Kizzy’s Decision Taught me…

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Roots was an amazing series, which was sometimes hard to watch but overall, significant for me and I am very pleased with how well done it was.

One of the defining scenes in my mind after watching was when Kizzy, whose name means “Stay Put” in Mandinka actually did that very thing.  She had the opportunity to be free and marry the man she was in love with but turned down the opportunity to stay on the plantation because it was comfortable for her. Although a pragmatic decision, it shook me to my core. If there’s one thing I learned about life, it’s to jump on opportunities when they come to you. You never want to wake up one day, thinking What If?

Kizzy missed out on love, freedom, and the opportunities that life as a free woman in the North had to offer her. I guess, too often, we do that in our own lives. We get comfortable in security; comfortable with avoiding risks; comfortable with allowing fear to leave us stagnant and then we lead unhappy lives because deep down we know that there’s more for us than what we are settling for.

I don’t want to do that. I am finally learning that taking risks, although frightening, is the only way we can grow. Not giving into our fears and taking on new opportunities, encompasses both the excitement and mysteries of life.

This scene hits home for me because I find myself at a crossroads; comfortable in the security I’ve built for myself for the last few years but ready to grow, become a batter person and unleash the inner powerhouse that is in me. I am ready for a change.

UndergroundWGN is #Winning

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It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others…one ever feels his twoness-an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warrings ideals in one dark body… ” – W.E.B Dubois

UndergroundWGN is Emmy worthy and I can’t wait to see how successful it becomes. Underground follows Noah, a slave on a plantation, who seeks freedom through the Underground Railroad. He realizes, that his goal may only be possible if he assembles a group of his fellow slaves to accompany him. Of course, the show gets way more complicated than that, but that’s the general concept.

Double Consciousness

Double consciousness or shifting among the characters is extremely prevalent, which is one of the reasons I watch the show religiously. I am intrigued by the writers use of this idea coined by W.E.B Dubois way back in 1903 in his book The Soul of Black Folks. Double Consciousness, is basically in layman terms the two faces black people put on in America. We have to be black and we have to be American. We have to act one way among white people and another way when we are comfortable enough being our true selves. Essentially we have to shift to survive.

Spoiler Alert

Each of the characters in this show shift or have two faces. You think you know who they really are at their core, but each week, something new is exposed and another layer is added to them. Right now, we know that Noah played by Aldis Hodge has a limp because he doesn’t want the plantation owners to know that he is a threat to them. We know that Rosalee played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell is a contented house slave, who is ready to run away by any means. We also know that August Pullman played by Christopher Meloni is a white slave catcher who pretends to be for black people but will turn them in for a cash reward instantly. There’s a lot of shifting going on as a means of survival and I am here for it all.

Why you should watch

If I can compare this show to anything else, I would say it’s like Scandal, set during slavery. The writers are superb. They keep me engaged and wanting more and although this is sensitive material, they find a balance and create some highs and lows in the episodes so you’re not emotionally drained by the conclusion. Sometimes I find myself so drawn into the storylines, I have dreams about it later on.

I know why people might want to avoid a show like this; who wants to be constantly reminded about slavery every week? I thought the same thing initially, but these characters are intriguing, even though the actual system of slavery dehumanizes them. They have feelings, and dreams just like anyone else, which is the underlying theme. Also, we have to support these shows so it can open doors for more shows to educate and acknowledge our rich stories.  I am hooked and you should be too.Underground comes on every Wednesday at 10PM (EST) on WGN which is on Channel 82 if you have Cablevision. WGN is a relatively new network so don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it before. Since the show has so many twists and turns every Wednesday the cast does a twitter chat #UndergroundWGN which is awesome because you need someone to watch this show with just so you can say “Did you see that?”

Colorism

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The below excerpt is my first attempt at writing about the issue of Colorism, during my sophomore year in college. I’ll share with you the first three pages of this 20-page research paper. This essay along with a few others eventually helped me win the Excellence in Communication Award at Penn State. If you decide you would like to read more about Colorism, please read the book The Color Complex, it’s one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read regarding this issue:

Colorism

April 2008

If you’re black get back/if you’re brown stick around/ if your light you’re all right.

Being Black or being White has historically separated people in America and around the world but what many people fail to realize or even acknowledge is a gap has been bridged within the black race as a result of the differentiation and discrimination based on skin tones. Colorism is the coined word to describe the dirty little secret that our community perpetuates through its idealizations of Eurocentric beauty standards and denouncement of Afrocentric standards of beauty. Skin complexion, hair type, and body image have always been conscious issues for African American’s but it is the root of self-loathing and low self-esteem as well. This form of intra-racism has proved to be psychologically detrimental to African Americans’ sense of self. Colorism is immoral, unethical, and undeniably one of the reasons why black people do not feel accepted within their own race. It promotes insecurity and inequality because people are no longer being judged by their intelligence or capabilities; they are being judged by the lightness or darkness of their skin. If we are going to successfully progress into a bright future we need to learn and understand our history. If more African Americans took the time to understand their troubled past they would understand that colorism is essentially a construct and does not dictate the type of person you are, nor does it dictate your self-worth. Understanding the dark history behind colorism is one of the first steps towards progress. The next step toward progress is acceptance. The internalized self-hate one feels towards oneself because other members in society deem them inferior is one of the reasons why we may never advance towards a society that does not judge people based on the color of their skin. Accepting that being black is not necessarily a dilemma but an armor you should wear with pride is foremost. Continue reading “Colorism”

Living in Purpose: Human Trafficking, Tiffany Wright and my first Docu.

When I was a junior in high school, I joined an organization called Council for Unity. Each year the organization focused on an issue happening around the world to raise awareness to the whole student body in a mandatory forum. Everyone apart of this organization had a role, but the most important thing we did collectively was research the annual issue.

The year I joined, the issue was Human Trafficking. All of my life I never knew such a heinous operation was occurring in the world. We are taught to believe that slavery was abolished in 1863 but it still occurs and millions of men, women, and children are victims of this crime. Human trafficking is a billion-dollar black market industry and despite efforts to contain this problem, it’s growing rapidly.

As a result of my research while in Council for Unity, I was shocked, afraid and empowered all at the same time. I wanted to know everything I could about this issue. I became dedicated to researching and raising awareness about human trafficking. All I could think of was those poor children in Thailand forced to have sex with men, three times their age or the women who put their trust in someone that tells them they can make their dreams of becoming a model come true, only to be tricked into prostitution. Can you imagine being kidnapped, stripped of your passport and identity, beaten, and raped repeatedly, only to feel like there is no way out? To be honest, after learning about human trafficking I was never the same; a part of my innocence was taken away from me after researching these vile things but can you imagine the pain and trauma of these victims? Continue reading “Living in Purpose: Human Trafficking, Tiffany Wright and my first Docu.”