#LWB is an Honest Look at Everyday Life as a Young Black Woman

Brittany Boyd, writer and producer, believes in “art that promotes equity,” which is why her YouTube serious, #LWB (Living While Black) centers a young Black woman dealing with an onslaught of microaggression in nearly every space she occupies.

Brittany Boyd

These small slights are ones rarely addressed by a main character on screen. Nia, the main character in #LWB, navigates her job, her home life, and her mental health all while being racially targeted by well-intentioned people. Centering a Black woman’s experience offers equity and autonomy to a perspective that needs to be witnessed. This series is an honest look at life from the point of view of a woman living while Black, which Boyd hopes will begin “honest conversation that brings honest change.”

Still from #LWB

#LWB, which debuted in 2017, still resonates the importance of racial discussion and delivers it right to your computer screen and streaming device. Within 7 episodes, #LWB addresses the psychological effects of being Black in America, which have yet to be diminished or reduced by 2020.

Watch #LWB, available now on YouTube, to see the ways even small biases and misunderstanding can carry heavy weight on the health of Black people, alongside a touch of sarcastic humor.

Jewish People and Black People Share Intergenerational Trauma, Which Makes Black Lives Matter a Jewish Issue, too.

When I was a kid, I accidentally wore my Jewish star necklace in a passport photo. My mom didn’t notice until after the photo was taken. That’s the first time I remember being told that some people hate Jews just for being Jews, and some countries would not let me in or out if they knew. Luckily, the passport photo was small enough that the necklace wasn’t visible.

MOTHER WITH BABIES, 1974, ROMAN HALTER

When I first started dating I asked my mom, “do I have to only date Jews?” Her response was that she’ll share what her mother told her: I didn’t have to only date Jews, but 6 million Jews died for being Jewish, which means Jewish family members were taken too soon. If I marry a Jewish person and have Jewish children, I would be doing a mitzvah (good deed.)

In High School, a classmate made a fake myspace profile of me named “Ingrid Jewburger” and talked about turning me into smoke. My family wasn’t surprised that someone could put that evil into the world and explained that this was a lesson about being cautious.

The Jews, collectively, have been in pain. In 2018, a gunman opened fire on the congregation at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 Jews while they were praying on Shabbos. The act of terror didn’t surprise me or start a new fear for me. Rather, it confirmed a fear that my ancestors had warned me about. It confirmed a fear that the Jewish people have always been training for. As anti semitism continues to rise in the US, many Jews have been asking themselves “will I know when it’s time to run?” and “Have I learned enough from my ancestors about what to look for?”

Just as my parents had explained to me, I find myself explaining to my convert husband to make sure our passports are always up to date and to do our best to have emergency money tucked away. This planning is a trauma response triggered by the intergenerational trauma that holocaust surviving grandparents passed on to their children, and which was then passed on to their grandchildren.

Two nights a year, we gather around a table with our family and read a story about when Jews were slaves in Egypt. We recline with comfort and cushions while taking stock of our privilege. There are so many stories that include “and they tried to kill the Jews.” That’s the knowledge that we carry with us wherever we go. Crises where Jews were enslaved or forced to flee their homes have been traced back for over 2000 years, and Jewish tradition influences us to continuously remember and reflect on the tragedies and oppression our people have survived. Our traditions frame our history as resilient.

Learning about the trauma we inherit from our parents and grandparents teaches values in anti-bigotry because it exposes us to the fact that even small acts of anti semitism can have dangerous systematic implications. There is a concept in Judaism called Tikkun Olam, which translates to “repair the world.” Tikkun Olam is the motivation behind much of Jewish giving and social activism, because responsibility is on both the Jewish individual and on the Jewish people as a unified community to do good for this world. Along that same logic, Jewish people can’t be separated from the bad behavior of individual Jews. There’s an understanding among Jewish communities that when one Jewish person acts badly, it creates risk for hatred of all Jews. Just look back at the scandal of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. His crimes served as a “lighting-rod for anti-semitism,” fueling harmful stereotypes that date back to biblical times, encouraging “acceptable” Jewish bias. Our actions speak on behalf of many and have lasting impact, so we must work to be good to the world so the world sees the Jewish people as good.

