took me 25 years to ask my family if we could stop celebrating the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, yet it only took 12 for me to tell them I was going vegetarian. Could this late-blooming of my self-awareness have caused immense harm? I’m sure it has, but only God knows how much. All of this has taught me one thing: ultimately, the only real problem with unlearning is that it forces us to keep unlearning, decolonizing, reframing, and letting go of inherently harmful traditions and lifestyles; but even then, we aren’t doing the work until we militantly integrate new traditions and lifestyles that counter the collective harm that we’ve done.

So, where the hell can we start? Maria Vicente has 99 ideas:

1)   Get familiar with the 5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle

2)      Be critical towards globalisation and its effects on global diversity. Keep yourself informed.

3)      Protect the minorities! And empower those who are stigmatised.

4)      Get yourself a reachable challenge (e.g. no plastic for a month, no meat for a week).

5)       Remember that there are unlimited amount of ways to resist capitalism. It is important to take small steps and appreciate them!

6)      Choose a more responsible bank – for example one that doesn’t support wars.

7)      Preserve and embrace ethnic diversity.

8)      Don’t throw away stuff: find a new life for it.

9)      Save water and energy.

10)   Join a collective working together to improve the world.

11)   Make your own hygiene products.

12)   Install and use solar panels in your house.

13)   Make your own household cleaning materials.

14)   Wash clothes only when it is needed. Air clothes that you have only used once.

15)   Wash clothes on a low temperature.

16)   Don’t produce garbage (instead: compost, recycle, donate).

17)   Grow your own food.

18)   Buy organic food (not GMO) and avoid food from big corporations.

19)   Organise urban gardens in your city, and inspire those around you to grow food.

20)   Go to live in the countryside and strive for self-sufficiency.

21)   Make food packages instead of buying take-away food.

22)    Get involved in foraging activities with your school, neighbours, community, etc.

23)    Avoid sugar! It harms your body and mind.

24)   Take good care of your health. The healthier you are, the more you can do to improve the world.

25)   Get to know your neighbours. Capitalism promotes individualism and loneliness. If you get together with those around you, you will all become stronger.

26)   Be in control of your own life. Don’t let yourself be ruled by trends, fashions, and the mainstream opinions and ways of living.

27)   Take time to truly follow your own path. Your future belongs to you, don’t allow yourself to be put into a box.

28)   Be together with other people about your difficulties, and theirs. If you share your problems, they become smaller.

29)   Promote togetherness in your neighbourhood, community, village, city, etc.

30)   Disconnect from internet. Connect with People and nature.

31)   Speak out when you see something wrong.

32)   Get involved in other people’s lives.Your brothers and sisters have for sure found some ways to fight capitalism, acknowledge and respect them for it.

33)   Refuse to accept stereotypes.

34)   Free yourself from what is expected from you!

35)   Avoid spending money.

36)   Dumpster dive and talk about dumpster diving.

37)   Buy local products.

38)   Buy second-hand clothes.

39)   Buy things of a good quality that will last longer.

40)   Buy fair trade products.

41)   Avoid buying NEW electronics.

42)   Don’t follow fast fashion.

43)   Avoid products that exploit people and nature (coffee, chocolate, etc.)

44)   Don’t follow trends that disappear fast.

45)   Avoid gender targeted products.

46)   In case you have a baby: Avoid disposable diapers and wet towels.

47)   In case you have a baby: Buy second hand clothes, stroller, car seat, etc.

48)   In case you have a baby: Avoid baby targeted products.

49)   In case you have a baby: Re-sell or gift your used baby things.

50)   In case you have a baby: Avoid food jars, plastic fruit pouches and all sorts of “baby food”.

51)   In case you have a baby: Avoid formula milk! Breastfeed!

52)   Support small businesses.

53)   Avoid buying things during date-specific consumerist periods (Valentine’s day, Christmas).

54)   Get as many things for FREE as possible.

55)   Give away as many things for FREE as possible.

56)   In case you are a woman: Use reusable menstrual products (moon cup, cloth pads, etc).

57)   Support collective owned companies.

