5 Things YOU Need to Know About Pride Month

“Pride has to resonate from within;shine out to everyone around you.It has mean something to you and only you first before you announce it to the world.”– Solange Nicole

As the third week of June and my first week of summer, it looks like quarter systems let out just in time for the myriad of Pride festivals throughout the United States. So before we hit the full festivities of the weekend, here are a few things you should know about Pride.

One

tyler-nix-525388-unsplash.jpgYou do not need to identify as part of the LGBT+ community to participate, but you need to respect those who are a part of it.

If you take a glance through history just like my blog post from last year does (you can brush up here if you want), these festivals are a whole lot more than just celebrating who this community is— they’re a protest, an appreciation, and a chance for people to feel like they belong somewhere in a society that has so often told them they don’t.

Whether or not you are part of this community, just like with Black History Month or Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, allies are just as important as the people who identify with the culture. So be an Ally.

Two

Appreciation is NOT appropriation.

Even with the amount of access to the internet that we have these days, sometimes the education gets lost in translation. To be clear, appreciating the culture of Pride or any other appreciation month does not mean appropriating it.

As someone who does not personally identify with something, it is not okay to “try it on” like a Native American headdress, straight women kissing one another for attention, or blackface. Appreciate. Don’t Appropriate. Plain and Simple.

Three

kyle-sterk-419086-unsplash.jpgEvery person needs at least one place to be unapologetic about who they are.

For some people, that place is Pride. The one weekend– one month– to be open and honest and comfortable with everything that makes up these complicated and confusing identities we hold. Yes, some people do not understand the need to have a month or a celebration like this one. Maybe because they never needed a safe space for pieces of who they are.

Over the years I have come to truly understand the need to be unapologetic with who you are in at least one part of your life— it can be family or friends or school or whatever you consider your home. No matter what, there needs to be at least one place. I think everyone should be able to respect that.

Four

There is more to Pride than rainbow outfits and a stereotype around gay people.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a whole lot of identities and cultural histories surrounding this month; all of them are equally important to Pride. There is more to the acronym than the L and the G, every single one of them should be respected. Whether you agree with this or not, it is not a time or place to be spreading hateful opinions. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

In addition, remember the protests and fights and trauma that have gone into festivals like this one over the decades. Remember the hate crimes that still happen on a daily basis that a lot of people do not feel the need to notice. All minority groups go through a lot to get to where they are today. The LGBT+ community is no exception.

Five

levi-saunders-133027-unsplash.jpgIt is not over yet.

Just because we celebrate our own cultures or how far we’ve all come within our own identities or cultural histories, that doesn’t mean we have finished the fight. There is still discrimination and racism and camps to “pray away the gay” and children being locked in warehouses. As far as it seems this society has come from hurting people for who they are or the circumstances they are born into, there’s a lot more to fight for. Keep fighting.

So celebrate, appreciate, enjoy, and don’t appropriate. Because this is a month for unapologetic expression and unbounded love. This is a month for the self-respect that comes from understanding who you are. June is a month for a community to come together and fight for their rights.

This is a month for Pride.

cory-woodward-485315-unsplashI hope everyone stays safe this weekend, and for all those participating in the festivities, Happy Pride. Love is love after all.

Be on the lookout for a new Pride themed Bookworms post next week. Otherwise, Happy Friday everyone, hope to see you on Tuesday.

More than a label, More than a month

I could have sworn that this quarter just began a week ago, let alone Black History Month, yet somehow there are three weeks left before these classes are over. This is my final post on the black history month subject.

But that’s the thing, it isn’t simply a subject to me— just because tycho-atsma-181053.jpgwe spend a month celebrating black heritage doesn’t mean that I am not reminded of who we all are every single day, 365 days a year. I walk around this campus not only underrepresented by the color of my skin, but overwhelmed by this life I hold.

Every day, I am reminded that no matter our race and the history behind our heritage, we are all still human.

Yesterday, I spent my typical Thursday night working on chemistry and studying with Nick in the common room of my dorm. Even after everyone left, we hung out for a while just talking and somehow, we ended up on the broad spectrum of life.

Why do we live our lives the way we do?

Is it always going to be simply one step to the next?

After 12 years of education to get into college, do we work through college to get a job, before working that job to pay the bills and finally, raising our own children until it’s their turn?

Are we going to look back one day and realize that we forgot to live?

anders-jilden-87205.jpgEven more than representing Cal Poly, more than what people see in the color of our skin, it seems that what we get out of this life comes down to how we want to live it— how we live it, and for what. We all have a certain amount of control on how things turn out for us, just take a look at my blog post last week… I could be an English major, Kinesiology major, or something else entirely. The future is a story yet to be written.

So why does it feel like some of us already know what’s coming?

I’ve been told that the problem with our generation, universally across each of us, is that we are always rushing from one thing to the next that we never take a moment to breathe it all in. This is life isn’t it? I have to admit, amidst the midterms and the planning, it takes me a minute to remember that we only have so much time in the day to appreciate the fact that I saw the sun rise in the morning. This is a beautiful life; one the we just might let slip through our fingers if we’re not careful.