Image by Adam Garvey

16 year old, Adam Garvey, understands Tikkun Olam as a direct call to support Black Lives Matter because “standing up against injustice is a huge part of Jewish values.” Garvey understands that policy change and being vocal against bigotry is positive representation of Jewish core beliefs. He’s using his statement “Tikkun Olam means Black Lives Matter” to raise funds for the NAACP.

As protests soar across the US (and the world,) it’s undeniable that white consciousness of racial injustice is growing. The similarities between Black trauma and Jewish trauma are palpable. Black people demand we Say Their Names: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade as they mourn over the same sentiment that Jews have expressed, that they’re not surprised but rather tired and rightfully angry.

In Jewish history, numbers hold symbolic value. Romans destroyed a Jewish temple and the oil menorah burnt miraculously for eight nights. Jews wandered the desert displaced for 40 years. Six million Jews were tortured and murdered during a holocaust, creating a need for the word “genocide.”

The history of racism against Black people has some astounding numbers, too. 246 years of slavery in America. Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people. Black mothers are 3.2 times more likely to die during childbirth than white mothers. Jews can be racist against other Jews, too. In Israel, 90% of Ethiopian Jewish youth convicted by the court were sentenced to imprisonment, compared to one-third of other Jewish youth. Racial Trauma plagues a community when they have to gather statistical data about their race being systematically and lethally oppressed to prove theres is a national and system-wide problem, while simultaneously having to demand to be treated as a person and not a number. Monnica T. Williams, PhD, ABPP says racial trauma is the reason why people of color have a higher rate of PTSD than white Americans.

The fear Jews hold is internalized because our intergenerational trauma has trained us that we always need to exercise a degree of censorship on our Jewishness, to protect us from possible anti semitism. It’s as little as knowing I shouldn’t wear a star of David necklace in a passport photo and the thought that if the wrong person knew we were Jewish, they might come after us, too.

The keyword in knowing that Jews experience oppression differently than Black people is “too,” as we are reminded every day that Black lives are stolen at a disproportionate rate while white Jews benefit from our privilege. Our own internalized fear makes racial injustice feel so personal, especially if you’re a Black Jewish person who has to navigate the fear of anti semitism, racial injustice at a national scale, AND micro-aggressions from your own Jewish community. Addressing these differences are instrumental within activism for policy change because they afford white Jews privilege that can be used to uplift Black people, which includes Black Jews. We may all share similar fears about white supremacy, but we have unequal power in social agency.

Judaism could be considered a religion and a culture, with a geopolitical force. Diaspora (which Black people have also experienced in their history,) created a racially diverse Jewish people, which has made the Jewish community torn on whether anti semitism is racism. Intergenerational oppression has occurred differently for Jewish people than Black people and other people of color, as many of us are able to walk in public without being detected as Jews. At the same time the media was quick to blame Jewish people for the spread of Covid, someone explained to me, “I didn’t know you were Jewish! You don’t look Jewish!”

Jewish people can be riddled with fear, planning for the next time we have to run from something, and yet so many of my friends have told me they’d like to be Jewish. I find myself repeatedly explaining to my convert husband that we need to have exit strategies, just in case. While Adam Sandler’s Chanukah song plays for laughs sandwiched between sets of a dozen Christmas jingles: “All Jewish people are funny and rich!” with no recognition that there’s lifelong planning to feel safe as a proud Jew in the world.

When I first saw white people sharing the compassionate quote, “I understand that I’ll never understand, but I stand with you,” I felt like I did have some understanding. After some self-reflection, I recognized that though I was taught to be alert for signs of anti semitism, it doesn’t compare to a black mother training her black child how to talk to those who protect and serve not to shoot you for existing.

I can acknowledge my privilege and that I benefit from racism as a white person, while also understanding that as a Jewish person, I experience forms of oppression.

Many well-meaning Pittsburghers shared a Pittsburgh Strong Jewish graphic after the Tree of Life shooting, yet I’m still meeting people who think I’m the first Jewish person they’ve ever met. It makes me wonder, is anti semitism less of a threat than racism or is the violence labeled less as a hate crime because who knows the face of a Jew? I’m still trying to understand this phenomena, but I think it speaks to a level of privilege that allows me to censor my Judaism to protect me from the dangers of anti semitism.

We have a reoccurring joke in my house: When examining the Torah or Jewish history, the Jews are always being hunted. “What a surprise!” one of us will exclaim. “Haman wanted all the Jews dead!” I can understand that there’s no humor in a sarcastic joke like that for Black people, when white Jewish people have a dark history of minstrel shows and blackface. Though Jewish and Black people have experienced similar crises and oppression, white Jews have to own up that we’ve used our privilege to keep Black people down in social equity.