58)   Don’t buy stuff made in sweat shops (clothes, electronics).

59)   Go for Open Source programmes, and all things that are made for people, not for profit.

60)   Get to know who owns which companies (for example, Unilever owns many small companies that look “innocent”).

61)   In case you are a woman: Get to know your body and your cycle works! Be aware of which contraceptive method you use!

62)   Pay CLOSE attention to which medicines you use, and why!

63)   Take good care of stuff so it can last longer

64)   Hitchhike

65)   Use car-sharing

66)   Bicycle more often.

67)   Use public transport.

68)   Buy an electric car.

69)   Fuel your car from state-owned oil companies.

70)   Walk more.

71)   Avoid travelling by plane and if you do so, choose a responsible company.

72)   Avoid plastic of all sorts.

73)   Boycott big corporations (Nestle, Coca Cola, Pantene, Starbucks, etc.)

74)   Avoid disposable products.

75)   Avoid all sorts of useless packaging.

76)   Actively protest war and tell your family and friends about the ugly business behind it.

77)   Actively protest companies that dig oil (for example, by trying to stop the ships from leaving the harbour) – or simply tell people about it!

78)   Actively protest companies that mine and transport coal, uranium, nuclear waste, or other harmful materials (for example, by trying to block the trains that transport it) – or simply tell people about it!

79)   Actively protest heavy machinery from entering the forest to cut it – or simply tell people about it!

80)   Avoid buying stuff that travels too much before arriving to you.

81)   Never buy plastic water bottles, and other one-time use products.

82)   Protect the public sectors by using and nourishing them (hospitals, schools, state owned companies)

83)   Talk with restaurants and supermarkets in your area about how to reduce food waste.

84)   Form collectives (in your community, work place, block buildings, etc). It is by far one of the most efficient ways to fight capitalism. Collectivism is the biggest threat to their success.

85)   Share economy (in your family, work place, village, block buildings, etc).

86)   Share house and your private facilities.

87)    Buy food in big quantities together with your friends, neighbours, family, etc.

88)   Share kitchen utensils with your neighbours

89)   Share electronics with your neighbours

90)   Talk about using renewable energy in your working place

91)   Don’t settle for jobs that don’t respect your rights

92)   Don’t be afraid to lose a job that pays you a small salary. Ask support from those around you in case you find yourself in this situation, and want to quit your job

93)   Be active in your working place, and get fully involved in what you do, and why you do it

94)   Speak out for workers’ rights!

95)   In case you are a woman: refuse to receive a lower salary than a man! (with the same skills)

96)   In case you are an immigrant: refuse to receive a lower salary than a local! (with the same skills)

97)   Join, or create, a workers’ union.

98)   Watch documentaries, read articles! Get informed! Be intellectually active!

99)   Share this article and give ideas to your friends of the many ways to fight capitalism!

And if you’re contemplating what ‘brave new world’ we should create in place of capitalism, just know that I am too.

Europeans, Let’s Talk…

europe, global, racism, society, thinkpiece July 1, 2020

Lockdown has pushed me into developing several new interests, some of them, very delicious, and others, seemingly pointless–or, so I thought, initially. Long story short, the Instagram accounts of the least interesting characters of Love Island have helped me to confirm my long-running theory:

White Europeans are blind to Europe’s massive racism problem.

OK? Now, let’s break down how we got here (prepare to pray for me in 3, 2, 1). Sans my Love Island fix, I’m following more former Islanders on Instagram; and because of that, my discover page shows posts from the ones who fell through the cracks. Does that mean something? It didn’t until I started noticing a peculiar pattern. Being? An absence of black squares. Meaning? Absolutely nothing to the untrained eye, and the untrained eye only–but, EYE, am a professional, luv.

After I identified my (aforementioned) hypothesis, I quickly differentiated between my control group, the Islanders who posted nothing, and, my experimental group, the Islanders who posted black squares. And while testing my hypothesis, like the damn good scientist et investigateur that I am, I observed something that unearthed it all: within several captions, the words, I stand with America, or some variation of the sort. WTF does that really tell us though? British people, like so many other Europeans, are failing to call out the racism that exists in their very backyard.

