Take a Dive: Going All-In on One’s Desires

Take a dive and go all-in.

I won’t lie to you. I’ve spent most of life playing it safe. Instead of taking my dreams and goals head on, I’d approach them indirectly. I’ve known for a long time now what I wanted to do with my life. It’s my dream, my calling if you will, to tell stories. My greatest wish is to share my imagination with the world through stories.

You’d think that within all this time that I’ve known, I would have progressed towards that profession in some way. Honestly, I haven’t done anything that is significant long term. Of anything, I have been going the opposite direction. This past week I’ve reflected on the matter and have come up with several reasons why I (and perhaps you) have not been successful in certain ventures.

  • You’re tripping off of what everyone else thinks.

Everyone has an opinion and everyone is entitled to it. That’s America for you. Yay first Amendment! With that said, everyone is going to have something to say no matter you do. No matter who you are people will let you know how they feel about you and your actions. Whether you fail or succeed, the Chatty Cathys and Talkative Toms will be there to spread the word. Therefore, as cliché it sounds, you’ve got to do what’s best for you. In simpler terms, like what Madea says, “It ain’t what people call you. It’s what you answer to.” Oh yes girl, I went there.

Take my approach to my education for example. Currently, I just got my A.A. in sociology. When people asked why I chose sociology for my major, I’d tell them, “Can’t make people laugh if I can’t understand them”. True but if I’m not directly applying the material that I’m learning, it’s just as useless. On paper being a sociology major was a great experience and opportunity to learn about people. Not only that but it also pleased the ‘rents if you catch my drift. In reality though, it was an was a way for me to play it safe instead of going directly after what I really wanted. It was a curtain for me to hide behind. Studying as a sociologist, I was able to learn facts and crack jokes with them every so often. It was somewhat close to what I wanted to do so I went along with it. After all, everyone would tell me that instead of being a storyteller and learning to perform, getting a legitimate degree in sociology would be better when being a storyteller doesn’t work out. I know now that this is incorrect. I can never be a storyteller if I’m too caught up in sociology. Just like a glass of water doesn’t pour itself. If I don’t put in the work to become a storyteller and instead put in the work as a sociologist. Odds are I’ll be a sociologist (and homeless. A little sociology major humor if you will.) Which leads me to another point. . .

  • You’re not prepared.

prepared

Get ready, stay ready. Skill doesn’t appear out of thin air. (Unless you’re playing Sims and use boolprops.) From the simplistic, repetitive ones to complex, applicable ones skills have to be developed. Were you born with the skill to make your own PB&J sandwich? No, you had to learn how to digest solid foods, appreciate the deliciousness of the PB&J, get other people to make it for you, watch them, and practice. Initially, you might make the mistake of using a knife for the jelly and a spoon for the peanut butter, you crazy animal you. Use too much jelly or not enough peanut butter. Both equally terrible sins in the sandwich making community. After a while, you get the hang of it. And when you get to be a professional like myself, it’s now like clockwork. You can even sprinkle some style over it if you wish. I like to use three pieces of bread when I make my sandwiches. You read that right. Sue me. Point is that you’ve got to be willing to put in the work and learn what’s necessary to level up to the next stage.

  • You’re too caught up in what was and/or what isn’t.

Rome was not built in a day and neither was the iPhone. Let us take a moment to fathom the amount of time that has passed in between the two events. Crazy, right? Imagine how people in Roman times would have reacted had they known the possibilities that were open to future generations because of the the decisions that they made on a daily basis. What would you have been like back in those times? Granted, you wouldn’t have the same opinions as you do now during that time. Thus, there has to be a reason why you were born in the time that you were. There’s a reason why you experience what you experience when you experience it. So you can take advantage of the current possibilities and reach your fullest potential. You are here now to experience now. Don’t let it pass you up. And don’t forget to laugh. Laughing gives +2 points towards happiness and success.