At the height of my fear in 2018, I wrote “There are times where the world seems so small, but in these times of crisis it feels gigantic. It feels scary and unpredictable. Each time someone sings a song of peace or a Jew leaves their house even though they’re scared, the world gets smaller and more comfortable again.”

For Black people mourning lives that shouldn’t have been taken, there is no place proven to be safe for them. They’re pulled from their cars, held down and suffocated in the streets, and shot while they’re sleeping in bed.

For Jews, we call on our ancestors to teach us how to stay safe.
Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D. says, “Transgenerational transmissions take on life in our in dreams, in acting out, in ““life lessons”” given in turns of phrase and taught us by our family. Discovering transmission means coming to know and tell a larger narrative, one from the preceding generation.” We read the Torah or listen to our grandparents for experiences on how to protect ourselves when people come for us. Black crisis is happening right now, in front of our eyes, relentlessly for more than 400 years. While our plight has similar themes from diaspora to micro-aggression, it is not the same. They’re not holding life lessons from their parents and looking out for a possibly dangerous white person that they may encounter. Hundreds of years of consistent community crises at a universal, unconditional level means that there are no trustworthy white people.

Internalized and intergenerational trauma gives Jewish people the unique ability to transfer our learned coping to lift up Black folks. Since Jews have experienced similar community violence and oppression across generations, we have the tools to educate white people about racism so that Black people don’t have to carry that labor. We have an understanding of mourning the result of large-scale hatred, so we can hold space and take on some of the work. All the while, we must recognize that Black people who are also Jewish carry the weight of thousands of years of this trauma, without specific hashtag activism to support support them.

White Jews owe black people reparations because we’ve had a hand in racism and have benefited from it. White Jews should be a source of compassion and a proponent of social change in support of all Black people with direct donations, emotional energy, and sharing the intergenerational healing we’ve learned from our story-telling traditions. Tikkun Olam DOES mean that not only do Black Lives Matter, but that any other viewpoint is against Jewish ethics and therefore, a Jewish issue.

Interview with Art: Pippin Lee Truman

We sat down with animator and illustrative artist Pippin Lee Truman to chat about their artwork, intersectionality, and their advice for fellow artists! Check out the interview below!

V: What inspires your artwork?

P: I would say that my inspiration mainly comes from the media around me, especially things like comics, because they’re such an interesting way of telling a story. At the same time, I’m really inspired by illustrations that incorporate different types of media, that maybe are part digital and part traditional. I often make comics out of everyday things that happen around me, like dreams that I’ve had- it helps me communicate abstract thought through art. It’s really a combination of lots of different things, but definitely other artists, especially ones that I grew up admiring. I love James Baxter, and classic Disney artists too.

hands practice

 V: Do you think the mundane, everyday experience is more inspirational than huge, impossible things? 

P: I’m a huge fan of absurdist humor, and that style that’s really popular on Tumblr. So making comics about dreams is a really fun way to explore communication, especially with those weird transitions that we all get in dreams. It’s a really fun way to explore as a storytelling device. I also make comics of my day-to-day life, conversations I have and little interactions I have, in order to capture those moments. Especially since I suffer from chronic depression, those mundane moments can be the nicest. Obviously, the everyday can be really tough when your feeling rough, but the mundane can be a really nice escape from it all. The little moments are really sweet to look back on, especially through my sketchbooks. 

V: So, you’re in university at the moment. What would you say are the main things you’ve learnt through studying art, and looking at it as a career?

P: The main thing I’ve found is that there is a huge separation between your working art and your doodling art. The difference between work and home has really helped me, especially when working in an industry environment, as my course is quite strict about that. I find myself much more productive when I’m in a stricter environment, working on tight deadlines, rather than at home relaxed. I set myself such strict goals, and then let myself relax when I was at home, so I can draw what I want. On such a tight schedule you don’t have the luxury of only working when you’re inspired- when you’re working on a project that is much bigger than yourself, you need to put that before your own inspiration. 

portrait2

V: What would be your advice to new artists to stop getting burnt out when working to a deadline? How to you keep the creativity flowing?

