The Help– A Book Review

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It’s the fourth Tuesday of the Month and the last post for Black History Month, so it’s about time I got back on track and gave you what you’re looking for…

Welcome to Bookworms, BHM edition!

Today, I want to review one of my favorites and one of the few pieces of literature where I’m still not sure whether the movie or the book was better. But either, there’s got to be a reason I have a quote from this book on my laptop. So without further ado, here we go.

The Help—Kathryn Stockett

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As a novel that builds on the historical subjugation of black people, this one is a hard hitter without making sure to catch some pretty sweet moments in between. Even as Aibileen takes up her job as a maid and nanny in raising another white child—Mae Mobley—soon after the loss of her own child, we have an inside look into the discrimination and prejudice that she along with her friends and coworker Minny face in this 1960’s slice of life.

One big thing that this novel that tackles, something that many people did not brings a whole lot of attention to, was the idea of being an ally rather than a bystander. We see this through the character of Eugenia, or Skeeter, in her determination to stand against the prejudicial society she was raised in. In this situation, just like those who stood by Dr. King Jr and all those who fought for equal rights (that we still don’t have), we wouldn’t be anywhere without the noise we created as a collective. Allies are necessary. Through her own white priviledge, Skeeter found a way to use her own access to create some for people who would never get it on their own.

She became a catalyst. Every chance to make a change needs one.

As for another reason I like this book so much, well the quote on my laptop reads: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Just take a look at those three sentences; read it an extra time for good measure.

Did you notice the grammar? It isn’t proper. It’s the basic stereotype that black people don’t know how to speak properly. But the thing is, that concept is steeped in a whole lot of history because black people were not allowed to go to school and therefore, many didn’t learn to read and write unless their “master” taught them. If they didn’t learn that— and even when they did, they weren’t taught to any high standard— then they couldn’t learn to speak well because… Because the barriers of prejudice, racism, and an unequal society didn’t let them ever learn how. That is why, when Aibileen speaks those words to young Mae Mobley, it immediately created a juxtaposition between black and white, unbiased child and everyone else.

It’s not that the child didn’t see color, not at all. It’s that she hold prejudices attached to skin color that changed how she saw the woman who raised her rather than her own mother.

If that’s not a book that breaks barriers in just a few small parts of the book, then I don’t know what is.

I hope you’ve read this book; if you have, I want to hear about it! And if you haven’t, well put it on your list because this is a novel you don’t want to miss out on. Trust me on that.

See you Friday.

To Be or Not To Be

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I don’t know if you all know this, but the original Hamlet “to be or not to be” quote is about suicide, and today I’m changing that association. This blog post is about living. You’ll see.

Well it’s a Friday night, the end of a four-day week, and what I hope has been a good day for you. This week has been a bit hectic in my life, classic quarter system week 7 with more midterms, projects, story reviews etc. The list goes on.

Maybe it’s because week 7 of my winter quarter is over and I’m realizing that I will only ever be able to say that one more time in my college career, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my path lately… All of our paths.

Not a single one of them has been linear. Let me explain why this matters so much.

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Something about American culture, especially in my generation and below, makes us feel the need to compare ourselves and where we’re at with one another. You were either an early bird or a late bird, GATE or not GATE in elementary school. Then middle school and high school: you were in accelerated math/english or not, you were an AP student or not. We have grown up comparing ourselves to one another.

Even when it’s not really fair.

But now, when you get to age 20 or 21, most of our lives can’t be compared that easily. In college, we’re all in different majors and outside of college, everyone is doing something different.

Some people are married with kids, others are single and travelling the world—the rest of us are somewhere in between.

And somewhere between point A and… wherever we are now, someone told us that we’re supposed to be doing what all the other people are doing. But think about that. When we’re all doing something different, that makes “success” impossible. I guess what I’m saying is, with that attitude, we’ve been raised to fail.

Don’t you see that?

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The way I’ve been living my college years so far, at least the first two, I did things because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. From clubs to orientation, I joined things and became a part of my campus because I figured it was what I should do. If all my friends found themselves liking college by doing that, I thought it would make me happier here.

