Lost in Translation– What now?

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I wanted to focus on Black History Month for all 4 of my posts this month, but I feel like this is important to talk through. In the midst of watching the world grow up around me, my goals and hopes rearranged with every step I take. I’ve got some big plans for my future, I know I have said that before.

But weeks like this make me wonder “what if I never get there?”

I used to follow every news story, whether it came out in class or late at night, I would go through each memorial and headline and tribute video down to the end. Call it an need to know, I’m not sure why I did that, but it felt important. I guess in some sense, I was trying to understand how we even got to where we were and where we are now, how it all happened. Each child, each sibling, each mother, each friend… To me, their losses felt personal.

Because they are.

When I look at the news, I have to acknowledge the fact that those could be my friends, my parents, my brothers, my classmates. I know it’s not just me; I’ve gotten a few extra calls from my parents this week, not because midterms have made these weeks so busy or for Valentines day ,but because they miss us. And I think they need a reminder that we’re still here.

That we’re okay. I’m sure my parents aren’t the only ones.

I’ve only been out of high school for almost two years now and it is astou

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nding to me how much I see changing. I remember the lock down drills we used to do– good for preparation but I don’t think we truly took them seriously enough in the weight of what we were possibly preparing for. Even as the last six years hold the 4/5 deadliest mass shootings in the US modern history, schools often being targeted, I know I was ignorant in my own security. Maybe I has the privilege of feeling that way, of not quite acknowledging the reality around me.

I can’t say students now have that luxury.

There’s a video circulating Twitter that’s been up for past two days; a Florida student is filming in a classroom as police come in to help a girl with a gunshot wound to the leg, before ushering others out through the halls. The officers keep telling them to stick close to the walls while they cry and run, passing unmoving friends and peers on the floor along the way out.

I wasn’t going to watch it, I didn’t want to. Yet I clicked play anyway, the need to understand more compelling than the need to be complacently ignorant. But in watching that video, nothing makes any more sense than how devastating it is to go through something like that. To accept the reality as it is for students and citizens trying to figure out where to go from here.

People are scared and I could not imagine being in middle school or even elementary school right now. Maybe comprehension at those ages isn’t as deep as it is for me now, but I think everyone knows something is wrong.

As a young black woman, I can be proud of the opportunities I have and the platforms I can reach in this day and age– fifty years ago, things were very different for people like me. Sometimes I get excited, thinking of the capability and creativity and intelligence I see in the presence of my generation. It can be humbling to acknowledge just how much I think we can do,

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with so much technology and capability at our fingertips.

But I also worry, about the lives we are coming into and the safety of our current state, the questions that come with it. I worry about the fear that now seems to haunt my generation and those coming after us. Because this uncertainty doesn’t discriminate by skin or gender or color or even political party. Every single one of us is living in this reality of yet another mass shooting just this year.

Shouldn’t just one be enough?

Something needs to change. There have been too many “prayers go out to…” or “my heart is with…” You can fill in whatever place you want there; it’s probably still on the ever growing list of places tragedy has struck. Yet nothing changes, people pray and lives are lost and it happens all over again. Now I’m not saying gun control is the solution, nor am I saying the opposite.

What I am saying is this: memorials and prayers and testimonies and thoughts are not enough. Though thoughts are great and we all have our own need for faith, neither is doing anything to change the future. We need to do something more than just watch more people lose their lives. Sure, I talk a lot about mental health because it’s important– these news headlines talk about mental health because it’s an excuse. This is just a factor. There’s more to these situations than that, than being “orphaned at 19” or having an “undiagnosed mental illness“.

We need to go deeper and find a way to fix the problem, whatever and how large this problem may be. Because it’s not going away.

Students shouldn’t have to be afraid to go to school. I wish I didn’t have all these plans in my life only to lie awake and night and wonder “what if I never get to finish that book?” or “when was the last time I told my parents I love them?”

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I don’t want to keep following these stories, the friends or the families or the lives, taking each loss personally when they aren’t and they are at the same time.

I just want to see things change– I don’t know how or when or what, but we can’t keep waiting. We can’t keep watching it all fall apart. I don’t want to live in a world where I look at the news and think “Oh, another one?”

And I know too many people feel this way too.

The Power of 140 Women

splitshire-9614As a follow up from my post last week, if you didn’t see it you can read it here, I am left speechless by the change I see in the world around me. From the drastic differences in presidencies I have grown up under to the prevalence of strength and power I have seen in the world around me.

And that change seems to be only beginning. This week I tuned into a different set of speeches that are somehow both heartbreaking and empowering at once.

Have you heard the name Larry Nassar yet? Even if you haven’t, I can almost guarantee you have heard of the girls he’s connected to. To name a few: Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Jamie Dantzscher, and far too many others.

Recently, I am one of countless people who have been tuning in while these stories unfold. These are stories of innocence lost, homes broken, and lives changed— a few lost in the process. All because of one man’s actions. Though public allegations against him only began in September of 2016, Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by an astounding 140 women over the last two decades.

First of all, there should never be a situation in which 100+ women need to come together against such a traumatic experience they all share in order to find a way to move on with their lives. This should have never happened. Whether the issue is systemic, authoritative, internal, or something else, it needs to be fixed.

Second of all, in researching the trial, I found myself listening to testament video after testament video, telling myself “just one more.” But each and every one was captivating, both in the way I could hear how deep the trauma ran in every girl to the blatant honesty behind the impact of what it means to be a victim.annie-spratt-298421.jpg

Take this line from Aly Raisman’s speech: “If we are to believe in change, we must first understand the problem and everything that contributed to it. Now is not the time for false reassurances.”