happy dance

Re-segregation: A Step in the Wrong Direction

It is impossible not to notice the racial tensions that are growing within the United States as many Black Americas are enduring hardships and navigating their pent-up anger from the accumulation of racial injustices. Black Americans are justified in being fed up with how this country has handled race relations; however, to gain any substantial progress it is essential for the current generation to act wisely and deliberately as did the Civil Rights leaders of the past.  It is imperative that as Americans we understand that hate will not produce love, and that re-segregation will not get rid of inequalities. Recently I read an article on re-segregation where the basis of the article was simply stating that the author was for re-segregation because it would help specific racial communities flourish if that specific racial group were to simply ban together and exclude other racial groups. I disagree with this perspective for various reasons:

1). If people were to re-segregate, than the lines of communication and understanding would close.

It is sociologically proven that people naturally form prejudices, which are reinforced by a person’s social environment such as school, family, neighborhood, media etc. As a result of individual being shaped by society and close individuals around them, prejudices are naturally taught to them. This can be seen through certain images shown in the media such as the “dangerous Black male thug”, or racist jokes or memes told between friends. Such prejudices have real consequences as we have seen in current news headlines about racial profiling. Since people naturally form prejudices, the only way a prejudice can be refuted is by open dialogue and communication. It is known that in this society many fear Black men and women. If Blacks re-segregate, how will people realize that not all Black men and women are loud, angry, criminals looking for a fight? It is up to Blacks and all people of color to desegregate to therefore show that they are kind, intelligent, hardworking and trustworthy just like other racial groups that have those character traits automatically assigned to them. The only reason why the American Society has come so far in regards to racism is because institutionalized segregation was taken down for the most part. During the times where segregation was the norm, black people had no voice. If Blacks re-segregate, than we risk losing our voice. People learn through communication and new interactions and therefore if we de-segregate as much as possible we can reeducate those who accept the lies fed to them from the media and other social influences.

2). Re-segregation rejects everything that many during the 20th century Civil Rights Era fought for.

People gave their lives to eradicate segregation because they personally knew the negative effects it had on communities of color. If people segregate again, it will make it easier for institutionalized racism to perpetuate itself. Since power in this country is still with the White American majority, the images and ideas that are released into society are still controlled by those in power. This means that people of color will continue to not have equal representation or equal access to resources as the white majority does. Re-segregating would only make it easier for those in power to keep people of color down. The phrase “divide and conquer” comes to mind. If those in power are successful in dividing people of color against each other, than there will be no substantive progress. The Civil Rights Era as well as during the times of slavery had people from many racial backgrounds fight for equality. People of color as well as white Americans gave up their lives for racial equality. During those times of everyone (people of color and whites) banning together against institutionalized racism is when the Civil Rights movements were most productive.MEMORY B 08

3). Practice of “racial love” only helps to perpetuate racism.

I read an article explaining how an Asian man only would conduct business with other Asians, which therefore meant that he was practicing “Asian love”. I strongly disagree with this reasoning. Let’s put things into perspective. If a white store owner said “I only conduct business with white business owners”, he would obviously be looked at as a racist, all people of color need to be careful in not doing the same. Doing business with someone should not be contingent or race in general. People should do business with whomever meets the professional qualifications for the job. Hiring anyone or excluding anyone on the basis of race is discrimination.

By being inclusive, people naturally become exclusive. The solution is not to become more inclusive, however less inclusive to give everyone with the talent a chance to be successful. If we take the logic of “Black love, Mexican love, Asian love etc.” and to “engage business only with our own race” than can we really blame whites for doing so all throughout American History. People have already applied the concept of doing business only with “their own”, which is why there is such inequality in the United States today.

4). Desegregation has never fully been accomplished, which is why to some it may seem that desegregation has not worked.