Long story short, it didn’t.

I felt out of touch with this campus, my schoolwork, and so much else that makes me who I am. After two years of doing things that I thought was good or right or better, I started listening to myself and trusting my gut.

But even more so, I began asking for help if I really wasn’t sure.

Then things started changing.

My relationships began to feel intentional, my goals started to feel more like mine, and my place on this campus started to feel a little more comfortable.

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Because I stopped looking at where everyone else was and started to think about where I wanted to be. That’s it. The only person I ever need to be is a little bit better than the girl I was yesterday. Sometimes, there will be steps back and other times there will be four steps forward.

No matter what, this week I’ve learned to let myself just exist as I am and stop comparing so much. Maybe now I can figure out what my own success might actually look like.

Here’s to the weekend, I hope you are all doing alright. Happy Friday.

Today is Not the Day

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It’s been a whirlwind week here, beginning with jumping my car at 10:30 on a Sunday night and ending with the mayhem of midterms and Valentine’s Day festivities. It was one of those weeks where I got about 3 hours of sleep one day and almost 11 on another.

Sounds kinda like college.

If you noticed, there was no Poetry Place on Tuesday, hence the midterms Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday took priority. But I did want to give you at least a little something.

So that’s part of today’s post. Because after all, it is Black History Month, something that people are also beginning to realize is not only ‘his’tory but ‘her’story too. The more I think about what has had to happen in the past for me to be where I am today, the more I also think about what I do and care about that will then lead me into a future I hope to have.

After all, my current reality will become a part of my own history before I know it. The least I can do is make the most of it.

You see, everything I’ve thrown myself into on Cal Poly’s campus is a huge part of what is changing my future. The things I’m passionate about and the people I hold onto in my life, all of that is changed by what I’m doing here. That’s why I write, why I follow the things I do or pay attention to the people that I want.

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Weeks like this one put it all in perspective. Because, sure, I’m working hard to get a degree to then find a career so I can afford a stable life. But it’s bigger than that.

Beyond the degree and the classes I have the people and the passions and the aspirations that are molded out of the clay I walked onto this campus with.

While I fight to figure out what I want and the directions I want to go in, I’m also beginning to realize that I need to pick my battles somewhere in between.

Some days are better fit for buckling down and grinding out a few hours of hard studying. Others are the ones to maybe spend a few hours watching too much tv or wasting too much time with friends.

I’m starting to realize that college is about learning to pick my battles.

Because within that, some days are the ones to allow myself the grace to take a step back from everything that will take away pieces of me that I need for my own good. And others, well… You get the point. Sometimes I can afford to give a little. Other times, I need to learn when not to.

The Poetry Place of this post, it’s about learning the difference in what that means. Learning the balance.

It’s a part of my life after all, every one of our lives. It’s about deciding which day is which. Maybe if you’ve figured it out, you can pass along some tips in the comments. In the meantime, here’s Today is Not the Day.


Today is not the day

to feel like I can conquer the world,

to hold my head a little too high,

or feel like this will be alright.

Today is just a day

to exist, to keep breathing,

to understand it’s all I can do,

to remember that I’m not okay

and that’s okay.

Because today is just a day,

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time will move forward,

and it will pass.

This day will become

a part of the past

just like they always do.


Happy Friday everyone. I hope you had a wonderful Valentines and remembered all the love that should come from you too. See you next week.

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The Truth About Learning

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There’s something about this week that has made me really think a lot about who I have grown to become in these past few years. Maybe it’s the newer people I’m finding in my life, maybe it’s the amount of things I’ve thrown myself into, and maybe it’s just… Me. This is how we grow.

Wednesday marked 16 month since Maddie died. 16 months and I still can’t believe it. I miss her every day. But I look at the person I was when she was here and who I am now that she’s gone and they are two completely different people all together.

I mean, a lot can happen in a 16 months.

Lately, I’ve been learning how to be honest. I’ve been struggling with a few big things in my life for years on top of years now, but I am only just forcing myself to face it all or find people who truly will support me in each of them; life is too short not to feel like you’re actually living it.

