We See Right Through You, Betsy

In a move that shocked literally no one, The U.S. Senate has confirmed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. For the first time in U.S. history, the vote was split 50/50, and our ever-so-loving Vice President Pence, in an unprecedented vote, leaned in favor of DeVos to break the tie. Even with every Democrat in Senate against her, DeVos managed to squeak by her confirmation. In what is sure to be the grossest failure of the American education system, all but two Senate Republicans voted “yes” for DeVos.

As an adult who went through the public school system, my heart aches at the decision. I’m disappointed that the next generation’s future was sold for such a low price. I’m angry that another wealthy white person can be blatantly unqualified for a position and still be appointed anyway. But mostly, I’m terrified for parents nationwide who have to navigate their children through a world that doesn’t care about their education.

From kindergarten through my senior year, I always had new textbooks, fine literature and informative health classes. We had a free lunch program and decent food. Our teams always had fairly new uniforms and the gym classes had enough equipment for every student. My high school covered the cost for the students to take Advanced Placement tests. Our International Baccalaureate program sent students to Denmark. It was always evident that we were some of the lucky ones.

When DeVos was asked if she would pressure our public schools to privatize or if she would cut funding to public schools, she replied, “I look forward, if confirmed, to working with you to talk about how we address the needs of all parents and all students.” It sounded like a vague answer from someone who is being appointed to a position she has no idea about, likely because she paid her way to get there. This is a pivot, to distract from her lack of knowledge and make the public feel confident that she’s working with us, not against us, even though she doesn’t know how to do the work itself.betsy3

DeVos’ lack of experience in public school systems directly affects how efficiently she can help the majority of our country’s education.  She never went to public school and would rather see private schools prosper (with taxpayer money) – schools that do not have to abide by state regulations. Schools that can teach inaccuracies, using fear mongering and hatred. With her push for “school choice,” her attempt to strengthen the public school system is a thinly veiled ploy to indoctrinate religion into classrooms with taxpayer money. What was once a school will now become a profit center for America’s children.

I will not let this happen.

I’m a Sunday Hebrew school teacher and a child care provider. I’ve made lunches, helped with homework, crafted lesson plans, sat through hours of parent-teacher conferences, and hoped to God every day that my kids didn’t have to experience gun violence while trying to learn. I’ve loved and nurtured children who are protected by the IDEA legislation, which allows children with disabilities to receive a proper education. During DeVos’ confirmation hearing, she admitted that she may have been confused, indicating that she didn’t seem to know that IDEA was a federal law.

When it comes to gun control, DeVos also made a strong reach during that same hearing, citing an example of a school in Wyoming, where she “would imagine there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.” Trump has signaled that he thinks that some teachers can be trained to carry guns in school. DeVos supports Trump’s stance, while also exclaiming, “My heart bleeds and is broken for those families that have lost any individual due to gun violence.” In the time since this hearing, the US House of Representatives has voted to scrap a regulation intended to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, said the BBC. This decision makes gun safety less possible by adding leniency to the vetting process for gun owners.

As we’ve seen in many shootings, mental illness has become a strong defense for the perpetrators. Relaxing the laws to protect the mentally ill from harming themselves won’t help trained gun people better protect children from school shootings. This is a false dichotomy. It has the potential to cause more gun violence, and allows more access to guns, by people who are unsafe and untrained. DeVos has not taken a clear stance on whether she will stand for or against gun control in an effort to put an end to gun violence in schools.

As a former college student, I have seen schools fail young women who have reported sexual assault on their campuses. I have watched rapists graduate with zero marks on their record. I went to college during Title IX and still never felt safe. When DeVos was approached with this topic, she wasn’t even able to formulate a coherent answer. There should be no discussion over the safety of college students, but she couldn’t even confirm her support towards it. She did acknowledge that rape of any kind is wrong, but wouldn’t take a strong stance on further work to prevent rapists from assaulting people.

So, I will be watching you, Ms. DeVos. We’ve seen the buyout money, we’ve seen you make a fool of yourself in front of your peers. Your mission to “advance God’s kingdom” will end in ruining sex education and miseducating youth by being unsafe with their bodies. Teen pregnancy rates have dropped significantly in the last two decades, but does that matter to you? The vouchers you so fully support will further segregate our schools, leaving children of color and poor children at a severe disadvantage.

We know you aren’t even remotely qualified to hold this position.

This is not over. We are watching.

And to the citizens of the United States: Now is the time to make sure you vote “yes” for your school district’s budget. Attend public board meetings and find out what is going on districtwide. Invest in our future, since our government clearly has no intentions of doing so.

Rae Sanni: Only the Truth with Ticket Giveaway

 

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Every friend group needs someone who will make you laugh, check you on your bullshit and build you up all in the same breath. If you’re lucky, that someone is Rae Sanni, a name you should definitely become familiar with. The 28 year-old Brooklynite is making a place for herself in the comedy world, and she’s not waiting for you to catch up.

Much of Sanni’s comedy has been a reflection of finding out who she is as a black woman in this world. After dropping out from Princeton in 2009, she began her career trying to find her niche, but faced a lot of pressure to “sanitize” her comedy, and make it more relatable. “I listened to a bunch of white guys tell me what ‘good comedy’ was, and that wasn’t talking about identity,” she remarked on the time. “So there was a time that I listened, because I wanted to get respect.”

Growing up a first generation Nigerian Muslim, her parents (who have accents) were a source of “safe” material when her career began. They had high hopes for her to be a lawyer, and expected her comedy to be a phase. She asked them for their patience, and they reluctantly obliged.

As Sanni entered the thick of adulthood, mocking her traditional parents began to make less sense, and she dropped the shtick she thought people wanted to hear. “They worked so hard to help me grow that I felt bad disrespecting them,” she admitted. “Now I choose to talk about the disconnect between us culturally, so I can be respectful of who they are.”

Now as an up and coming face in the NYC comedy scene, Sanni’s comedy is at it’s most unique. “The best thing about stand up comedy is that it’s mine,” she said. “I will never tailor my material to make an audience more comfortable. I’m 28, and I’ll bring up what I want. These things [race and gender] are on my brain constantly, so they will seep into my comedy.”