She and several others spoke of the lack of control they felt, the loss of their own realities when their accusations were passed off as mistakes, experiences passed off as incredible.

I can’t explain how much it means to me to see these women stand up and speak out together about what they believe they deserve.

This is a whole new era of truth.

If I’m being honest, the gymnastics was one of the only reasons I tuned into the 2012 Olympics; I mean I can’t be the only one who was drawn in by the Fierce Five. I’ve played a lot of sports throughout my lifetime, but it was amazing to watch those five girls do things that I could never even dream of. I remember thinking of how powerful I believed them to be back then.

Only in the last few days of watching three of those five girls come forward in the largest sexual abuse case in U.S. sports, have I begun to understand the real power they hold.

Like I said, I am watching the world change; so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. Yet there is one thing that I could watch every day and never get tired— women standing up, speaking out, and having their voices heard. It can be someone like Oprah, a young woman like Aly Raisman, and even a high school student who understands that there are certain boundaries that should not be crossed. These people are finding their voices.

And as far as I can see, the noise will only get louder from here on out.

ryan-riggins-216051Though it breaks my heart that so many people, men included, have experienced their own violations of self, I am excited to see the power they gain and feel deserving of as time goes on.

If you are ever given less than you deserve, treated incorrectly, or abused in any way, you are allowed to speak up.

You deserve to be heard.

You deserve to be in control.

I understand that our world has plenty of issues, too many to fix at once, and far too many to comprehend in my own ignorance. There are a lot of things I don’t know at nineteen years old. But I know this: I do believe in change.

Do you?

A Year in the Making- 2017 Monthly Moments

brigitte-tohm-181096Have you ever wondered what it’s like to sum up the past year in less than 1,000 words? Probably not, but I did it for you anyway because 2017 truly had some unforgettable moments in it. From music to mayhem, here are twelve moments you may have missed this year.


January

Back in January, the Women’s March was only the beginning. Starting with the coalition of female-identified people from DC to California, we saw women really begin to speak out for what they believed in. And did we hear them or what? From there we saw  Wonder Woman (both staring and directed by a woman) come out, the major impact of out Times People of the year, and what became the MeToo movement sparking across the globe. This year was a big one for women to use their voices.

February

Now I admit, though many people have reminded me of just how much they disagree, I’m not a huge fan of post-Halo Beyonce… That being said, it was a pretty big deal when she released her announcement for the twins via Instagram– she truly set the bar for maternity shoots, even I know that. As the Carter family continues to grow, so will the Beyonce fandom. Team Queen Bey anyone?

March

georgia-vagim-381292If you didn’t see the movie Get Out, in my opinion you missed out. Not only was its take on the horror genre completely different, but it also managed to slip some major issues into the comedic and thrilling plot in under two hours. Plus, but it still has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.

April

As it seems to hold up every year now, there were a whole lot of memes in 2017. From the controversial Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner to the “Disloyal Man Walking with His Girlfriend and Looking Amazed at Another Seductive Girl,” there were plenty of ways to keep the internet entertained this year.

May

pablo-heimplatz-243307Though it’s been a hard year and the Manchester bombing was only a piece of the puzzle, the benefit concert held by Ariana Grande One Love Manchester shed a little light on our ability to do what we can, the good still left in the world around us. Raising over 13 million in twelve hours, I’d say that’s a pretty successful reminder.

June

With people like Kendrick, Khalid, Kehlani and Kesha all having dropped an album this year, music seems to just keep changing as do the big names in the industry. Nevertheless, whether you like her or not, Taylor Swift’s return to streaming services and the release of her new Reputation this year was huge. But you can’t ask the old Taylor about that, apparently she’s dead.

July

With the suicide of Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington as well as the earlier release of Netflix Original Series 13 Reasons Why, among other things, a greater importance has been placed on mental health this year. Whether someone has a diagnosed issue or not, it is imperative that people prioritize themselves and all aspects of their health every day.

August

mark-tegethoff-348805Ah, there’s nothing like a solar eclipse to potentially blind people. But if you did it right, you were able to catch a glimpse of this year’s spectacle without that unfortunate result. In August the Great American Eclipse captured eyes everywhere, and if you were lucky, maybe you got some pretty cool pictures out of it too.

September

With an onslaught of natural disasters this year, Hurricanes Irma and Harvey among them, we’ve seen a lot of damage in just 12 months. But with these disasters came incredible people who helped send out food, donations for those who lost their houses from fires or other damages, and even a coalition of five past presidents in the One American Appeal. A lot of things came together this year.

October

I didn’t watch the first season, but if you’re looking for something to Netflix binge, Stranger Things season 2 came out in October. With all the hype I am still hearing about, even I’m tempted to watch it before the new quarter starts.

November

chuttersnap-198430If you love following royal news, than I’m sure you were thrilled to hear about the engagement of Prince Harry and American television’s Suits actress Meghan Markle. Not only as an American, but also as a bi-racial media figure, Markle is definitely someone to watch as they head towards a May wedding.

December

And to end it all, let’s talk about at least one of the feel-good moments this year: There’s nothing like the unpredictable friendship between 81 year old Rosalind Guttman and 22 year old aspiring rapper Spencer Sleyon after meeting on Words With Friends. They finally met up in Palm Springs this year and became better friends from there. Talk about an unlikely pairing.


allef-vinicius-331173Now I know 2017 held so many more events that had a major impact on how this year played out, but as we head into 2017, try to hold how it’s all shaped who you are today. 2018 can be a blank slate after all. From funny moments to downright blasphemous ones, this year as been a rollercoaster. One that only gas two days left. So as we wrap up these last few days, I want to say thank you for sticking with me on my journey and I hope you all have a fantastic end/beginning to the 2018 🙂 Until next year!