Feminism, Friendship, and the Importance of Bonding.

Think back to a time when you discovered your first friend. I remember mine like it was yesterday. We spent everyday together playing outside, riding bikes, and coming up with puerile story lines for our dolls. Everything was easy back then and we didn’t have to worry about politics, sexism, racial sensitivity, or fighting for a cause. Simply playing and having fun was the core of our friendship. Now as an adult, I realize of course how much goes into an friendship and how similar values matter within that friendship. Even as a child, we look for friends that have similar interests. Do you like being outside? How many Barbie dolls do you have? What do you watch on Saturday mornings? Can you recite the opening song of Clarissa Explains It All ? When we become older, the questions become more complex and imperative. We weed out those that don’t align with our same values, and keep those that do. It’s important to us adults that we surround ourselves with those that are like-minded, right?

As women, there is a distinctive line that draws us apart. Feminists vs. Non Feminists. Even within those two divides, women are continually split into subgroups.  We battle with intersectional feminism and the importance of inclusion. The very people we call “sisters” seem to turn their back when we need them the most. We go back to those presiding questions about friendship and weigh them heavily:  How can I be friends with someone when we don’t have the same views? You don’t have to. You are allowed to be picky with whom you allow in your circle. Not everyone is meant to be your cheerleader and not everyone is your worst enemy either. The tired rhetoric of kumbaya or “let’s all get along” is just not realistic. Respect those with varying and different opinions, but know when to surround yourself with people with similar values. Friendship is much stronger when it’s authentic and true. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for deleting a person or “friend” that doesn’t fit your standards. I’m not going to play sisterhood with everyone, and neither should you. I’m okay with having different opinions than you, and I respect you, but I don’t have to be your BFF.

I encourage all of you to cherish those adult friendships you have now, and to keep fighting for what you believe in. I’m so proud of the women out there fighting for our rights, and those that participated in the Women’s March all across the U.S., let’s keep up the good work. womens-march

As for books, I compiled a list of reading books that are all about friendship and feminism. Keep the love circulating and let’s continue supporting one another.

  1. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color- Cherríe L. Moraga Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Toni Cade Bambara

    313110

  2. Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism- Daisy Hernandez Bushra Rehman , Cherríe L. Moraga

    61442

  3. The Color Purple-Alice Walker

11486

4. The Help-Kathryn Stockett

5.Arab & Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, & Belonging- Rabab Abdulhadi , Evelyn Alsultany , Nadine Naber

8698126

6. Fangirl-Rainbow Rowell

8.Separate Roads to Feminism: Black, Chicana, and White Feminist Movements in America’s Second Wave-Benita Roth

1006784

Let’s Get Political: Books on Government and the Bloody World of U.S. Politics

1_ovzjwd1g7d0h7tar9tvcdw

Let’s all take a deep breath for a moment as we let the current election sink in and realize that our future is looking like #Trump/Pence for the next four years. I’m not going to go on a political rant about the election or my dislike for Trump. We can’t change the  outcome, but we can change the future and  get educated on how our political parties run. I was surprised to find how many people really don’t know how U.S. politics work, which is understandable because it’s a difficult puddle to wade through. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work; let’s fix what we don’t like. Although I’m all for a good meaty discussion about politics with the opposing sides, I do know better than to argue not knowledgeable on a subject. It’s better to fight educated and informed than to enter the ring blind. For your reading pleasure, I’ve made a list of great books to read about U.S. politics. I encourage all of you to read up on the facts and learn more about American politics and the judicial system. Some of the material is daunting, but it’s well worth the read if you’re curious about what goes on in Capital Hill.

The Conscience of a Conservative-Barry Goldwater

conscience-of-con

What’s the Matter with Kansas?-Thomas Frank

whatsthematterwithkansas

The New Jim Crow-Michelle Alexander

home_book_cvr

Our Revolution-Bernie Sanders

51lwvssdl-l__sx327_bo1204203200_

Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama-Tim Wise

51duzfsolcl

The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism, and White Privilege-Robert  Jensen

51eqzqgfgl__sx359_bo1204203200_

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America-George Packer

51thsfstf4l__sy344_bo1204203200_

While this list is small, the contents are magnanimous and will surely aid you in finding answers to how America is governed. I refuse to sit and be complacent with our impending future. It’s past the time to question, to reason, to evaluate. Our country can’t propel forward unless we do. I’ve been a little confounded in how accepting the media and news has been about Donald Trump’s presidency.  It’s like we are expected to just move past this terrible loss of humanity. There are many ways in which we can take an active participation in this new future; let’s work together to get educated. As an African American women I can already see blatant racism bubbling and bursting forth. Trump’s presidency will not stop me from driving forward and  creating ripples everywhere. If I have to live in this America where racism and sexism has the face of a president, then the entire four years you will hear my voice right along side of it, pushing against the force.