Contrary to popular belief, segregation still exist in the United States, and is still very evident in a variety of social settings. Like I stated before, I attend Sacramento State, which is arguably one of the most diverse campuses in the United States. With this said, I still observe segregation every day. The segregation that I observe is not forced, however chosen by the people who knowingly or unknowingly engage in self-segregation. An example of what I am talking about is how although a campus may have diverse demographics, many tend to spend time with and engage in activities with members of the same race. In order for desegregation to truly be successful, the American society must first truly desegregate, and by doing so it would truly breed a greater understand and a collective push for equality.

Solutions?

Instead of re-segregating, communities need to unite, and not on the basis of race. The problem does not lie in being desegregated, however it lies in the fact that many have adopted the mindset of looking out only for “me and mine” rather than looking to see how they can help those around them and increase the standard of living for all. It is dangerous to believe that in the United States racial groups should simply stick together. The concept of re-segregation should not be adopted because it puts the solution on turning inwards and banning together. To adequately produce a greater understanding open communication with all racial groups is essential to produce lasting results that work for the good of everyone.

I believe that the authors of the articles I have read are actually trying to address a different problem that is within the Black community. Members of the black community should not pull each other down like crabs in a barrel, but rather up lift and support each other. An example of what I mean can be seen in numerous real world examples such as skin tone and hair texture.

Growing up, I have heard many men exclaim “I only date light-skinned Black girls”. This single phrase works to tear down some black members and elevate others within the Black community, and is therefore problematic because it illustrates a blatant rejection of Black qualities such as dark skin, while reaching towards physical White attributes such as light skin.

I read an interesting book by Beverly Tatum called “Why Are all of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”. In her book she stated how spending time with members of your own race is beneficial, however it ultimately depends on the motives. If a person is exclusively spending time with their own race to simply reject all that is associated with another race, than it is counterproductive. However, if a person decides to spend some time with members of their own race to encourage each other regarding racial struggles, than it is beneficial.

Black Americans should share who they are with those who do not understand them, or with those who only know the Black stereotypes shown to them in the media . Doing so would debunk the fearful and negative stereotypes that people have about the black community and in result breed acceptance and understanding from all racial groups. To sum it up, open communication is key, and communication comes from de-segregation and seeking multiracial interactions.

As racial tensions increase in this country, it is important to not self-segregate, but to show the love of Jesus to everyone. To love your enemies and to forgive as we have been forgiven. There is evil in this world, however the Bible says:

Romans

Fashion Friday: The Revenge of the Prom Dress

Prom. It’s what every girl has dreamed of since she took her first steps on a high school campus. Planning for the magical event begins almost immediately. Any decision had the potential to put you on the map and give you bonus points in terms of hierarchy. In one night, you had the potential to go from invisible to everyone knowing your name—good or bad. Therefore, these decisions felt as if each had its own selection of life-long consequences. Everything from your earrings to your timing of arrival matters. Everything had to be perfect. One of the most important choices it seems (second only to getting your boyfriend to grow four inches so that when you take the portrait, you don’t have to break your spine to get down to his level in the heels that go perfectly with your dress) is the dress itself. Prom-goers say that the dress plays a critical role on the atmosphere of the one’s night. In the right dress, you can dance all night long and look even more pretty as people wait in line to compliment you. With the wrong dress, however, things may not go just as great.

Because I have reputation in staying clear of all trends that only call for one color scheme (I have a three color scheme minimum.) I figured that I’d keep you guys guessing, travel to the other side of the spectrum and observe some prom dress trends for the purposes of research. I was curious to know what these teen gal’s are doing for this uber special event nowadays. I’m sure there’s some scientific and mathematical way to go about it. However, in this day and age where people post everything on social media anyway, I don’t see the point of going past that. So, I did what any other girl with no presence on social media would do, I used someone else’s page. Despite my lack of social interaction-on and offline-in essentially all things relating to people my age, my brother is quite the social butterfly. That in itself fascinates me. How two siblings can grow up in the same household and be polar opposites I wonder? Anyway, that’s another topic for another time. The point is that I got to observe these high school girls in their natural habitat and I got the—uh, how do they say it? The scoop.

