“I Pledge Allegiance…”: The Confederate Flag, Continued

On Sunday, I laid out part of my thoughts concerning the Confederate flag. And most of that most was at some racist fuck, so instead of talking at someone, I wanted to talk TO someone.

Continue reading “I Pledge Allegiance…”: The Confederate Flag, Continued

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Marriage Equality!

As you guys know, the wait for one battle to be done is finally over. On Friday, the Supreme court ruled that same sex marriage is a Constitutional right that is inherently deserved and is not illegal. As a member of the LGBTQIA community, I woke up extremely happy about this. This is the first step in a long journey to equalizing rights for us.

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Dealing with Patriarchy and Sexism on Social Media

I was inspired to write this piece because the my first post was apparently rather controversial. It was my family that has given me the push to write this piece. More specifically, my father and uncle. I love them, but it was rather interesting to receive calls from both of them telling me to calm down with my Facebook posts and what I say online. They went along the lines of “We’re concerned for your safety.”

There were so many things that upset me about this, and I hope to address most of them if not all.

Continue reading Dealing with Patriarchy and Sexism on Social Media

The Inside Scoop on Writing Classes: Phony or Profitable?

Monday was the final day of the writing class I had taken for my summer at Duke. It had started 5 pm, and continued on until 11 pm.  Why? Well, we had 4 notebook presentations (one of which was mine) and 4 short stories to critique, one of which took a full fucking hour, but we’ll get to that later. I never really held a place in my heart for writing classes. I always thought they would be full of way too many pretentious snobs, but when I found out that Duke had a minor for creative writing, I had to jump all over it. And luckily there was a class available that would fit my summer schedule perfectly and give me a creative writing credit. So I signed up, hoping for the best. I was both looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time;

My class was interesting on multiple levels. It was a rather diverse group. I was the youngest of the bunch (but it didn’t seem to matter too much, except for when they teased me :P. Thanks, guys). Of the twelve students, I was one of four black students, and one of two black girls. There were a few sorority and fraternity member, and a few selective living group members. I was impressed that it wasn’t just the same archetypes that you would expect.

Going through class, I hadn’t expected for the poetry section to be so significant. The class was titled, Into to Creative Writing. And before you just write me off as stupid for not checking the class description, I did. It wasn’t very lengthy, nor were there any reviews for the professor on RateMyProfessor, so I was going into this blind by default. I’m not the type of person to just chuck out poetry. Nope, I’m more of a fiction novelist (though I’ve never actually published anything yet. Maybe one day…), so I was completely out of my element. I also hate the type of poetry that’s all fluffy and has some uber deep meaning that takes an hour to decode… which is what we focused on.

Though the style of the poetry was not to my liking, at least the main poetry book that we read was decent. I enjoyed reading the book, although I probably wouldn’t have read in on my own this summer (I’m in the midst of a research essay, so pleasure reading has been put to the back burner).

The critiques I got from most of the classmates were actually pretty good. Not usually one to do poetry, I found it helpful receiving comments from my peers. The professor was pretty good, and he provided a lot of insight, but I did get a little tripped up by the grading rubric. There was none. Except that there was. Confused? So was I.

The critique I received from the professor followed a sort of pattern. It turned out that every single time I had an assignment to turn in, I was always asked to cut out parts of it. And I knew going in not to be married to parts of my work, as it was a draft, but I’m talking about something different. Every single he tended to prefer my writing without the main point. Like…… Huh? So you want me to write my poem, but without the meat of the story? I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

The last class was a doozy. We had been assigned to present part of our notebooks we were assigned to write in, which was fine, except for I’m weird. I am only going to give you the basics of my mind unless you indicate otherwise. Nobody had indicated otherwise, but of course, that was what we were supposed to do. So I went up there and gave my boring ass presentation.

The problem I had was when we went on for a full hour for one girl’s short story. She was the type of girl who you would expect to be in a writing class. Always liking to play with the beauty of the words. Her story was full of beautiful combinations of words, but I couldn’t follow it. Even the professor took awhile to get the grasp of it. I felt bad because when she explained the story it was actually really beautiful.

All in all, it was a pretty decent experience. I probably wouldn’t have taken it if it weren’t for my minor given the poetry, but it was a nice experience and I am looking forward to being completely done with it by this weekend.

On Navigating My Pro-Blackness in White Spaces

I have had this conversation multiple times with people of different races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. I’m positive I have driven quite a few people to rage with my opinions. My opinions are my opinions, so if you don’t like what I have to say, remember these are simply my views.

When I was younger, I remember how carefree I used to be. Not too much of a social activist then, but I was happy. Extremely naive, but happy.
Around fourth grade, my mother decided to convert us from Christianity to Islam. I was pretty content. Most of the teachings were pretty comparable to Christianity’s (of course, they had their differences, but I liked to cling to sameness.) It hadn’t really affected me too much. Of course I didn’t like Ramadan, but I did enjoy celebrating Eid, and prayers were fun to say in Arabic. It was a nice change.

