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Blackness in America

I’m a first generation African American. Not an African-American, but an African American. My parents were the first members of my family to arrive in America.  Although I am by every legal definition an “African-American” man, I don’t fit the social and behavioral molds Black people fit in the American cultural imagination.  According to others, I don’t act like “black.” This has at times made me feel as if I was standing on a racial periphery. Certain parts of the black culture simply don’t apply to me.

Even though I don’t consider the history of African-Americans to be my own, learning how they were treated in the United States was fascinating and appalling. It disgusted me that a group of people so marginalized were forced into building up the very systems that sought to oppress them. After empathizing with that painful history, I started to step inside the periphery.
I am shaken and puzzled by the use of one of the most controversial and infamous words in American English—“nigger.”

This was a word that has many meanings: property, worthless, animal, object, inhuman, garbage, criminal, prey; it was and is still used to keep the proverbial boot on the necks of black men, women, and children. In contrast, decades ago some members of the black community turned the word into a term of endearment. The modified term nigga also has many meanings: buddy, friend, brother, cool guy, understanding guy, trusted individual. So now we there are two words with very different meanings. In regards to my experiences and racial identity, I never fully stepped into the center of the black perimeter until those words were used to describe me.

Oddly enough, that was the moment that I truly felt “black.”

I remember in elementary school, my friend, Omar who fit the stereotypical black mold addressed me as “my nigga.” Without fully understanding the term, I felt accepted. I was proud to be acknowledged as black. After this experience, I found myself using the word frequently to describe myself and my friends, not knowing the entire time that I was swinging a double-edged sword.
Years later, near the end of my senior year, I invited one of my newer friends to go with my group of friends to our senior prom. My newer friend was a Southeast Asian who was very open-minded and loved all cultures, and respected the urban and black cultures. When I picked her up from her aunt’s house, she told me it was very important that I not be seen by any members of her family. The week after prom, she told me that her aunt had seen me and told her father, who told her, “Not to hang around dirty niggers because they could be selling drugs.”
Before I heard her repeat those words, I had always considered the word nigger offensive, but I’d always brushed it off as a relic used by incompetent, uneducated, bigoted, stubborn white people. It wasn’t until that label was slapped on me that I felt it. And it stung like hell. And oddly enough, that was the moment that I truly felt “black.”

So what does “being black” mean for people like me?

I was born in the United States, but spent two of my formative years in West Africa. I returned at the age of four and knowing only my Ivorian culture. I’ve always known what it means to be African—proud, moral, and strong.
Being African American is harder to make sense of, but I am beginning to understand what it means for me. Being black means having resilience—possessing both the same stature and fortitude as cockroach for centuries. Being black means being precarious. One word, one action, one misstep and everything can be taken from you by those who are waiting for you to fall back on old stereotypes. Being black means being ambitious. Although society sometimes says otherwise; no man is born wanting to be a slave, and many who have been denied success want their place at the top. Lastly, being black means being fragmented—broken but not destroyed.

On a daily basis, African-Americans have their images shattered and put back together again—by celebrities, by real-life experiences, and by that big bad wolf we call the media. When I was first called “a nigger,”I realized that in someone else’s mind I fit the mold: jobless, violent, incompetent, and short-sided. Funny thing is, I didn’t fit any of those descriptions, and although I was angry, my dark sense of humor couldn’t help itself. I had had my image broken, and felt the urge to piece it back together by, well, being myself. I suddenly needed to sway a person I’d never met and would probably never meet against his own prejudices, just like many African-Americans are forced to do each day, especially with that cancerous word still floating around. A relationship in which one party is working to appease another party who lacks any concern for the former’s well-being, improvement, or any suffering caused by them. Do you know what to call a relationship like that? Slavery.

Being black means being precarious. One word, one action, one misstep and everything can be taken from you– by those who are waiting for you to fall back on old stereotypes. Being black means being ambitious. Although society sometimes says otherwise; no man is born wanting to be a slave, and many who have been denied success want their place at the top. Lastly, being black means being fragmented—broken but not destroyed.

Now that that uncomfortable conversation is over, how about we answer a question that it could’ve lead to: what does it mean to be white?

The derivation of man-made ideology and cultural practices is fascinating, isn’t it? While keeping in mind that the allegorical polarity between black and white is often pulled into real life, we still don’t understand that this is very dangerous. Or, we’ve been warned but we just don’t care.

