A Quarter Closer to Right

fabian-mardi-119790-unsplashI finished my last final for winter quarter by noon today and just like that, I am one quarter away from being halfway through my undergraduate career (hopefully).

I have to say though, I don’t think I’ll miss weeks like this past one. I’ve spent more time studying in the past week then I probably have on average of any two week periods throughout this entire quarter. By the end of it all, I owned every bit of material I learned.

Does that mean I’ll remember it by the end of the year though? Probably not.

But hopefully, what I hope I do remember are all the books I can squeeze in between breaks and small moments of serenity that I can get my hands on. Even though I’ll have a new Book Worm post up for you on Tuesday, there is one quote that I keep thinking about from my current read, The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas.

Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.

Now maybe I’ve just been reading too much Chaucer this week, focusing in on the ideas of theodicy, intent vs intentionality, etc. But this quote seemed too big to ignore.

As someone who is about to leave behind a decade in my life to enter a new one within the next month, the idea of doing things right is always on my mind somewhere. People used to ask me, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

toa-heftiba-274947-unsplashAs if I ever really had an answer for that.

Fifteen years ago, it was probably a vet because I liked animals. Ten years ago, a doctor, because that’s what I grew up around. And now, sure, I’ll throw out the words “a writer” or some other dream I know I want to chase, but there’s one that I’ve never quite said out loud because of how cliche the idea can really be.

When I grow up, just like I am every time I look back, all I want is to be doing something right.

So how does one measure what is right?

I guess if we had that question answered, so many of us wouldn’t still be asking. To measure the success of being right, of doing all of this right, I think at some point we have to accept there isn’t only one answer.

Just like I don’t feel ready for my finals until I feel ready. Maybe that takes me a week straight of studying and maybe that takes someone else just a few hours. It depends on us.

That feeling of doing something right, it’ll come down to me.

Sometimes I joke with my parents that they can come visit me in ten years, but they’d have to be okay with cramming the few of us into my little box of a home because that’s all I’m going to be able to afford. Either that, or I move back in with them, assuming they haven’t retired, up and left already. The empty nester’s ultimate goal.

arunas-naujokas-485529-unsplashAll joking aside though, sometimes I wonder how adults figured it all out. I mean, yes at age 18 I am considered an adult but let’s be honest, maybe young adult at best. The idea used to be karma for me— if I do everything right and check all the boxes, everything will simply fall into place. Because I deserve it.

But I’ve learned over the years that karma isn’t quite all there is; it doesn’t always work out that way. Things probably usually don’t.

So maybe I’ll check all the boxes, I’ll keep doing what I feel is right, and things still go wrong. Does that mean it’s my fault, that at some point along the way I made a wrong turn or if doing right doesn’t get me where I want, then what’s the point?

No, in reality, I think it just means that we have to fight a little harder and push through all the problems standing in our way.

Because, though I might talk about it more on Tuesday, equality isn’t the same as equity and neither is the same for the circumstances any of us are born into. For some people, things are bound to work out differently due to where our lives fall within the brackets opportunity. And that’s that.

I could ask every parent I know if they ever felt like they were doing exactly what they needed to be to get where they wanted, but if I asked my own, I don’t even think they would have a solid answer for that.simon-matzinger-603033-unsplash

Maybe we all figure it out eventually because we keep doing our own version of right and find ourselves changing, our paths turning, along the way. There are no guidelines, no right boxes to check and no true rules to follow (technically).

Hopefully for me, all answers on that english final were right this morning and I can watch a good grade fall into my GPA. But one way or another, all’s is well that ends well.

All we have are the today’s to do something right and let the rest fall into place.

Redefining a Home

aman-bhargava-282998-unsplashOn Tuesday, I shared a piece of who I am with you through a poem that I never thought I could write.

I never thought I would so openly talk about what my minority definition means to me— as a student, as a woman, as another human being living the way we do… When I showed up on this campus eighteen months ago, I didn’t quite picture myself writing something like that, let alone allowing it to be shared on a stage or on my own blog.

