Be Kind to One Another

I regularly like to watch videos or animations that put the universe into perspective for me. I like things that remind me how small and fragile we are. It is the one thing that keeps me from becoming cruel.

It sounds strange but I don’t think people realize how easy it is to become a cruel, uncaring person. Cruelty is just as much human nature as love and in order to keep it in check, we must remind ourselves that other human beings are just as important and precious as us. We have to remember just how lonely we are in this universe, and just how much we need each other.


This Earth is our home and it’s all we have. All the humans on this God forsaken rock are all the humans there are. Each one is unique and so each one is special, and yet we treat each other as if we are nothing at all. People hurt other people every single day. We treat our things better than we treat each other. To me, this makes very little sense. Each of us only has one life, and that life is ticking away at an alarming rate. Every time you are cruel to someone you take a tiny piece of their happiness that can never be gotten back. You make a tiny part of their life less joyful and that can never be undone.

Life is hard enough and the world is so full of suffering we should all be doing our tiny part to make it easier, safer, happier. We all feel so lonely, so disconnected from everyone around us. We bare our own little pain and carry all our emotional baggage and every cruel word or mean look is added to the pile. How many have you contributed to? How much hurt have you doled out?

“Be kind, because everyone is having a really hard time.”

Plato

I believe each person, because they are special and only have one life, is entitled to as much joy as can be had on this planet. Unfortunately greater society does not agree. Oh, most people say the do and yet many take great satisfaction in infringing on the joy of as many people as they can. Most of these people don’t understand what they are doing but I find it to be a great crime against nature to be cruel to others.

Cruelty is a part of who we are and what we are capable of and we make bad choices sometimes. We say mean things out of anger, frustration, and broken-heartedness. We can be selfish and self-centered, and forget that other people feel harsh words and brutal indifference just as acutely as we do. We use our cruelty to others as a means to build ourselves back up. We wrongly think that our ability to inflict pain confirms our strength and control over our lives.

I believe the greater show of strength and control is to be kinder and gentler to your fellow humans. It takes a great deal of confidence, security, and self-awareness to treat others with kindness when you can. It shows great moral character to be able to put your own feelings aside and focus on the feelings of others before your own. It shows that you understand the value of a person and have chosen to make a positive impact on the world around you.

But even those who are unkind deserve our kindness too. They are just as precious as everyone else and through the kindness of others they might find their way. Often it takes just having one person in our lives who is selfless and loving of all human beings to show us that it is ok to be vulnerable and help others. It’s sad but we have to learn again to understand each other. We have to learn that it is not only ok, but good to be kind whenever possible, and, as the Dalai Lama said, it is always possible.

“Be kind to one another. Bye, bye.”

Ellen DeGeneres

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Yeah, I’m Needy, So What?

All my life I’ve been a deeply feeling person. I feel empathy and love quite strongly. Because of that, because being alone hurts, I need love and affection, attention and encouragement, from other humans. I am not ashamed to admit that, but I used to be.

All my life people have tried to toughen me up. They have tried offering advice, they have tried shaming me, they have tried making me feel guilty about it, they have even tried beating it out of me. In the end all they accomplished was making me wish I didn’t feel so deeply. I wished I didn’t need other people so damn much. All that guilt and shame didn’t change how I felt deep down. All it did was make me waste a whole lot of time trying to be something I wasn’t.

“You are not clingy, or needy, or silly for having needs for affection and affirmation and attention within a romantic relationship. Those needs aren’t an embarrassing outgrowth of your low-self esteem or depression or whatever messy emotional issues you may have going on, that’s just basic shit that people need from each other. We of course should not make our partners responsible for meeting all of our emotional needs – it’s not someone’s else’s job to make you happy. But inside a healthy relationship, being able to show affection, pay attention, and demonstrate “you are amazing and important to me” is a pleasure, not some task or burden.”

— Jennifer Peepas

Every thing we are taught as children is meant to prepare us for a world that is harsh. We are taught that other people will treat us badly. They will use and abuse us and leave us high and dry, sad and alone. So we go about the world endeavoring to take what we can from every one we meet before they can take anything from us. Every interaction and every relationship is nothing more than a game of chess. Do your best not to leave yourself vulnerable, but do make sacrifices, do allow yourself to be open, but only when it will get you something of value.