P: When I first started out, I would usually just doodle, and that’s where I did a lot of my growing. What worked for me, was studying other artists I really liked the work of. Years and years ago I came across some fan art for one of my favourite shows, and just started copying their style, because I loved their art. I gradually got better and better, because I was studying, but it was something I enjoyed studying. Obviously this only went so far- I found myself thinking that I didn’t need to study anatomy, because I had already got it. I now realize that made me look like a fool, because you need to study something in the 3D to properly translate it to the 2D. I started taking life drawing lessons, and still to this day take them too. Always try to be improving yourself, once you’ve learnt something, you can then break the rules too, which is such a lovely milestone to come to.  When you start to see your past mistakes, that’s when you know you’ve become a better artist.

V: Your work features a lot of people other than cis, able-bodied, white people, and it’s so great to see such intersectional artwork. What are your inspirations for creating such diversity in your characters?

P: I’m a massive believer that if your feminism isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism. If you’re not including all kinds of women, disabled people, or trans people, it’s not feminism. I’m transgender, I’m non-binary and I use they/them pronouns, and I’ve always been very outspoken about that in order to demand respect. I have a character called Jules, who when I was younger was very much a mirror of myself and who I wanted to be, and he’s really androgynous. He’s actually his own character now, and I draw him every so often. He was born out of my own gender and sexuality questioning, so I like to draw characters that aren’t similar to myself, because other wise I wouldn’t be challenging myself as an artist. I live in Birmingham in the UK, so it wouldn’t occur to me to not draw people of diversity, because I grew up surrounded by so many different people. In school I grew up around people of different races and religions, so if you’re not drawing the people around you, you’re not representing them. I obviously still have some learning to do about racism, and ableism, and we have to find out our own information on topics like that. I constantly have to educate people on what non-binary is, or what transgender is. It comes along in leaps and strides, and sometimes it doesn’t. I see people saying that, for example, they can’t draw fat people, because it’s too hard- but it’s really not, it’s exactly the same as learning to draw anyone else. Everyone needs to be engaging with intersectionality, because we are all linked with it. ahahahahahaha

V: How has drawing people other than cis, able-bodied and white been received by your colleagues and lecturers? 

P: I’ve had a couple of occasions where teachers or fellow students don’t seem to connect with my work. A lot of the time, my main experience is with being trans. I’m completely out at university, and have been for a while. In the first few weeks of university they had my legal name on the registers, even though my preferred name is different. I wouldn’t respond to my legal name being called out, and would be marked absent, which was a huge problem academically. Another time, we had to choose a clip to animate a lip-synch to. The clip that I chose was with two voices, one being a higher pitch and one being a lower pitch, and I decided to do it with two girlfriends, with one being a trans woman. In my head, she suited the lower voice, so I put her to lip-synch with that voice, and everyone misgendered my character! Obviously in that situation no one was getting hurt, but it was very odd to have to deal with that. 15

V: What would be your advice to those who find themselves in similar situations? 

P:If anyone ever finds themselves in that situation where someone demands information, or just doesn’t understand, you are never obliged to educate anyone. If you want to give them a whole detailed run down of your subject, or who you are- go right ahead! However, you do not have to do that if you don’t want to. Hopefully in the near future, people will be educated on a base level on subjects like that, so we won’t be put into that sort of situation. If I’m not in the mood to go into details, I tell people to Google it! We have a wealth of information in our pockets all the time, and you never asked to be put in the role of a teacher. Obviously I’m speaking from a place of privilege, I’m a white person and a trans person that is generally at lower risk in the community, unlike my trans sisters or some of my other trans friends, and that’s always important to keep in mind. But keep in mind that you don’t represent everyone, and everyone’s experiences are totally different. 

V: Do you think everyone can use art as a therapeutic activity? 

P: When you’re frustrated or annoyed or sad, I always feel  a little better when I’m doing some art, even if it’s really shit! Communicating your feelings in a way other than just to yourself is a really healthy way to process your feelings. 

V: If someone booked you as an artist, and would give you unlimited money, and allowed you to do any project you wanted, what would it be?

