How To Stay #Woke, When You Are Tired

“I feel tried.”-Evelyn, From The Internets

How apropos that on this here Tuesday, January 31st in the year of our Lord, or Vishnu, or Allah 2017, or whatever spiritual mans and ’em that keeps your soul centered. that I would stumble upon my favorite and one of the most underrated Youtuber’s new video.

Evelyn, From The Internets asked a question that has been on my mind more than my tax refund…Do I Have To Be An Internet Social Justice Warrior?

Unless you are one of those rare Pokemon who are blessed enough to lack alla da social media accounts, then I know you have seen what Orange Voldemort is up to, and if you have not, go read your Facebook feed immediately, and be appalled like the majority of ‘Murica.

Try as hard as I might, I can’t seem to tune it all out. I’ve deleted the apps, deactivated, and decompressed but my blood pressure is still up and my tolerance for bigoted bogusness masquerading as political hoodoo is getting lower.

I is tired, and you probably are too. I consider myself a writer and somewhat a member of the interwebz, so from time to time I offer commentary on the happenings in life and society. But these days, or rather in the past week, it has felt like I have a personal responsibility to combat every intolerant troll, misguided supporter, and privileged Suzie that I see practicing anything less than intersectionality.

I don’t want to be a internet social justice warrior, verbally sparring with every keyboard troll.

There’s another thing we’re forgetting, while the country that my textbooks always told me was the land of the free, crumbles around us, I am still expected to live my life, and it’s becoming harder and harder to do so.

I went on an interview yesterday, at a place that shall remain unnamed, and I forgot to wear my customer service face, because after sitting for an hour and a half while I watched two other white interviewees throw their hat in the corporate ring, I realized that I didn’t want to be there.

I didn’t want to be there in my respectable pencil skirt, and bare face. I wanted to wear color and print, and black lipstick. I wanted to be myself.

But being a black girl, with an opinion was not listed in the job description.

So instead I sat patiently, waiting to go into an office and be interviewed by two white higherups who when I raised an eyebrow at a question reminded me that, “this is how interviews go.”

My degree didn’t matter, and neither did my work history.

It was all about how I can pull my face into a Cheshire grin, and convince my interviewers that it was indeed my dream to be there.

But I kept thinking about the dynamics of the situation and beating back my social justice worries with a stick. I could not bring myself to care about this corporate interrogation, despite my blossoming joblessness.

I want to write, I want to protest, I want to tell people that they need to do better, I want to do better. But it seems that’s not what employers want to hear mixed in with my salary requirements.

In the midst of all of this we have to remember the importance of self-care, and no not the bubble bath taking, facial getting, Whole Foods version of it, but the kind that demands that we survive. That we get out of bed in the morning, that we do the job, that we keep food in our bellies, that we do all we can until we can do better, because now it seems that more than ever the political and shady powers that be, want us to be quiet, to smile and keep our heads down.

And it can wear thin on both your edges and your spirit, to be this tired, to be this disenchanted.

But we can start by shifting our own perspectives, by distancing but not disengaging. By loving yourself more, loving your friends, saying no to what does not bring your soul peace, by not scolding those who can and should know better.

Don’t keep your head down, don’t smile if you don’t feel like it, and don’t forget that taking care of yourself and taking up the cause must often happen in tandem.

Staying alive and healthy matters as much as staying woke.

-Tiff

 

Why We Need To Discuss The Lack of Mentorship Within The Black Community…

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Of all of my favorite quotes about success, the G.O.A.T has got to be, “Supporting another’s success won’t ever dampen your own.” Bars!

But no, I’m not sure when the shift happened among millennials, is it when we realized that our college degrees are worthless without technical skills and connection? Or is when we realized those things and stopped deciding to help uplift the people who look like us.

If I learned nothing in this past year, it’s that you can in fact be a person with the most questionable morals, shady business deals, and a bad wig and become a leader of the free world; which I guess is one of the ultimate success stories.

But on a smaller and less evil scale, the idea of success has come to be less about making an impact on the lives of others and pursuing a passion and more about being a workhorse and getting a job that pays the highest salary. Success is subjective, but there tends to be a common thread in all success stories, and that is the idea of having a mentor, someone that you can learn from, who can vouch for your talent and work ethic, and serve as a confidant.

So where are all of the black mentors in the black community? Maybe I’m biased or just out of the loop, but it is no lie that most jobs are secured based off of who you know, and from what I have seen of other races, especially white people, is a greater willingness to put a friend, peer, or colleague in contact with a key person, or to read a blog post you’ve been writing, or art you’ve been creating.