It might surprise some folks to know that the word “white” is used as somewhat of a slur against people of color. Since elementary school, I’ve heard my black friends use it to describe another person of color, usually with an annoyed, impressed, or comical tone: “He looks so white!”

In high school, one of my oldest friends, Tasha once described her first impression of me. It started out as flattering….”I remember thinking that you looked cute–but then you opened your mouth and started talking so that went away.”

Confused, I asked her why, to which she responded, “You sounded so white. You used all these big proper words; you sounded like Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince.”Other than feeling a little self-conscious, I didn’t know how to respond to her. She did however, make a point of saying “That’s how you’re gonna be!” whenever we watched the Fresh Prince and the Uncle Phil character came on-screen.
As a slur, the word “white” has several forms and implied synonyms: boujie, uppity, oreo, Uncle-Tom, etc. All of these words are meant to describe a person of color who aspires to be proper, intelligent, graceful, and eloquent. These traits are included in white stereotypes, and aren’t negative. But despite both “black” and “white” traits being built on inaccurate assumptions, anyone who steps outside of the racial perimeter can sometimes be singled out and ridiculed.

“You sounded so white. You used all these big proper words; you sounded like Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince.”

Being white is sometimes seen as the polar opposite of being black, and it keeps both “races” from learning more about one another, leaving little room to be malleable. I’ve been called white several times by my peers because of my interests in stereotypical “white” culture and my lack of knowledge concerning “black” culture. Something as simple as liking the band Linkin Park or not having seen the movie Friday was started an orchestra of sneers and gasps of misbelief. There are times when being called white cuts deeper than any other insult, and why? Because without warning, you can once again find yourself in that lonely void I call the racial periphery.

Nigger and “white” should’ve never existed, but somehow we’re too proud to let go of them. Despite all of our talk about acceptance, tolerance, and the ‘melting pot,’ some parts of our society hold on to words that allow room for distinction. All Americans are entitled to “liberty and justice for all” but has the dream been fulfilled?

Speech is used to keep people in chains that they don’t have the key to.

Speech is used to keep people in chains that they don’t have the key to. Do we like the word nigger? Many Americans would say no. But if we took away the word and replaced it with something less painful to describe African-Americans…say “ghetto,” the two words would possess the same implied meaning. Is it fun to use the word “white” to make fun of our black peers? I can only speak for myself but yes it is or has been. Do I and other blacks like that that word is associated with mostly positive traits? A number of us would say no.

Yes, we are bound by the words we use to describe each other due to the historical and societal implications of those words. But the sweet, dark irony of it is that we choose to accept those implications. We choose to accept that nigger is black and black is bad. We choose to accept that goodness is whiteness and therefore goodness is bad. So then, as citizens of the world, I believe we’re left with two options when it comes to these slurs: redefine them or forget them.


Eleazar Wawa is an African who also happens to be an American, who appreciates and honors his identities the best he can. Wawa dedicates his professional life to mentoring, teaching, and encouraging kids so they can create their own paths in life. While he doesn’t currently call himself a ‘social justice crusader’ at this point, we’ll see what the future holds.

BROWN & FEARLESS: Talking Web Series, Keyboard Activism and Playwriting with Eliana Pipes. 

Editor’s Note: Welcome to the first edition of Brown & Fearless. There are so many powerful people doing beautiful things with their creativity and making the world a better place to be brown. And I want to interview them!  Enjoy reading about Eliana, and be sure to watch her series (at TheClinicShow.com). And if you’re in New York, check out her play at The Fire This Time Festival (firethistimefestival.com) until February 5th!


Playwright, filmmaker, and actress, Eliana Pipes is also someting else— an activist.

A student at Columbia, Pipes directed, wrote, and acted in a web series, Meet Me @The Clinic, a workplace comedy about two very different young women, Dia and Nina, who begin volunteering at
a free women’s health clinic not unlike Planned Parenthood. The two find common ground while assembling free condom gift bags, folding pamphlets, and dealing with the occasional protester.

img_0119In a political reality wherein clinics like these are in real danger of having their doors closed, Meet Me @ The Clinic is a fun-size workplace comedy that is equal parts awkward and heartfelt.

The drama of the show is grounded by the strikingly honest portrayal of its two leads. Dia, played by Pipes is a YouTube star, whose brand of activism is the creation of informative online videos about social justice topics. Dia’s friend, Nina, played by the series’ co-creator Victoria Tamez, struggles with her political support of women’s reproductive rights as it chafes against her church’s conservative pro-life view.