Years of visiting, vacationing, or working in cities like Milan, Paris, London, Amsterdam, all the way down to the island of Ibiza, have revealed to me Europeans’ genuine belief that racism isn’t nearly as bad in Europe as it is in the United States. Some Europeans have fallen so deep into the Kool Aid, that they even believe that racism is nearly non-existent in Europe. If you’re one of them, I need you to understand this;

When Black people hear you say, “Europe doesn’t really have the same race issues that exist in America,” we say the name Phillip Mbuji Johansen,

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a Black, Danish man named in a piece published in the New York Times yesterday titled, “A Black Man Was Tortured and Killed in Denmark. The Police Insist It Wasn’t About Race.”

We say the name Shukri Abdi,

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 a 12 year-old Somalian girl who was murdered in Manchester, UK in 2017. Shukri was bullied by her classmates who were at the scene where she was found drowned. The police failed to investigate, and declared her death a “tragic accident.”

We say the name Adama Traoré,

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a Black, French man murdered by Paris Metropolitan Police on his 24th birthday in 2016. It was reported that “Traoré was detained and pinned down by three police offers, reportedly telling them before he died that he couldn’t breathe.”

We think of the African immigrants shot by a Fascist in Macerata, Italy. We think of Black, European footballers like Italian-Ghanian pro, Mario Balotelli, saying things like, “the ‘really extreme’ racism I’ve witnessed in Italian football is worse than any I’ve seen in England or France.”

We think of the racist actions of the UK government that lead to The Grenfell Tower Fire. We think of reports that a dozen cops in Rouen, France, exchanging a series of white supremacist messages in a WhatsApp group in late 2019; and of the StreetPress’ exposé, “uncovering a private Facebook group of eight thousand, French, law enforcement members from across the country, in which police regularly exchanged racist commentary.”

We say the names Alberto Adriano, Sean RiggKingsley Burrell, Stephen Lawrence, Zyed Benna, Bouna Traoré, and so many other Black and Brown Europeans who had their lives stolen from them. And before you call their deaths mere “exceptions to the rule,”

you should know that the history of racism across Europe is well-documented, although, significant erasure has taken place.

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Anti-Black, German propaganda

Most Europeans are unaware of the human zoos, or “ethnological exhibitions,” that displayed Black people in cities like Hamberg, Berlin, Paris, Riga, Bern, Bucharest, Warsaw, Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Milan, and more well into the 1960s.

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"The World’s Fair, in 1889 was visited by 28 million people, who 
lined up to see 400 indigenous people as the major attraction. 
The 1900 World’s Fair followed suit, as did the Colonial Exhibitions
in Marseilles (1906 and 1922) and in Paris (1907 and 1931) which 
displayed naked or semi-naked humans in cages. Paris saw 34 million 
people attend their exhibition in six months alone."

Most Europeans don’t know the name of Ota Benga who was put on display at The Bronx Zoo in 1904.

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According to reports, “the card outside the exhibit read: Age, 23 years. Height, 4 feet 11 inches. Weight 103 pound. Brought from the Kasai River, Congo Free State, South Central Africa, By D. Samuel P Verner. Exhibited each afternoon during September.” 

It isn’t well-known that Hitler sterilized as many African-German mixed race children without anesthetics. And:

"Black soldiers of the American, French, and British Armies were 
worked to death on construction projects or died as a result of 
mistreatment in concentration or prisoner-of-war camps. Others were 
never even incarcerated, but were instead immediately killed by the 
SS or Gestapo. Black prisoners received harsher treatment and less 
food than white POWs, and whilst most white POWs were imprisoned, 
many of the black soldiers either worked until they died or were 
executed."

Sweeping these atrocities ‘under the rug’ doesn’t make them any less real, heartbreaking, violent, and racist. So, white Europeans, I beg:

stop allowing the horrors, and the Americanness of police brutality to distract you from dismantling the racism that is killing and oppressing the Black people who call Europe home.