P: I have a lot of projects living in the back of my head that I would love to make a reality! I have an idea for a video game where the protagonist is deaf, and you have to navigate the world using vibrations and very small amounts of clues- but I have lots of little ideas, that I’m constantly adding to. My character I mentioned previously, Jules, has an entire expanded universe and world that links with him and his best friend Adam. That story has been with me ever since my teens, and it’s been developing and growing ever since I’ve been developing and growing. I would love to make that a reality, but I would never trust anyone else with it, because they wouldn’t understand and connect with the characters the same way that I do! I would love to make a fun, experimental animated series for young adults involving all these characters that I’ve been developing for years. I’ve been trying to write a novel for years, but I never have time. So, if anyone wants to give me lots of money and time, I have about ten years of plot living in my brain- hit me up! 3

V: Can everyone be an artist?

P: I think everyone is an artist in their own little way. It might not be drawing a beautiful portrait, but it could be a beautiful singing voice or being great at drumming. There are a lot of ways to create art. Talent doesn’t get you that far- talent will get you a failed audition and a coffee cup full of tears! The idea isn’t to have talent and just see how it goes, it’s about working hard and putting heart into everything you do! Even if it a tiny thing, that’s more than you would’ve made if you just sat there and been sad (not that you can’t just have a self-pity day), but after that’s done, I pick myself up, take a deep breath and pick up the pencil again! 

box-of-jules

Check out Pippin Lee Truman’s portfolio here!

Please contact leeleetruman@gmail.com for information on artwork or commission enquiries.

Black Owned Beauty Brands: Beauty At It’s Finest

In a desperate bid to swim through the capitalist world of makeup that is plagued by large corporations clawing at our cash, it is refreshing to find some black owned beauty brands that actually work for a racially-conscious market. One way that you can integrate intersectionality into your everyday life (especially if you are white), is to support these brands, and make sure that people of colour get the recognition they deserve. Not only are the brands below owned by people of colour, but they usually cater to people other than white people. Check out the awesome brands below!

Black Up Cosmetics (www.blackupcosmetics.com)

With everything ranging from false eyelashes, to bold matte liquid lipsticks to foundations, Black Up Cosmetics’ tag line is “The makeup expert for women of colour”- so you know you’re in good hands. With an interactive feature to find your perfect foundation shade, picking your foundation has never been easier! On an menu, you can choose your skin colour, undertone, preferred finish, and preferred formula, so you can walk away with the perfect foundation for you! Be sure to check out their other fantastic products.

Beauty Bakerie (www.beautybakerie.com)

This brand has taken the internet by storm with their confectionary themed cosmetics- including Lip Whips (a liquid lipstick, available in metallic and matte colours), So Icy Illuminators (powdered highlighters in ice cream tubs), and their Sprinkles glitter. Shades can range from nudes, to pastel pinks, to metallic bubblegum, to royal blue, and so much more! This brand will have you coming back for seconds. 

Pink Stiletto Cosmetics (pinkstilettocosmetics.com)

A brand that tries it’s hand at everything, Pink Stiletto could be your one stop shop for all your beauty needs. Foundations, highlighters, lip palettes, brow pomades, you know name- they’ve got it. You can even order foundation samples if you are unsure on what colour is for you. They ship internationally (except for Italy, due to customs), so you can grab your fix from anywhere!

Coloured Raine (www.colouredraine.com)

Coloured Raine’s matte lip paint has shot to fame after being compared to Jeffree Star’s liquid lipstick (y’know, minus the racism- read about that shenanigan here), with subtle nudes that will last all day, to bold colours that will make the best beauty aficionados turn green with envy. They also stock single eyeshadows, as well as their own magnetic palettes, so you have total freedom to pick your own shades from their extensive list. 

Fashion Fair (www.fashionfair.com)

A veteran within the beauty industry, Fashion fair was founded in the late 50’s when the owner, Eunice Johnson found a distinct lack of makeup for people of colour. This then led to to develop her own range, which rose to fame in the 80’s as it became the front runner for makeup for people of colour. After a rebrand in 2008, they have come back in full force, supplying foundations, lipsticks and concealers especially for people of colour. Foundations come in a variety of undertones and formulas, so you can find one that is just right for you. 

The House of Flawless (thehouseofflawless.com)

Initially an online store until February 2017, where they set up shop in Simpsonville, South Carolina, The House of Flawless has their own brand of liquid lipsticks and foundations (currently only available in store). You can book in for one of their glam sessions, where they will apply your makeup for you, ready for you to face the world feeling and looking glamorous, with their own brow specialist, eyelash technicians and much more! They also stock haircare, skincare, and even beauty accessories such as LED mirrors and ring lights! What more could you want in a shop?