Compliments and admittance of emotion become currency we barter. We play a game of getting others to love and care for us without having to risk our own hearts. We play out the very prophecy our elders warned us about. We endure the pain of isolation in order to protect ourselves from feelings of isolation. How fucked up is that? And who should really be the ones to feel shame?

I believe the world needs more vulnerability. I believe the world needs open hearts and understanding. I believe everyone needs praise and to be told that they matter. I believe that the world needs more people to admit they need it too.

If we all just gave up the farce, if we all went to that person whose attention and affection we crave and just told them how we felt and what we needed. If we all opened our hearts and let ourselves love as hard and as sweetly as we all wish we could, imagine how the world would be then? I believe it could still be that way if we all changed a little bit, one by one. A good starting place is to allow those around you to express their own need and resist the temptation to belittle or invalidate it. 

Humans are social creatures. It is natural and beautiful and, in this world, it’s also very brave to show you natural need to be with others who care, protect, and encourage you.

The world needs more needy people

Post inspired by Musings of a Creative Spirit

Stop Thinking Karma is a Thing

I have always been highly skeptical of anything that gives human beings comfort. Things that give us comfort tend not to be based on rational thinking and often have no basis in reality. We use stories and superstition to help us cope in a universe that in harsh and indifferent. I get that. More often than not though, these beliefs, and the comfort we gain from them, only make life harder in the long run.

One area this can be seen in is the belief in karma, the belief that whatever you do comes back to you. The belief that we all reap what we sow. The belief that what goes around comes around. This thinking can be seen in religion as the belief that your actions will decide what happens to you in the afterlife, such as, whether you go to heaven or hell. It comes from the Buddhist belief that what you do in this life determines what you will become in your future reincarnations.

We believe this because the knowledge that there is no cosmic justice system makes us feel alone and unimportant. We believe this because knowing that people can treat others badly and feel no consequences just hurts too much. Our minds cannot conceive of a life of suffering that serves no greater purpose. Even without purpose we cannot believe that bad things can happen to good people and no thing is there to level it all out. For us, our deeds must be seen, and the good rewarded, and the bad punished.

These beliefs appear harmless on the surface but they can actually be very dangerous. If we think that a higher power will punish all the bad people we will never right the wrongs we see around us. Human suffering can never be eased with this mindset. We will never lift a finger to change anything if we keep thinking the responsibility doesn’t lie with us.

If you are someone who believes in karma, I challenge you to imagine, what if it isn’t true? What if bad people live a good life and nothing and no one ever makes them pay for their crimes? What if really bad things happen to good people every single day and nothing will change because no one cares? Sure makes it seem like it’s up to each of us to right the wrongs in place of that grand scale of justice, right?

Believing in karma makes it easy for us to do nothing. We believe we don’t have to because the universe is on “set it and forget it” and the rights and wrongs will all come out even in the end. This is an incredibly privileged belief to hold. If you have the luxury of thinking everything will work itself out you do not have very big problems.

Where is karma for the starving children? Where is karma for the women forced to marry or work in deplorable situations? When exactly does Karma kick in? How many times have you seen a wrong and said to yourself “It’s ok, they’ll get what’s coming to them.” as you turned your eyes away? It was all so easy wasn’t it? How convenient that you need not even lift a finger because the forces of the universe conspire to level the field?

If that is how you feel, stop it right now. We have to take responsibility for the wrongs we do nothing to right. Allow yourself to be appalled at the audacity of people who will treat other badly and enjoy it. Allow yourself to feel a duty to help those who are being oppressed. Take off the blinders, stop letting yourself be ignorant, and place the blame where it belongs, on all of us.

There are a ton of assholes all over the world who live quite happy lives treating others as a means to their own ends. Good people suffer and die and no one ever helps because those assholes know that you think it’s all coming back around.

They know it isn’t, and you ought to know it too.

When you see a wrong, say something, do something, because it is up to you, and all we have is now. It is up to each of us to ease the suffering of those around us. Don’t let you peace be one that comes from shirking responsibility. Find peace in making a difference.