There is no point spending time on people who don’t make us better in the process.

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This extends to the things we put ourselves into. Even though I went into my first year telling myself that I would never be a WOW Leader or volunteer for it, somehow I’ve found just a few people through orientation that truly made me realize what a difference we can make on our campus. Sure, so I haven’t loved my time here at Cal Poly. But what I do love is the power and the capability I have to make it so other marginalized and minority students might be able to.

After all, I still have another year to enjoy it myself.

But the more things I get involved in, from Her Campus to CCE, the less time I have to allocate into taking care of myself. Admittedly, this is very important of course, but so are all the little things I am involved in.

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I work because I am a lead and have a responsibility to learn more skills from it. Plus, money. I write because we deserve to have our voices heard by people willing to listen to us. This blog is irreplaceable to me.

And I volunteer, so so much of my time and effort, whether it’s to orientation, people, or other things simply because every person I am doing it for or listening to or spending time with or working towards making something better for is incredibly important to me.

I do it because it means something, even when it’s difficult.

I’m just having a hard time balancing it all along the way.

There will never be another time in my life that looks like college. From the people to the classes, I’m probably never going to learn so many different things in such a short period of time ever again.

I won’t have multiple opportunities a year to have my voice heard and put my work out there. I won’t be surrounded by some of my favorite people in mandatory weekly meetings every Sunday. And I won’t live just a floor away from my womb-mate to roommate of a twin brother.

Just like I miss a few people because I never saw their goodbyes coming, I don’t want to miss out on college opportunities and my own life because I didn’t apply myself. Because I wasn’t honest about it.

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So I’m working on it, all of it, for you and for me. It’s going into my writing, my drawing, my hoping, and my loving. Every bit of that impacts you and this blog. And I’m excited to see what might happen.

I hope you’ll stick around to find out.

As History Folds Into Reality

“It is the mind that makes the body.”

–Sojourner Truth

“We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too.”

–Langston Hughes

As another long week of Winter Quarter and the beginning of Black History Month, today is the birthday of these two incredible figures in history. So I’m starting with them.

In the past, many have told us who to be or what to think or how to act because we were not given the freedom of choice. I look at the life I hold, the privileges laying in my hands, and I thank people like these two—both their quotes can tell you why.

If the mind is what makes the body, I am thankful for the opportunity and freedom I have to think the way I do. Growing up, I was told to dream up whatever dream I wanted; then become it. Fifty years ago, I wonder how many black people believed in this the way I am now allowed to.

My mind is creative, and annoying, and full, and too loud, and beautiful sometimes; it’s all of the above. Therefore, my body is the same. Yet, there are no boundaries on what my mind can do, nor are there limits on what I chose to do with my body (to an extent). Because of people like Sojourner Truth, I come to you every week with this blog and I follow my passions.

For me, this is a privilege.

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Like Langston Hughes—if I ever were to make any comparison between him and myself—I am an artist. I have learned to express myself through my art, in writing, music, drawing, and so much more. Though I still have a long way to go in expressing everything I want to, in being vulnerable and open about who I am or where I’ve been, it takes time and a whole lot of practice.

But I don’t need to fear and I do not need to feel shame. Not in the way people like me have in the past.

For this, I am lucky.

My art is not to please others, simply to put pieces of myself into the world around me. My art is what balances me out. If I write, I write for myself and share such work with you because I think you deserve to hear it if you so choose. Though I do hope you are pleased at least occasionally, in the long run it shouldn’t have to matter.

Because it will be beautiful and ugly and everything in between whether you see it or not.

I hope you see it.

Take a look at the quotes I started with, the two people I chose to honor today. Those quotes could mean anything to anyone, they could represent something completely different.

And that’s okay. Because for these things, for interpretations and art, there is no one truth. For our bodies and our minds, there is no singular correct way to exist.

We just do. And if you’ve made it this far, know that I appreciate you for existing here with me this week.

Have a wonderful weekend. And I will see you Friday.