Thursday, May 31, 2018

So, I am reading You Are A Badass at Making Money...

Thursdays are the days that we talk all things personal finance around these parts.

And I am starting to realize that more spaces are needed to talk about money. Because while we are socialized to think of the topic of money as taboo, all of us need money to survive and thrive. We all feel a ways about money. Personally, I have found myself literally both proclaiming home much I hate money and praying that God would open doors for me to make more money.

The duplicity of it all.

Last week, in an effort to try to sort out my feelings I picked up the book You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. If the name sounds familiar, you're probably thinking about Jen's other book, You Are A Badass, a book now filling the shelves of people from politicians to preschool teachers. You Are A Badass at Making Money is a little different from its yellow cover predecessor and focuses more on the "mindset of wealth".

Now, before you think I am going to go all prosperity gospel ( also known as trash) on you, hear me out. As I said above, we do have some weird ways of thinking about our money, especially those of faith. We tithe. We give in the offering basket. We pray for money. But then we hear a sermon on why money is evil (which is completely not true, in the same way a hammer is not evil but the usage of it could be).

From Creflo Dollar (yes, there is a pastor with that name and yes, I feel that it fits his often money mongering ways) and Jesse Duplantis asking their churches to help fund their own personal jets (cringe), to my own pastor leading quarterly church meetings and providing financial accountability down to the last mina (just kidding guys, it was down to the last penny), money is an interesting topic in the faith to say the least.

But back to the book, Sincero shares a lot of candid stories that informed her development with money. From her first experience with calamari to tales of her loading up the free crackers, ketchup packets and other complementary food stuffs because she was so broke. She unabashedly shares the sky scraping highs and the basement busting lows of her financial journey. And in all of that transparency, I found myself feeling so free (and to be honest, a little more in control) in my financial journey.

There are parts I cannot get down with. For example, chanting the mantra "I love money and loves me." 1 Timothy 6:10 New International Version (NIV) tells me "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." So walking around, chanting to myself how much I love money is counter to the faith I profess.

Also, Jen talks a lot about "Universal Intelligence" and "the Universe" as a creation factor. I think it is to be more inclusive of other faiths which she does discuss, but as a believer, I still very much rely upon God for every single cent that comes to me, not some swirling dark place full of gasses, orbits, and floating minerals.

I digress.

What I can get down with is how Jen directly challenges our own internalized views of money. She poses directions towards the formation of our financial views, asked about our first money memories, asks about the first things our parents told us about money. She dissects why we both need and hate to need money, and how those conflicting thoughts lead to conflicting feelings on money. Those conflicting views lead us to conflicted feelings toward our money, and that keeps us stuck right where we are.

By directly challenging our thoughts, we challenge the root cause of the contradictory messages we are sending to our feelings, that thus affect our actions. I cannot live an abundant life if I am constantly in fear of lack or loathing where I am now. Those mixed up messages will not light the fire under me that I need to make the big, even crazy steps to living a more fulfilling life.

And that is all true. James 1: 6-8 says whatever we ask for, we must ask for in faith. "But he must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

All and all, You Are A Badass at Making Money is really helping me demolish the contradictory views I have on my own finances. For me, it's one of those "take the mean and spit out the bones" situations, where I omit or augment the spiritual references but take stock of my own thoughts, feelings and actions toward money. I recommend it as a read.

So grab it and go on with your Badass....

Reclaimed Readables

Today's Readables feature how to save money even when you live paycheck to paycheck, 23 ways to be smarter with your money, 9 benefits of negotiating you salary, what exactly is alternative investing, a break down of good debt vs. bad debt, and how to save when you live in a city.

Refinery29: How to save when you live in a city
My Domaine: What exactly is alternative investing, good debt vs. bad debt
The EveryGirl: How to save money even when you live paycheck to paycheck, 9 benefits of negotiating you salary
BuzzFeed: 23 ways to be smarter with your money

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Here's why calling Black people apes and monkeys is more than just mean

White people, I am going to take time today to help you out. 

You cannot call Black people monkeys, apes, or any other form of primate. It is racist. That is why Black people across the globe raged about that H&M hoodie and why Netflix really should make some changes with it's Sanrio show Aggretsuko.

No, it is not racist if someone calls you a monkey or an ape. It's mean, yes, but it is not the same. Here is why:

This view of Black people as animals, essentially, is more than just a mean name to call someone. It has had violent, history altering, culture destroying effects upon people of the Africa diaspora, effects still viewed today as per the latest Rosanne tweet (that has, effectively, ended her show, and hopefully her career).

Where does all of this come from? While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when Africans and those descended from them were labeled as subhuman, ie apes and monkeys, there are many comparisons so well embedded within history, culture and even in areas of science, they can be blamed on some of the most casual observations (that we would now not even consider to be good, quality, or effective science) such as:

- the wide variety of great apes in Africa (because if there are so many apes on a continent, then the people living there must be close to them, right? Cue eye roll);
- the "aesthetic distance" between White and Black people. Black people just look different from White people, and these differences where harped upon as a form, from the White perspective, of physical "otherness". This otherness was viewed not just as diversity as one would see in many other species of the same race in different climates, but as a deviant in the worst way;
- the higher esteem generally given to European civilizations as opposed to against African civilizations (off the top of your head: how many countries can you name in Europe as opposed to African ones?) 
- and above all the global trauma of hundreds of years of slavery in modernity, which embedded into the global consciousness those of Black skin as perpetual subhumans. 

Hundreds of years slavery required reducing people to objects. This required systematic dehumanization. After all, if I view you and your family as I would a chair set I find at a thrift store, but I only need one chair, it is easy for me to break up the set by only taking one of you and not feel guilty that I am destroying a family.