She performs now on bills where she often is the only person of color or woman, a fact she finds ridiculous in New York City. “It doesn’t cross my mind too much. I’m black every day, and I’m dope. I’ll probably bring it up just to break the ice.”

When she’s not hosting her own show in Manhattan, Sanni is working on expanding her writing portfolio. Recently, she’s been writing hysterical reviews of popular television for Vulture online. Her real dream is to write for the small screen, and she’s pushing herself to finish her show concept for this year. She fears having her work edited to the point where it’s no longer “Rae” anymore, but she’s remaining positive nonetheless. “If you stick to your guns and do the art that you want to do, someone is going to pick it up and let you do it.”

Underneath it all, she’s a go with the flow kind of girl that likes politics, Twitter, social justice, and trashy reality tv shows (think Real Housewives). And years from now, when she’s written and produced her own network show, that’s how she’d like to be remembered. “I’m not a political woman, I’m a woman who thinks about politics. I’m a young black, Nigerian woman. That’s just it, that’s me.”

Rae Sanni will be at PROCTORS Saturday April 23rd at 8:00pm as a part of Pretty Much the Best Comedy Show.

Want to win 2 tickets to the show? Comment on this post with your email address for a chance to win! 

Hits and Shits

Was this more of an “ahhh” or “mehhh” week for you? Here are some happies and crappies from this week.

HITS

These gave me a chuckle this week.

The Obama Sisters

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I have absolutely loved watching these gorgeous black beauties grow up the last eight years. Even though I’ve never met them, they’ve always struck me as loving themselves as much as they love each other, and this was somewhat confirmed for me this week. At a State dinner for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (aka, Canadian Bernie Sanders), the girls are pictured with Vancouver’s own Ryan Reynolds, where Malia is somewhat cheering on Sasha as she speaks to him. It’s absolutely adorable. I’m the oldest of two girls, and even though me and my sister butt heads, if she was standing with Robert Pattinson (a weird, but I suppose understandable crush) I would totally be doing the same thing.

Game of Thrones

If you know me even just a little bit, you’ll know I’m insane for Game of Thrones. A few days ago a trailer was released for the new season and I am GAGGING with excitement. Last season’s finale left me with so many questions that I was legitimately irritated for days following. And this season should be interesting as it’s the first one to have not been based on the book universe. My main concern is I’m just glad I can FINALLY know what happened to Bran…and I’ll leave the rest of my geeking out at that.

Realm to the Rescue

In other Westeros news, the International Rescue Committee recently released a video featuring GoT cast members that supports Syrian refugees as the crisis enters its 6th year. Yet another reason to love the show.

Kim Kardashian and Slut Shaming

 

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This story really got me thinking. Early Monday morning, Kim K tweeted a full length naked photo (pre edited to cover the “scandalous” bits) to her millions of followers and the backlash was very sly in its slut shaming nature. Several celebrities offered their opinions on Kim’s actions, which she promptly countered with a smooth clapback of her own. And at first I thought the responses were funny (Bette Midler’s shady behind usually has me in stitches). But then I got to thinking about why they were offering their opinions on her grown, adult body, and I realized they weren’t right. Kardashian’s responses were rude to a point, but I realized if the world is always talking about your body and you love it the way it is, you have every right to be angry about their opinions on it.

Happy International Women’s Day! You had no problem with seeing Kim Kardashian’s naked body when you were watching it without her permission! G’night! #IWD2016

Posted by Zach Williams on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

 

SHITS

 

We can just go on ahead and leave these waaay in the past, please.

 

Uncle Toms in the Media

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I’m just so over this, guys. I’m so over people of color backing Donald Trump in the media. While I gave up on everyone’s favorite Uncle Tom Stacey Dash years ago, both Omarosa and Mike Tyson have announced their support of this large garbage fire. It’s just irritating. Trump has made it entirely clear of his stance on Mexican and Muslim people. Real living, breathing, brown people. Who’s to say that one day he won’t remove us, too? It’s just so irresponsible to support the politics of someone who has no intentions of supporting POC, and then get on a national platform and broadcast it to the world. Keep your ignorance indoors, please.

Islamophobia

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I wish I could understand in what world that this makes sense. At SXSW last weekend, Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad was asked to remove her hijab for a security photo by absolute imbeciles. To add insult to injury, she was given an I.D. that had the wrong name and profession on it.

Thennnnn I was given the wrong ID! From now on my name is Tamir & I work for Time Warner Inc #SXSW2016 pic.twitter.com/TE3jJR16P6

— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) March 12, 2016

I’m enraged. The world has taken time to spell and pronounce “Galifianakis” for years, but Ibtihaj gets snubbed? Aside from the fact that they had the gall to ask her to remove a religious head covering that the Olympics have no problem with (would you ask a nun to remove her habit???), the fact that they refused to even learn her name irritates me beyond belief. I’m tired of seeing brown women snubbed or treated as less than to make things convenient for others.

 

Donald Trump Cancels Chicago Rally

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Oh man… once again, human garbage Donald Trump (aka Donald Drumpf)  handled this with all of the grace of a stampeding elephant. On Friday, March 11th, he postponed a rally at University of Illinois in Chicago, after protests in and outside of the event followed a concern over escalating violence. Hundreds of protestors arrived, filling at least five sections of the arenas. Fistfights between his supporters and the protestors broke out after it was announced that Trump would not be appearing. When asked if he had any regrets about the charged rhetoric at his rallies, all the Donald had to say was, “I don’t have regrets….These were very, very bad protesters. These were bad dudes. They were rough, tough guys.” So tough….

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Then on Saturday, protestors appeared at another rally in Kansas City, Missouri. Dozens of people stood outside, while inside Trump was constantly interrupted. His response was to ask police to start arresting people. Police sprayed the crowd with mace at least twice and arrested two people, according to the Kansas City Police Department.

Hillary Clinton on Nancy Regan and AIDS

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Hillary made a big mistake when she attended funeral services for former first lady Nancy Regan in California last week. She commented on Regan’s advocacy, saying,

“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV-AIDS back in the 1980s. And because of both president and Mrs. Reagan — in particular Mrs. Reagan — we started a national conversation….When before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it, and that too is something that I really appreciate with her very effective, low-key advocacy, but it penetrated the public conscious, and people began to say, ‘Hey, we have to do something about this, too.'”