Ombre

Pretty blues
Pretty blues

Ah, ombre. I love it. It reminds me of an artist with the right amount of temper and inability to make a decision. “I’m going to pain the ocean,” he says, “I have to use all these blues. But which one do I use first?” Twenty-two seconds later, “Dammit! This one’s darker than the rest of them! I have to start all over now!” Then he smears the blues together in one fell swoop out of frustration instead of taking two days to gradually blend them together like any artist struggling with perfectionism and boredom would have done. And that children was how ombre was born.

Ombre is awesome because the possibilities and boundaries are limitless. Want to use more than one color? Wonderful. Want to make the transitions diagonal instead of horizontal? Even better. Ombre can easily be tailored to any specific event, taste, or idea. Ombre has many freedoms and freedom is something I could get behind.

Metallic

Caution: Stay clear of metal detectors at times.
Caution: Stay clear of metal detectors at all times.

Based on how much this generation is dependent on technology, it doesn’t surprise me at all that we have begun to take that inspiration to our fashion world. Inspiration is what you experience. Therefore, if you are experiencing texting your girlfriends every 2.3 seconds about Jeremy and the rest of your free time is spent staring at your phone waiting for Jeremy to text you back, it was only a matter of time before you adopted the color scheme of your Apple iPhone. Whether you’re doing it subconsciously or on purpose, I’m still going to talk about it because I find it interesting.

With that said, the verdict is in and so are metallic-looking fabrics and colors. Who wants to shine like a diamond when you could easily shine like a brand-new nickel. Silver is much more suited to my undertone than blinding-strangers-for-no-reason anyhow. Just add some smokey eyes and you too can be a life-size Samsung Galaxy!

Sequins (Pronounced see-quansss)

Making it rain from the bust to the waist. Sequins  add a twist of elegance to dress, I think so anyway.
Making it rain from the bust to the waist. Sequins add a twist of elegance to dress, I think so anyway.

Speaking of blinding strangers for no reason at all, sequins are making a come back also. If you ask me, I didn’t know that sequins ever went out of style. But then again, nobody ever asks me anyway. Maybe that was why I was never asked?

When I think of sequins, I think of baby disco balls. With nurturing love and care, they too can grow up big and strong to be those humongous disco balls in the movies. All I’m saying to the people who are going this route, treat them with care. Give those baby groovy angels the respect that they deserve and keep the hazardous behavior to a minimum. When’s the last time you met a four year old that wasn’t traumatized from being dragged into a place with loud music, tight space, and witnessed people basically having sex with clothes on, if that? If you have, that child is not a child but a grown man with Benjamin Button disease. You should have known something wasn’t right when he offered you candy from his van outback.

With these in mind, I hope that you don’t just follow these ongoing trends. Rather use them as a basis for discovering and defining your own personalstyle. To the gals out there scrambling to find the perfect dress that you think people would like to see you in, bump those people. Wear what you want to. If anyone else tells you otherwise, give me their address so I can TP their house. In all seriousness, like what I tell everyone whether you’re the mind behind Gucci or some random stranger waiting patiently to cross the street alongside me, fashion is freedom. Don’t just wear anything, wear you.

And don’t forget to have a fantastical prom! If you’ve already experienced prom, may there be a time machine in your future.

Confessions of a Pushover

 

Hello there.

My name is 7854-8 and I am a recovering pushover.

It all started when I was a little girl, I had agreed out of the kindness of my heart to loan a dollar to a friend for a pudding cup. Next thing I knew, my citizenship to Pushlife was fast tracked and I was put into the pushover class. People started coming out of the woodwork to get me to do things for them. There was no trade or no reward for sticking my neck out for them and they were nowhere to be found if I had acquired the same assistance. Worse, it had become an expectation for me to sacrifice myself on a regular basis at the extent of my own existence.