Whereas, I’ve witnessed far too many instances of not supporting black businesses, black artists, or even our friends. So not only does our talent often fly under the radar, so many of us are stuck not knowing how to promote our skills because we are starving for a mentor.

A mentor is defined as a “an experienced and trusted adviser,” it can be your friend who knows the computer program you’ve been trying to learn, it can be a professional in a field that you are trying to break into, a professor, or your grandma’s friend’s cousin.

And yet, when trying to figure out how to brand a blog, social justice initiative, and market myself as a writer there were very few people willing to offer me guidance. There are far too many black people with all of the ambition in the world who cannot find a single person to support their work and guide their progress.

School would be the first place to think of when looking for a mentor, but in 17 years of schooling I had very few. While there may have been a professor or to who told me that I could write and that I could go into many different fields, the conversation stopped and started there. There was no meeting over coffee where I could pick their brain or gain insight from shared experiences; not to mention that there always seemed to be a disparity in who received mentorship and who did not?

So where are all of the mentors?

If I had to give three reasons, just based off of my own opinions, I would say that the lack of mentorship in the black community is due to:

Fear

The success of others should not diminish our own light, and yet there are too many instances of people not sharing knowledge because of competition that does not exist. A win for one is a win for all of us as far as I’m concerned, so if sharing your knowledge of video production, or proofreading someone’s novel, or telling someone who is new to your company about your experiences makes a difference then that is no way threatens your own achievements.

The institution

If you choose to put money, and your future into the hands of higher education, then you deserve to receive mentorship and advising that will help you realize your strengths, capitalize your passions, and that also offers constructive criticism. It is not a mentor’s job to merely pat you on the back, the same way that you cannnot be a mentee who is unwilling to hustle. But there are far too many “advisers,” who simply collect a paycheck and offer little support or professional development to students whose livelihood can be determined based upon connections and a solid series of mentors. Almost, two years out of college and I’m still looking for a mentor, after a failed program that was unable to match me with an alumni mentor, and a stint in grad school that also came up empty. If academic institutions cannot offer career resources, access to a mentor network, or provide an advisor who will be honest about the fact that now writing jobs expect you to have digital design skills, then they are wasting our time. The institution needs to do better.

Division

Whenever melaninated people speak out about social injustice those voices are often snuffed out with a “oh but you do the same thing to your people,” sort of argument. Most of the time that argument holds not water. Except in this instance. There has long been a schism in the black community between those who are college-educated and those who are not, as if at the root of it all we don’t all face the same issues, and thanks to the woke black person trope, there is a gap between the “woke,” and the “unwoke.” Whatever side you exist on, pride often gets in the way of supporting members of our own community. There is often too much pride in not asking for help, or support, or wise words when you desperately need them, the same way that pride keeps those with valuable know-how and life experiences from sharing it with those who they think are unwilling to receive it.

Given the fact that Lucifer-reincarnate will be taking over the Oval Office in exactly two days, there is no better time than to believe in your worth, and to be someone who can help others believe the same. Yes, many of us know about struggle, and starting from the bottom, and doing so alone. But that should be the exception not the rule.

 

How To Practice Minimalism If You’re #BrokeAF

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Hi my name is Tiffany, and I have been sucked into The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  and while I never managed to finish reading the book, I can jibe with the basic premise of ridding your life of too many possessions and seeking out less tangible, but worthwhile things…you know, like happiness, peace of mind, etc.

Last year, the term minimalism was tossed around in health and wellness culture, as much as the words “self-care.” If you have been out of the loop, minimalism, according to Merriam-Webster is “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.” Picture living with only two pieces of furniture or maintaining a 33 item capsule wardrobe; the mission is to focus more on acquiring positive experiences and less junk that serves you or you 300 sq ft apartment, little purpose.

I’m all for the principles behind minimalism, but I’ve raised an drawn-on eyebrow or two at most of the imagery surrounding the lifestyle. Stop reading this and go watch the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things, and you will see a self-proclaimed “homeless,” man who is actually a nomad traveler who has no permanent address, because he travels to a new country every month, and two authors who live with one chair and two shirts…and nothing else.

Depictions of minimalism tend to be very extreme and very whitewashed, but that’s for another post. If you find that you can’t afford $300 loafers instead of a closet full of cheap shoes in the name of quality versus quantity. Or that you very much like the comfort of your own bed and room of one’s own then here are  five smaller, more practical ways to integrate minimalism into your daily life.