After I stumbled across— and consequently binge-watched—Pipes’ web show, we sat down for a video-chat about life as brown artists and writers.

Meet Me @ The Clinic plays heartstrings, while maintaining a light-hearted tone. The material is joke-dense, seamlessly serving character and theme. Even though the world consists of only a few sets, it feels lived-in. Its humor serves its message, which helps, because sometimes the message hits you over the head, or is plainly spoken. The opening sequence of the show features Dia running away from her bus stop to avoid an interrogation about what languages she speaks. What The Clinic loses in subtlety is made up in authenticity — the audience gets a real snapshot of Dia and Nina’s lives.

Conversations about family planning are conversations wrapped up in life, potential, womanhood, and faith. These conversations are as high stakes as they are funny.

We see the world through the eyes of our two main characters, and with them, we feel the tug of political forces on their private lives. Dramatic beats are bookended by bizarre, dreamlike sequences spotlighting kooky characters.. These vignettes are often satirical glimpses of mainstream racist culture. Even as Dia and Nina play with condom packets, fight about glitter, and learn how to explain and teach about birth control, neither is ever able to let go of their political reality— a fact that distinguishes them from the other clinic volunteers. Conversations about family planning are conversations wrapped up in life, potential, womanhood, and faith. These conversations are as high stakes as they are funny.

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In Episode 3, “Ay Dios Mio/Oh My God,” we see into Dia’s process. We watch  as she wrestles with the awkwardness and discomfort of using ss her limited Spanish vocabulary to create a web-video that will reach an audience often  marginalized in their access to unbiased family planning intel— Latina women. She’s well-intentioned, if a bit out of her depth. In a fun sequence, we see Dia in her rolling desk chair trying desperately to not sound stupid in Spanish, her emotional state no doubt mirroring the feelings invoked when trying to receive medical care in a different language. Eventually, Dia powers through her discomfort, in order to lessen someone else’s. This scene pays off when we see the successful finished product through the eyes of Nina, who watches the clip at the bus stop. Someone next to her asks, “Oh my god, is that Dia Ryland? Is she doing videos in Spanish now?!” Nina quickly loses her smile when the apparently non-Latinx  bus-stopgirl cuts her off to tell her that Spanish “is the language of my people,” and proceeds to list off her few favorite Spanish words (“Perro! Gusta! Punta… is something people have said to me….” ) for Nina’s approval. Small victory comes with a side of microaggression.

Small victory comes with a side of microaggression.

Without judging its characters for their differing points of view, The Clinic delivers nuanced messages about personhood, humanity, and the need for better sex ed. But rather than serving up its messages in neat little packages à la—oh I dunno, an educational social justice YouTube channel— it gives you questions to chew on. What’s the point of online activism if you can’t see its impact on your community? How are you supposed to know if the guy you’re on a date with works at Upworthy? How do you explain how to use condoms without accidentally making a gesture that makes people picture gentalia?

Walking the Walk and Keyboard Activism

In an establishing scene, Dia is revealed to be a YouTube star with over a million followers— a fact that tends to impress people for about one second. Dia is humbled further whenever she talks to her sister, a grassroots organizer, who asserts that online activism is not “walking the walk.”

It’s clear that at least some of Dia’s motivation in taking a job at a women’s health clinic is to feel more connected to what her sister might call “real change.” It’s not clear whether the audience is supposed to side with Dia or her sister in this debate.

theclinicToday, we see activism take many online forms, from copy-and-paste status alerts containing desperate instructions, to checking in at Standing Rock, to live videos of political events and literal warfare, to 160-character death notes. Like her character, Pipes has made several videos in service of social justice

“So…?” I waggled my eyebrows and badgered Pipes to tell me where she sits on the debate between clicktivism and on-the-streets activism.

“[On-the-streets activism] is not accessible to everyone. Not everyone comes from a circumstance where they can be vocally radical. Not everyone can devote the time and mental energy, and not everyone can be a community organizer. I think that keyboard activism does have a place, but also education is a huge part of it. It’s hard to have a conversation when people aren’t even working with the same vocabulary,” said Pipes.

“These keyboard activists are the reason you can look it up. There’s definitely a place for keyboard activism. There are people who genuinely have their minds changed. I got my sex ed from  [Youtube sex educator] Laci Green.”