Juvia’s Place (www.juviasplace.com)

With their African themed eyeshadow palettes featuring beautiful pigments in a variety of shades, its not difficult to see why Juvia’s Place has become a huge hit with beauty bloggers and YouTubers alike. Don’t fancy investing in a palette? No problem- you can also stock up on single eyeshadow shades. Surprisingly affordable for an indie brand gone viral, this brand won’t leave you out of pocket, but will leave you with a stunning eyeshadow palette in your makeup kit. 

Shea Moisture (www.sheamoisture.com)

Praised for their use of natural ingredients that help to nourish skin and hair, Shea Moisture have expanded their range to include makeup and skincare, as well as their famous haircare products. Specialising in uber moisturising products for black hair, this brand was started in 1912 by Sofi Tucker, after she would sell shea nuts at the village market, and slowly started formulating products including shea in them. Her legacy is continued by her grandchildren, who have adapted the brand for the modern day, featuring foundations, eyeshadows and much more in their cosmetics range. 

Black Opal Beauty (www.blackopalbeauty.com)

Launched in 1994, Black Opal Beauty was created in response to a lack of products that dealt with issues such as hyper pigmentation and oil control. They have recently undergone rebranding, creating sleek and modern packaging to house their innovative products. A huge range of foundations (many including SPF protection) in many different formulas, lipsticks, lip glosses, skincare and much more are included on their website, at a fraction of the price of your usual beauty brand. 

Featured photo: Credit to Black Up Cosmetics

I SING THE BODY BLK

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE BODY

THE BODY IN BLK

IN THE UNITED STATES

THE BODY IN HIDING

IN AMERICA

THE BODY FULL EXPOSURE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERIKKKA

THE BODY BREATHING FOR WHICH             YES             IT STILL STANDS

ONE NATION          NOBODY’S DAUGHTER         EVERYONE’S MAMMY

TITS HEAVY & SOPPING WET       NO REAL BODY YET ALL IN BLK

I SERVE BODY NOT MY OWN              HERE            IT’S ALL YOURS

PUBLIC EXECUTION REALNESS

BLK PUSSY ON A PLATTER

I KNEEL TO NO MAN                                                                  UNLESS FORCED

WHICH IS ALWAYS HOW THOSE THINGS GO, RIGHT

I AM NOT ONE MADE TO SPIT                   I SWALLOW                      UNDER GOD

& SLAP MY OWN CHEEKS                     THY KINGDOM, AMERICA              I CUM

FORGIVE ME FOR CONFUSING THE MULTIPLICITIES OF SUBJUGATION

JUST FEELS SO GOOD ALL SHACKLED UP TO ONE NATION LIKE THIS

I DRAG THE APOCALYPSE BY THE THROAT

FOR LIBERTY & JUSTICE TO GHOSTS

& THEN SOME

Transition

God, I hate change. There is just something inside of me that clenches whenever the word is mentioned. I get this mental image of myself as a small child throwing myself face down on the carpet, beating my fists and screaming. And yet, there is an equal part of myself that firmly believes that change is good for me, that it is life-affirming and somehow some mystical change will propel my life forward, making it all so much better.

A New Year, in this respect, always sort of tickles me. We talk so much about change: throughout the year we seek to change policies, politics, societal attitudes, educational curriculums, equality laws, fantastical big advancements that could make huge strides for humanity around us, and yet, come January 1st, we all keep saying the same old things. Cliches about gym memberships, new diets, old diets, new ways to save money are often resolutions we made many years ago and yet still haven’t found a way to actually include in our regular lives. Because we really don’t change too much, in either our actions or our words. And that’s okay. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and some people thrive on change – living through one new adventure to the next, trying one craze after another, that is what works best. Perhaps in this circumstance, their change would be to just do one thing and not change. Patterns, no matter how they are shaped, are comfortable. Change is not.

The only thing I find comfort in is the cliche of change. I find hope in the changes we all keep striving for on a daily basis and I find camaraderie in the fresh turn of a New Year, a calendar we have constructed to make sense of our world, a return or sorts to a new beginning of yet another spin around the sun. There is something truly special in a universal recognition of the one day of the year signaling a change for the whole world, on a date that itself never changes. We may change how we look, how we act, how we speak and how we smell, but we shall consistently be a sum of our parts. We can change, but never too much.

