MLK Day

I hope everyone is enjoying this day off of school and (maybe) work. While a lot of people view this as just another day off, I’m grateful for friends and family that encourage me to take the time to educate myself on race, politics, and history. I know this is something I should be doing every single day, but because today is MLK Day I’ve made sure to set aside a moment of introspection and research for myself.

I don’t have all the answers about race in America. I actually don’t have many at all. I’m by no means an expert. I’ve tried hard to listen more than I talk when it comes to the things I don’t fully understand how to talk about. I think the article White People Assume Niceness is the Answer To Racial Inequality. It’s Not. by Robin diAngelo sums up this feeling well in this quote:

I am white. As an academic, consultant and writer on white racial identity and race relations, I speak daily with other white people about the meaning of race in our lives. These conversations are critical because, by virtually every measure, racial inequality persists, and institutions continue to be overwhelmingly controlled by white people. While most of us see ourselves as “not racist”, we continue to reproduce racist outcomes and live segregated lives….If I cannot tell you what it means to be white, I cannot understand what it means not to be white. I will be unable to bear witness to, much less affirm, an alternate racial experience. I will lack the critical thinking and skills to navigate racial tensions in constructive ways…We can begin [to support racial equality] by acknowledging ourselves as racial beings with a particular and limited perspective on race. We can attempt to understand the racial realities of people of color through authentic interaction rather than through the media or through unequal relationships. 

This weekend, I browsed the internet for articles on race in America. I hope you’re not surprised that I found many, many articles, news reports, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, and various other web-based writings on the subject.

I thought this article, talking about the way Americans perceive the word ‘racist’, very interesting. I personally had not thought about that word that way before.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Forbes came out with their own article on racism this time last year.

And to wrap up this week’s post, I have an article for you about Black Burnout. I wasn’t aware that someone else’s definition of burnout could be different than mine. I’d always assumed it was the same feeling, happening for the same reasons, and ending in the same way. I’d read an earlier article from Buzzfeed writer Anne Peterson about millennials being the burnout generation and intensely related to the scenarios and feelings she described. I’m so glad that someone else decided to write a follow up article from their perspective because otherwise I wouldn’t have known there was a difference.

I hope you enjoyed the articles and the discussions they may prompt. Some may find them enlightening, some inflammatory, and others dismissive. Feel free to talk about your thoughts and reactions in the comments section below.

Sienna

Sienna was absolutely beautiful! I loved going through the government buildings (hello, future law student!) and seeing firsthand how art can be a political influence.

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The views were absolutely gorgeousimg_2899

Reading in the plaza is a nice break from walking around all day! I brought a sarong with me to use as a blanket when sitting on the ground. I am always getting things on my white jeans! Bringing something to sit on (and to help my classmates cover up their shoulders or knees when going into churches) really saved me on this trip! img_2887img_2881img_2839img_2840

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Below is the Allegory of Good and Bad Government, a fresco mural in the rooms of the Council of Nine, the government of Sienna in the 1300’s. I love it because of its purpose: it kept the government in line through the depiction of what occurs when a government governs poorly. Below is only the “good government” side, but you should definitely check out the “bad government” side. What a great political implication! If you want to read more about it, click hereIMG_2889IMG_2861

 

April is…

April is National Poetry Month and National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Through my time as a performance poet in high school I developed a strong voice when it came to speaking out against sexual violence.

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So, in honor of the month of April, I’m going to share a lightening round slam poetry piece with you, titled We Asked for It. It’s much better when performed out loud, but sadly I was never recorded. Performing this piece meant a lot to me because of all the friends that had been sexually assaulted in high school. I think writing this poem helped me work through the anger and frustration I felt as the time. I’m hoping that reading it from the page conveys those feelings as well as my performance would.

We Asked for It by Bailey Marshall

We girls demand attention from the opposite sex.

We rim our eyes in black, make lashes long like spiders’ legs,

Paint our lips red like the hourglass on the backs of black widows,

With web-white smiles we snare men in our traps.

It’s not that we just enjoy wearing makeup, we do it to seduce the opposite sex.

Our mascara, lipstick, and teeth spell out Y-E-S.

Remember, you have to watch out for us girls.

We’re vindictive, cunning, masters of seduction.

Fathers have to tell their sons to be careful when they go out at night

So that some strange woman doesn’t sashay over and

Trap him in her well spun lies.

Young boys,

We hope you know our “Yes to Consent” law is only another trap door for you to fall in to

Another California king bed we can handcuff you to the frame of,

Call the police on what you promised us was love,

Because we will try and accuse you of so – many – things.

Like when our lips, drowned in alcohol, are begging for some man to overpower us

Take advantage of us

Leave us broken, naked, and alone

And scared of every bump in the night, every drink in our hand, every man at the bar,

We ask for rape by getting drunk

We ask for rape by drinking alone

We ask for rape by ordering more than one drink

We ask to be opened up and pinned like dead arachnids on specimen tables.

We ask for rape…by being female.

We are made for picking up our own broken pieces and being blamed for being victims.

So watch out.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Whenever I go to the beach I make sure to bring enough books to read. This summer, however, I knew I had a goal of twelve books as well as the May, June, and July books for the bookclub I’m in. That’s fifteen books for an entire summer, over half of what I usually read per year! Usually I have a daunting to-read list, but I didn’t know where to start this time.