I don’t remember exactly what day it was and such, but I do remember it was a pretty sunny day, and we were at. Recess. It was me and my the other “best friends” (everyone was your friends at that point). One if the girls, we’ll call her Dana, was having a sleepover for us and she kept going on and on about everything that she had planned. When I chimed in, she looked at me with pity.”My mom said that you can’t come.” My confusion at that statement prompted me to question “Why?”

“Because you’re a Muslim, and my mom said that Muslims are bad.”

At that time, my innocent little brain couldn’t understand why being a Muslim automatically meant I couldn’t go anywhere. I was a good Muslim, except for when I took Mom’s soda, but other than that I tried. And judging the other people we had met at the mosque, they were good people. Why couldn’t I go to a sleepover with my friends. I wasn’t able to put a word to this instance until later on in high school- Islamophobia.

This was only the first instance where I realized I was an otherized person, someone who was going to face discrimination. I remember how there was this little cheap store close to the orthodontist and dentist that would accept Medicaid. My mother had decided to look around one day and told us to stay close to her and not to touch anything. I didn’t understand at first, but soon we had been assigned to a personal watcher, following us up and down the aisle, eyes almost as big as a silver dollar. We left the store after, my mom very quickly and hurriedly buying some small thing. She scolded us pretty badly after that, saying we shouldn’t have been as loud, but I think she was really mad about the fact that we had been followed. That was definitely not the last time I had been followed in a store, and every single time, I felt worse and worse about myself.

Fast forward to May of 2014: my senior prom. Due to extenuating circumstances I had just barely been able to go, but I still made the effort. So what that I was the only black girl in my entire class, that nobody had bothered to invite, even as a group of friends? I wanted to go anyway, and I wasn’t going to let that bother me. And it was actually nice. I was having a good time. Until I had decided to get some air in the hallway. It had been very hot and I had been leading some of the dances that nobody had known what to do, and it was fun. I was joined by an acquaintance who I’ll call Joe. Joe and I had been relatively friendly to each other throughout the year, so I paid him no mind. “What’s up?” I asked.

He shrugged, then started to smirk at me. “You looked like a monkey in there, you know. Still kind of do now.” And like that, my senior prom was completely trashed. I was a hot mess of tears, None of the teachers bothered to ask, they probably just thought I was emotional. But the second he said “monkey”, I felt like my comfort had been completely ripped away.

These experiences, along with my studies of black history, led me to my declaration to be pro-black. But that has one with so many consequences.

I have heard criticism on both sides. “If you’re pro-black, it means you’re anti-white” and “If you really are pro-black then that means you’re racist against white people.” I have had it. Stop. My pro-blackness has nothing to do with hating white people. If you equate having the desire to have equal rights and opportunities, fair justice and due process for black people and people of color, wanting to not be followed around in a store or being unfairly slammed to the ground and have a gun pointed at a person simply for walking away from a cop, then you are a part of the problem.

To me, to be anti-white and racist against white people, it means I automatically hate them for their skin. Yeah, white people do some shitty things, as do people of all races (not excusing any of the bullshit that has been occurring, so don’t get upset at me, I’m just stating a basic fact) However, I would never hate an entire race. Because one person doing shitty things does not mean that we should hate an entire group of people. To me, being racist against white people means that I wish to see white people get unfairly lynched, their houses burned. It would mean that I would wish to see them have very little opportunity to get a loan for a better house or go to a “sketchy school” because it’s the closest thing  to them. And so much more. But I can’t wish that upon anyone, and wouldn’t wish that upon anyone, because this country is already difficult enough to live in without facing piles and piles of discrimination and masked racism. My pro-blackness never meant that I thought I was superior to white people or any other groups. I just want to be equal. Is that too much to have?

Coming to Duke, I have seen so much more going on than just race issues, and I definitely try to be a part of it. But I feel responsible for fighting for the black community. It’s where I come from. I was taught to take care of you and yours, so is it really that bad to be so passionate about having my people live?

These are definitely not all of my views, and I have way more to say about this, but I did want to get this out. Pro-blackness and racism are two different things, at least to me, and my desire to see the beauty in blackness does not mean that I wish to see the white race and culture, or any other race or culture, desecrated simply for the advancement of black people.

What does pro-black mean to you? When did you first face discrimination or racism? Leave me a comment, let me know. I’d be happy to expand on this another time.

Thanks for reading!

-JW

Natural Hair Chronicles: Summer Edition

At the end of December of 2014, I did my big chop after letting my hair transition for a year. For the past six months, I have come to learn a lot about my hair. Like, for instance, when my hair decides not to cooperate (which is quite a lot :p), it’s not the end of the world. These past six months have been challenge for me, but I’ve picked up a few tips along the way that I find particularly helpful for this time of the year.