No does not exist in my vocabulary
No does not exist in my vocabulary

Come 2015, I decided that I would no longer be a part of that life and went into the witness protection program. In exchange for my safety, I have vowed to fight for all the pushovers in Pushlife and testify against those who take advantage of the pushovers worldwide. To anyone reading this, there is still hope. We as pushovers must come together so we can give out our own justice to those who push us. The following people are not safe from our wraith:

1. The Royal Highness

Also known as the royal jack__ (Am I allowed to finish that?) , the royal highness thinks of him/herself as just that. They are rulers of all things and no things. They spend their days sitting on their humongous, cushy thrones and exerting their power on all those it is deemed worthy (or who just have something that the royal highness wants). The royal highness has no regard for human life that does not directly affect his/her own. To them, one does not simply accept the tasks that the royal highness has bestowed upon them, the ever-so-lucky prospect replies with”Excuse me while I drop everything that I’m doing to cater to your every need.”

Verdict: In the case of the royal highness and compassion for humanity, the royal highness is guilty of first-degree douche-bagginess and insanity because they actually believe the world is about them.

Sentence: An internship with no pay. Let’s see how well they can ride their high horse when they have to use both their hands to carry the Starbucks coffees of their employers. What a beautiful experience I’m sure.

2. The “How’s It Going?” Dude

The “How’s It Going?” dude is quite the slick bastard. He pulls you in with his presumed sincerity and empathy. He listens to you and responds accordingly. He’s more than happy to chat about recent events with you and open to a legitimate conversation unlike the Royal Highness, who would much rather sail to the Bahamas than stand there while you suck up all their precious oxygen. The “How’s It Going?” dude seem harmless and possibly even a friend. You come to care about this friend as well as their well-being. So when they come to you for a favor or request, you don’t think twice about saying no. After all, friends help friends, right? As time passes, however, their favors become more and more ridiculous as is their friendly nature. Often times this is when the “How’s It Going?” dude has obtained enough eloe to level up to the Royal Highness. “Can I have fifty cents?” becomes “Let me get two thousand dollars out of your college fund. You know you would only spend it on dumb stuff like housing, textbooks, and your future otherwise.” I’m exaggerating, of course, but not by much.

Verdict: Assault and battery on the friendship algorithm. (Sheldon would not be pleased.)

Sentence: All expense-paid trip around the world with Norbit‘s Rasputia Latimore. Taking advantage of the laws of friendship doesn’t seem so fun now does it? Whatever you do “How’s It Going?” dude, make sure you move Rasputia’s seat to fit her appropriately. She loves to reminded that you think about her being comfortable.

3. The “If, Then” Guy

Unlike those who got into the Pushlife starting from the above categories, the “If, Then” guy wasn’t always a douche-bag. He was once a law-abiding citizen in the world of friendship. He stopped and smelled the roses and helped the elderly across the street. Birds sung along with him as he praised through the meadows and valleys. But one day he woke up and the world wasn’t as bright as it used to be. For reasons unknowing to the pushovers (and often times the “If, Then” guy himself), the “if, then” guy all of a sudden goes into a rampage and goes to the dark side. Not because they had cookies but because through the Sith “If,Then” guy makes his presence known. He has to let the world know that he is around and worthy every so often because he himself doesn’t feel the same. He seeks to follow his own rules and make other do the same. As a result, it can also be said that the “If,then” guy is essentially a royal highness with an underlying psychological issue or the “How’s it Going” dude going through a bit of a dry spell as of late. The “If, then” guy was once a good egg but now spoiled. Still, the direct nature of the “If, Then” guy has led to lighter sentencing as he is the easiest one to break off. For example, when he says, “If you don’t write this two hundred page paper for me, then I will no longer be your friend,” a pushover can then at the moment actively decide which path to take as the pushover has been briefed on the consequences that lay on either side.

Verdict: “If, Then” guy was just a dude put a back position. He may be going through a lot in life and isn’t dealing with it effectively. Therefore, he makes up for the lack of control by exerting control on the pushovers.