LGBT and AIDS activists had a lot to say about that especially since it’s widely known that the Regans took a loooong time to acknowledge that the AIDS crisis was a problem. A few hours later, Hillary took back her statement, “While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, I misspoke about their record on HIV and AIDS.”

 

Hits and Shits

Was this week long for you, too? Here are my highs and lows from the last few days.

Some things weren’t horrible this week.

HITS

Ruby Rose and Urban Decay Join Forces

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I’m so excited about Ruby Rose being one of the faces of Urban Decay. Aside from the fact that UD is one of the best makeup companies out there right now, Ruby Rose fits in perfectly with their edgy brand. They’re going in a direction that supports gender fluidity and inclusion and having Rose as the face of that brand just makes sense. I was very impressed with their collaboration with Gwen Stefani so I’m confident they’re going to come up with palates that really capture Rose’s grungy chic that they have perfected so well.

 

Kendrick Lamar drops untitled unmastered.

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What an amazing thing to wake up to! After the fantastic To Pimp A Butterfly and that incredible Grammy performance, I’ve been itching for some new K Dot tracks. Mr. Lamar gave us no warning when he dropped eight tracks to Spotify (then iTunes) and they are fantastic. He’s managed to transform his sound while still managing to stay true to his classic lyrical content and eccentric rap style. Also, Swizz Beatz and Alicia Key’s son Egypt helped produce one of the tracks, which is easily the coolest thing you could ever put on a resumé when you’re older. Learn all there is to know about the album here.

Leonardo DiCaprio wins an Oscar

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While I’m a little sad to see the memes go, it has finally happened. Leo has won his Oscar. I’m kind of hot and cold with DiCaprio (who vapes at the SAGs??), but he is a great actor and was finally acknowledged as such last Sunday at the Oscars. While I have yet to see The Revenant, the fact that he took his speech time to talk about the decline of nature and his appreciation of it after working on this film was very respectable. Also he and Kate Winslet are absolutely adorable and should just get married already. Congrats!

Adele Joins the #FreeKesha Movement

CcAZlp4VAAE4F_A.jpgWhile accepting an award for British Female at the Brits, Adele referenced the other female nominees, thanked her record label for “accepting and embracing” the fact that she’s a woman, then finished it up by publicly supporting Kesha. Adele joins many other artists, including Lady Gaga and TSwift in speaking up for the female pop star, who recently lost her legal battle against former music producer, Dr. Luke. Nice to know that Adele isn’t just a powerhouse, she’s willing to stand up for her fellow female artists, too.

SHITS

I have just no more time for these things that troubled me this week.

 

Tina Fey

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I have only but so many famous white women left that I can trust and at one point Tina Fey was one of them. But recently in an interview with The Howard Stern Show (red flag), she made me question if I could ever really trust her word ever again. In the interview, she callously listed her distaste for the happenings at the Oscars:

“I’m so glad I live here [in New York City], because halfway through [the Oscars], I was like, ‘This is some real Hollywood bullshit.’ Everyone’s telling me what to do…People are yelling at me about rape and corporate greed, but really, it’s climate change. I was like, ‘Guys, pick a lane. Like we’re going to fix everything tonight.’ And also, like, ‘You’re all rich. Why are you yelling at me about corporate greed?'”

Ugh, come on, sis. Where do I begin? On the one hand, if she thinks it’s hypocritical for a room full of rich people complaining about corporate greed, that’s fair. But rape prevention and sexual assault deserves to be yelled about. Literally, it’s on us. we need to take responsibility for men and women who have been sexually assaulted and cast aside or not protected. How is that less important than climate change? Melting ice caps are important, of course, but more important than real human bodies being assaulted?

I don’t know what Fey expected to happen, but if you’re at the Oscars and you have time to talk to a global audience about something important, why not use your time on stage to do that? I find it a really selfless act to do…but for one of my favorite ladies to just crap all over that really bums me out.

Nina Simone Biopic

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So wrong, on so many levels. Listen, I love Zoe Saldana. I think she’s an incredibly talented actress and a gorgeous woman, but she is not Nina Simone. On a list of women I could think of to play the fantastic Simone, she doesn’t come to mind first or eightieth. I knew this was coming ages ago, but I had forgot about it and probably hoped it would be tabled and never brought to fruition. And then I saw the pictures, with Zoe’s nose covered in a prosthesis and dark make up caked on like a clown. What about Uzo? What about Whoopi, or Tika, or Danai? Why did these directors cast aside these gorgeous dark skinned actresses for a light skinned one? Nina Simone sang about her black features with pride. This just isn’t how she should be honored, period.

Caitlyn Jenner and Ted Cruz?

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This just makes my head hurt. I’ve said from the beginning that Ms. Jenner has no business being a republican, but for some reason she just won’t listen. Jenner told The Advocate (the GAG of it all!!) that she’d like to be a “Trans ambassador” to a one suspected Zodiac Killer Ted Cruz. But WHY? She even admits in the interview that she knows he’s terrible on trans issues, but for some reason still sees the merit in his politics.

Madam, this is the same man who said that he hated Obama’s political moves on embracing trans students because he has daughters and wouldn’t want them to be in a locker room with “boys.” He didn’t even respect these children enough to call them their preferred gender. What inspired you to even conceive supporting Cruz would be a good idea? Ugh. Every time I want to see it for Ms. Caitlyn she just keeps ruining it for me.

 

Black Lives Matter vs Hillary Clinton

Hillary tried pretty hard to ignore the elephant in the room when Black Lives Matters activists interrupted her at a private fundraiser about statements she’s made in the past on youth in gangs. One activist named Ashley Williams raised a white flag, not this was in no way a surrender. Holding a banner that read “We have to bring them to heel. #WhichHillary”, Ashley said, “We want you to apologize for mass incarceration. I’m not a ‘super predator’ Hillary Clinton.”