I only wrote it, I only shared it, because I needed to.

After graduating high school, my transition to college was filled with a lot of turmoil within both this school and myself. I wasn’t sure how I fit into this new school I was supposed to be calling home when it only felt like a temporary place. I’d like to say that in my second year here, it all makes sense now and I understand where I belong.

But I don’t understand, you knew I was going to say that didn’t you?

If I’m being honest, I wouldn’t have the majority of my writing in the past year and a half if I had found anything I thought I was looking for here.

The one thing I seem to have found, what I wasn’t even looking for, was my voice.

I’m starting to think maybe that’s the home I should have been seeking out in the first place. The idea that this is the point— not quite finding a home, or half of what I thought I wanted or needed.yeshi-kangrang-258234-unsplash.jpg

Each time I thought I had found what I was looking for, I’d take a step back with the prize in my hands only to look down and be… Disappointed. My expectations got in the way, what I thought it was supposed to be.

I got in my own way.

Trying to make this place into everything I wanted it to be somehow managed to make it feel like the opposite. There are some people who can’t find what they’re looking for, so instead they make the best out of what they’ve got or they go out there and make it for themselves. But me?

I’m more of a follower. At least I thought I was.

With that piece, with my life and my decisions here… My hands start writing and my mind decides to follow.

I’ve been writing for a long time now, finding the slightest feeling of escape through whatever I manage to put down on paper. But more than the classes or the people or the area, I’ve learned something bigger more than what I thought I was coming here for.

I’m learning to make a home out of myself. To finally follow my own instincts without second guessing or expecting anything, but simply hoping for the best.

Do you ever look in the mirror and dislike the way your hair curls in a certain direction or one eye opens a little bit more than the other? Sometimes I’ll write something (or paint something), know it is absolutely awful, and have to find a way to be okay with that. To accept whatever comes out of what I can do in the moment. To make a home out of the flaws.

lea-bohm-439491-unsplashBecause in a way, that’s what life is the things don’t always go as planned. That’s what my writing is when I put pen to paper— you make do with what you have, what you feel you need to do, and take it all as it comes. You adjust.

I know it sounds trite but coming from someone who never quite saw class as optional when you need a day off or truly understood how to be okay my own truths, it takes a lot to make a home out of the temporary places and our flaws.

It takes a lot to be honest with ourselves and sometimes, each other. That doesn’t mean we can’t. It just means we have to be okay with it first.


A Black Woman’s Battle Cry

priscilla-du-preez-172598-unsplashJust like I promised last week, here is my piece that was performed in the Original Women’s Narratives Saturday night. Fair warning, there is explicit content in this and it’s a bit longer/stronger than what I usually write.

For good reason.

Growing up, I feel like the conscious stares whenever my classed talked about MLK in elementary school or the mumbled apologies when I walked past someone saying the n word in high school always showed up in my peripherals. Not because I wasn’t ready to notice them– I was– but because I was tired of having to notice them.

Did I ignore the stares? Yes.

Did I accept those apologies with a nod before moving on? Yes.

Should I have? I don’t know. That’s the thing, I don’t quite know where I stand on what it means to stand up for myself without seeming like the angry black woman in my own head.

That doesn’t mean I never said anything.

Sometimes I might stay quiet, but that doesn’t mean I plan to. I let my writing say what I usually won’t. So this is me, my definition and what I know I need to fight for in my own life. What we all need to fight for– not only equality, but equity.

Here is my spoken word poem, A Black Woman’s Battle Cry.

A Black Woman’s Battle Cry

eye-for-ebony-399310-unsplash.jpgWhen I was thirteen, I realized my hair was not like the other girls.

It didn’t swish and sway, shining as I walked.

It didn’t grow past my ass in less than a year.

No, it was different, it was curly, messy, kinky as they say.

All I knew was what it felt like, that I was different.

Then my mother called it one word: nappy.

That is the lifestyle of a black girl living around so many others who look nothing like her;

Standards get confused, unspoken boundaries get crossed

and people might ask me if I get “tanner in the summer”

or “did your hair grow 10 inches overnight?”