Bad people will never change unless we make them. See someone being bullied by a coworker, speak up. See someone treating their spouse like crap, or a parent being a dick to their kid, say something. Hear about a dictator in another country condoning rape and murder, raise some awareness, call a congressman, give some money. Do something.

Fuck minding your own business and fuck that cosmic justice crap.

Do what you can, when you can, because no one else will, least of all the planets and the stars.

An Open Letter to the Climate Change Denialist

Dear Climate Change Denialist,

I’m writing you today because I truly cannot fathom how you could not believe that climate change is real and that humans are the cause. I hope you will not take this the wrong way but I find your thinking to be both harmful to the entire human race, and incredibly stupid.

To disagree with 97% of scientist who are trained and study this phenomenon takes an ego larger than I can imagine. To continue to stay uninformed on a major subject of world, not just U.S., politics must require a lot of energy. How do you manage not to encounter one true fact about this subject is beyond me. Or maybe you do but you tell yourself that it can’t be true.

The mental gymnastics required for either scenario are almost admirable.

Just in case I am wrong and you just honestly don’t know the facts, here are a few things I’m going to need you to seriously consider before you vote in anymore elections:

  1. Average global sea level is expected to rise 7 – 23 inches before the end of this century. This doesn’t seem so bad unless you realize how many people actually live close to a coast, about half of the world’s population If that doesn’t move you consider the fact that sea levels are rising three- to four-times faster along parts of the United States’ East Coast than they are globally. Does that hit home yet?
  2. California is in the midst of a staggering drought. In fact, it’s been at least half a millennium since California has been this dry. Add to that the extreme high temperatures and you have a serious wildfire issue and a strain on agriculture and drinking water supplies. Texas isn’t faring much better with record rain fall in the spring leading to floods and then no rain at all leading to a drought. These conditions are not usual for these areas and seem to be getting worse every year. How long until these people have no water to drink let alone water for farming?
  3. More than a million species face potential extinction as a result of disappearing habitats, changing ecosystems, and acidifying oceans! Yes, evolution is a thing, but it needs time and even with time there is no guarantee that a species will adapt to changing conditions. Oceans are warming, droughts are killing vegetation, ice sheets are melting, animals are having to climb higher into mountains to find food. We are killing them!
  4. 2014 was the world’s hottest year on record. This year the world has experienced record-breaking warmth every month so far. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) said that 2015 was 97% likely to be the hottest year so far, eclipsing 2014. I wonder how bad things will be next year, and the next, and the next…?

Knowing all that, how can you continue to support legislation that blocks efforts to clean up our air and reduce our  impact on the rest of the world? How can you support politicians that are paid to keep us ignorant and do what hurts us all in the long run?

I beg you to please, stop and think about more than yourself. Think of the other life on this planet that has no choice but to suffer at the hands of humans. Think about other countries that are unfairly impacted by our unwillingness to make any significant changes. Think about the future generations that will have to deal with, and clean up our mess! Think of what history will have to say about us and what we did. Will they say we were the stupid ones who had the chance to make a difference or did we fuck it all up.

I beg you to do a little research. Stop looking to a political party that cares nothing for the ways this will impact you and your family to tell you what is going on. Look to the scientific community, the majority of whom care very much about facts and the future. Scientists love this planet and hate to lose any bit of it. Look to them to tell you what the facts are. They are trained to study this phenomenon. They know more than your favorite candidate in the election and they are not as easily bought.

And finally, I beg you, please if you cannot help, get out of the way of people who can. If you cannot contribute to the conversation, stop talking. Do not let your ego force you to get in the middle of a movement where you only create controversy and slow down progress. You are not so important that you must always be heard. You are not so smart that your opinion is equal to those who know more than you.

In closing, I hope this letter has made you reevaluate your current thinking. If it hasn’t I encourage you to read it again and then head over to Google for some much needed education on the subject.

I wish you the best of luck, for all our sakes!

Warmest Regards*,

Lisa

In response to Daily Post’s Blogging U. course, Writing 101 assignment: Reinvent the letter format

*Pun entirely intended

What September 11th Means for Black Americans

I want to start by say that I am deeply saddened by the lives that were lost on that dark day. Fourteen years ago last Friday, terrorists hijacked four planes and smashed two into New York’s World Trade Center, a third into the Pentagon, and the fourth crash/landed in field in Pennsylvania. By the end of it all 2,977 people died in those attacks. My heart breaks for them and their families.