Sentence: Psychological therapy and a Twix candy bar because this dude, indeed, needs a moment to get his life together before reentering the real world.

These three categories in the hierarchy of Pushlife are the bane of the existences of pushovers worldwide. However, the blame goes both ways as not only do are these people taking advantage of the pushovers but the pushovers also allow the damage to be done. Pushovers could have always said no or walked away but they stayed. Don’t make or even continue to make the same mistakes. We live in a world with more than seven billion people. Why stay and let one person treat you badly when there’s an opportunity to meet 1 out of 6,999,999,999 that could be nice and great in the same amount of time? Perhaps, I should rethink law school. It seems I have niche for social justice.

50 Shades Of Black

Our Black Is Beautiful

Lauren London
Lauren London
Tiki Sumpter
Tiki Sumpter

Two women of color, both very talented actresses and models

ranging from light to dark and are both equally beautiful.

The “Paper Bag” Test, “skillet,” “tar-baby,” “light -bright,” what do all of these words have in common. They are all derogatory terms once used to describe women and men of color. Stripped of our afro-centric culture and forced to adapt to a European lifestyle. It gets hard to remember who you are and where you stand. The media doesn’t do the best job of portraying all the shades of black women on TV, for men YES! Let’s take, Denzel, Don Cheadle, Idris Alba, Morris Chestnut, Samuel Jackson, Omar Epps, Mekhi Phifer, Terrence Howard, Michael Ealy, Shemar Moore, Will Smith and many many more, whom I didn’t mention. These men range from dark to light and it is perfectly acceptable for them to be in the media.

Whereas, with the ladies, things are quite different, now we have plenty of talented actresses in the biz who may get passed over for roles possibly due to looks or sex appeals. When I think about the shades of black during many modern day TV sitcoms such as, ‘Martin’ Gina, (Tisha Campbell) the starring female role, Pam, (Tichina Arnold) the supporting role, who always seemed to have a ‘problem keeping a man’ Or ‘The Game,’ Melanie Barnett-Davis,(Tia Mowry-Hardict) and Janay(Gabrielle) Melanie plays Derwin’s wife while Janay is the ‘Baby-Momma’ so to speak. Is there any reason why the darker skin get secondary roles while fairer skin get starring roles….

Let’s not stop there, as pretty and talented as Kelly Rowland is she will probably not reach Beyonce’s status NOT BECAUSE of lack of talent but society has been brainwashed to believe that lighter is better. Don’t believe me, just watch as almost all professional athletes are married to high light or white women NOT ALL! I will say that! But a vast majority. Nothing wrong with being with the one you love but there are plenty single sistahs that would take care of them just the same.

When I watched an old show of, ‘Tyra’ when black women were bleaching their skin and the skin of their kids. I thought what a travesty that these women self esteem has sunk so low that they would risk damaging their own skin just to fit in with society. Granted society does make it hard to be who you are, dreads, braids, or cornrows usually aren’t the norm for Corporate America but it is who we are. I feel a bit angry that during those times of slavery we were stripped of our heritage and roots and language. I hope that we can one day look deep down inside ourselves and truly love who we are the way we are.

Men step up and be men, brothers step up and give credit where credit is due. Stop making women single mothers, remember fellas, if she not good enough to be your wife don’t make her a mother. Women, stop chasing money, status and thugs, they usually aren’t father material. Nothing wrong with the NICE brother that treats you right, treats your kid(s) like his own, he is NOT too nice maybe he loves you and God has sent him your way for a reason. Don’t block the blessing. Also, ladies, please STOP giving other sisters the ‘mean eye’ . Let’s all respect each other and leave the cattiness and petty jealousy at home. Being jealous of what another woman has stops you from achieving your own blessings because God don’t like ugly and wants you with a pure heart and soul.

We are all beautiful through God’s perfection! Be blessed, lovelies!

-JM