Science of the time, really didn't help matters. Josiah C. Nott and George R. Gliddon, both leading scientists of the day, in their 1854 Types of Mankind, documented what they saw as "objective racial hierarchies". These observations featured illustrations and diagrams comparing Black people to chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. This document was not a strange fringe work but a well known and well respects piece of scientific literature for the day.

And then comes Darwinism. Charles Darwin's 1859 work, "On the Origin of Species", while revolutionary, did not discredit previous scientific racism. Instead, Darwinism would become the new racial orthodoxy, thus furthering and justifying White colonialism and domination as proof of the evolutionary superiority of the White ethnicity. 

The rationale goes like this: if we all came from apes and there are more apes on the continent of Africa than anywhere else, and the people living there sort of resemble apes, than surely they are the first forms of evolution from apes and White people, who looked so different and lived in places where there were no apes but only other humans, must be evolutionarily superior than those on the continent of Africa. And because they are so evolutionarily close to apes, they must be less human than those of European decent and thus more animal like.

Thus justifying previous atrocities such as colonialism of the continent, Black genocide, chattel slavery, and the whole 3/5ths of a human thing...

Popular culture didn't help either, with Birth of a Nation, the first film to be streamed in the White House, portraying Black people as violent and virulent animals. That led to Jim Crow legislation. 

The film King Kong, where a large, fierce ape breaks free from his bondage and wreaks havoc on New York and kidnaps a white woman, was released around the same time as the Scottsboro Boys trial, where 9 Black young men between the ages of 13 up to 20 were falsely accused of raping 2 White women, an ordeal of trials that would last over 50 years.

And these dehumanizations aren't just stuck in the Civil Rights era. Michelle Obama was frequently referred to as an ape or monkey  aren't just for as recently as THIS week, we see MAGA monger, Rosanne Barr calling forever former President Obama's top aide, Valerie Jarrett an ape, a since deleted and weakly apologized for tweet that cost her her ABC show (and unfortunately hundreds of people their jobs.)
As you can see, with examples of Rosanne, H&M, and others, there is definite hell to pay for attempting to subhuman people of the diaspora. White people are literally losing their jobs and livelihoods on using this racial slur, even and especially in Trump's America.

I cannot believe that I, in the year of our Lord, 2018, must explain why it is racist and bigoted to call people of African decent monkeys, apes, simian, or anything of that nature. Because it isn't just a mean thing to say. It's not just an insult on someone's appearance, but letting these words fall from your mouth harken to a history, even still observed today. 

It is the same history that refuses sports stars their born right to protest police brutality. Its the same history that tells Lebron James that he should shut up and dribble. Its the same history that, when Black people proclaim Black Lives Matter and Don't Shoot, White people answer, not in affirmation yes!, but instead "well, wait" and "let's see when all of the facts come out". It is the same history that violently arrests Chikesia Clemons and brutality murders Tamir Rice, but gently arrests Santa Fe and Parkland school shooters. 

It is a history of colonialism despite the locals, enslavement for free labor, rape for pleasure, lynching for sport. It is seeing Black people as not human, and therefore, not worth affirming as such.

And that is why you cannot call Black people monkeys. 

Any questions?

Reclaimed Readables #WomanCrushWednesday

Happy Wednesday, my loves!

This week's #WomanCrushWednesday 5 things to know about Channing Dungey, Valerie Jarrett calls ABC's take down a "teaching moment", Serena Williams makes her comeback (in a catsuit no less), the women disrupting 88 years of the tampon industry, and whose stories get to be the center of #MeToo.

The Cut: 5 things to know about Channing Dungey
WhoWhatWear: Serena Williams makes her comeback (in a catsuit no less)
My Domaine: The women disrupting 88 years of the tampon industry
Huff Post: Valerie Jarrett calls ABC's take down a "teaching moment"
BuzzFeed: Whose stories get to be the center of #MeToo

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I keep buying shoes that I hate (and ways to break them in to make them more comfy)

Confession: I like the idea of heels. As a theory, they are the most magical, chic, gorgeous looking footwear I have ever seen. They make my legs look great. They make whatever I am wearing look polished and put together. They make me feel like both a lady (prim and proper) AND a woman (who may or may not do a celebratory twerk). Heels are just beautiful.

That being said; I hate wearing heels. They are the most uncomfortable things I have ever stuck my poor feet into. Oh, its all fun and games until a couple of hours go by and I am walking like one of the zombie's off of the Thriller video.

And I thought it was just the cheapo heels I was buying at the fast fashion places. Your girl recently upgraded ALL of her footwear (not tossing out tons of cash, mind you, but strategically choosing pairs I needed on sale) so that she can actually look like the 33 year old she is. I came to a painful discovery; it is not just the cheap heels, it's ALL the heels.

My frustration at my footwear predicament continues because, while I hate wearing them, I sure do love how I look in them.

Here are a few tips that have helped me survive heels blister, callous, and corn free for the past few years.


If you don't need them, just don't buy them:
I had to toss in this minimalist tip for ya. We love the idea of these shoes. While standing in the aisles of the shoe store, we see all of the outfits, places, and plans we can enjoy wile wearing these shoes. Then we spend our hard earned cash only to take them home, admire them for a bit, put them on our shoe rack or in the closet to never wear them. Sis, if you can, avoid the waste of time and money. If you cannot name two times you will wear these shoes in the next two weeks, don't even bother buying them.

Shop right for your shoes:
Our feet swell up to half a size as the day goes on so keep that in mind at the shoe store. When in doubt, there is nothing wrong with buying a half size bigger if it means you can wear them longer.

The clunkier the heel, the better:
Praise the Lord that the season of the stiletto heel has passed and chunky, clunky heels, even wedges (yes God!) are running the streets. Chunkier heels offer you more support while you're walking, meaning you can go for longer without any foot pain.