“I got my sex ed from Laci Green.”

In addition to this meta look at the impact of web content beyond browser windows, The Clinic also gets into the meaty intersection of what it means to be a pro-choice Catholic, and how terrible you can manage to be while still volunteering your time to help people.

Finding Home On-Screen

While watching the show, as a woman of color, I found some home in it. I have known so many brown women whom I believe to be protagonists in their own stories. Even though we are nearly invisible in the media, I am lucky that I have had exposure to incredible brown women who have taught me to see and seize my own potential and power. Much of my time is dedicated to creating a mental playlist of Brown excellence, surrounding myself with the examples that prove the idea that we are greater than the stereotypes foisted upon us. As much as I know I’m not alone in this, I know it’s not a norm.

Despite curating my own media space resplendent with brown role models—my friends, my mother, photos on Facebook, the Snapchat stories, old family wedding albums, Bend it Like Beckham—there is something vaguely revolutionary about seeing two brown women Bechdel the shit out of an on-screen project. It’s kind of remarkable for a TV show to have more than one person of color, let alone woman of color, let alone women of color, let alone letting those women of color have storylines that don’t completely whitewash their experiences. It feels like steps forward. It feels like representation. It feels like a counter narrative.

I was struggling to find the words to express this weird feeling I was having. The show was so good. In its simplicity, it hit so many beats that resonated with me.

I finally settled for, “Your show couldn’t have been written by white people.”

That’s the highest compliment I’ve ever received,” Pipes joked.

I finally settled for, “Your show couldn’t have been written by white people.”

“So like, how dare you?” I asked, maybe trying to parody the way that women of color are always interviewed after accomplishing something grand.

“I don’t know,” she said, “Blind ambition?”

“I mean, is this just like a thing that all kids from California do?”

The City of Angels

The sage-for-her-age Los Angeles native has achieved high levels of success for someone who is all of twenty.

Pipes credits her Los Angeles upbringing for the early start she got in writing.

“LA is responsible for everything good that’s ever happened to me,” said Pipes.  Pipes attended an underfunded elementary school visited by No Child Left Behind outreach programs, including the Young Storytellers Foundation and Sony.

“When I was 8 years old, this organization assigned me a mentor, and every Wednesday helped me write a play — I had a little play at the end of 9 weeks. It was performed on our school stage by local actors.”

In addition to having written, directed and produced a web series, Pipes has also had several of her original plays staged.

Last year, her play “To Serve Butter,” was produced by the Ensemble Studio Theatre at LA’s Atwater Village Theater. The play’s meta-narrative about acting touches on interpersonal race relations in a world where a Southern chef casts black actors in her re-enactment of her family’s plantation past.

Another of her works, “Stiletto Envy,” is currently featured at the New York Fire This Time festival, held at Kraine Theater on 84 E 4th Street. The festival, dedicated to giving a glimpse of the multitudes of different Black experiences in America, will also feature a live screening of Meet Me @ The Clinic in its entirety on February 1st.fire-this-time-festival

On The Clinic, Dia is often accosted by strangers, who question her about her ethnic makeup. Neither Dia nor the show ever explicitly answers the question, though Pipes will. Like her character, Pipes doesn’t mind being confusing to other people, but tries to stop herself from thinking of her identity in terms of numbers.

“I try not to say the percentages. I’m black, white and Puerto Rican. [Being mixed] forces you to cut yourself, which no person should have to do. It is difficult to navigate.”

Pipes auditioned for, and got into, to an arts high school that required its students to dress in all black for its evening theatre classes. It was here that she met the co-creator of Meet Me @ The Clinic, Victoria Tamez. Both 19, the two were inspired by Issa Ray, and her work on the web series Awkward Black Girl, now an HBO series. The two spontaneously came up with the idea for a workplace drama, after exchanging stories about volunteer experiences.

“I volunteered at Planned Parenthood, and I was talking about that real-life thing and it spun into the idea of the show. I knew how much of it was mundane work so the arcs were very character driven,” said Pipes.

“We wanted [our characters] to start off hating each other. We wanted to make it about the friendship, the relationship with the two women. Not a boy, or a crisis, but a strong female friendship growing.”