All I could ever reply was “sure.”

I let it go.

Because it’s not their fault they were ignorant, that they didn’t know…

Except maybe it was.

In youth, those words are a mistake.

In adulthood, this becomes ignorance.

etty-fidele-407371-unsplash.jpgBecause when the ignorant boys believe in that mistake,

they grown into ignorant men; they belittle me.

Whispers here and there, as I see a nudge and hear the words

“I ain’t never tasted chocolate before.”

As if I am some commodity to be consumed and disposed of.

That is not what I am.

Yet it makes me question exactly what defines that; what defines me beyond my skin color or my hair texture?

My athletic ability or my home life?

My academic record or my grammar usage?

What about my skin color makes it seem like it’s okay to overstep the bounds of being treated like a human being?

No, you may not touch my hair.

No, I do not play basketball.

No, I do not come from a one parent household.

And no, I am not someone you can throw the word “nigga” around with because you think the color of my skin is some invitation to violate the simple rules of morality.

Just because you know someone who looks like me, just because you’re friends with people “like me”

does not mean you know anything about who I am.brannon-naito-414362-unsplash

You do not know me unless I allow you to.

You do not touch me until you hear the word “yes.”

Am I a black girl, born and raised in a nice town, who acts a little more white than black?

Am I an achieving, dedicated student, with brains overlooked for color and assumed to be less than I am?

And am I a minority at one of the most prestigious CSU’S, representing women of my color while holding onto my own identity?

Because I am a scholar, I am an African American, I am a second generation college student, I am a minority,

and I am a woman.

Not a single one of these things alone can define who I am, yet we live in a world where people act like any one of them does.

Where pay is determined by chromosomes.

Where equality is determined by color.

And where opportunity is determined by causation.

So my question is, does society determine my purpose too?

Is it my nappy hair that doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the girls;

camila-damasio-2720-unsplash.jpgNo easy “5 minute hairstyles” or “elegant updos done easy” that applies to me in doctors office magazines.

Or maybe the way they see me as a commodity, an opportunity, before tossing me around and treating me like a toy;

Not because my skirt was too short, because I was “asking for it.”

No, because they wanted to try out a darker shade for once.

Or maybe it’s the difference between a man and a women when I do everything I can and yet, my “womanhood” takes away from my proficiency.

Just enough to get paid twenty percent less, take out another dollar for the unprofessionality of my “nappy” hair.

How do we define purpose, define being, without looking past what we see?

How do we make change when so many people do not seem to want to see it at all?

I want to walk into a room and not be judged by my skin or by my body, no. Judge me by my mind.

By my intelligence.

By my character.

For it is believed that being born into different circumstance automatically puts you three steps back from the rest.

As we live in a world where it is assumed that the color of our skin and identified gender are constraints of our being.aman-bhargava-282998-unsplash

But they are not, if anything at all, they are simply boundaries to push,

lines to cross,

and glass ceilings to keep breaking down again and again

until they can exist no longer.

Because I am an African American, nappy haired, powerful woman who wants the equality I deserve.

And I’m ready to break this shit down.

A Little News and New Shoes

john-noonan-420156-unsplashAfter a few sunny days, we’re back to rain here in Slo and we just hit the end of week 9. Finals start in one week. As much as I want to say time crept up on me, it didn’t.

Between work and class and the life of a college student, things have been pretty busy for me this quarter— way busier than I ever was last year. I like to look back and wonder what I did with all my free time… Then again, I know I spent it all on chemistry. Yet here we are again, almost prep week for winter quarter and I can’t say I’m too excited for it. Lucky for me, there is one thing I have to look forward to before we get to the real grind.

I’ve got some more news for you today!

Last year my parents came down for Nick and my birthday and it just so happened that there was a show on campus that Saturday night. We weren’t sure what it was, just that it was called the Original Women’s Narratives (OWN) and we were offered free tickets for it. They were free after all, so we went without any idea what we were getting into.

I’m really glad we did.