Breaking them in:

Break in the heels before you go out:
New. Shoes. Hurt! Do not, under any circumstances, wear your just purchased that day from the store and hour before the event shoes to the event or you will not enjoy the event. Your new shoes aren't going anywhere, so take your time and break them in. Break them in. Walk around in them at home.

Moisture is your friend:
While you're breaking in your heels, cut Netflix or Hulu. Take a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water  and spray it on the inside of your new leather shoes. Put on pair of your thickest socks and slide your feet in your shoes for about 20 minutes and allow the rubbing alcohol and the stretch of the socks to mould your foot shape in the shoe. This only works for leather shoes.

Heat it up:
For those non leather shoes, while you have those thick socks on, slide your shoes on. Grab your handy hairdryer and quickly blow some hot air on to the places that are really tight (focus on the toes, girl). The heat of the dryer will soften the leather and the socks will stretch the shoe out.

Cool it now:
If you're busy (because who is not), fill two freezer bags with water and put them in your pair of shoes, then put them into your freezer. While the water freezes, it will expand,  and will stretch out your shoes.

Other tips that have saved my sole (get it?):

Tape it up:
If your heels are close toed, tape your 3rd and 4th toes together (your middle toe and the one directly next to it) with medical tape or even a bandaid. This aligns the muscles in your feet, preventing the balls of your feet from getting sore so fast.

Guard your skin:
Prevent the friction that causes blisters by putting a barrier on your heels and the sides of your feet. Protect your skin with petroleum jelly, baby powder, or roll-on deodorant for blister free footsies.

Have your back up shoes with you or nearby:
This works great for events (especially church because I usually carry a big enough bag where I can carry my flats until service is over. There are also thin roll up pairs you can stick in your clutch should your regular flats be to big to carry around, like on a date night.)

I hope this helps. Keep those feet happy.

Reclaimed Readables #TuesdayShoesDay

Happy Tuesday loves!

This week's #TuesdayShoesDay features the sculptural heels that you are about to see everywhere, how sneakers ushered in a new era of comfy shoes, the under $100 sneakers running 2018, 32 stylish pairs of shoes under $30, and the cultural history of the ugly sandal.

The sculptural heels that you are about to see everywhere
How sneakers ushered in a new era of comfy shoes
Under $100 sneakers running 2018
32 stylish pairs of shoes under $30
The cultural history of the ugly sandal

Monday, May 28, 2018

Why the NFL really should study the history of Memorial Day

The NFL sure did pick the worst time (for them) to force anyone into patriotism.

The National Football League recently released their “compromise” statements over players taking a knee during the National Anthem. Spoiler alert: there is no compromise. Team owners and the League have placed both game time and financial penalties for players who take a knee during the anthem emphasizing their belief that these protests disrespect the flag, the anthem, and therefore, the country.


Despite the fact that it is obvious to everyone excluding MAGA that these protests, first initiated by Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid were to bring attention to police brutality in the communities most of the NFL players come from, these changes were made and very clearly exhibited the point that the NFL doesn’t care about Black People, those that watch and support or those that wreck their bodies playing this dangerous sport.

The ironic tie between when the NFL released these erroneous mandates and today is not lost on me. Memorial Day, currently a day to prep for the upcoming summer holidays and shop sales, is actually a holiday to remember those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy as a nation. Freedoms such as the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.“

A freedom that the NFL is currently infringing upon with their “compromises”.

Memorial Day's unofficial historical roots begin with greed Black slaves. The Washington Post reports “The great Civil War historian James McPherson told the story of a Northern abolitionist who traveled to Charleston, S.C., to organize schools for freed slaves. On May 1, 1865, a year before Waterloo, he led a group of black children to a cemetery for Union soldiers “to scatter flowers on their graves.””

But there is more to this story. It goes like this:

In 1865, post Civil War Charleston, S.C., was a ruin. Many Union soldiers held prisoner in a converted racecourse where the conditions were so bad, at least 250 of those Union captives died. Their bodies were discarded like refuse into a mass grave near the track.

Following the end of the fighting and the release of Black slaves, a group of Black workmen took it upon themselves to dig up those bodies and reburied them to properly honor them.

On May 1, 1865, over 10,000 people comprised of recently freed slaves,  schoolchildren, Black soldiers and allies held what was the first Memorial Day parade around that racetrack. Following the parade, as many as could packed into the new cemetery where scripture was read and flowers were scattered on the unknown soldiers’ graves.

Now that is patriotism. 

Odds are these Black workmen had no personal ties to any of these fallen soldiers, and yet they and their community, before attempting to rebuild their own city, took the time to properly honor those who gave their lives for these Black people to be free.

That is authentic patriotism, Not forcing sports players or anyone else for that matter, to stand for a flag, but honoring those who died for us to have the rights to stand or to sit during the anthem, for us to vote, for us to march, for us to rally together, for us to criticize our government or to run for office.

Real patriotism, that understands that loving ones country goes beyond flags and anthems but into tangible ways to actually make this country live up to its creed, that all people are created equal and are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights.

Like the right to protest inequality. 

Maybe the NFL would do better to simply sticking to sports. 

Reclaimed Readables #MindfulMonday

Happy Monday and Happy Memorial Day!

This week's #MindfulMonday features the women vocally advocating mental health, supplements to battle stress, herbs and adaptogens for beginners, 9 ways to live a more minimalist lifestyle, 5 tea-tree oil hacks to prove its major, and 18 self care tips to help you seriously relax.