After ten days, Pipes had completed the script. The show, it turns out, was a labor of love, put together by a rag-tag team of young actors, previous drama teachers donating their time (keep an eye out for the hilarious pro-life protester), and freelance producers like Allie Hunter, who Pipes credits for her expert scheduling abilities, and video editor, Spencer Slovic. While working full-time, Pipes and Tamez filmed for a month, mostly on weekends. During the production, Pipes and Tamez made concerted efforts to make their cast diverse. In their 35-person crew, 23 were female, and 15 of that number were females of color.

clinicproduction.jpgThe Clinic was filmed for free in various locations, including the Western Justice Center, where Pipes had worked.

“We had no budget. No funding. Not a dime. We’d buy pizzas for the big group days, to be like thank you,” said Pipes, smiling. “This show came together because of a lot of kindness.”

Kindness can be a radical act.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of Brown & Fearless. Be sure to follow the Brown Girl Lifted Facebook page.

 Aarushi Agni(@aarushifire) does stand-up, sings in the Madison-based band, Tin Can Diamonds, and produces for public radio. She founded Brown Girl Lifted in 2015.

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Inheriting America’s violence: an immigrant kid on home and leaving

10407623_1656932877859372_5773064684406291616_nPerhaps this makes me ungrateful, but I know that as america stands today, my citizenship cannot save me. I have been talking with friends about using our american passports to fly somewhere far away where we can make a new home and begin our lives as expats. We will not be known as a refugees, though the state of violence against Black people and Blackness in the u.s. is genocide and has been petitioned to the U.N. as such.

I know that being born into my americanness is a privilege. I did not have to risk death to arrive on u.s. soil, I did not have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars in a taxing and never-certain process. Even though there is a place my parents call back home, I do not have to fear harassment and deportation. Still, despite having been born and raised in “the land of the free” I am concerned deeply about death.

I have scrolled past countless articles detailing Black death in america. I have glanced over them and lowered my head. I am exhausted by the news. I worry that I’m silent and yet don’t know what to say about the death abounding, the murders made of hate, so many Black lives taken, so many trans* lives, muslim lives, so many children, elderly, and ill individuals murdered. I have a friend who is very certain of one thing: he is finished with the u.s. and I do not blame him.

Although I’ve dreamt of it, I am less certain than he is when it comes to leaving america behind for good. As the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants I carried a rasta-esque ideal vision of back home. I considered it a place to escape to. I wrote this poem called “abandon” because I thought as Ethiopia stretched her hands to God, she would scoop me up, cradle me in her arms, and keep the u.s. from eating me alive.


In December 2015, I visited Ethiopia for the first time and will spend my whole life reflecting on what my first trip to Ethiopia meant, what every subsequent trip is going to mean. I feel there is so much I cannot say, only having glimpsed a bit of Ethiopia during my four-week stay in the capitol city. I will say, that for all the promised land dreams I had, I always knew, even if vaguely, that Ethiopia has its own violences.

There I was in Ethiopia, loved, cared-for, blessed. Also, undeniably a foreigner and a guest. I went for many reasons and quickly realized I could not be saved from america or my americanness, it was embedded in me. In fact, that I feel refused full citizenship and rights to healthy, happy, and uninhibited survival within the u.s. is part of my americanness because of its history and what was built long before my family ever arrived.


In my father’s house, CNN is always on and when Trayvon Martin was murdered, his face, constantly in the news cycle, became part of our living room, like a portrait. One day, my father said, “he looks like your brother.” This moment of admittance said aloud what I knew to be true the moment I began filling forms and naming myself as I have always felt and been seen, as Black/African american. I knew these dangers could befall our family, no matter our names or our origins, no matter where we came from.

I dropped my head when I read about the tragic loss and violent murders ofTaha, Muhannad, and Adam, three Sudanese american boys who were shot execution style in Fort Worth, Indiana. Though police have said their murders are not a hate crime, the deaths of these three boys are being attributed to racism, anti-Blackness, Islamaphobia. Their lives existed so deeply in targeted intersections it makes sense to suspect a hate crime. While we wait for more information to arrive, a petition for justice exists.The petition demands the Fort Worth, Indiana authorities to conduct an active and thorough investigation.

When I learned they were Sudanese I couldn’t help but think of their parents and if they ever imagined the land of opportunity would eat their children like this. Did their fathers see a young man slain by white fear and think, “he looks like my son?” Afaq Mahmoud, my friend and the cousin of Taha and Muhannad, asked her own questions in a statement that has been shared on the Our Three Brothers Facebook Page: Do you know what it takes to run from war? Do you know what it means to flee from one war zone only to land in another? Do you know what it means to flee to “safety” and have it swallow you whole?