My heart also breaks for the lives lost in the eight years of war that ensued after the attacks, especially the Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani civilians who committed no crime.

And now, 14 years after it all happened, I know that for a lot of Black Americans, life has gone on as if nothing ever happened. I search Twitter for the terms “Black #aftersepterber11” it turned up a lot of tweets which expressed the sentiment that life as gone on as usual for Black Americans ever since.  Not because they don’t care, but because it doesn’t feel like this attack on American soil feels like an attack on an America they are a part of.

Life has changed for White people. They have come together, I believe, in fear of people who are “different” or “other”. A lot of White American have become justified in their racism and their extreme Nationalism. They have found the excuse that will always work for why it is okay to treat dark skinned people with suspicion and violence. No, not all white people, but enough to make people who aren’t white take notice.

Life, I imagine, has changed most dramatically for people of Arab decent, or who appear to be of Arab of decent. They have been profiled, harassed, detained, assaulted, hated, and murdered, all because of a fear that they are all secretly planning to hurt (White) Americans. Even little kids have been affected by this, in fact it is often over looked that for young people of Arab decent living in this country, 9/11 will be the major defining event in your life.

While most of the reaction to 9/11 has been racial, a lot of it is also religious. Ignorance and fear has lead many Americans to have an false and dangerous view of what Islam is, which has led to widespread Islamophobia. Most Muslims practice a peaceful, loving and compassionate interpretation of Islam.

It has been said that Arab is the new Black and I have to agree that it is true. I get the feeling a lot of Americans, a lot of White Americans, would like to see them “go back to their country”. A lot of White Americans worry they will be the target of Arab violence, the way they do with Blacks. White Americans are in favor of incarceration for Arab Americans without due process. White Americans blame the Arab Americans for their own treatment. And they do not want to hear the ways in which their actions have hurt these people. They need to “just get over it”.

You would think that this would bring the two communities together, and maybe it has a little, but not as much as I’d like to see. Add to this that the fact that the plight of Black Muslims has been largely ignored by this and Black people just do not consider this to be their fight. I also admit that there are many Black Americans who treat Arab Americans with the same contempt that White Americans do. I see this as a means for them to elevate their own social standing and gain access to “Whiteness” which they see as “good”.

I’d like to see the two groups coming together more. Black Americans who are not Muslim should show more effort to include Arabs in movement like #BLACKLIVESMATTER. I know there are already groups of people who agree. I’d also like to see less racism from Arab Americans too. There has been a long history of anti-blackness in the Arab American communities. We’ve seen this story before as each new group immigrants to america they adopt the predominant view of Black people to gain social standing and better integrate with American society.

In a time when extremists are giving people a reason to fear black and brown-skinned people, maybe the legacy for us is not to try to be a part of the America that cries #NeverForget while telling us that the suffering of immigrants and minorities is nothing but us being sensitive and lazy. Maybe the America that says “See Something, Say Something” and speaks of terrorists in hiding around every corner while dropping bombs on civilians in other countries without a care isn’t the America we should even try to be a part of.

It’s not like we are being invited in with open arms anyway.

Black Americans have to work hard at letting our Arab brothers and sisters know we see them and their struggle and we will not take part in the growing racism and Islamophobia gripping this country. We have to also let them know that more than that we will help them fight! Their struggling is connected to that of Black Americans and we ought to feel more empathy and compassion for them.

https://twitter.com/sourguava/status/642178473012953090

So this 9/11 think of the dead, think of the heroes, and think about the ways in which this tragedy has affected YOUR life. Now think about the ways it has affected people who look differently from you. Think about the ways those people have been silenced and treated as second class citizens. If you are a minority, think about how similar that is to the way you and the people you know have been treated.

Now think about what you can do to help that.

In response to Daily Post’s Blogging U. course, Writing 101 assignment: Let social media inspire you

And So I Write

I write because ever since I can remember, I have cared just a little too much. I have been a little too vulnerable and I have been much too sensitive too. All my life people have told me to grow a thicker skin, to quit caring so damn much, and to learn to be a bitch but try as I might my heart hurts for the environment, my eyes tear up when I see the how war is affecting us all, and I get angry at all the lives wasted by poverty.