America, let’s do better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Read When the World Crashes Down and You Need Some Love

97b8a6dbf6826c1fb90bcbafe58f3260

Flashing screens displaying brown bodies piled up. Tears running down tired and blood stained faces. Screams and fists pumping in the air with anger. What do you do when your bones ache from being torn apart day in and day out? What do you do when  people tell you your skin color makes you in invaluable, when they say your life is invaluable. I too am sick of being reduced to a #hashtag or temporary Facebook post; I want more, I want to be valued. In the mist of such turmoil and police brutality, it’s vital we take care of our mental health. We need to string together any last bits of hope and love ourselves. To bask in the essence, the presence, and spirituality of us. It’s okay to be strong but it’s okay to also be human and let those emotions be felt. It’s okay to take time for yourself. It’s okay to step back from social media or the world, and invest in your mental clarity. Many expect black people (especially black women) to hold it all together, because essentially that is what we have done for centuries. But when we do that, we don’t allow ourselves to heal and grow, instead we become desensitized to horror, to pain. I encourage anyone who is left feeling stripped, crippled, voiceless, or tired to just take a breath. When I say breath, I mean a life breath, one that puts things in pause long enough to stabilize yourself. I’m angry and sad just like you, but I fear for the health of my self being if I don’t stop to pause and invest in my self care. Self care comes in many shapes and forms, and it ultimately what makes you feel the best and most whole. One of my self care practices is reading; reading books that fill me to the brim. When I read books that confirm how validated I am, it allows me to then take that knowledge and apply it to my everyday life. I have curated a list of books that inspire me and might be of some help to you. Let’s get rooted in ourselves again. I hope you feel better, wherever you are in the world or in life. Happy reading!

  1. Freedom: The Courage to Be Yourself-Osho

97015

2. The Diamond in Your Pocket: Discovering Your True Radiance-Gangaji

49231

3. Communion: The Female Search for Love-bell hooks

32886

4. One Day My Soul Opened Up-Iyanla Vanzant

30453

5. Eat, Pray, Love-Elizabeth Gilbert

19501

6.The Alchemist-Paulo Coelho

865

7. Afro Vegan:Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed-Bryant Terry

18209510

 

 

Book Review: Ain’t I a Women:Black Women and Feminism-bell hooks

518vU7rQnzL__SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

Racism is the barrier that prevents positive communication and it is not eliminated or challenged by separation.

Labeling oneself as a feminist has its demands and repercussions. People constantly challenge your ideas, your stance on feminism, picking and preening you until you become “their” idea of what a feminist is and should do. But part of being  a feminist is being able to open your dialogue to be inclusive, to challenge yourself, and the world’s ideology. While taking on the term feminist, I’ve known that many a times there is a clear distinction between white feminist ideology and black feminist ideology. Although there has been significant changes to the “feminist doctrine,” white feminism still is clinging to much of its sexist and racist paradigms. It raises the question if  you can still be a feminist if you strive to acquire white patriarchal privilege, or if you mold your feminist dogma to fit just one race, while leaving out the other voices and races. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism breaks down the underlying problems in the feminist movement and discusses the brief history of the African American woman’s role in society. We get to see the eye opening view of how America and the rest of the world truly view black women, and we get to stand in awe of the progress they have made on behalf of the black community and for feminism itself.

Sexist-racist attitudes are not merely present in the consciousness of men in American society; they surface in all our ways of thinking and being.

bell hooks is a genius for creating this piece of work. Ain’t I a Woman is everything you need to know about how black women have evolved in American society and how the feminist movement purposely excluded them from the changes made in society. The book is broken into five parts: 1. Sexism and the black female slave experience, 2. Continued devaluation of black womanhood, 3. The imperialism of patriarchy 4. Racism and feminism 5.Black women and feminism. Each section hooks compiles all of her research and writes about the plight of the black woman. She addresses sexism, racism, appropriation, stereotypes, social injustice, and economic welfare. It’s interesting to see how the “feminist movement” didn’t really include everyone. Instead it focused on how white women should progress in America. “Unfortunately , despite all the rhetoric about sisterhood and bonding, white women were not sincerely committed to bonding with black women and other groups of women to fight sexism,” hooks writes. She puts into perspective every feminist theory that surfaced and really calls on women, specifically white women to look at their feminism, to examine their goals of their cause. The book is not a light read , and will have you questioning and researching more into what being a true feminist means.