1) Don’t Be Afraid To Try Out New Products. That’s not to say to go above and beyond your means, but feel free to try new things. With the extra time to spare, your hair definitely could use a few spa days along with you. I recently went to Whole Foods and spent $40 on virgin olive and coconut oil, flax seeds, and jojoba oil. I also went to Walgreen’s and got a few things from the Shea Moisture line. Your hair is like a person. People need to eat certain things for them to grow and be healthy. Nobody is going to the same exact things as another person. Your hair is the same way. Be willing to take some time and figure out what works for your hair specifically.

2) Hair bonnets and Wraps are a MUST! I was very naive when I was younger and assumed that my hair only needed to be wrapped when my hair was straightened or in some intricate hairstyle. Soo not true. When I first went completely natural, I found myself waking up to my hair a tangled and dry mess, even if I had moisturized and detangled it the night before. Your hair needs to be protected while you sleep. All the time you move around, your hair takes a hit. it also leaves you more susceptible for tangles and single-strand knots. Hair bonnets and wraps not only protect your hair, they help lock moisture in. And, if that doesn’t seal the deal, you can find them just about everywhere for cheap!

3) Stop Focusing on Your Length. At the beginning of 2014, I would always stress about my hair being too short. I had gone from almost waist length to a small bob at most, and I was definitely missing it. As a college student, stressing out about little things like this is the easiest way to drive yourself to insanity. Focus on the health of your hair. I would much rather have healthy short hair that can bounce back and withstand multiple stylings rather than dead, dull, long hair. Enjoy the journey. Your decision to go natural means a commitment, and true dedication. Your hair grows at a fixed rate. Of course there are ways to help it grow a little faster, but after that there is nothing you can do short of doing a dance to the heavens.

4) Put Your Hair In a Low Maintenance Hairstyle. Whatever style you find that works for your hair, run with it. That’s just a normal summer tip. When I was younger, my mother would put mine and my sisters’ hair into a cornrow-ed style (I hate cornrows now) and she would leave it in for the summer. Your hair grows a lot better and has a lot less breakage when you aren’t constantly touching it. It gives your hair a chance to breathe and run it’s natural growing phase. I currently have my hair in mini twists that I take down and re do every couple of weeks when it gets frizzy.

Those are some tips that have been doing a lot for me this summer. What helps your hair? Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks for reading!

-JW

Blackout Day: Summer 2015

So, I’m pretty sure that most people didn’t know, but in addition to it being father’s day and the first day of summer, it was also Blackout Day! For those of you missed the first blackout day and don’t know what I mean, let me break it down. Blackout day, formed by a group of people on Tumblr, decided that they were tired of going on to their social media forums and not seeing faces like them, aside from the negative ones that the media loves to show. The first one was in the beginning of March, and it was beautiful. It was so beautiful, getting to see so many melanated people have the confidence to post pictures of themselves. It was a small gesture, but it was a reassuring thing, encouraging me to keep going rather than secede to the numbness that has started to take over.

This blackout day, being that it was summer and I had very few friends on campus to share this day to just chilling out by the pool all Sunday, despite all the little kids running around for Father’s day. Luckily, I had been invited to a little cookout that some students from a near by university were having. I took probably one picture of me, but we had a really good time. There were probably about ten of us total, but it was so refreshing gathering around, eating, and sharing our stories. I don’t think I would forget something like that.

Thankfully, for those of you who missed it, there will be another one in the fall. What did you do this weekend? Did you get to spend time with your father? Leave me a comment, let me know. Thanks for reading!

-JW

P.S.: I now have a Facebook page and a Tumblr for this blog. Feel free to follow me @ educated black girl on both sites!

Honoring My Father

In honor of Father’s day, I decided to write a blog post all about him. I’m the oldest of eight children, three of them my full biological siblings (I say biological because I don’t like calling my siblings half). I could say so much about the man who I call Dad. Throughout the years he’s managed to provide love and care to each and every one of us without favoring anyone, yet still manages to personalize his love. He takes the time and effort we need to keep that relationship we had as children.
I remember growing up, I used to be the first person awake, especially on weekends. If my dad was home from work, he would sit downstairs and play video games. I would go and sit on the couch and watch him, though I promise you I can’t remember a single game by name. It was nice, sitting in silence, knowing I didn’t have to call him to talk to him.
As I got older, this turned into us going to the grocery store to get breakfast food to cook. We’d always have a conversation,  something concrete, rather than the quick 15 seconds on the phone.
Now that I’m completely put of the house, I go to my dad all the time for advice, and just to talk. He is my father, first and foremost, but he’s also my friend, my confidante, and a man I look  up to on a daily basis.
This is not the first father’s day we’ve been apart, but this is the first one we’ve had since I left for college. I feel so lucky to have this man, who’s been nothing short of a plethora of knowledge. So this is for you, Dad. Thank, Biscuit Head, for all those years, those talks and arguments, the punishments. All of them made me the strong young woman I am today, and you and I both know there is nothing I can never say or do that will even repay what you’ve done. I would like to say you’re the best dad, but I feel like that’s too cliché, so I’ll just say that you’re a really good dad, and that no matter what I know you respect my decisions, and I’m far too lucky to have you.

-JW