However, I worry that our desire and drive for change can leave us feeling uninspired and dissatisfied with the lives we currently lead. That we may be holding ourselves back by not letting go of past selves, past loves, past habits that were as comfortable as your grandmother’s old armchair. That when we focus on what we don’t have yet (equal pay), or what we could lose (LGBTQ rights), we lose sight of the great gains we have made (same-sex marriage) and we don’t necessarily recognize the great achievements we have accomplished. The ideal would be to do both, to celebrate our accomplishments as stepping stones towards our almighty goals. But I wonder if that feels a little too farfetched at the moment because as a society, the journey ahead of us is told to be so treacherous, so full of land mines and probable calamity that it can make our great achievements seem small. Those landmark historical arguments we won, that at the time felt like we’d surmounted Everest, can feel like molehills in comparison. And that feeling of dissatisfaction, of reviewing something you were so proud of and realizing you’ve got to keep doing it every day, all day, can push you to the point of despair. If we’re dissatisfied personally, we’re often dissatisfied politically; but it’s very hard to fight either when you’re holding this hurt deep within your person. How do we fight every day, all day, if we don’t feel that our fight has been good enough? And we’re wrong; our fight has been fantastic, but it’s hard and that light at the end of the tunnel keeps dancing just a little bit further on.

I still struggle with change. I might charge into battle tomorrow morning demanding that men’s mental health needs to be championed, that consent from all parties irrespective of gender needs to be respected and that I consider it my basic human right to be able to walk home without feeling afraid – gigantic changes I want to happen in society and the way we educate ourselves, as well as others . Yet, the thought of replacing my car from one that’s currently hemorrhaging money to one that isn’t  – a clear change that makes life better for me – makes me want to vomit. I like my routine, and I like what I know. I like my comfort zone, and whilst I want something better and bigger for society at large, the change required to make my comfort zone more comfortable in the long-run feels too big. I think it’s because it’s so personal, and it’s on me; changing my car isn’t a decision I can ask a focus group to make for me. I wonder too where this fits with self-care, and the aversions we can feel to self-care that are often based on self-worth, only we don’t wish to acknowledge it. At this point in my life, driving a very nice ‘old banger’ fits my identity. It’s my first car, the one I’ve driven down windy country lanes, since I was eighteen, from high school to university to postgrad. It’s carried me through three different cities and three different eras of my life. While everything else around me has changed, my car hasn’t. I wonder if I feel that maybe I don’t deserve that change yet; if I swap it for a younger, sportier model, something that feels slightly more grown-up and dependable, do I think I can also make that leap in my feelings of self-worth? Do I deserve this change? Have I earned it? Can I live up to it?

Change is a wonderful equalizer, if not for the strong feelings it seems to stir and the decisions it seems to enforce upon us. We must either stand against the tide or bow to it. Personally and politically, 2017 signifies a great deal of tension and shift. Personally, I will finally finish my seven-year university career in May. Politically, the UK should be exiting the EU this year and with the uncertainties of Scottish Parliament being willing to move with this, my Scottish home could feel compromised. My passport will become something of a museum relic, with the title of ‘European Union’ no longer valid. I can’t even begin to contemplate America’s next hundred days. The changes that will applied due to democracy at home and in my second home (my treasured academic home) will bring personal and political changes to everyone. All identities (and self-worth) may feel shifted, altered or even unhinged by this change.

When I first began working on this theme of change, it was December and, trying to convince myself that upgrading my car would be a good thing, I began to believe that change was the thing that would save the world – that a Trump Presidency and Brexit would be horrific, but that their “change” could be the catalyst to make us shout louder, to reassess what it is that we want and what exactly we’re fighting for. That the change could be the making of us. As I struggle to remember how the buttons differ in my new car, and consistently stall the start/stop transmission, I’m also aware of how much of a fight one has to make to transition. How it’s a constant, daily thought pattern that must be almost reprogrammed. And I think of the Women’s Marches all over the world and hope that we can fly our flags and wave our banners daily, no matter how tiring and frustrating it may feel.

As we enter 2017, uncertain of just how much the world could change in the next hundred minutes, never mind the next hundred days, I wonder how we might transition next.

