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Look, I am pro at wasting time. I can’t even begin to detail the amount of subpar Jennifer Aniston movies I’ve watched on Netflix or how many times I have watched The X-Files or The League. I can spend three hours listening to the same song on Spotify while mindlessly scrolling through article after article. I could probably summon up the most perfect gif response for any emotion within seconds because that’s just how adept I am at the art of doing nothing with technology as my vehicle.

But after the last week, after the last few years, I am just so fed up with wasting time and not taking an active role in the world around me. How many more people need to die? How much more violence do we have to see on our screens? How much more ignorance needs to be shouted by politicians from bully pulpits before we wake up and do something?

There will forever be something going wrong in the world and sadness will always be around the corner in some form…but what if we stepped up and did something other than playing Pokemon? Over the last few days my newsfeed has been filled with news of black death, police brutality, police deaths…and Pokemon Go!

I understand that we can get mired in the sadness and it can eventually consume us until we are unable to think about anything else but perhaps that is what we need to do? Perhaps we all watch the video of Alton Sterling, we read the articles telling us how to get involved, we speak up and let our communities know that we can’t continue to live in a world like this?

I have spent hours wondering what am I doing to stand with my black peers? How am I contributing to the conversation? How am I going to play my part to perhaps make black futures better?

I am writing this and so for now that is enough to ease my conscious but that’s not enough for me and living in our safe little worlds apart from the violence we view on TV is not enough. Saying a goddamn prayer doesn’t change anything. Sending your “thoughts” to the black families does absolutely nothing.

And playing Pokemon certainly doesn’t.

I watched Pokemon when I was a kid and I remember some lines from the theme song went: I will travel across the land / searching far and wide / each Pokemon to understand
the power that’s inside. Besides the obvious creepiness and awkwardness concerned with a bunch of humans trolling entire cities trying to capture weird cartoon creatures, I do think that it’s worth noting the significance of those words. What if y’all put forth that same passion towards securing black futures?

What if y’all practiced a little empathy within your communities and worried a little about young black children knowing the power that’s inside each and every one of them? What if the feverish haze that’s taken over people in this nation as a result of the Pokemon app happened after yet another black man is gunned down just for being the wrong skin color?

It is human to want to get through the day by whatever means possible but I can’t in good conscious continue to buy into this lie. You can keep your apps and your mindless television shows, I want to figure out my role and how I can truly help better the world.

And my god, even if I don’t live to see a single thing change, I can at least die knowing I spent a lifetime trying and learning.

currently listening

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“It is as much a mixtape as it is an essay, a collection of voices in service of an argument. Despite the strains of tragedy that run through the album, its mysteries offer hope. Maybe St. Augustine is paying attention, or maybe, as Hynes sings on “Thank You,” the promise of faith will allow us to break from “the higher state of doubt.” Hynes’s voice floats in and out of these songs, and when he steps up front his voice is often soft, somewhere between genders, echoing, reverberating into the future. Yet he sounds optimistic. It’s a reminder that, despite the sorrows and uncertainty, “while Trayvon falls asleep” and others fade away, you still have to live.”

Full Review of Freetown Sound

how to #staywoke when all you want to do is sleep

#StayWoke is an often trending hashtag usually accompanied by #BlackLivesMatter or #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. To be woke is to be aware and in touch with issues of racial and social injustice. To be woke is to be down. To be woke is to be respected among other members of the black community.

I can log onto my computer and instantly find Black Twitter abuzz with conversations on a wide range of topics concerning the black community. There are links to various articles written by different well-respected black academics. There is a whole universe sharing their ideas, frustrations, and hopes for the world.

It is inspiring to see so many young black people engaging on such a grand scale.

But for some reason I cannot help but feel saddened and overwhelmed by the entire experience. Because I wish there was something else to talk about some days. Because the rage expressed by some of the people is just so palpable it causes my heart to ache in a way I never thought possible.

I think a lot about how James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Nina Simone etc sat together decades ago in their Greenwich Village studios discussing the very same things we are debating on Black Twitter in 2016. I think about how they wrote their books, plays, and songs believing that the world was perhaps on its way to equality and black bodies would one day cease to be disregarded with such alarming frequency.

I am not saying they believed the work would be finished with them but I have to think that they probably thought the world would be farther along than it is today.

So when I log onto Twitter and I see the same headlines and the same outrage, I can’t help but feel the urge to slam my computer shut and go back to bed. Because there is still so much work to be done. There are so many broken parts that need to be picked up and lovingly pieced back together.

It feels selfish to even be sharing this because what have I done to help my fellow black man? I have not signed any petitions. I have not marched in any protests. I have not donated to any causes. I haven’t even done the bare minimum.