Change occurs only when there is action, movement, revolution.

This book definitely shook me, and even though I consider myself abreast on black feminist theory, it dove deeper into things I myself was unaware. This was not an easy read, as it is extremely academic and very analytical. I literally held a highlighter in one hand and took in each and every word bell hooks wrote. It’s educational and such an important book not only for black women but for all women everywhere. It will make your head swim with answers to your unanswered questions. I challenge everyone to give it a try; your outlook will definitely change as did mine. This particular body of work really allows me to see that I’m not the only one that thinks many feminist arguments leave out the black and other minority groups’ voice. hooks wrote this while she was just an undergraduate, and to see how “woke” she was at such an early age, gives me hope for the kind of work I intend to do. She pushes black women to continue being pioneers for womanhood. If you’re interested in feminist critique and theory, I urge you to read this book. It’s for everyone and every voice.

… I choose to re-appropriate the term “feminism,” to focus on the fact that to be “feminist” in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female, and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression.

 

 

 

A Cold Glass of Lemonade-Preparing for a Summer Full of Reading

09-beyonce-lemonade-stylist

It seems just about everywhere, the word “lemonade” is constantly escaping people’s lips. Whether in reference to Beyoncé’s album, Lemonade, or drawing a glass of the chilled drink to a parched mouth; lemonade is in everyone’s life. In more ways than one, Beyoncé has contributed to an ongoing discussion on blackness in the world and in society. She’s using her platform to talk about hard issues that women, especially black women have faced and are continuing to face today. While I know she’s not the only one heralding about black womanhood, I do like that she is making everyone come to attention with black womanhood. Scholars and academics have been discussing this topic for ages, however not everyone is in the position to access this erudite outlet. Beyoncé on the other hand is very accessible as she is in the forefront of media and entertainment.  By her stepping out and announcing that black femininity and the disparity within that complex is important and valid, it allows all to have access to the conversation. Everyone has a seat for them at the table.  More and more girls and women are becoming unapologetically black, embracing their flaws and fortitude.

No, this isn’t another think piece into the inner workings of Lemonade. Rather it’s how I will use the momentum of Lemonade to create a space for my summer reading. This summer is all about the lemonade, drawing inspiration from Beyoncé’s album and reading books that are just as innovative and self (black) loving. Does this mean that I go pick out a whole bunch of books that are written by black people? No, it means carefully crafting my reading conspectus to include works that deal with all of the many subjects Lemonade discusses. Sisterhood, black femininity, black masculinity, motherhood, fatherhood, popular black tropes, depression, infidelity, and so much more. It’s being able to read the novels, poems, etc., and then having a participation at the table. It’s about pushing representation on all platforms. Lemonade created a much needed dialogue men and women need to have among each other and with themselves.

This summer I’m taking a big swig of lemonade and pressing the art the album created and placing it in my reading agendum. I’m filling my shelves with books that not only bare the pain and despondency of black people, but the history, the backbone to it all. There are texts upon texts that touch on black literary theories and feminists critiques. While I can’t read every book this summer, I will read plenty that evoke all the Lemonade-esque vibes. The literary world is one place where the information is plentiful and doesn’t require a prerequisite in order to turn a page. Beyoncé is pouring artistic and literary tangy goodness, and I’m here to take a sip.

Here are just some of the books I added to my summer roster.

  1. Ain’t I a Woman-bell hooks

518vU7rQnzL__SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

2. Summer of the Cicadas-Cole Lavalais

SOC_Front_cover_official_12-14_1024x1024

3. Between the World and Me-Ta-Nehisi Coates

bew

4. Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship-Aimee Meredith Cox

23309939

5. What is Not Yours is Not Yours-Helen Oyeyemi

grid-cell-948-1453231945-8

6. We Love You, Charlie Freeman-Kaitlyn Greenidge

grid-cell-12809-1453232642-4

7. Blackass-A. Igoni Barret

grid-cell-25953-1453233245-4

While the list may seem small, the content inside is momentous. I encourage all of you to get in formation and join in on reading texts that are Lemonade worthy.

What are you reading this summer?