I am a bleeding heart and proud of it and I think the world needs more like me.

I write because something inside has to try to do something to make this world a tiny bit better. The way I see it, the only way to change the world is to change the minds of the masses. I don’t pretend that I could reach even a decent fraction of the world directly. I think all I can hope for is to reach a few people, who in turn might reach a few people too, and so on.

I want to change the future the way a rock can change the surface of a pond. I want my short life to leave a few small ripples in time.

I write because not everything is black and white and finding the right path for each individual and finding the right path for all of society are hard things to do. They require a lot of thought and a lot of talk about meaning, happiness, suffering, sadness, change, pain, education, history, numbers, the universe, and more. We have to talk about everything because the world has become an awful place and we can’t go on like this much longer

What better way to start a conversation about everything than to start a blog about everything too?

Everyday we can think about something else and maybe we can talk about it too, if you’d like. Maybe you can talk about it with someone else afterwards? Maybe they will talk about it too? Maybe we all can make a ripple?

Then little by little we can move the minds in the right direction, and little by little maybe the world won’t be such a hard place to live in. One day things might not be so unfair. One day people might not have to struggle so much. One day people might not suffer so damn much. Wouldn’t that be nice?

All it takes if for more people to think, and talk, and care, and maybe it could all start with a little blog like this one?

And so I write, because this world is an awful place for so many but we have the power to make it better and so we must.

“You write in order to change the world … if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.”

― James Baldwin

In response to Daily Post’s Blogging U. course, Writing 101 assignment: I write because . . .

The Convenience of Soylent and What it Means to be Human

What if someone offered you the opportunity to get all of your daily nutrition from one simple drink? No more trying to decide what’s for dinner. No more worrying about cleaning your pots and pans. No more slaving over a hot stove. Would you be intrigued, I know I am.

It may sound like something out of a science fiction movie but finally it is real, I give you Soylent!

I first heard of Soylent years ago. There was an article/interview in one of the many science-y magazines I buy. Created by Robert Rhinehart in response to a need for “a simpler food source” the article made it sound like a miracle drink! “A food product (classified as a food, not a supplement, by the FDA) designed for use as a staple meal by all adults”. Each serving of Soylent provides maximum nutrition with minimum effort.

Never again would I have to worry about getting all of my nutrients, plus I would save a ton of time since I didn’t have to cook or clean any longer :)

Soylent.com Free your body

Soylent.com Soylent Powder 1.5 details

I wanted this so badly.

My girlfriend thought  it was weird. She said it would probably give me cancer. A lot of people have reacted to me the same way. I didn’t understand at first but after talking about it more and thinking it over I think most people’s aversion to Soylent is that it’s just so different. No one can imagine a life that is not centered around food. To not eat real food seems to fly in the face of what it means to be a human.

The act of finding, preparing, and eating food is a very social activity. Without that what would we do all day? How would we gather? What would we talk about if not the taste of a steak or a new recipe we discovered? What would we have to look forward to if not a nice greasy pizza or a juicy burger piled high with more beef patties than any person needs? Not worrying about food or finding new ways to prepare just seems too weird.

soylent-food

I was so excited when I discovered this amazing discovery but after talking to friends and family I felt like I have broken some social rule and quickly felt ashamed. So I let it go.

My interest was piqued again recently when Soylent 2.0 was released, promising to not only give you all of your nutrients but also provide a glowing feeling from helping the environment too. It’s vegan, so no animals are being slaughtered, and it’s made partially from sustainable algae! I wanted it even more!

Not only are its ingredients vegan, Soylent 2.0 reaches an unprecedented level of environmental sustainability with half of its fat energy coming from farm-free, algae sources. This next generation agricultural technology has the potential to reduce the ecological impact of food production by orders of magnitude, signifying a major step towards a future of abundance, a world where optimal nutrition is the new normal.

soylent-berries

Then again when The Next Web published a think piece slamming Rhienhart for a recent post on his blog. The piece described Rhinehart as “someone so disconnected from reality that he might as well be hooked into an Oculus Rift 24/7, bathing in a bath of temperature controlled Soylent”. Harsh much?