Have you ever looked at a friend or a family member for a quick second and found yourself caught in a moment of appreciation for who they are to you? I know I’ve found myself doing that a lot more lately, like seeing my parents this last weekend or even just hanging out with Nick last night. Even though this campus is primarily white, somehow my closest group of friends is one of the most diverse groups of people I have ever consistently been around. Some days I catch myself looking from one of them to the next and wondering, what does it mean to be who you are?

wil-stewart-7771Though I may be so much more than my skin tone, it is still something that will define me and every single one of us for the rest of our lives. The month of February represents a large part of who I am, but that does not mean that this is the only time of year our heritage is recognized. It’s like a birthday or even Valentine’s Day— just because there is separate day of the year to celebrate something does not mean that you show any less love to those people for the other 364 days of the year.

A person’s pigmentation is more than a label or a stereotype.

Heritage celebration is so much more than a single month of remembering the Martin Luther King’s or the Harriet Tubman’s of our past.

Who we are and the lives that we strive for come down to what is in our hearts and what we do with the intelligence we hold to make this world into something better.

Life is about improvement, accomplishment… The little victories I know we can all achieve.  

Take a look in the mirror for me, look past the colors you see or the texture of your hair. Tell me one thing: did you find a way to live this life today? I don’t mean going to work, or to class, or simply getting out of bed this morning… Did you live this life today?anja-137284

Because with everything else that you see in yourself or what others see in my generation, I would like to believe in something more. I would like to believe that things can change, the pace of this world can be something worth living in every day, and that color of my skin can be something more than a visual representation of everything I know I can be.

P.S. To the Class of 2017, I’ve got another post for you next week so be on the lookout for a little advice on college, graduation, and everything in between!

Unapologetically Black

1/240

More than a student, a woman, and a freshman here at Cal Poly, this is the number that represents me.

I am one out of 240 black students here.

Welcome to Black History Month, one that I started off with something different here this week. On Wednesday night, I went to an open mic series celSplitShire-01466.jpgebrating this month in our theatre called Another type of Groove with one of my best friends. Neither of us were sure what to expect, but what we got was something more that we imagined it would be.

What we got was a beautiful expression of color, honesty, and the complete art of spoken word.

If you haven’t heard of him, I suggest you take a quick look at Judah 1 (click that link) who was a part of the series on Wednesday. As both a writer and someone who absolutely loves spoken word, he was something completely different to listen to. From the idea of love to his experiences in watching the young boys he teaches in camps or prisons years later, Judah 1 had something to say. And he said it well. Throughout the night we heard from him, his apprentice, and several other students here at Cal Poly who simply believed in something strongly enough to tell us about it. Some people spoke of the tragedies we see around the world and others shed light on a truth some of us may not be able to understand. Though there were students of all colors present in that room, I left that theatre with one idea left in my head.

This is Black Excellence.

Though there may only be about 240 of us here at this school, there is something so different about being around people just like you… Something I don’t think others understand easily. It’s like changing my hair extensions every few months in high school and having girls who knew me ask me if I cut my hair— there are things that I no longer have to explain or no longer have to try to be for other people when I’m surrounded by those just like me. As true as it is, it’s hard to believe that being around people of color here brings such a feeling of home and familiarity that I cannot find in most places. Even our Black Student Union club has a T-shirt to represent who we are: 1/160 (the number from last splitshire-5620year), with two words on the back.

Unapologetically Black.

Because that is who we are, this is what we represent, and we are proud to celebrate everything we are with the representation of our history reflected on our skin every day. Last week, I shared with you a poem by Langston Hughes, I, Too. Within those words is a past that we will always be bound to. Black History Month can be told through story after story, from the leadership of Dr. King whom we celebrated last month, to the literature of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

This month is so much more than the one chapter in a US history book that tells you about slavery, or remembering that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that “freed” the slaves… It’s about remembering the black members of society who are recognized for something more than the color of their skin. We can’t just remember the Barack Obamas or Harriet Tubmans of the world, what about Marc Hannah who helped to create the 3D technology in films like Jurassic Park, or Patricia Bath who helped to create The Cataract Laserphaco Probe for removing cataract lenses. Every culture has it’s own story, it’s own journey to get to what it has become today, and there are so many people we aren’t educated about who paved the path that we now walk on. This month represents my culture, the history so many of us do not know behind it, and the pride my parents raised me with to be a part of it.

And to think, Cal Poly almost made the mistake of making my brother 1/239.

From the inspiration of the past and the open mic night on Wednesday, I have found myself writing a lot in the last three days. There was one line a student read on the last set before the event ended that I still haven’t forgotten.

youthThey tell children to pick out the love from the cracks in our promises.”

What does that mean to you? Think about that line, what it says about the reliability of our human nature, and hold onto the fact that I’ve got something new to share with you. I promise to be timely with this one— no cracked promises here. Keep an eye out for a new poem on Monday, one that goes right along with the theme of this month and a new style that I’ve got to say, I’m quite fond of. 

So here’s to another week of midterms, a fantastic Black History Month, and my new poem to come. Have a wonderful week, wherever you are in the world, stay safe, and be on the lookout for some new writing soon.