Refinery29: The women vocally advocating mental health
Well+Good: Supplements to battle stress, 5 tea-tree oil hacks to prove its major
Into The Gloss: Herbs and adaptogens for beginners
Apartment Therapy: 9 ways to live a more minimalist lifestyle
BuzzFeed: 18 self care tips to help you seriously relax

Friday, May 25, 2018

The New (Old) Way We Should Do Memorial Day

I am just going to come out and say that I do not like how we "celebrate" Memorial Day. At all.

I know, Memorial Day is supposed to be the happy holiday that actually signals the beginning of the summer holidays. It's the first weekend we can really justify beach trips, summer fridays, and the like. I get it. Summer is awesome.

But Memorial Day was never about celebrating the beginning of summer. The holiday is supposed to be for remembering those in the military who died in the line of duty. It's supposed to be a solemn day where we reflect on those lives cut short in the line of duty.

What I don't get is how a holiday that was supposed to be dedicated to the memory of the sacrifice of fallen soldiers became a time to shop your brains out. Everywhere I look, there is another ad from a different company beckoning us to shop offering us some obscene discount or free items for us to shop on a day historically created to honor our fallen.

This shows us two things:

1) We can make (and have made) any holiday about shopping if we want to. Even one as solemn as this. I mean as far as holidays go, it doesn't get much more serious than this. And yet, even now, many of us are taking our hard earned cash, or worse, credit to go shopping on a day that is supposed to honor our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers who died in the military. Like, what is wrong with us?


2) The blatant disrespect we have for those in the military. Now as a pacifist down to my core, I abhor violence and war. To be honest, I don't like that any nation even has to have a military, but such is the way of the world. But what I will do is honor those brave women and men who put their lives, time with their families, their hopes and dreams on hold in order to keep the borders of this country safe. And for those who have died fighting for this nation I call home, I certainly do honor.

But not by buying another thing I don't need. I think a better way to honor those who have died for our country is to work for peace to make sure that no one else must pay that price. We honor them by voting, by staying active in the affairs of our country, we can gather together with family and friends and enjoy the day knowing someone else paid for it.

In more tangible ways, we can volunteer at a vet hospital or home, we can reach out to service men currently arriving and send them a care package or words of love and appreciation, volunteer to clean up a vet memorial park or simply visit one.

Anything other than buying more things for ourselves.

This Memorial Day, I won't be shopping. I encourage you to do the same.

Happy Memorial Day.

This post was originally posted May 29th, 2017 and has been edited to be current.

Reclaimed Readables

Happy happy Friday loves!

Today's Readables feature 13 women run beauty brands, how to travel on a budget according to the pros, 3 hot weather outfits if you don't like denim shorts, how one woman embraced her plus size body and found her own style, and why you're inbox is full of GDPR privacy emails.

Huff Post: 13 women run beauty brands 
Well+Good: How to travel on a budget according to the pros
Man Repeller: 3 hot weather outfits if you don't like denim shorts
Refinery29: How one woman embraced her plus size body and found her own style
Racked: Why you're inbox is full of GDPR privacy policy emails

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Reclaimed Readables

Happy Thursday loves!

Today's Readables feature how to track your expenses using and excel spreadsheet, one powerful thing successful women do with their money, why one woman racked up $10K in credit card debt refuses to tell her husband, an expert weighs in on how to choose a Roth IRA, and 5 types of savings accounts worth having.

Refinery29: How to track your expenses using and excel spreadsheet
Career Girl Daily: One powerful thing successful women do with their money
Bolde: Why one woman racked up $10K in credit card debt refuses to tell her husband
My Domaine: An expert weighs in on how to choose a Roth IRA, 5 types of savings accounts worth having

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Reclaimed Readables #WomanCrushWednesday

Happy Wednesday loves!

This week's #WomanCrushWednesday features Meghan Markle's first event as the Duchess of Sussex, Michelle Obama shares powerful moments from her soon to be released book 'Becoming'Angela Bassett receives an honorary doctorate, and Jemele Hill to be honored as the NABJ's journalist of the year.

Huff Post: Jemele Hill to be honored as the NABJ's journalist of the year
Refinery29: Meghan Markle's first event as the Duchess of Sussex, Angela Bassett receives an honorary doctorate
Hello Giggles: Michelle Obama shares powerful moments from her soon to be released book 'Becoming', Meet Stacey Abrams, the woman who may become the U.S.'s first black female governor

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

#IfIDieInASchoolShooting is the trending hashtag that shouldn't be

I remember being in school and having legitimate concerns and worries; like if I forgot my lunch money in my other jacket, did I remember all of my assignments, and a myriad of other social concerns.

What I never had to worry about in school was dying in a school shooting. Yes, there had been mass shootings before. Columbine happened years before I even went to high school. Still, many of us wrote that and the previous shootings off as one offs, rare and unfortunate events that should have never happen but unlikely to be repeated.

One generation later and God, how things have changed. Last week, there were 3 school shootings. There have already been more than 20 this year alone.

The situation for the current body of high school, middle school, and grade school kids has become so dire, that there is now a hashtag on Facebook called #IfIDieInASchoolShooting.

This is the state of things. And this is the hope we adults have given to those younger than us. They are planning their own funerals.

Or telling us how to remember them after they are gone.

Or even what to do in response to the politicians who will most likely offer thoughts and prayers but do little else.

Or wonder if anyone will even care at all.

Even teachers and administrators are getting in on it.

This is disgraceful. This shouldn't be a trending hashtag. This should not even be a thing.

But this is the sad state of where we are. This is America.

But instead of the impending back lash from gun enthusiasts, the NRA, or any Fox (bully) commentator (Laura Ingram), or the utter silence from politicians, we as a people, as a nation, need to hear this. School was always meant to be a place of learning, but maybe the think we ought to be teaching our students, our children, is that their lives do indeed matter, and we can make school, and mass shootings a thing of the past.