Yeah Rhinehart might be a little kooky but he’s made Soylent his whole life! I worry though that I could go a little kooky too if I forego the pleasure and social aspects of food for the convenience of “grey goop”. I mean I understand the benefits but Rhinehart acts like preparing food is a task only suitable for people burning in the lower levels of hell.

I have not set foot in a grocery store. Nevermore will I bumble through endless confusing aisles like a pack-donkey searching for feed while the smell of rotting flesh fills my nostrils and fluorescent lights sear my eyeballs and sappy love songs torture my ears. Grocery shopping is a multi-sensory living nightmare. There are services that will make someone else do it for me but I cannot in good conscience force a fellow soul through this gauntlet.

It’s not that bad dude! I mean yeah sometimes Wal-Mart can be a bit annoying, especially on a Sunday afternoon, but a “multi-sensory living nightmare” it is not. I worry I will be buying a one-way trip to kooky town with this guy with my first shipment of Soylent. This is what keeps me from giving it a try.

That and the fear of losing a basic part of what it means to be human. Food is a form of expression. The foods we like and dislike, way we procure food, the way we store it, prepare it, and even the way we talk about it is both unique and quite common. It’s one of the ways we connect with those around us. It is one of those basic things that reminds us all that we are more alike than we think.

So for now I choose eating my food the the old fashioned, inconvenient way.

You can learn more about Soylent at soylent.com and check out Rhinehart’s blog at blog.soylent.com.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Red Pill, Blue Pill.”

Why Generation Z Gives Me Hope

As I am getting older I am trying my best not to become one of those old geezers who hates the generation that comes after them. I don’t want to judge them because they’re lives are easier and they act in ways I’ll never understand. I hated being treated like I was stupid by older people, particularly by Baby-boomers. They were harsh and closed minded, for no reason, and they hated anything new and fun.

I felt like they were just stuck in their ways, slowly becoming like dinosaurs, obsolete and extinct.

Us Millennials are different though. I thought of us like version 2.0. We are smart and long for a kinder more open and forgiving world. We wanted to enjoy life and took no pride in struggling. We wanted to work smarter, not harder. We hated anyone who felt like “authority” and didn’t believe in the pecking order. We also demanded that we could express ourselves and our individuality in all aspects of our lives and rejected most social norms.

Basically, we were awesome!

But we are getting old, we are all getting into our 30s now. We are no longer the generation everyone is watching and talking about. Now everyone is looking at Generation Z, watching and waiting to see what they will do. I am among those who have been watching and luckily one of their members happens to be close to me, my littlest sister, who was born in 2000.

Watching the way she interacts with the world and listening to her thoughts on life has at times made me shake my head in disappointment and disbelief, but there have been other times when she has filled me with hope for the future.

For one, this generation seems to be more diverse than any generation that came before it. For one, more of them identify as non-white. My generation, the Millennials, are about 59.8% Caucasian, 18.5% Hispanic; 14.2%black; 4.3% are Asian; and 3.2% are mixed race or other. Estimates put them at 55% Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, 14% African-American, 4% Asian, and 4% mixed race or other. A record low for Caucasians,

I hope this means more of them are growing up aware of the racism and oppression that still exists in this country, and I hope they will grow up to change it. In all honesty just taking a look at some of the posts on Tumblr or Twitter about race and race relations shows me that this generation is very aware of the uglier aspects of this country’s history and they want to see some big changes, now!

In addition, more of them identify as gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, trans gender, genderqueer, and a whole host of other labels. They have more ways to identify themselves then I thought were possible. I had no idea that there were so many ways a person could be attracted to another person.

I admit, at first I was resistant. I didn’t get why everyone had to have these labels. My generation had rejected labels in favor of a “it’s none of your business, I’ll do what I want” attitude. But young people these days seem to want to shout to everyone who they are, and they are precise with their wording.

There are words for who you are attracted to sexually, and who you are attracted to romantically. There are words for one gender or the other, or both genders, or neither genders, or a third gender. There are words for your biological sex, your gender identity, and for your gender expression. I won’t pretend I know all of them, and even if I did new ones pop into existence everyday.

This generation is determined to label all the ways in which a human can be and love.