Happy Reading!

 

 

National Library Week 2016

nlw-thunderclap3.png

We all know the importance of libraries and its impact it’s had on the world  and in many lives. This week (April 10-16) is National Library Week! It’s sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and honors the many libraries in the nation. This year the theme is Libraries Transform. This is a great time to be reminded of the influential work both libraries and librarians have had in our world. Let’s promote and encourage the use of libraries wherever you are. I know I’m thankful for everything the library has offered me as it has been my sanctuary many times. My love of books has definitely come from being at the library often. To read more about National Library Week and find out what things you can do to promote the library, go here. Keep reading and don’t forget to support your local library!

What and where is your favorite library?

Happy Reading!

What I’m Listening To-A Podcast Haul

Every morning before I get ready to go to work, I listen to a podcast; sometimes more than one depending on the length. I am a podcast feign, as I love to listen to them just about anytime. My podcasts range from bookish podcasts, news, interviews, and stories. There is definitely a podcast to fit my every mood. If you are new at podcasting or just don’t know what to listen to, I created a list to help you. Here are some of my recommendations and a brief description.

  1. NPR News

unnamed.png

This gets me started in the morning as to what is going on in the world. I like it because it’s only about 5 minutes long and gives  debriefing on politics, in country, and global issues. Since I live in South Korea and feel a bit removed from my home country, it’s nice to stay connected by listening to this podcast. I have found out many major current world conflicts through NPR news.

2. Your Motivational High 5

600x600bb

I also listen to this one every day in the morning. It’s short (5 minutes) and is great motivation to get your day started.  It’s positive affirmation on how to live a more meaningful life. I try to start my day on a positive note, so this is a great morning fix.

3. The Friend Zone

tfz

Ah, this is my Thursday refresher. Hosted by Assante, Fran, and Dustin they provide a wellness podcast but also incorporate pop culture. I love the topics they discuss and being a wellness junkie myself, it’s great to know more about things we can do to protect our mind, body, and spirit. Their perspectives are all different, but that’s what makes it great!

4. My Meditation Station

Meditation-Station-Podcast

This is another positive affirmation podcast, but it is more meditation based. The woman’s voice is amazingly soothing and I always listen to it at night as I lay in bed. I never finish it though because it knocks me right out! If you want to some good sleep, I suggest downloading this one.

5. Book Riot

O

This one is my favorite book podcast. It gives you insight into what is going on in the book world and it’s all things current events (well bookish current events). Jeff and Rebecca highlight some great topics and I always feel abreast on what is going literary wise. They also give good book recommendations.

6. Serial

Serial-2

This one is a popular one.  It’s a gripping series that highlights one popular story/investigation a season. Sarah Koenig is the host and producer and really digs in into the interviews. It’s now season two and it continues to be at the top of the iTunes audio chart. To explain the series would be a lugubrious task, so I’ll just say that once you start the podcast, you’ll be hooked.

7. Book on the Nightstand

podcastlogo1400x1400

This is another great podcast about current events happening in the book world. The hosts both work in book publishing so they often have insight to books that aren’t released yet. I find many books I read tend to come from the recommendations of this podcast.

8. The Read

avatars-000051152214-37az46-t500x500

This one is by far my favorite! Fridays mornings are dedicated to listening to The Read. It’s all things pop culture from the black perspective (thank God for that). Kid Fury and Crissle are hilarious and will definitely bring the petty and verbal smackdown to whatever or whomever. It’s not all about the drama though; they have a segment called Black Excellence which highlights amazing things people of color are doing in the world. This is one podcast you definitely don’t want to miss.

9. Another Round

avatars-000177536571-kr95uh-t500x500

I love Another Round for many reasons. One being that the hosts (Heben and Tracy) are educated black women who get to interview some amazing and influential people from all over. From the backbone of Buzzfeed, Heben and Tracy bring comedy and a little liquor to the scene, and make the whole podcast a great hang out time. While many of their interviews are lighthearted and fun, there are some that are quite serious in tone. Either way Heben and Tracy know how to get a party started!

10. Grammar Girl

twitter

This one is quite simple. It’s a podcast about grammar, punctuation, usage, and new developments in the English language. The host Mignon Fogarty does a great job in providing quick info on different grammatical usages in the English language. It’s fun and educational, and keeps me on top of my grammar game.

These are the podcasts I mostly listen to, and hopefully you can too. What is your favorite podcast? Do you have any recommendations?

Happy Reading!