These are the voices of our country's future. They will shape where we as a people will go in the coming years. Each one of these children and teachers deserves to be heard.

Reclaimed Readables #TuesdayShoesDay

This week's #TuesdayShoesDay features the most comfy work shoes, the chic shoes that leave your feet blister free, why you should see Forever 21's shoes section right now, cute woven shoes for summer, 60 minutes with Manolo Blahnik, and 101 of the best sandals you can get online.

The most comfy work shoes
Cute woven shoes for summer
The chic shoes that leave your feet blister free
60 minutes with Manolo Blahnik
Forever 21's shoes section right now
101 of the best sandals you can get online

Monday, May 21, 2018

Ways to Self Care During Your Period


They happen. And while your period can be a sign of over all health, they are still not the most pleasant experiences. Whether you can set your watch by yours ( like me) or your aunt flow is a more seasonal visitor, periods are a part of women's lives, but they shouldn't completely disrupt it.

Mine hit me like a baseball bat to the gut around 3am this morning, and with it, a ton of other symptoms that made me want to spend this Monday in bed.

However, life goes on. And I (and you) need to function. So here are a few ways to self care before, during, and after your period.

Make sure you are keeping track of your period days. There are so many wonderful apps that you can download that will not only track your period days for you, but send you alerts, record your symptoms, and keep you informed about your body.

Be mindful of your body. Ignoring your symptoms serves no one. If you need to rest a bit, and you can swing it, do it! If you need to go to bed earlier, and you can, do it!

If you can, spend the cash on quality products. This month, I am swapping out my usual tampon brand to an all natural, 100% cotton brand that was maybe 1 or 2 dollars more than my usual brand. I will be letting y'all know how that goes in the very near future, so stay tuned.

Drink water, drink water, drink water. Water fights cramps, keeps you hydrated and refreshes you. Drink it.

Try some yoga. Some light stretching alleviates cramping, removes body aches, and puts you in a better mindset.

Or take a walk. By now, you know I believe in a walk. Moving around, especially on those achy first days, is critical. So get up and get out and get moving.

Warm, soothing bathes. Ladies. baths. Time to bust out those fancy candles and soothing salts you've been saving for...wait, why do we save those things? We should be using them. No, you're not going to be floating in period soup. You will, however, relax your muscles and soothe aches.

Journal. Your period is literally your body entering a self emptying cycle. This a perfect time for you to do the same emotionally and mentally. Write down all that you are thinking, feeling, fearing. Allow yourself to self empty as well.

What are some ways you self care during your period? Let us know by dropping a comment below.

Reclaimed Readables #MindfulMonday

This week's #MindfulMonday features a doctor's no nonsense guide to managing stress, 12 apps to help you take better care of yourself, what is intentional Instagraming, 11 awesome reads on mindfulness, how this wellness practice is helping homeless women and children, and 4 meditation tips that actually work.

Byrdie: A doctor's no nonsense guide to managing stress
BuzzFeed: 12 apps to help you take better care of yourself
Hello Giggles: 4 meditation tips that actually work
My Domaine: 11 books on mindfulness
Refinery 29: Intentional Instagramming
Well+Good: How this wellness practice is helping homeless women and children

Sunday, May 20, 2018

What is going on with White Guys and Mass Shootings?

I am going to come out and address the proverbial elephant in the mass shooting room: what is up with all of the White guys committing mass shootings?

Of all of the mass shootings that have occurred since 1982 up until February of this year, 56% of them were by, one group; White men. Well over half. That figure alone make me wonder, what is it about white men and boys and mass shootings? What is it about these males that make them susceptible to such vicious and brutal acts of violence, more so than any other group?

A lot of people have a lot of theories. Some blame drugs. Some blame violent video games. Some say that it is a mental health crisis.

I beg to differ. This isn't a mental health crisis. If it were, there would be way more violence and the perpetrators of said violence would varied and wide ranging since people of all ages, genders, belief systems, and ethnicities suffer mental health crises.

And drugs? Really? When communities of color have long been plagued by drugs, yet the number of mass shootings committed by Black men stands at 16%, while Latino and Asian men stand at 7% each. Still too high, but nowhere near their White counterparts.

No. I think there is something deeper and far more sinister.

Now before we start, I am going to say this: the majority of White men don't want to kill anybody. Just like anybody else. No, you don't have to go fearing for your lives. No, you don't have to go hiding from your coworkers. Odds are you will not run into a mass murderer tomorrow (prayerfully) any other day.

But it is very interesting that of all mass murderer's, White men make up over HALF of perpetrators. Why?

Spoiler alert: I think it's toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is defined as " a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression. It’s the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness; where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly “feminine” traits – which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hyper-sexual – are the means by which your status as “man” can be taken away." Toxic masculinity, in essence, is all of the gross ways we as a culture have come to define manhood. Over sexed, angry, aggressive, violent

You can see where this is going, right? But toxic masculinity can effect men of all ethnicities. 

Along with easy access to guns, another, less discussed element to all of this is entitlement. And I'm not the only one who thinks so, there are entire bodies of study that agree, including a study done by Eric Madfis that concludes that:

"...the triple privileges of white heterosexual masculinity which make subsequent life course losses more unexpected and thus more painfully shameful ultimately buckle under the failures of downward mobility and result in a final cumulative act of violence to stave off subordinated masculinity."

Or in other words, when kids like the 17 year old student of Santa Fe High school get repeatedly turned down for a romantic relationship with a fellow classmate, rather than taking the "L", he would rather take the lives of 10 people, physically injure 18, and emotionally harms entire community in order to save face. Because how dare this young woman, who he did murder, reject him (who will not be named or glorified here with good reason). Same for the man in Toronto who blamed being a "involuntary celibate" or "incel" on no woman wanting so sleep with him and, thus decided to mow down a group of women walking around with his van. Because how dare women.