Ashley Williams was referring to a statement Hillary made during Bill’s 1996 presidential re-election campaign, where she defended his crime bill, which advocated for tougher policing of gang members. In a C-SPAN video , Hillary stated, “We need to take these people on. They are often connected to big drug cartels. They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators,’…No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why then ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”

Hillary told the activist that this was the first time someone had asked her about that incident (hard to believe), but that she wanted to try to explain herself. However, it seemed more like Hillary was trying to breeze past this, before regaining control of the conversation. It didn’t help that the activists were booed, hissed at and then escorted out.

Hillary is striking out all over with black voters. Take two has Hillary getting a little more sassy when a young black woman approached with some negative comments. Cue her retort, “Well then, why don’t you go run for something?”

Then there’s was the blacklash from #SuperTuesday when Hillary posed with Twitter user RCG, who tweeted:

Hillary’s going to have to up her game if she wants to prove she’s willing and able to stand up for more opportunities for people of color.

Clinton and Drumpf Winning Tuesday

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This Super Tuesday saw big wins for Donald Trump and Hillary. Trump wrangled in seven states, Massachusetts, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, and in Vermont. Hillary also scored seven -Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, and even Massachusetts (which apparently let Bernie down).

Here’s hoping Bernie can find his way up to the top again and Trump will go back to his tower to swim in his money.

Hits and Shits

Hits

This week was sort of lit. Here’s what lit my fire.

Broad City is Back

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Yaaaas queen, our favorite weirdos Abbi and Ilana have returned for season three of Broad City. I started watching the show on Hulu a few months ago, and while it wasn’t my fiancé’s cup of tea, there was something about it that reeled me in. It’s such an odd show, but the shock value it offers in every episode is as alluring as it is mildly repulsive. Between their millenial-esque troubles, Lincoln and Jaimé’s on-point comedic interjections and the fact that we still have no idea what Melody looks like I am so ready for whatever season three has to offer.

People Think Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer

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Wandering Grandpa Munster impersonator Ted Cruz truly just can’t win, and I thought Jeb Bush had it bad. In a recent poll done by Public Policy Polling (PPP) in Florida (groan), a whopping 38% of people polled believe that Ted Cruz might be the Zodiac Killer, with ten percent of those people believing he is unarguably so. As unpredictable as Florida may be all of the time, this is just so funny to me. While it’s actually physically impossible for Cruz to be the Zodiac Killer, just the fact that there are people humoring this in an actual poll meant to collect data makes my soul happy.

Fuller House

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Ugh nostalgia. Fuller House dropped early this morning on Netflix and the first episode has slammed me in the feels. I used to watch Full House every day after school when I was a kid, so to be thrown into some of the old schtick of yesteryear in Fuller House brought back a lot of good, old memories. Almost the entire cast has returned except for the Olsen twins (literally only ONE of you had to come back my GOD) and it’s just so cute. I’m already enamored with the plot line and the potential for character development and it’s only been the first episode. I’m trying to not go the way of how I usually watch Netflix shows (watch for 12 hours straight) so I can make this one last for at least a little while. We’ll see how far that gets me.

 

Shits

I’m so over it. Here’s what annoyed me this week.

Chris Christie Endorses Trump For President

This unsettles me for so many reasons. As a politician, I don’t care much for Chris Christie (or the state of New Jersey, but that’s neither here nor there). When he decided to run for president, I was mostly unfazed. I didn’t think he could make it all the way to November and I was right as he suspended his campaign two weeks ago. Once that happened, I figured I didn’t really have to hear anything about Christie for awhile…and then I woke up this morning.

In a move that doesn’t entirely shock me whatsoever, Christie has decided to back Full Time Whoopie Cushion Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Like I said, I don’t care much for Chris Christie to begin with, but this is irritating. Christie was supposed to be this new conservative that was going to bridge the gap between democrats and republicans, so this endorsement just doesn’t make sense. He’s flown so far right now it’s discredited everything he’s said in the past, and I would be concerned if I was a NJ resident. He’s still in office until next January, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Sony’s Failure in Kesha’s Case

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This absolutely eats me up. Kesha has lost her legal battle to end her contract with Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald), the producer who has allegedly sexually and emotionally abused the pop singer for the last several years. I only say “allegedly” to be fair and unbiased, but the fact that this lawsuit wasn’t to put Gottwald in jail, but so that Kesha could make music without his production has me believing her claims.

Kesha is effectually stuck working with her abuser (and people who likely allowed that abuse to continue) for 6 more albums, which could take the next decade to complete. There has been a gofundme account set up to help buy her out of her $2 million contract with Sony, and several celebs have taken to social media to offer their support and services.

 

Whether you’re a fan of Kesha or not, you should be angry about this. Too often women are begging to be heard about their abuse and the world is too dismissive of their claims. At the end of everything, being a pop star is a job just like any other. If I am sexually harassed at my job, I would hope that the right moves would be taken to ensure I would never have to see my attacker ever again. Kesha deserves that same right, and is just asking for her safety back so she can work and continue her career.

 

Big Ang

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I absolutely hate ending a post with a death, but I couldn’t just let this week go by without a proper send off for Angela “Big Ang” Raiola. The star of the VH1 reality show “Mob Wives” (which is a national treasure, if I’m honest), Big Ang was honestly the main reason I used to tune in to the show for her large personality and signature rasp. Her battle with brain and lung cancer was chronicled through social media accounts, and it broke my heart to see a lady full of so much love be eaten away by disease. Cancer is the absolute WORST and I hate it so, so much. Rest in peace.

Hits and Shits

Hits:

Here’s what got me going this week.

BE.YON.CÉ.

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I am still REELING from the slayage that King B has forced upon us the past week. First, it was Formation. Did you drown in all of that imagery? Did you gag on her vintage New Orleans looks? I was still trying to heal my scalp from the edges she snatched from me, but then the Super Bowl happened. My God.

In all fairness Coldplay was amazing and Bruno Mars is forever a lil bush I’d love to climb (fun fact, at 5’6″ I am taller the he is), but High Priestess Creole Goddess Beyoncé STORMED onto that turf in HEELS and brought you blessings in the key of bad bitch. Between the Black Panther inspired dancers and the choreo and the sing off with Bruno, I had no complaints about this show at all. And then, after she had exhausted my spirit completely, she has the audacity to announce a tour. Amazing.