Try a “dry” month

I remember the thrill that came with turning 21 and being able to partake in an adult beverage or two, and while at 23 my liver ain’t what it used to be, I still enjoy a nice glass of wine. Which can run anywhere from $7 to $10 on a good day, and if you go out for drinks often, the damage is probably reflected by your nearly empty bank account. Try not buying alcohol for a month or if you can’t do without liquid courage buy a bottle of your favorite brew and skip the happy hours.

Clean yo’room

You’d be amazed at what reveals itself when you round up dust bunnies and bust out some Clorox wipes. I found tons of DVD’s that I haven’t watched in years, note: I do not have a DVD player. I also found dryer sheets and three tubes of muscle rub…what was I doing that required that much pain relief? When you eliminate duplicates of things and tidy up old thingamabobs it changes the energy of a space.

Meal Prep

While meal prepping is currently en vogue, so is saving money by planning out your meals in advance and only buying food that you need. Stop ordering five rolls of sushi and get you  the biggest slab of salmon you can find. Voila! Dinner for the week.

Pick out your most worn pieces of clothing

What do you wear on a daily basis? Now mix and match those pieces, donate everything else.

Be neutral

As in neutral colors…with clothing and decor, find a color that feels clean and crisp, now integrate that color into your aesthetic, something about grays, whites, and blues just feel more peaceful and offer a certain calm.

Tiny plants and lone vanilla candles are optional, but minimalism really is less about a look and more about a feeling. I know that when my outside feels crowded and disorganized then my mental peace is compromised, so trying to narrow down everything in my life from people to possessions is a conscious effort that helps me feel like I am living my life with more purpose.

Have you heard of minimalism? What principles have and have not worked for you?

Let me know in the comments, and as always may you #findsometlc.

 

We Need A Resolution…

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As the clock struck 12 last Saturday, I promptly logged out of Facebook so as not to read the ubiquitous “New Year, New Me,” posts that happen right around this time EVERY year. But I can’t say I would blame anyone for wanting to wash the bad taste of “the year that shall not be named,” out of their mouths.

I could ruminate on the many ways in which 2016 was one big situation-ship, but that’s not what this space is for…in the words of the late, great Aaliyah, “We need a resolution.”

But resolutions tend to get left in the back of my closet every year, much like the going out outfit I buy but never get the chance to wear. So f*ck  yo’ resolutions, and my own for that matter, because without an action plan, I’ll be the same person I was last year, and ain’t nobody got time fo’ that.

I’ve realized that the key to making a change is accountability, sometimes it’s to others and sometimes it’s to yourself. So if you can’t find a friend to commit to your mission to get it right and tight or to eat out less or to find you chi, then you have to learn to cheer for your damn self. Never forget Lil Wayne’s prolific phrase “Real G’s move in silence like lasagna.” Make sure that you are changing your life for you and not so that everybody and their little brother can hand clap for you. Disappear for a while, log off Facebook, stop posting #foodporn on Instagram and learn to live without people watching. Beat your face, eat the most exotic meal you can find, travel alone, and don’t document it for anyone other than your self.

So I’m holding myself accountable this year…in no particular order here’s what I plan to do this year.

  1. Get my driver’s license
  2. Participate in a charity walk/run
  3. Take an aerial yoga class
  4. Take a boxing class
  5. Exercise at least 3x a week
  6. Take a ballroom dancing class
  7. Move into my first apartment
  8. Volunteer for a cause that I align with
  9. Revive my YouTube channel
  10. Launch a website for The Black Lipstick Project
  11. Take a sewing class
  12. Learn Photoshop and video editing 
  13. Go to Harry Potter land
  14. Learn CPR
  15. Pay off credit card debt
  16. Stop getting upset at situations that are none of my business
  17. Tell somebody I love them at least once a week
  18. Adopt some principles of minimalism
  19. Bake a cake from scratch
  20. Go to a sex positivity workshop
  21. Collaborate with new creatives
  22. Eat a meatless meal once a week
  23. Practice daily meditation, self-care and self-love
  24. Complete a yoga challenge
  25. Get a new tattoo
  26. Read at least one new book a month
  27. Take an art class
  28. Take a road trip
  29. Start a book???
  30. Start an emergency fund

As I achieve each thing and hopefully things I didn’t even see coming, I’m going to be chronicling all of it.

So we’ve established that one week into the new year, most of us all are exactly who we were right before that glittering ball dropped. So what are you going to do about it?  Write it down, leave me a comment, write a note in your phone, but get up off your butt…and may you #findsometlc along the way.