With that diversity comes a very inclusive attitude. Again, and scroll through Tumblr will show you that these kids will not tolerate bullying or hateful language of any kind. They will attack swiftly and in great numbers over hate speech, ignorance, or refusal to use the correct labels and language. If you even look like you might oppress someone with your language you could be targeted.

Basically, if you are white, heterosexual, and you identify with the gender you were assigned at birth, you should be careful with your words.

Another thing I am loving about Generation Z is their ability to monetize everything. They have been dubbed the “entrepreneurial generation” and I think they have earned it. These kids are a lot better at branding themselves and using the internet to turn that brand into a living then us Millenials were.

My little sister is always talking to me about new celebrities that she likes and I never know who the hell she is talking about. This is because being famous means something a lot different now then it did to us old folks. Now you don’t have to be on TV or star in a movie to be famous. Now you just have to record funny videos, or write inspirational tweets, or reblog all the best stuff to get followers/fans. Get over a certain amount and BAM, you are famous.

What confused me the most was the devotion my little sister had to these people. She loves these “YouTubers” more than I or anyone I know loves any band or actor. I later realized that was because “internet celebrities” are more accessible to their fans. The internet gives them an easy way to interact with their fans and make them feel included in their success.

It’s brilliant!

Not only that but these kids have learned to make a product, t-shirts, crafts, art, and more, into a business using services such as Etsy, Facebook, and Twitter to sell their wares, and they are doing it without a college education. In fact I think more than any generation before Generation Z rejects higher education. THey see it as an unesessary waste of time and money and instead opt to go right into working for themselves.

So yeah, these kids might not know what it’s like to struggle, and they might be spoiled, and they might not be able to do anything without their phones, but they are going to be ok. I know this because there are so many of them who have inspired me and made me think about things a little differently. Maybe us Millenials don’t have it figured out after all. Maybe there was still room for improvement.

All I know for sure is that we have to get on board or we will become like dinosaurs ourselves, obsolete and extinct.

Prompt via The Daily Post – Generation XYZ

Think about the generation immediately younger or older than you. What do you understand least about them — and what can you learn from them?

Image via https://flic.kr/p/aZbzgi

Let Us Be Dissatisfied!

What would Martin Luther King think of the world we live in today? Many people ask this question and many more after tragic events such as the killing of Mike Brown and the resulting protests in Ferguson, MO and across the country. I really began to take the question seriously after the murder of 12 year old Tamir Rice by police over a fake gun. When a child is killed and it is beginning to like like it was only because he was black and someone had thought he might be a threat, that is when you know the system is broken. That’s when I began to feel deeply, deeply, dissatisfied.

“Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds. Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the fires of justice. Let us be dissatisfied until they who live on the outskirts of Hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security. Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heap of history and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home. Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into the bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

I believe that Dr. King would also find himself deeply dissatisfied at the progress we have made in this country, or lack thereof. I do not think this is the future America he dreamed of. We have the illusion of progress but not real progress. Or maybe we have taken a few steps forward in some ways and slid back in others. Or maybe it’s that there is just so much hate left in the world that real progress cannot be made. I’m not sure what our excuse is but I am sure we are still far behind where we could or should be. I know that we have gotten far off course and that we must begin to make things right.

In case you aren’t already, here are a few statistics that should make you feel dissatisfied too:

  • Black students accounted for 18 percent of the country’s pre-K enrollment, but made up 48 percent of preschoolers with multiple out-of-school suspensions. Preschoolers! [source]
  • Black students were expelled at three times the rate of white students. [source]
  • Black girls were suspended at higher rates than all other girls and most boys. [source]
  • Nearly half of the nation’s Black students attend high schools in low-income areas with dropout rates that hover in the 40-50% range. [source]
  • 24.7% of all African-American live in poverty in comparison to 8.6% of all non-Hispanic White, 11.8% of all Asian-American and 23.2% of all Hispanic. [source]
  • The racial composition of the US prison and jail population as of 2008 was 60.21% (African American (non-Hispanic), 20.29% Hispanic, 13.44% White American (non-Hispanic) , and 6.06% Other (American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander American, and Multiracial American). [source]
  • Blacks, age 15 to 19, are killed by police at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police. [source]

Reading all that how can we all not feel dissatisfied? I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where the above statistics are true. The above statistics aren’t even some of the worst of it. The statistics regarding black women specifically are even more grim. We all should be ashamed of ourselves, and we should all understand why there is so much frustration coming from minorities and people of color. No one ever said life was fair, but there are some people for whom society is unfairly unfair.