The show turned out to be incredible, a play completely run, directed, and acted out by woman-identifying students from all cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life. The best part about it? It was all written by the students. The play took us through the writer’s experiences from mental health and sexual harassment, to discrimination against race or sexuality. Each and every story told brought you into their lives, giving you a chance to walk around in their shoes for a bit.

To try them on for size.

So why am I telling you about the show, considering I went to it almost a year ago?

I’m telling you because this time, my story is about to be told on that stage. Tomorrow james-baldwin-276255-unsplashnight.

One of the beautiful things I think this play does is that it allows students to show people who they are or what they’ve been through. In letting us submit our own pieces to the show coordinators and even audition for the part, it’s amazing to see what comes out of it.

This year, I wasn’t so sure about getting up there two days in a row to tell the world about my experiences and my struggles in life. If you know me, you’d know that I am (for the most part) an introvert; that’s changed a little bit since college, but not that much. I’ve always been a behind-the-scenes kind of girl, so I submitted my piece to be performed rather than auditioning to perform it myself.

In retrospect, I probably should have shoved myself out of my comfort zone to perform it anyway, after all, that’s what college is about. But I remember the feeling of sitting in that audience, hearing those stories for the first time– the echo of snaps sounding throughout the room, the power emanating off that stage. It was something worth putting my own writing into. And I’m SO excited to see what they decided to do with it.

Because sometimes we put our work out there, we lay ourselves out for show, and all we can do is wait to see what happens. Sometimes, we get rejected. We don’t quite fit the bill.

And sometimes, we allow the vulnerability to happen only to find that the payoff is so much more than we could have imagined. We make new friends and memories, find more outlets and opportunities… When we take a chance on ourselves, in our lives and in our work, we give ourselves a chance to be something we haven’t been yet— better.

In putting my writing on display, I am taking a small step out of my comfort zone to share my life and my voice with the world around me. priscilla-du-preez-172598-unsplashThough I don’t know yet whether my words will be rejected or accepted, maybe that isn’t always the point. Maybe the point is to do it despite the uncertainty, to let ourselves be afraid of the outcome but willing to grow with whatever comes next.

I think I’m ready to wait and see what happens tomorrow night, to watch my Original Woman’s Narrative be played out in front of me.

So keep an eye out for Tuesday’s new Poetry Place where I get to share my piece, A Black Woman’s Battle Cry, with YOU!

And who knows, maybe next year, I’ll get up there and perform it myself.

If you have your own story, as I’m sure you all do, let me know in the comments below. What is one thing that made you so much of who you are today?

The Art of L o s t Expectation

vyacheslav-beda-68241-unsplash.jpgIt’s finally a rainy day here in SLO where I get to spend (most of) my time indoors, hiding from the horizontal rain and inconsolable winds. As much as I want to say it’s been a productive day that included a nap, it has been quite the opposite. But that’s okay, nap or no nap, I still accomplished some things.

Maybe it’s the idea of turning 20 soon or the lack of control any of us really has, but I’m starting to understand something: It’s not about being immaculate, about getting things right the first time, the second time, or even the 100th time you tell yourself, “okay, last try before I’m giving up.”

No, it’s about painting over the mess, making something beautiful and something worth it, out of the chaos that is this life.

Because I’m sure we all know by now, it comes with a whole lot of mistakes, failed attempts, half done work, and frustrated sighs before trying again. Where would any of us be if we got everything right on the first try– other than immensely talented and most likely too proud, we would all be hopelessly bored.

Success can get you a lot of places, don’t get me wrong; but I think failure can get you bud-helisson-465328farther. Let me tell you why.

Do you remember that one blog post back in October, maybe September, when I told you that I was trying my hand at painting for the second time in my life? The first time was in my junior year of high school for a transformation project in art class and I thought I was doing great… That is until I tried to paint faces on my figures and it all just crashed and burned from there. Trust me, Nick still laughs at my finished product every time I bring it up.

It was terrible.