The BEST part of this all is the vapid amount of white people crying “anti-white, anti-police” at Beyoncé. The images in the “Formation” video say more ,”Please, stop killing us,” instead of “Wow, ALL police are terrible and white people are the WORST.” There is apparently nothing more threatening to the white majority than a black woman publicly loving herself and her race. A whole protest boycotting the King and her music was planned to occur in front of the NFL Head Quarters in Manhattan, and only two human lives showed up. Whew, you tried it.

Wife Returns From The Dead and Screws Husband    Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 8.47.30 PM

I can’t remember the last time I cackled so hard at a “you tried” situation until I read this story. Noela Rukundo had a bounty placed on her head by her own husband of 1o years, Balenga Kalala, but he apparently paid the wrong guys. The “failed” hit men kidnapped Rukundo but refused to kill her, as it went against their beliefs. They set her free with enough evidence to implicate this asshole (who has fathered three of her eight children) and then instructed her to warn other women of men like this. Rukundo showed up at her own funeral, waited until everyone left, and then said, “Surprise!” Kalala is now in jail for the next nine years, and Rukundo is clearly moving on – “My situation, my past life? That is gone. I’m starting a new life now.

 

Donald Trump Loses Iowa, Sanders Is the Real Winner

Rotting-banana-peel Donald Trump lost in the Iowa caucus and handled it gracefully…by blaming it all on Ted Cruz, of course. According to The Donald, Ted Cruz rigged the polls and is a fraud. Best part of it all? He asked for a redo. Amazing.

 

 

His claims make me laugh and the fact that he lost just puts a song in my heart. My only hope is that after the election ends he moves to an island far away from here so I don’t ever have to hear his name again. Every time a non-American even brings him up, I’m heartily embarrassed.

In better news, despite what to me STILL seems super shady, Bernie Sanders almost took Hillary down in the caucus. The fact that Clinton only squeaked by with a decimal point over Sanders is a victory for Team Bernie as far as I’m concerned. The forecast predicated that Bernie was going to be blown out of the water in Iowa and he wasn’t. I’m very hopeful for the New Hampshire caucus and look forward to voting in the New York State Primary. Hopefully, both will end with less controversy.

Here are some resources if you’re still not sure who to vote for and when your state’s primary/caucus is.

 

Black History Month Visibility!

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Every month I remain on this earth as a proud black woman is black history month. But this year the visibility is just off the charts and I love it. Bring me the huge list of inventions we wouldn’t have without black Americans. Show me the black Jews that trail blazed in their communities. Let’s talk about these important firsts in the mainstream and not just for one month.

Quvenzhané Wallis is the first African-American child actor to earn an Oscar nomination, and the first person born in the 21st century to receive an Academy Award nomination.

Posted by Ra Turn To Roots II on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I can’t even tell you how much I am loving seeing so much black excellence all over my newsfeed every day. No matter how strongly I love my people and culture, to see the world love with me just feels good. Our history is so important to the building of American culture. Let’s keep that education and appreciation going throughout the rest of the year.

 

Shits

Ugh, can we not? I’d like to leave these things firmly in the past.

 

Racial Tensions at College Campuses

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No one should live in fear while at college. Let me say it again for the people in the back. No one should live in fear while at college. All over the U.S. there have been miserable attacks on marginalized people, but this most recent one hit way too close to home. At my alma-mater, University at Albany, three black students were attacked while on a late night bus to campus and racial slurs were hurled at them while bystanders looked on.

The rest of the details have still yet to be revealed, but regardless of who is shown to be the aggressors, the response to this event has made me sick. So many people in the black community at UAlbany have done their best to create positive, uplifting and loving spaces for students who are in fear, while their white peers have taken offense to it. Why is it that when we want to heal, white people feel threatened and must tear down our defenses? Why is it that when black women are backed into a wall, we can’t turn to black men for support? All of this has just put a heavy weight on my heart. There is no place for racial violence at my school and realizing that there are so many racist voices walking the same halls I once did makes me nauseous.

Kanye West. Ugh. 

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Why doesn’t someone love Kanye enough to take his phone away from him? Or to listen to his songs before he releases them, and tells him he should change some words around? I try and try to see it for him but I’ve reached my limit. In “Famous” off of his new album, Ye raps “I feel like me and Taylor still might have sex. Why? ’Cause I made that bitch famous.” Sigh. Was that even necessary?

Then he gets on Twitter (because that’s how you make things better) and rambles off several claims that Taylor suggested the lyric for the song, and that “bitch” is an endearing term in hip-hop. Ugh.

THEN he showed up to SNL and pitched a fit because his stage was redone before his performance, and brought up Taylor’s name again…for no reason. A recording of his outburst is circling the internet and honestly, he sounds manic and unwell. Let’s get real here, this “Yeezus” mentality is damaging to his ego, and his suggestion that he’s above the rest of this world needs to stop. It’s ridiculous and I don’t see it ending well. He needs real help, but hell if he’ll get it soon.

Can we go back to College Dropout Kanye? I’ll even settle for G.O.O.D. Friday Kanye if it’ll happen. But these rants on the internet and obnoxious, sexist lyrics just gotta stop. I’m over it.

According to Meryl Streep, We’re All African

I just don’t understand. I really want to, but I don’t. At a conference recently, Meryl Streep responded this way to a question about inclusivity of minorities in cinema:

“I do think inclusion is the name of the game,” Streep said. “The thing I’ve noticed from my (different) roles is there is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture. And, after all, we’re all from Africa, originally. We’re all Berliners. We’re all Africans, really.”

While I don’t think she meant to be miserably exclusive to actual African descendants, there is just a small part of me that believes she meant exactly what she said. For starters, Meryl’s portrayed white people (a couple of animals here and there too) in every role she’s taken. So what “core of humanity” do you mean, exactly? I don’t believe in that “we’re all one people,” rhetoric. Even if you believe we’ve descended from one place, we aren’t treated that way in the slightest. So save those ideas for the internet, in the form of a google search, please.

TW: Rape

The Pick Up Artist and His Fecal-Filled Followers

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Doesn’t this face just scream confident man who doesn’t project his own short comings into hating women who don’t like them?