 

The Last Taino Indian Has Not Yet Been Born

Photographer: Kiki Vassilakis
Photographer: Kiki Vassilakis

the other day a sister asked me
what does the diaspora feel like?
a question i’ve never thought of before
yet it invoked fleeting memories of
a home that was out of my reach
like the sand slipping through my fingers on the island of Borinken
i grasp at something that will never be mine

it’s a complicated blend of
lineage and forced genocide
of comfort and violation

it feels like love letters never sent
to a home that always offered dinner
but not belonging

just like the time my partner’s family
wrote me off as too angry
too rude
too expressive
because people like me should let the white folks discuss politics

it feels like never being black enough
or brown enough
or white enough
stuck between here and there
but never whole enough for both

it feels like the time you
forced yourself inside of me
because you thought you had a right
to re-colonize this body
it almost broke me

BUT ALMOST DOESN’T COUNT

resiliency runs in my blood
blood that my ancestors shed at the hands
of murderers and rapists
but i am the living testament
to surviving
to revolting
to existing when no one else wants you to

there’s a myth you probably learned as fact in grade school:
all of the Tainos were wiped out
conquered by columbus himself
an old civilization lost to disease and war

IT’S A FUCKING LIE

the diaspora continues with me

The Brooklyn Conflict 

They made my hometown common knowledge said Calel 

on the back of the Dragon Deluxe Bus 

15 bucks 

And some guts 


And you in New York City for the price of a movie ticket 

Or 15 bags of them bags that used to be 25 cents

They got the nerve to make the bags bigger but just add more air 

But yeah 

They made my hometown common knowledge

Trendy bike path paving, organic food stores placing 

reusable bags toting, common knowledge  

Peeping at me behind glass like I don’t belong on the streets that scraped and shaped my knees  

In between sips of agave sweetened tea or some coconut water in a BPA free can,

my favorites. 

-Amani O+

amanipoet.com

Stop Asking Me to Dry Your White Tears

It has been a rough two weeks. Like, hide-in-my-bed-and-never-leave two weeks. America has chosen a known white supremacist to be president. This cannot be real life. But it is. And we are all trying to deal with the trauma and pain that this election has created. I love that there have been multiple community gatherings to express the fear, anxiety and next steps that will need to be taken to ensure safety.

But I don’t like what those spaces have continued to support, which is inherently white supremacy. When white people enter spaces like this, they often take up way too much space to talk about how they are individually affected, ignoring the black and brown voices in the room. Then they end up crying and expect those same people to continue to hold emotional space for them.

During my weekly staff meeting at work, white people took up so much space to cry and talk about their feelings, completely ignoring the real and continuous trauma that black and brown people are experiencing. Through their intentions to be a ‘good white ally’, they effectively silenced the voices most affected (one of those voices being my own). It immediately turned into a space for white people to feel guilty, instead of holding safe space for our black and brown employees.

Let’s make something clear: black and brown people with multiple intersections of identities are the ones who will be the most affected. Not white people.

I need white people to stop crying and instead, hold space for us. I need white people to realize that they are not the only people in the room suffering and that many people are legitimately afraid for their lives and for their families. I really need white people to do better and stop re-traumatizing us by expecting the most affected to hold emotional space for those who caused us to arrive here in the first place. This is because of you and your ancestors – white people – and ya’ll need to get it together. If I am expected to represent the entire Latinx community, then I am going to do the same for white people: 53% of white women voted for Trump, and I am holding white people entirely accountable for this obvious fuck-up.

I do not have time to hear you cry about sad you are. I do not have the energy to console you after all your friends voted for Trump. I am still dealing with my own ancestral trauma, which started the day Columbus landed on the island of Borinken. We have been dealing with this shit for centuries, and now you, white people, are just waking up.

It’s about damn time.

So please, do me a favor: dry your white tears, get your white friends together, and support the black and brown people who have already been doing this work for years. We’ve been waiting for you to do your part. Ya’ll just need to take the first step.

Stay Warm – Free Digital Wallpaper

stay-warm-web-res

Happy November! It’s getting chilly, remember to wrap up warm and take care of yourself and the people around you!

The phrase ‘stay woke’ was popularized by the Black Lives Matter movement and I’m using it here in support of that cause. BLM campaigns against institutionalized violence and racial profiling towards black people, and aims to bring accountability to members of the US police force who unjustly incarcerate, injure and kill black people. You can help keep Black Lives Matter going by donating here.

As always we’ve made this available for you in a range of wallpaper sizes below, and you can also purchase it as a print in our Society6 store!

1024 x 768

1024-768

1280 x 1024

1280-1024

1920 x 1080

1920-1080