I don’t pretend to know how to fix any of this. The issues seem more complicated than I alone could find a solution to. I do know that the way to begin is simple enough. We must all do two things, for one we must learn to feel more empathy for our fellow human beings. We are all so alike and yet we imagine everyone else is an “other”. We refuse to listen to each other and call the “other” lazy, stupid, not a real part of the America we imagine. When we do this we are wrong. There is no “other”, there is only all of us and we are in this alone, and together, and we have to begin to give a shit about each other!

Secondly, we all have to speak up! Whether an issue concerns you or not doesn’t matter, you know injustice when you see it. Don’t pretend, don’t hide, don’t say it’s not your responsibility or place, speak up! Stop hearing the news and then going about your day as if people all over aren’t beig killed or jailed unjustly. Stop acting like you don’t know there are children homeless and starving and going to shitty schools that will just about guarantee they continue to be homeless and starving their whole lives. Or until they are jailed or killed unjustly.

That’s all it takes to start. That’s all we all have to do. Be nice to each other, think of one another, and speak up when something is wrong. We could all make a lot of change with just those two actions. I think then I, and the Martin Luther King that lives in us all, might find ourselves a little more satisfied with this world.

Skinny Shame

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If you’ve been on the internet at all these past few days you have probably heard about Victoria’s Secret recent campaign and the backlash that followed. If not basically they took a photo featuring a bunch of models and across them the phrase “The Perfect ‘Body'”. Many claim the the campaign promotes unrealistic ideals and 10 women got together to recreate the photo with “real women”.

Now I actually agree with the claims and what those women have to say. Advertisements should feature women of all shapes and sizes and featuring only skinny women does create unrealistic ideals. My gripe with this and other responses like it is the idea that skinny women are not real women too. Look at the recreation, I believe there should be a skinny girl in there too because there are many skinny “real women” too. In fact I am one of them!

Now I have seen a lot of people respond by saying that skinny people are already represented in advertising and media and so do not need to be represented in the responses but I disagree with that stance.

First of all, yes, skinny women are over represented but that doesn’t mean all skinny women have the perfect body that these professional models have. Nor does it mean that all skinny girls are shaped the same like the models in the picture. I’d like to see skinny women like be whose breasts are small and have no hips yet still managed to get stretch marks. Skinny girls who have a belly pouch and chicken legs. Not all skinny girls are a model of perfect beauty and health and we need to see women in magazines who look like us too.

And second, a lot of us support these campaigns that feature everyday women and want to be included because we are just as fed up with this crap as curvy girls are. I don’t think this should be a “real women” vs “skinny women” thing. I think this should be about what is realistic and for the most part that is being accomplished except for perpetuating the idea that all skinny girls are perfect models and not what a real women is.

My whole adult life I’ve had other women treat me badly because I was skinny. I’m not trying to be whiny here. I totally get why and I do understand my privilege but what they never understood was that I not only wasn’t actively trying to be skinny, it’s just my genetics, but that I also didn’t identify with what I was seeing on TV either. I tried to talk to them about my insecurities I had and about how much I agreed with their views but I was always shut down and often the conversation ended with me being called a “skinny bitch”.

As a black woman I never thought those women represented me anyway. But the women that I looked up to, women like Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Rhianna, were all curvy and voluptuous. I wanted to be curvy so bad because in the community I grew up in having tits and ass was everything! It got to a point a few years ago where I was trying so hard to gain weight I was actually eating 6 meals a day! I ate a whole lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches and I added butter to everything I ate. I gained some weight but I didn’t have the time nor the appetite to keep it up. I am very proud of the weight I did gain though.

After that I worked on just loving the body I had but these campaigns of women showing what “real women” look like kind of hurt. Some girls are curvy and some aren’t but we are all real women and we should be represented TOGETHER. Instead skinny women are being excluded and I don’t get why. I would love to see more of these done with one REAL skinny girl included too. We have to remember that we are all REAL WOMEN!

Anyway, that’s my two cents….