So that second try? Well that didn’t go too well either. I was so focused on the right lines, the details, and not messing up– after all, I was out of my element and paint doesn’t exactly have erasers– I quit fifteen minutes in. And the un-finished, finished, product? I can attest to this: it also looked pretty terrible.

Hence why when I pulled it out this afternoon, it was hidden behind the ever multiplying books on my bookshelf. Clearly, I was not fond of attempt number 2. Even with my past failures, in my restless need to avoid feeling stuck despite how often I do, I took out that canvas today, grabbed my paints, and  sat down with it all laid out in front of me.

Enter attempt number 3.

I sat there for a while staring at my mistake of a painting and laid my hands on the tubes in gianni-pisanu-416304-unsplashfront of me, running my fingers over the names of each and every color trying to decide what the right direction was to go in. I had to wonder, was there even a right direction anymore once I had tried out all the others?

Now pause right here; I was sitting on the floor looking at something that I made a mess of, all because I kept trying to make it good enough. Sure, its a commonplace idea of being okay with imperfection, but that’s not all I need you to see here.

I want you to see the fear behind the uncertainty, the need to get it right. The desperate reach for validation each of us holds in knowing we could be good enough at something.

Personally, I wanted to stop feeling that pull toward what I thought things should turn out to look like, toward expectation. I did the only thing I could think of to get that little voice in the back of my head– the one telling my that I needed to do this or I should probably do that if I had any hope of it looking good– to stop.

I painted over it.

I put on my headphones, turned the music up to drown out both the immensity of the silence and my own thoughts, and I went to work. My fingers reached for two colors, put them on my plate, and mixed. Swirl, dab, swirl, brush brush brush. Look for a second. Shrug. Pick another one, add it in, swirl, dab, shrug, brush brush brush. Take another peek.

I did this for a while, lost track of time, and it was… Different.

With the music too loud to concentrate on what I was thinking and no real expectation to hold on to, I sat there and watched as the original mistake was altered, changed, revised, and rearranged.

I watched as I let the fear slip away,amaury-salas-324504-unsplash the expectation and the need to succeed. The less I thought about it, the more I enjoyed what my hands wanted to pick.

I let go of being afraid of what might happen in allowing myself to paint outside the lines. Sometimes you have to let the chaos in and ignore the gravity we believe success or perfection has. Nothing truly needs to be perfect the first time, the second time…

You just have to be willing to build each and every try into something that you can appreciate.


Book Worms

To finish off Black History Month, I wanted to do something I’ve been looking forward to for a while now:

Welcome to my new page called Book Worms!


So what is Book Worms you ask? Well, this site is called kwilliamsbooks after all, so I thought it would only be fitting if I started doing book reviews along with what I already do. Every month I will do a book review for you all of one or more books I’ve read that month!

And since this the end of Black History Month, the book I read has everything to do with the theme: Without further ado…

Here is Black No More by George Schuyler

Rating: 7.3/10

Originally published back in 1931, the entirety of the book is bathed in the Harlem Renaissance. Though I usually read fiction, fantasy, or sometimes SiFi, this time I got into something new. Black No More is strictly the satire venue of fiction. Let me explain why.

“What would happen to the race problem in America if black people turned white?”

This is the first sentence on the back of the book and if that sounds interesting, trust me, it is. Consider how black people were seen in the 30’s and what was going on back then; this satire addresses the entirety of what people considered to be the black identity and how that identity intersected with racism. When a


black scientist somehow comprised a way to turn black people white, their society turned inside out.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but let me just say that if you’re looking for someone who critiques the societal norms of black vs white and directly addresses race with a funny, entertaining, to the point, and often sarcastic voice, Schuyler is your guy.

Since this was a new kind of fiction for me to get into, it took me a little time to get into and it wouldn’t be my first choice in a room full of books. But a 7.3/10 isn’t because it wasn’t a good book. It was. In holding so much culture, commentary, and character in each page, it was absolutely worth the read.

If you’re looking for black literature, something new to entertain, or just a quick break, Black No More is a good place to start.