I started off the summer with The Goldfinch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and the Inheritance Cycle. After that, I hit a wall. I spent a lot of my downtime at work surfing through Twitter instead of reading. Politics, even though I dislike them, have been interesting this year. Its like reality tv with all the drama and he-said-she-said gossip going on. That’s when I decided a book on small town politics might not be such a bad thing to read at the beach. I picked up The Casual Vacancy the day before we left for Topsail and didn’t put it down until I’d finished it three days after.

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The Casual Vacancy is a book about Pagford, a small town in England. The story revolves around the death of Barry Fairbrother, a member of the Pagford Parish Council. Barry is loved by everyone and loves everyone in return. He has a big heart, but politically that’s what gets him into trouble. Many years ago, Pagford and Yarvil were friendly neighbor cities, Yarvil being the bigger of the two with a large estate sitting between them. The estate sold lands to Pagford to make cheap housing. Decades later, the cheap housing has become government housing, and is costing Pagford quite a bit of money in the end. Barry wants to keep “the Fields” and the addiction clinic as part of Pagford. The other half of the council does not. When there is a casual vacancy because of Barry’s death, the entire town splits between pro-fielders and anti-fielders and those running for council find themselves the topic of discriminatory posts on the Parish Council website.

What did I tell you, politics with a side of reality tv show worthy gossip! If you like Rowling’s writing style for Harry Potter (this isn’t exactly the same, but it’s not far off) and are interesting in small town politics then I’d definitely give this book a go!

Celebrating Langston Hughes

Today is February first. Not only does today mark the beginning of Black History Month, it’s the birthday of one of America’s celebrated writers: Langston Hughes.

Langston Hughes was born in 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. Hughes first started writing poetry while living with his grandmother in Lincoln, Illinois and published his first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, in 1926. His first novel, Not Without Laughter, was published in 1930. Hughes is known for his portrayals of life as an African American. His writing, as well as his life, helped to shape the Harlem Renaissance. Possibly his most famous work is the poem Dream Deferred, which is what I’d like to share with you today. The poem talks about the “American dream” as it applied to blacks living in America during the 1920’s through the 1960’s. Even though the imagery is gore-y and gruesome, I still claim this poem as one of my favorites from Hughes’ works.

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

I’d also like to share a poem of his called I, Too. The lyrical nature of this poem is absolutely beautiful, and the message is so empowering. I remember reading this poem aloud, as a class, in high school. Like the last, this poem also speaks about life for blacks in America in the ’20s and ’60s.

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Spotify also has a playlist of Hughes reading his poetry, which I’d really recommend. Nothing quite beats hearing a poet read their own work! You can find the playlist by clicking the link HERE.

 

A Concept of Home

I have lived in the same neighborhood, on the same street, in the same house all my life. That is where I consider “home” to be. For others, home is the house they’re currently living in. For others, still, home is the place they grew up. Some have split homes, whether due to divorce or immigration or other circumstances. “Home” is sometimes defined as a state of being, rather than a place. “I feel at home here,” has often been the choice phrase spoken by travelers seeking comfort. During this election cycle, I found a new definition of home for myself.

I’ve traveled outside of the United States twice in my life. Always being the child up for adventure, I readily tried new foods and met new people on both trips. However, even as a girl, I knew there was something oddly comforting about hearing an American accent on the streets of Paris, or eating a hamburger in London. As loudly as the world beckons me to explore, the United States has always found a way to bring me home again.

Amidst the confusion, frustration, and impatience of the tallying up of the electoral college votes, with Trump in the lead, the immigration website for Canada crashed. I’d heard many people, my friends among them, joke about fleeing the country if Donald Trump became the President of the United States. I didn’t think anyone was serious until that very moment. While I can not understand the fear going through the minds of some citizens right now, who possibly feel threatened by the promises our new President has made over the course of the past year, what remains more unfathomable to me are the people who are fleeing out of anger with the election.

As background on myself, I will tell you that I have a kind heart. I believe that, because we are all human beings, we have a moral obligation to be kind to one another on a daily basis. I am also only nineteen. There is much I have yet to learn about the world. But, if I have learned anything in my short time here, I know that kindness takes courage. A home is built with love, care, and, above all, kindness. Walking around my university today I witnessed ugly exchanges of words between people about political candidates. I overheard conversations that would not make me proud to call the United States my home.

As Americans, we are loud. We like sports, spending time with our families, and somehow manage to pair sneakers with everything. If you travel abroad, it’s somewhat easy to pick out the Americans in the crowd. We aren’t assertive, but we carry a kind of independent, inquisitive disposition that often finds us at the front of the tour group. It’s admirable.

While there are many things that set us apart from one another, there are also two fundamental things that should bring us together right now: we are human, and we are American. Through the process of logical deduction, it’s safe to assume that we live on same soil. We share the same home. And while not all homes are the same, I’d ask you to re-evaluate what a home means to you. I hope yours is built with kindness for others.

So in this time of change for our country, do not run away from what angers you. As it has been recently said, one vote has the power to change an election. As of now, one person has the power to change the divide that has become our home.