Beyond grief my life consists of archaeology articles and labs, surviving on a white campus, and working to remember Black Joy. In the midst of this all I eagerly await a moment to read something away from my course work. A copy of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me sits on my bookshelf. I’ve yet to read it but I’ve listened to interviews, I know the reading is required. I know he tells his son, “This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.” I know this to be a truth of my own life — america is my country no matter how I feel about it and no matter where I go.


Hiwot Adilow is a singer-songwriter, poet, and performer. The Philly born daughter of Ethiopian immigrants writes most heavily about Love and the complexity of immigrant Blackness in all its gore and glory. Her writing has been featured or is forthcoming in Apiary Magazine, Duende Literary, and The Offing. She has also appeared on NPR’s Tell Me More and Wisconsin Public Television. Hiwot is a member of the First Wave Learning Arts Community’s 7th Cohort. She currently at UW-Madison pursuing a degree in Anthropology with a certificate in African Studies.

Why I Can’t Do Christmas…

 

For the past month you have likely been barraged by the sights, lights, sounds and smells of what is called “The Christmas Spirit.” You’ve pulled out your ugliest ugly Christmas sweater, and you’re ready to “deck the halls.”

You’ve watched The Grinch and Buddy the Elf about 10 times this month, blasted Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you” so loud ya neighbors came knocking (what happened to her voice anyway??), and you’ve decorated your crib to now include a 7 foot tree complete with garland, lights, candy canes, and whatever else y’all use to pimp out trees.

You’ve emptied your wallet in a shopping frenzy for the newest gadgets, and when it’s all over some of you will ponder whether all the stress and expense was really worth it.

Here’s a perspective from one browngirllifted writer who said adios to Christmas once and for all.


**Before I begin, I’d like to issue a disclaimer. I do not hate anyone who chooses to celebrate Christmas, nor do I have any interest in condemning anyone for observing a religious holiday. I simply wish to share my voice.**

I remember what Christmas used to mean to me as a child. Pictures with Santa at the mall, decorating Christmas cookies, sneaking in the basement to get a glimpse of gifts I assumed were for me. Yes, it was all very exciting. Every December I looked forward to getting a chocolate advent calendar just so I could count down the days until Christmas (even though I usually ate them all during the first week). For my family and me, December signified all things Christmas.

Christmas music.

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Christmas programs.

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Christmas movies.
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Christmas shopping.

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NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 24: Black Friday bargain hunters shop for discounted merchandise at Toys R’ Us, which opened at 9PM Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2011, in New York City. Marking the start of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday is one of retailers’ busiest days of the year. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

Christmas cookies.
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Christmas outfits

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Christmas decorations.

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Everything. Christmas

So how did I, your typical Christmas loving child, say goodbye to “The most wonderful time of the year?”

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Continue reading “Why I Can’t Do Christmas…”

For Colored Girls

-Nyesha Brown

Addressing Racism Online: An Open Letter

A couple of days ago, someone I consider to be a close friend sent me this mildly offensive meme that for one reason or another, she assumed I would find funny rather than offensive and hurtful.

racist meme

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to respond. Had it been something that somehow ended up on my Facebook timeline, I would have scowled in silent indignation and kept on scrolling. This ugly thing was staring at me in my messenger presumably waiting for verbal approval accompanied by LOLing emojis.

We’ve never discussed issues of race or racism in the past mostly because I felt some trepidation about addressing the issue directly for fear that she would shut down and become defensive as we have come expect from those who declare themselves “colorblind”.

What I DID say, in retrospect, left much to be desired.

“There are a bevy of fucked up implications in that meme. You probably shouldn’t share it with anyone else”

In that moment, I thought it got the point across — a conversational, softball way of saying, “Yeah, no, not funny, definitely racist.” without having to explain too extensively. I didn’t want to run the risk of insulting her intelligence by giving her a run down of why it was offensive, but then, if she saw this meme on Facebook, chuckled to herself and thought, “I know who would enjoy this, let me send this to Trisha”, then I probably should have assumed her racial aptitude also leaves much to be desired.

This is an open letter to my friend. Words I wish I had the quick thinking and intrepidity to actually say when it happened.

Continue reading “Addressing Racism Online: An Open Letter”

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