I really can’t with straight men sometimes. The self proclaimed “Pick Up Artist” (which is a disgusting title) Daryush Valizadeh, who looks like he’s never once picked up common sense, has called upon millions of other fellow fedora-wearers to meet worldwide in what he has dubbed, “tribal meetings.” At these meetings, I can only assume men who have consistently found themselves pushed into the “friend zone” can go and talk about how horrible women are for not supplicating themselves at their feet. But this is all in secret, of course.

This walking-garbage-fire got a little nervous when people found out his home address and appeared ready to fight the men who showed up at any of the locations. So, he cancelled all of the meetings. But this “King of Masculinity” was apparently so scared for his own safety (ironic, isn’t it?) that he called police to his mother’s house where he lives…in the basement.

I just can’t even believe that this kind of rhetoric really exists in 2016. Why do men consistently believe women owe them something? Maybe once they understand this,  they’ll have better interactions with us? This whole thing has made me to want to sleep until the end of the week, in the hopes that next week is better. Please, I beg of you, let it get better!

Hits and Shits

Here are a few things that had me feeling good this week:

 

Mercury Retrograde is Finally OVER

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I don’t know about you, but I have had a miserable January. Getting into fights with friends, car trouble, making big decisions I wasn’t ready for, failed plans…it hasn’t ended. But finally Mercury is going forward in the zodiac, and finding some chill in our worlds. From January 5th to the 25th, if everything has just been off for you, Mercury may have been the cause. We can now rest easy for the next few months, as April 28th is the start of the next retrograde. In the meantime, here are some tips and tricks to conquer the next retrograde.

 

Gina Rodriguez’s #MovementMonday

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The Jane The Virgin star has taken it upon herself to fill the #OscarsSoWhite discussion with some Latinx narrative. Her new #MovementMonday campaign is addressing her desire to see more representation of Latinx in the media, and she wants to build up all marginalized communities with the project.

There is such a huge gap in positive Latinx portrayal in the mainstream that shows like Jane The Virgin are doing their best to improve, and the lack of representation is irritating. I am so here for POC making their own spaces in social media, not just for bringing their own people together, but to make others aware that their voice exists.

 

Marley Dias is Tired of Your Canon

 

 

I have found a kindred spirit in 11 year-old Marley Dias, who was sick and tired of reading books about “white boys and dogs.” Frustrated over the gross lack of diversity in mainstream literature, Marley came up with the idea of a book drive called #1000BlackGirlBooks. The drive is half way to its goal, donating books with Black girls as central characters to schools in Jamaica. She’s also worked on a project that feeds orphaned children in Ghana and she’s interested in creating her own social network for teen girls. This just makes my heart sing. I am so proud of this young visionary, who saw a real problem in her world and was ready to fix it. Yes sweet girl!

 

Shits

Sometimes I just can’t even…here’s what made my eyes roll this week

 

Macklemore.

 

If you listen really closely, you can hear me sighing so hard my lungs collapse. So, you tried it. To be clear, I haven’t actually listened to the song. I’m a hater first and foremost, so I’m just going to naturally assume I won’t like the song and would focus on how little I like the music (girl, have you HEARD Downtown? Spare me). BUT I have read the lyrics. I felt like if I was going to complain, I at least owed him that. And nothing more.

The song is nine minutes (NINE. MINUTES) long and all of it leaves me feeling icky. It was released for free just a month before his new album is set to drop, and it all just gives me an air of convenience. Let me be clear about this: the white privilege he’s earned alone from this song can never be extricated from the message he is trying to deliver. His advantages will continue to earn him more money and attention, even if this one song is free. People are still talking about him, whether the message has been received or not.

The praise behind the whole thing just irks me, because black rappers like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole have been saying the same things in their music for the past few years, but it takes a white rapper doing the same for people to be interested. I can’t, y’all.

 

Joseph Fiennes Playing Michael Jackson in a 9/11 Film

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I can’t even believe I had to write that title out. Joseph Fiennes (literally, Voldemort’s brother) is set to play the late Michael Jackson as he flees Manhattan in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001. Oh, and Marlon Brando is there, and so is Elizabeth Taylor, and they’re on a road trip. And it might be a comedy. I just…WHY?!

Forget the fact that I can’t even understand why this would be made into a movie, Michael Jackson is being played by a WHITE person. I physically and emotionally do not have the strength within my spirit to understand that. Michael Jackson, despite all of his controversy, was born, lived and died a black man. It does not matter how light his skin was in 2001 (or if you believe it was vitiligo, lupus, or skin bleach that caused it), he was a black person. Fiennes portraying him in this ludicrous movie is appalling. It’s a reaffirmation of the issue of colorism in our society, and how much easier it is to accept Jackson as a white person than a light-skinned black man. And this, on the tails of the #OscarsSoWhite issue, is just insulting. Either cast appropriately or don’t at all. You really mean to tell me there isn’t one black actor with vitiligo, or light skin, trying to be cast in Hollywood? I’ll wait.

 

Hits and Shits: Longest Week of the Year Edition

Here are the highs and lows from the last week!

Just a few things that made me smile over the past few days:

House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and More Receive Release Dates

We’re only in January and I’ve already given up on this winter. It’s windy, cold, and just all over miserable, and it has barely begun to snow yet. But Netflix has offered a beacon of light in what is otherwise an overcast world: release dates. Everyone’s favorite streaming service has set the dates for some of its top original shows, like Orange is the New Black and Grace and Frankie, as well as dates for several new Netflix originals (like Fuller House!). Even though most of my faves are a few months away, I can take solace in the fact that I now have a concrete excuse to not leave my house on March 4th. In the meantime, Gilmore Girls is not going to re-watch itself over from season 1, now is it?

 

More People Like Breastfeeding Than I Thought

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By now I’m sure you’ve seen the fallout from Wendy William’s interview of Alyssa Milano last week, in which she slams the actress for taking her breastfeeding of her daughter Elizabella public (but if you haven’t, it’s worth watching just for discussion purposes). I’ve tried my best to stand up for Wendy over the years, but even this made it hard for me.