Sending my thoughts out to those who are truly suffering does not bring back the dead. It does not erase the years of racism and ignorance. It does not heal anyone. It does not bring about any real understanding.

I am worried that this struggle will just become the work of my generation, and the generation after that, and the generation after that. That there will never actually be a #CarefreeBlackChild. That some of us will sacrifice our lives to the fight either literally or figuratively. Or that some of us will be so paralyzed by the weight of it all and never answer the call to action.

And so I must ask, at what point does being woke become detrimental to our collective consciousness?

death and all his friends

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My father several summers ago.

It’s strange how life ebbs and flows and shrinks and grows. How what was significant to an individual years ago can cease to have any meaning one day. How something that once never crossed your mind can be the one thing that keeps you awake night after night.

It is true what they say that you never truly recover from the loss of a loved one. You can go days without thinking about them and then some days it’s all you can think about. You can replay the day you lost them unexpectedly and the months leading up to it but you never quite find peace. That is not how the heart or the mind works.

I lost my father to heart disease. After years of heart attacks, heart surgeries, and countless hospital stays…he died one night due to a blood clot in his leg.

Death. It takes what it wants and doesn’t offer any explanations.

But in 2016 I can’t help but think how perhaps the way my father passed is somehow more reassuring and safe for my family and our collective sanity. Perhaps the fact that my father had a heart condition which killed him is easier to sleep with at night than the fact that he was gunned down simply because he was black.

I think about this fact more frequently these days and I somehow manage to find solace in my family’s loss. Because heredity took my father, not bigotry and ignorance.

He was the one black man I knew personally for my entire life and so it’s not hard to imagine him in the context of countless other black men who’ve been murdered for no other reason than the color of their skin.

The same atrocities which occurred over 400 years ago continue to happen today.

A photograph of my father could just as easily replace any other black man murdered at the hands of police brutality…and yes, death is death. Death is final. But for me, there is some semblance of an explanation.

To those who have lost their fathers, mothers, and loved ones due to inexplicable and senseless violence you will forever be in my thoughts and in my heart.

 

 

 

class of 2013

Mom, am I still young?
Can I dream for a few months more?

– Mitski, Class of 2013 

I was supposed to graduate from college in 2013 but I dropped out pretty soon after I arrived on campus. I joke that I moonlighted as a student for two years but the reality is that I hated every moment and I rarely made it to class. If my final exams had been on Dawson’s Creek, I would’ve aced them no problem. I could probably write a thesis on how Joey shouldn’t have picked either Pacey OR Dawson and instead she should have moved as far away from the Creek as she possibly could. I basically took out student loans to watch the WB on DVD and drink copious amounts of PBR. I think it was also during this time I discovered the culinary genius that is Southern Comfort and Dr. Pepper.

So yeah, I guess all in all college went really, really well for me.

I must admit that I was surprised at how positively horrific the entire experience was for me. I had dreamt of going to college since the first day of high school. I had planned my life up until about 27 when I was supposed to graduate from law school and get engaged a la Elle Woods. I had a motherfuckin’ plan and I had busted my ass in high school and dotted all my i’s just so I could walk the quad at my perfect college in the city of my…dreams?

I should’ve known my teenage brain was no more equipped to make a decision than my current alcohol-addled adult brain. And so here we are almost four years after I was supposed to graduate from that institute of higher learning and almost two years from the projected completion of law school.

Spoiler Alert (No, Dawson’s Creek was not a spoiler. It’s been off the air for over a decade.): I am not a lawyer and I have no intention of going back to college any time soon. Oh, I have tried. I have pulled myself up by my bootstraps and re-enrolled at community colleges and tried taking smaller course loads but alas I have never found the experience as enriching as initially promised.

I am a college drop-out.

If someone had told me that would be my life ten years ago, I would have passed out and promptly woken up and settled right into a full body heave. But you know what? So what. I am not seeking that degree anymore. Class of 2013? That means nothing to me because this is what they never tell you: no matter what you do and where you go, there you are and the human condition is lonely and overwhelming.

But one thing is for certain, you have to continuously choose life. Whatever shape that may take for you, you live. You wake up every day and even if you slump through it that doesn’t matter…just get through it. Ideally we will push and we will fight and shout and laugh and scream and hang on but some days it’s all you can do to shuffle.

And that’s okay. That is so okay you don’t even know it yet. I suppose this is the anti-graduation speech that all of us drop outs share when the world closes in and judges us and makes us feel inadequate. Because it does and it always will but what matters now and every day forward is what we do with the freedom afforded to us by the lack of student loans and structured, pre-packaged learning that might have otherwise befallen us had we bought into the dream.

So hey, since we’re here why don’t we dream a bit more?