Toxic masculinity along with entitlement make for very dangerous conditions.

Most data collected begins in 1982. But being a person of color, particularly African American, I have within my DNA the horror stories of some of the most deplorable violence faced in this nation's history, and can find their roots in both toxic masculinity and entitlement.

The violence of White Men comes as no surprise to Black folk. Slavery itself was brutal and monstrous enough to prove that. Antebellum white men weren't exactly recording their violence and brutality against people that were only considered 3/5ths of a human being.

But even following abolition, there are plenty of examples of White brutality against Black people.

Whether it's the Charleston Church shooting (where 9 souls were lost following a prayer meeting), the Tulsa race riot and bombing of Black Wall Street (where in 1921 an estimated 250 Black people were murdered while 8000 were left homeless), The Elaine massacre (where in 1919, 249 Black people were killed for simply protesting poor wages), The Colfax massacre (where in 1873 a militia of White Men murdered at least 150 unarmed Black men, women, and children), the 1864 Fort Pillow massacre in Tennessee (when Confederate troops slew 164 black soldiers who were surrendering, which counts as a war crime), the same for 1864 Saltville Massacre in Virginia (where confederates murdered wounded unnumbered Black soldiers), or the Rosewood massacre (where, in 1923, a white woman lied about a Black Man raping her which resulted in the murder of as many as 150, but the official count is six), or the state sanctioned murder of Black people, mostly unarmed, by police officers, or walking into a Waffle house on a weekend and killing 4 people of color, for Black people, violent white men are nothing new.

Them killing each other en mass here in the U.S., however, is. Many folks point to the Sandy Hook massacre of young children and teachers as where they thought the tide would turn. People of color included. We saw the murder of those little children and their teachers in a peaceful and affluent town and thought there is no way the NRA or gun enthusiasts will survive this.

That was 5 and a half years ago.

Since then, there have been 1,686 mass shootings.

The U.S. makes up only about 4.4 percent of the world's population, but has 42 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. And not one new law has been created by this new administration, in fact, laws that were in place were repealed, making it easier for people to get their hands on guns.

In addition to all of this, quiet as it's kept, there are more young white men and boys being radicalized by homegrown terrorist groups than any other terrorist groups abroad. J.M. Berger's study on terrorism published in 2016 found that white nationalists recruited far more people than their Islamic counterparts, saying "On Twitter, ISIS’s preferred social platform, American white nationalist movements have seen their followers grow by more than 600 percent since 2012. Today, they outperform ISIS in nearly every social metric, from follower counts to tweets per day."". These radicalizations fueled some of the most violent mass shootings, such as the Charleston and Parkland shootings.

However, these radicalized young men still do not about for the majority of White male mass murderers throughout history. Many, unfortunately, don't have a motive beyond pure violence and inflicting great sorrow and terror on the community and country.

After reading through all of the research, the data, and studies, I feel no closer to an answer that would satisfy me. But I think that's the point. I cannot fathom taking a weapon and "punishing" someone by taking their life from them. I don't feel entitled to take someone's life, let alone mass groups of people. Most of the people I know, including White men, are the same way. We really cannot wrap our minds around the humanity one must lose in order to take a gun into an office, a movie theatre, a concert, or a school and one-by-one take people's lives.

But that's the point where we should be. Nothing should satisfy us. Nothing should make us feel any better by these violent acts of terror. We should be outraged. We should be indignant. And we should take that indignation, that passion for peace in our streets, our communities, and especially our schools, and use that as the bridge over all that is set up to divide us, and say to our leaders, our government, and any bodies that would blame these violent acts on anything other than easy access to the most destructive weapons in human history that we have had enough and that it is time for some hard talks and real, tangible change.

That would make America great.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Mass school shootings are too normalized

My sister called me while I was downstairs picking up packages. I called her back as soon as I retuned to my apartment, dropping the packages on my couch. "Guess why I am calling you." she said as soon as I answered. "Another school shooting."

My heart sank in my chest. The same way it sank earlier this year when I heard of other school shootings, one of them, Parkland High School, happened on my birthday.

When I went to the news to look for more details, I couldn't find any. Nothing on any of my local stations. Soap operas and court shows. You would think a school shooting, where children are actively being massacred would be news. So, like any millennial, I went to Twitter. After some scrolling, I finally found something.
Why did I have to scroll so long? Why isn't this a big deal? Were is the news?

Is this still news? This being the 22nd school shooting in our nation in only 5 months, I guess, doesn't make the cut (you know, like the royal wedding or some drama with reality stars.)

If 'only' one life is lost in these shootings, it's one life too many. Someone's baby went to school this morning and will not be coming home. And that thought alone is too much.

Not too long ago, I wrote a piece on being a Christian and how callous the term "thoughts and prayers" is following these nightmarish events, that it would almost be better to not say anything at all. Because of the inaction of those we have elevated to places of leadership, I have had to recycle that piece over and over.

We know this cycle. We know the NRA or some trash politician will come and make some faux-sad  address denouncing the slaughter and they will finish by telling us now is not the time to talk about gun reform. (Meanwhile, they have so much blood staining their hands, not even if they used every dollar they were profiting off of to keep gun reform laws at bay to wipe their hands, it would not be enough.)

This is America. Where we care more for the antiquated amendment written when guns could only hold one pellet and there was actual threat of invasion than for the lives of our people. For the lives of our children. Our future is literally being destroyed before our eyes, and all we can say is "now is not the time"?

But now IS the time, whether its street violence or mass school shootings in the suburbs, now is the time we not only talked about it, but we actually did something about it.