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about public breastfeeding in light of this interview and the responses have been surprisingly positive. Mothers have been sharing their breastfeeding photos to social media while out shopping and even right after delivering their babies, in an attempt to remove the sexual stigma from breasts. I am so here for this breastfeeding revolution and I hope it makes the naysayers realize that there is nothing lewd or disgusting about feeding a baby while in the Produce section of Trader Joe’s. More importantly, I hope this discussion encourages new mammas from not being afraid to nourish their lil babe out in public.

 

Missouri Bill HB. 1397 is Ready to Ruin the NRA’s Day

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I live for women in government tossing things up to make a point. Rep. Stacey Newman of St. Louis is doing just that, by creating a bill that would impose the same hurdles that exist for abortions on to purchasing firearms. So, instead of just walking into Walmart and buying a rifle, Missouri residents would have to meet with a licensed physician to discuss the risks of gun ownership, wait a 72-hour period and travel as far as 120 miles away from their residence to purchase a gun. And that’s only a handful of obstacles that a gun buyer would face if the bill passes, which women in Missouri must conquer to receive a safe abortion. Newman is making a simple point to her constituents and conservative colleagues; “If we truly insist that Missouri cares about ‘all life,’ then we must take immediate steps to address our major cities’ rising rates of gun violence.”

 

Here’s what had me SMH this week:

 

#OscarsSoWhite and Stacey Dash

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I want to say that either of the aforementioned surprise me, but since 2016 has already declared itself the year of no chill, I can’t. The nominees of the 2016 Oscar Nominees were revealed late last week and, to no astonishment whatsoever, they were all lily-white. Several black celebrities have publicly stated their refusal to attend the awards show, and some have responded against that sentiment. BTW, if we’re taking score here, I see it for both Ms. Jada and Ms. Janet.

And right on cue came Stacey Dash, with the opinion that no one asked for. Sigh. Skip to :30 for the juicy idiocy.

In her mind, black people have been segregating themselves for years by creating their own spaces in multimedia and entertainment (and even on the calendar, how dare we), and we’re just all Americans! She sure did solve racism with that simple statement, sitting in front of a white man on a white news show. Integration is the key to solving our race problem, folks…I have a headache just looking at that sentence.

 

Flint, Michigan and the Poisoning of Our Children

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The people of Flint, Michigan have been in the midst of what can only be described as ethnic cleansing for the last 2 years, and the world is finally paying attention. In an effort to cut costs and save money, the state of Michigan decided to switch the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, which is known for its pollution. The already toxic water was never treated with an anti-corrosive, and thus iron from water mains began to seep into the homes of Flint residents. Additionally, the levels of lead found in the water is poisoning Flint’s children with irreversible brain damage. In a city that is 60% black/non-white, with much of that percentage living below the poverty line, this level of neglect for black lives shakes me to my core. In a first world country, there are citizens begging for clean water to drink, cook and bathe in. It’s time that the Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, is held accountable for the decades of damage that has been forced onto these people.

 

Alan Rickman Passes Away

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This better be my last Hits and Shits with a death, because this is just too much. Just days after David Bowie’s passing, acting legend Alan Rickman ended a long battle with cancer. He too was 69 years old. Many people remember him best as Severus Snape from the Harry Potter film series, but my favorite role of Mr. Rickman’s was Metatron in the movie Dogma. He mastered both the stage and screen in his impressive career, appearing and voicing in over 40 movies and television shows.

At almost 23 years old I feel like I’ve come to a weird point in my life when the mortality of my heroes is now staring me right in the face. It’s a very unsettling feeling that I think many 20-somethings are too trying to come to grips with. Alan Rickman left us a legacy that can only be honored and enjoyed, and I thank him for that. Rest in peace.

 

Hits and Shits

The best and the worst parts from the last week.

Hits:

Here’s what I can’t stop smiling over this week.

Leah Still Has Finally Beaten Cancer!

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From Devon Still’s Instagram, @man_of_still75

The 5-year-old daughter of Houston Texans defensive tackle Devon Still has officially conquered her neuroblastoma! The Stills rose to fame in 2014 when the Cincinnati Bengals hired Dad Devon to their practice squad, so he would be able to pay for Leah’s chemotherapy and medical bills. Leah’s valiant battle has been chronicled via her father’s Instagram and Twitter accounts which have brought exposure to the disease and raised thousands of dollars for the Still Strong Foundation. Congratulations to the Still Family!

Taraji P. Henson Winning a Golden Globe

What do you do when you win your first Golden Globe for playing the ever fabulous Cookie Lyon? Pass out cookies on your way up to the stage, naturally. I expect nothing less from the fantastic Taraji P. Henson, who completed her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Television Drama with a win this past Sunday. It’s always nice to see a WOC earning accolades for a job well done. Despite the lackluster second season, Henson is easily the most entertaining and well acted piece of the Empire puzzle. It’s the first win for the Fox drama, which is expected to return to the small screen on March 30th.

Beautiful WOC Cover Elle Magazine’s latest issue

Elle has chosen several fabulous brown women to cover their 2016 Women in TV issue that will hit stands nationwide January 19th. After placing Lena Dunham on one of their 2015 Women in TV covers, seeing more “all women” positive faces was refreshing (and altogether preferred, if I’m honest). Priyanka Chopra of Quanitco, Viola Davis of How to Get Away With Murder and the aforementioned Taraji P. Henson join Julia Louise Dreyfus of Veep and Olivia Wilde of the upcoming HBO show Vinyl as the featured faces. The covers are minimalist with little makeup and natural hair, serving to compliment the raw beauty of these leading ladies.

Amandla Stenberg Comes Out and Has No Time for Your Erasure

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In the last year alone, Amandla Stenberg has been one of the few celebs to use their platform for good, and I live for it. Recently she landed the Teen Vogue cover and as a result had control of their Snapchat account. In a 2 minute video, Stenberg mentions her bisexuality and her refusal to have any of her identities suppressed in a way that I can only describe as fantastic black girl magic. She’s taken to Twitter and kept true on her promise to not be silenced, and to put in the work to end offensive dialogue. As a 22-year-old woman, I am in awe of this 17-year-old and all the wisdom she carries with her. Stay awesome, Amandla.

Shits:

Someone has to talk about them, right? Here’s what I won’t miss from the last week.