And Welcome to Book Worms; look out for new posts every 4th Tuesday of the month!

From History to History Makers– BHM Week 4

dawid-zawila-279998Black History Month Week 4 and today I want to tell to you about something that isn’t quite our history yet— here are some of the people who are in the process of making black history.

If you saw Obama’s tweet this week then you know what I mean when I say that young people truly are making change these days. From artists and activists to businesswomen and basic everyday people with more to give, we’ve got a lot of people to be on the lookout for. Lucky for you, I picked out just a few.


tumblr_ogmsl1cgf41u05srlo1_1280Let’s start with the artists, here is one guy to know the name of: Tsoku Maela. Raised in Cape Town, this young photographer focuses on the idea of mental health and normalizing the stigma of it, especially for black people. Earning the spotlight with his series of Abstract peaces (take a look here), his photos create a “visual diary of a subject at different stages of their depression and anxiety” when it isn’t all just one emotion or one state of being. As an artist, especially a black artist, I think it is important for people like Maela to explore their culture and more importantly, spread how it has influenced their own lives in a way that can change the lives of others— even if that change comes through awareness like it does here. I’m excited to see what he can do in the future and if you want to get to know more about him or who he is and what he does, take a quick peek at his website or his tumblr!


clem-onojeghuo-228522-unsplash.jpgNow for your activists, let’s take a look into the life of Martese Johnson; if you think you’ve heard that name before, you probably have. That’s because he was one of too many caught on video being thrown to the ground in a police misconduct situation back in 2015— he didn’t quite fit the stereotype of a black kid in handcuffs though. As a student on the black alliance board at University of Virginia and an accompanist to Bernie Sanders at several rallies in the wake of the incident, he’s got quite the positive image built up for himself.  Johnson not only is an activist and a voice, but he is a representation of making good in a bad situation even if you have to do it yourself. In the future, he hopes to follow through on projects on African Americans and the media, maybe even running for public office one day.


olu-eletu-38649-unsplashGrowing up in times like these, it only makes sense to talk about the business masterminds: Bianca Jeanty & Netta Dobbin. In their mid twenties, these two women have already created a company and kicked it out of the nest to watch it fly. MiMConnect is an “emerging networking platform that creates access to people of color with job opportunities, resources and a nationwide network in the media industry.”

Growing up, I’ve learned the difficulties of entering the professional world as an African American; from hairstyles to unfair treatment, this company aims to combat that struggle in creating their own space and helping other companies diversify theirs in the process. These two ladies have used an incredible amount of business and tech to get them to where they are today— maybe if I’m lucky they can help me find a job after I graduate too!


ian-schneider-66374-unsplash.jpgLast, but never the least, let’s talk about someone we all should know by now: us. We are the people who may not always feel that we’re making a difference, yet somehow, one little thing can become everything. Take someone like Mikaila Ulmer, the business owner at 4 years old— she had to start somewhere and began where every one of us do: with a curiosity and a passion to follow it. How about Moziah “Mo” Bridges who just wanted to dress well and became 15 CEO of Mo’s Bows by age 15— the rest of us want to look good too don’t we? Start there. Or even like one of my favorites, Nathan Zed, your entertainer and every day guy with everyday problems who somehow managed to catch the world’s eye. By being themselves, these three all started small with something they cared about, and ended up on paths towards a cause much bigger than themselves.

Though I’ve only highlighted a few, there are countless people who are going to make a big difference in the world around them and they don’t even know it yet. As Black History Month comes to an end, it’s important octavian-rosca-369460-unsplashto remember that this celebration goes beyond 28 days. It is a culture. One that we need to pay attention to. Because this world truly is changing and the people who are changing it come from an immense amount of cultures and backgrounds. Soon enough, some of these people will be making new history and I am excited to be a part of it.

I hope you are too.

P.S. My 2 newest articles are up on HerCampus, check them out here and here if you’re interested (the second one is a fun one)! And I’ve got something exciting and new to share with you to finish off this month so be on the lookout for Tuesday 🙂 Happy Friday everyone