And those thoughts and prayers should lead to action. I believe in thoughts and prayers, wholeheartedly. But tossing the statement at any tragedy without a corresponding action to back it up is actually thoughtless. Authentic thinking, the act of cerebrally processing information, and sincere praying, the act of speaking to God about what is happening and what to do about it, lead to action.

It's time for some action, y'all.

Reclaimed Readables

Happy Friday beauts and beaus!

Today's Readables close out another week and feature 7 affordable incredible weekend trips you can book right now, 47 cheap and chic summer dresses, 21 swimsuits perfect for big boobs, Balmain dresses Black Actresses that challenge racism at Cannes, and 5 Celeb approved protective styles for summer.

Refinery29: Balmain dresses Black Actresses that challenge racism at Cannes, 5 Celeb approved protective styles for Summer
Hello Giggles: 7 affordable incredible weekend trips you can book right now, 21 swimsuits perfect for big boobs
Buzz Feed: 47 cheap and chic summer dresses

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Social Media and Social Justice: How trolling racists makes America great

Social media may be a lot of things, but recently social is being used in a different, more impactful way other than just capturing selfies and outfit shots.

Social media is now being used in an unexpected but beneficial way of discussing injustice. Just look up the hashtag #livingwhileblack and you're timeline will be flooded with stories and even videos of moments Black people have experienced racism. That is how we first saw the 2 men in Philadelphia be arrested at Starbucks a month ago. That is how we observed the ridiculousness of the AirBnb tenants interrogated by police who were called by a nosy neighbor because the young Black women in question didn't smile and wave at her. (I feel like there is a full blogpost to be written about that.)

But social media is not only capturing these moments, it's also capturing bigots in the act of bigotry as well. Racists of all shapes and sizes have been empowered and unleashed to spew their hatred and bigoted ways upon the rest of the well meaning populous. It only makes sense for us to capture them and troll them online for the world to see how absolutely foolish racism actually is.

The latest features Dr. Jennifer Schulte, formerly of Stanford University and currently of Environmental Resource Management in Walnut Creek, Ca. If Dr. Jenn looks familiar to you, it's probably because she is the woman who called the police on a Black family in a public park who happened to be grilling some lunch. Schulte was then approached, not by the family she previously berated, but by another white woman who recorded her (and her award winning teary eyed performance for the police officer who arrived on the scene.)

If that still doesn't ring a bell but the face is still familiar, its probably because you have seen one of the many memes now springing up with Dr. Jenn's face and phone.

"Hello, officer? There is a Black man in the White House."
The meme, now entitled #BBQBecky, is beyond viral, invading our newsfeeds and group chats and making us cackle at the causcasity. Dr. Jenn has literally now become the representative face of White people calling the police upon people of color who are guilty of nothing but living. 

Speaking of a very public, almost painful social media dragging, and what about Aaron Schlossberg, a well known lawyer in Manhattan, who instead of just picking up his lunch and keeping his racism to himself, berated the staff of the Fresh Kitchen for speaking Spanish?

Yeah, you read that correctly. Apparently Schlossberg felt personally offended that people who weren't even speaking to him dared to be speaking another language near him. In New York. In these United States.

Ironically, and hilariously discovered by the Twitter detective agency, the Schlossberg law firm site

Social Media had a field day with Schlossberg. So much so, in fact, that his offices had to take down its Facebook. Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree, propelling Aaron into internet infamy with literally thousands of comments and retweets. Even Google got in on the fun, changing the Schlossberg law firm into a Spanish Restaurant for a time.

Offline, there are currently multiple calls for Schlossberg disbarment.

If these last few incidents have proven anything, it is that racism isn't secluded to the ignorant. Yes, even the very educated can be racist. But this is no surprise to people of color, who have dealt with white supremacy for centuries. If not longer.

But these incidents also teach us the power of social media. Isolated incidents in Oakland and Manhattan have now spread throughout the nation, if not the globe, rapidly. These perpetrators of hate not only had their faces, but their names and professions shared with the world. If they are bold enough to blatantly and brazenly be hateful to people, why not propel them to the racist stardom that brazen and blatant hatred deserves?

And that is what social media does. With each hashtag, meme, and post, we are creating a culture that not only rejects hatred anywhere it shows its ugly face, but we are actively making it into a joke, showing the ultimate stupidity bigotry is steeped in. The more ridiculous these meltdowns of hate are, the less attractive they become. Maybe taking down racism en mass isn't the way we should be going about it. Maybe we should redirect our energies to calling it out one by one. As Amanda Seales calls it, it's like "racist whack-a-mole."

Let's face it, Schlossberg and Schulte's behavior captured and made viral will have a real world consequences. And these two are not the only ones, they jus happen to be the latest. A simple Google search yields abundant results of people who have suffered or are currently suffering the effects of their own racism.

Nobody wants to be the face of a bigoted meltdown. Nobody wants to lose their credibility, reputations, or jobs over poor decisions displayed publicly. Racists are being 'called to the mat' to atone for their hate filled ways in the court of popular opinion and being found wanting.

That is what our collective voices (and tweets, posts, memes, etc) have made the cost of hate.

Now, bigots must decide if they are willing to pay it.


Reclaimed Readables

Today's Readables feature the financial behavioralist that is helping women become better with their money, a money diarist on living with schizophrenia, how to avoid going over budget on your summer vacay, 10 of your most pressing financial questions answered by a financial advisor, and 5 financial apps you should have.