Jaden Smith is the New Face of Louis Vuitton…And People Are Still Homophobic

Listen. Jaden Smith has never once tried to conform to anything that’s been “asked” of him. So when Louis Vuitton named him one of the faces of their 2016 line in which he wears a skirt, the outrage was actually disgusting. People have chastised Will and Jada Smith, Jaden’s parents, for failing him, when if anything they’ve done nothing but allow him to be his own person. I’m extremely disappointed in the amount of hostility and homophobia I’ve seen from the black community (especially from black men) towards this young black teenager chosing his own path in this world and doing what he loves. Jaden Smith has taken black masculinity and thrown it on its head and I am so here for it.

Jennifer Lawrence.

 

Sigh. Every time I say I’m going to stop complaining about her, she does something publicly irritating AGAIN. After the Golden Globes on Sunday during a press conference, Lawrence actually chastised an adult man for looking at his phone while she was in his presence. To add insult to injury, she told him to “live in the moment, live in the now,” which is ironic, because if she took her own advice she’d realize how miserably problematic she is all of the time. It clearly sounded like English wasn’t this poor guy’s first language (don’t worry, she made him look stupid about that, too) and he was likely looking at a written question on his phone. But the worst thing to happen to this reporter was his realization that he’s probably on his editor’s shit list. Why else would he be assigned to the Jennifer Lawrence press conference?

David Bowie’s Passing

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Artwork by Helen Green

I can’t claim myself to be a David Bowie fanatic, but there is no telling how massive of an impact he left on the music industry. His passing on Monday has left the world in an odd, delicate place. Bowie wrecked the definition of masculinity way before people were ever ready for it, and did it effortlessly. He stood up for black artists in the face of a then biased MTV. Don’t even get me started on his last album. He recorded it knowing his time left on earth was limited, and released his final music video just 2 days before he passed on his 69th birthday. I can’t even imagine being that selfless, to be able to give the world one last piece of me before I have nothing left.

But the world has forgotten his alleged sex crimes, one of which includes statutory rape. It’s a hard subject to touch; he was the voice of the “weird kids.” He sung for the marginalized and the different. But when we say, “Let’s forget about it,” it’s just another sheet tossed into the rape culture fodder. I think we can still thank him for what he’s given us, but let us not pretend his legacy went untarnished and pure. It’s just not fair.

Impact, Thanks to Drake

I have spent so much of my life explaining just exactly who I am. Usually, I like the attention, but the act of clarifying your way of life is daunting, anxiety causing, and eventually, exhausting. An inquisitive nature is the human way, but being inquired about because you are so “different” loses its joie de vivre around age 13.

I’ve been Jewish my whole life. And I don’t really want to explain “how,” or “why,” because I just am. It’s taken me years to be comfortable enough to say that without flinching, or without my breath catching in my throat. I used to fear judgment because of my faith, because not many Jews (at least, not in this country) share my darker skin and thick hair. I am who HaShem (G-d) has made me to be, and that is a Jew.

Ignorance can be welcoming as much as it can be overwhelming. There have been times when people have expressed their desire to educate themselves without coming off as tactless, and I’ve satisfied their interest into the formally “unknown.” But those who look at me with wide eyes as if I’m some circus clown with a beard and a conjoined twin attached to my back have hardened me a little. I’ve chalked it up to asking someone how they’re Asian, or why they’re bisexual; it’s just something you shouldn’t do. History has affected the social presence of Jews. I remember getting asked, “Why would you want to be that?” after a social studies lesson on the Holocaust, as if I had a choice in the matter.

I’m not weird (at least, not because I don’t believe the Jesus is the messiah). I’m just different. There are people like me out in this vast world that a lot of Americans have yet to be exposed to. Black Jews are just few and far between, but we exist.

In getting older I’ve realized that I have to take what this world has seen as my “difference” and use it to make people more aware that people like me do exist. Thanks to Drake at least (and this incredibly clever parody), there’s been somewhat of an influx in acceptance of black Jews in mainstream media. So in the grand scheme of things, I’m not extraordinary at all. But in this bubble of America, I am not your average. But I’ve never really known how, or what I need to do to make me appear as a part of the whole.

I’ve just recently started working at a Jewish summer camp, and it has honestly changed my life. I’ve been a camp counselor before, with some great campers, but this time around there’s something different. Every morning I wake up, I do it for my kids. I love them all individually for the joy each one of them brings into my life. Seeing them cry destroys me. Watching them laugh puts a song in my heart. If I could give each of them the world, I would in a second.

This camp has some cultural diversity, which gets me excited in a way I can’t exactly explain. I am no longer a fly in milk, but a part of a mixed whole. And no one treats me any different. I am just like them, and together we are Jewish. That’s what I love most about kids; they aren’t born with biases or judgements.

I don’t get asked “why,” or “how.” What I do get asked is to have my lap sat on during morning teffilot, where tiny voices whisper the Shema and drawl Modeh Ani in a southern twang. It’s not a day at camp until I’ve prayed with a little person snuggled into me.

I can see my impact amongst the kids of color who maybe didn’t know that Jews don’t all come in one shade, like me. And all I’ve had to do is just be me myself, and be there for them. I didn’t have to say anything special, or pull them aside, or treat them any different. Just giving them me is all I can do. I never had someone older than me, who looked like me, and who I knew was Jewish to make me feel normal when I was growing up.

Constantly, I felt like an alien in both the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds because I had no place to fit in, and it took some soul searching to be comfortable enough to even say the words “I’m Jewish.” Even today, there is a little bit of fear. It’s small, but it’s there.

I say all of this not on assumption, but from a discussion I had with a mother, a white Jewish woman, of three black sons, whom she’s raised Jewish.

The details of that conversation I keep close to my heart, but it gave me a bit of proof that I’m doing something right. I’m not hiding who I am. I’m not keeping quiet about the things that matter to me. I am the person I wish I had growing up. The person that I wish I had to have made me feel normal, that dark skinned people can be Jewish too, and that I wasn’t alone. No kid inherently thinks that they’re different, but there’s always that modicum of wonder; why doesn’t everyone look like me? Aren’t we all the same?

Yes, you gorgeous boy with toasted caramel skin and bright brown eyes, fit in just fine. Wear your kippah with pride and love yourself, in Hebrew or in English.