Curly Nikki: The financial behavioralist that is helping women become better with their money
My Domaine: 10 of your most pressing financial questions answered by a financial advisor, 5 financial apps you should have
Refinery 29: A money diarist on living with schizophrenia, avoiding going over budget on your summer vacay

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Reclaimed Readables #WomanCrushWednesday

This week's #WomanCrushWednesday features the Black Woman challenging the White Male dominated tech industry, the blog that will help you dress like Meghan Markle for a fraction of the price, Rihanna teases new Fenty Beauty releases, real wellness tips from real women across the U.S., and the mother-daughter duo celebrating Black culture through fashion.

Huff Post: The Black Woman challenging the White Male dominated tech industry
BuzzFeed: This blog that will help you dress like Meghan Markle for a fraction of the price
The Cut: Rihanna teases new Fenty Beauty releases
Byrdie: Real wellness tips from real women across the U.S.
Fashionista: The mother-daughter duo celebrating Black culture through fashion

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The High Cost Truth about Free(thinking)

There has been a lot of chatter around the term freethinking lately.

The word Freethinker originally finds itself in religious roots, originally defined as "one who rejects or is skeptical of religious dogma". The word had evolved to mean "a person who thinks freely or independently : one who forms opinions on the basis of reason independently of authority". In order to be able to think freely, one must be presented with information by which to form one's own free thought.

Kanye West is not a Freethinker, by definition or otherwise. Like the current president, Kanye is an ego driven man who is poorly read and educated upon actual facts (as opposed to alternative ones). Kanye relishes in the fact that he doesn't read, therefore relishes in ignorance. Reading, an exercise proven to increase intelligence and brain power, this self appointed genius scoffs at. Which begs the question: How can one be a freethinker when you really have no information about which to think?

I digress...

Kanye's rhetoric is not only blatantly inaccurate, it is dangerous. Right now, the current president and Mr. West are not the only two who are poorly educated on actual history of their nation. There is already a large percentage of the U.S. population who have had their small minded and bigoted views affirmed by this administration and have, in essence, been freed to violently and aggressively parade these views in a way not seen in this magnitude since the end of civil rights. These hate filled people already believe weird and strange things about slavery, the type of things that lead teachers in these areas to assign their students to find the positives of slavery,  dangerous history editing

The truth is that the “freethought” that the MAGA hate group and skin folk such as Candice Owens, Diamond and Silk, and now Kanye hold as a tenant allowing for unfiltered random and incoherent brain spew was historically associated with progressive movements for social change. Not these overly individualistic provocateurs who think that “freethought” is simply the endless and unedited stream of asinine and ill informed thoughts that wind through their minds. Unlike the aforementioned group, these freethinkers actually allowed and even encouraged various opinions in order to better inform their dialogue.

What needs to happen with this dangerous rhetoric is that it needs to be directly challenged. Following a recent interview with TMZ, Kanye asked (read: beg of the approval of ) the staff during an "off camera" segment of mostly young white people, "Do you feel that I’m being free and I’m thinking free?" (side note, if you were really thinking free, would you need to ask anyone about it?) Van Lathan, a senior producer TMZ, responded, "I actually don’t think you are thinking anything. While you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice." Van perfectly exemplified the only response (not reaction) to these faux freethinkers, presenting facts.
That being said, here are some facts for Mr West and his MAGA skin folk to chew on:

Slavery was not a "choice" for people of the diaspora.

Many captured Africans took their own lives by throwing themselves from slave ships during the nightmare known as the Middle Passage. These Africans chose their own death rather than the uncertain life ahead. It is estimated that at least 14 million Africans died during the Middle Passage. So prevalent was this suicide, that even today, there are great white sharks that follow the original paths of those slave ships.

The first all Black slave revolt recored in the U.S. was in 1672.

Since then, there were an estimated 250 slave revolts recorded before abolition in 1865.

The Stono revolt of 1739 is deemed the bloodiest revolt in American History. 20 Blacks stole weapons and supplies before heading to Spanish held Florida from South Carolina. As they travelled, the group grew into 100 Blacks. They were confronted by a local militia where many of the 100 were caught and executed.

The most famous of these slave revolts was one lead by Nat Turner beginning August 22nd of 1831. That revolt lead to the execution of over 60 Black people, including Turner.

The Amistad slave ship revolt of 1839 saw 53 captured Africans kill all of the ships crew save two who promised to steer the ship back to Africa. The ship lingered for 2 months before docking in Long Island and the captured Africans entered a court battle that would see them liberated and returned to Africa in January of 1842.

The Civil War saw multiple slave uprisings beginning in 1859 in Mississippi, with uprisings were reported in West Virginia, Virginia, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois and North Carolina that same year.

The only thing that brought an end to these violent uprisings, revolts and conspiracies was the defeat of the Confederates.

And none of these events take into consideration the many Blacks who either attempted to successfully escaped slavery to freedom everyday form the first Africans brought on to U.S. soil until the day before emancipation.

Seems to me that the choice for these brave ancestors was very clear, and slavery was not an option.

These violent and desperate measures clearly demonstrate the high cost these Black people were willing to pay for their freedom. The choices that they made were harder than any Mr. West will ever have to make. The facts are that these people chose to run, fight, or whatever they must have in order to be free. They chose to risk life and limb for the chance at liberty.

These people sought freedom in order for us, their descendants, to even have the ability to think free.

Facts one would know and dare never to question if one was truly a freed thinker.

I have one more question for Mr West: can freethinking truly be considered "free" if you're a slave to White opinion?

*Mic drop.*

Reclaimed Readables #TuesdayShoesDay

This week's #TuesdayShoesDay features the number one shoes of summer 2018, the best foot peels under $20, the toe ring sandals that are going to replace your flip flops, shoes that pair well with your favorite jeans, and 3 hacks for removing gum off your shoes.

The best foot peels under $20
The number one shoes of summer 2018
The toe ring sandals that are going to replace your flip flops
Shoes that pair well with your favorite jeans
3 hacks for removing gum off your shoes