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#WifeyMaterial

Welcome to The Curvy Christian Hashtag series where I pick one of the latest trending hashtags and share my perspective on it.


Welcome to the 21st century were you can find “The One”  by swiping right on an app. But before you swipe right or ask someone on a date, what are the things that you’re look for in a potential significant other?

The other day I was talking to this guy and we seemed to be really hitting it off. We had similar backgrounds and communication styles. But then came THE question that I always get without fail: “Are you a good cook?” Now it’s not a bad question to ask in itself, but you’d think that we’ve progressed enough as society that women don’t get asked that question within minutes of meeting someone. If the woman’s answer is “no,” then it’s almost as if something clicks in his head whispering that “No way that this girl could be #WifeyMaterial.”

So this got me start thinking, in a world of dating apps and hashtags, what does the term #WifeyMaterial even mean? (Men, stay with me. This is good for you to read too).

When I hear #WifeyMaterial, I usually hear it in the context of a woman who is “put-together,” a bit more conservative in the way she dresses and behaves, and an all-star cook with an obsessive passion for cleaning. The same can go with guys. Ladies traditionally might expect a man to have a six-pack, be 6 feet tall, know how to fish and hunt, be super outgoing, etc. Those qualities are great on paper, but in reality, are all of those qualities actually necessary to make a relationship work? Or at least, are they necessary to make the RIGHT relationship for YOU work? Also, is the term #WifeyMaterial (sorry guys, there’s no trending #HubbyMaterial hashtag) a term that we should be using to describe anyone at all? So many questions.

To answer the last question – the phrase #WifeyMaterial itself can be pretty problematic because a woman is not material or any kind of object to begin with so to refer to her as such is, in my opinion, to demean her and disregard her humanity and wholeness as an individual. (*Whew you probably weren’t expecting that. Take some space to process and breathe here if necessary*).

When some people use the phrase “#WifeyMaterial,” they truly have good intentions. But what I’ve found more often than not is that it’s used as a tool to compare women against other women. To deem some worthy of marriage and others unworthy based on immaterial, and at times even irrelevant, criteria. These assumptions are usually made without even getting to know the individual first. And that’s never okay.

Now on to the other question. Is it necessary for women (or any partner) to possess the full laundry list of “traditional” qualities to make a relationship work? That’s an easy answer. NO. A person shouldn’t have to assimilate to one boxed up role or a list of qualities in order to become a “good partner.” And let’s not assume that everyone’s goal is to get married one day. Especially women. Women can have goals that don’t include marriage. That’s just a fact. I know, I know. Shocking.

In short, there are so many different kinds of women that are capable of way more that just cooking, cleaning and looking pretty. That’s not what defines us. And that’s not what determines how good of a spouse we’ll be (if that’s even what we want to be).

So what does it take to be a good partner? Well I believe that’s for your future partner to decide. Commitment, communication and intentionality with a whole lot of love at its core are required to make any kind of relationship thrive, but there’s no checklist or hashtag that can perfectly define the other stuff for you. To me, a couple should balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They should be stronger together. A team that doesn’t fit a cookie-cutter description of what a relationship should look like in terms of roles in the home or qualities that he/she must possess. They just need to be RIGHT for each other. It should just work. And it is work.

Yep, before we go any further, know that relationships are work. It’s not just a happily ever after story. Marriage especially is a daily decision you make forever to love someone else to the best of your ability — in good times and in bad. And that’s why it’s problematic to so narrowly define what would make a good husband or wife. Marriage is too big of a deal to be so dismissive of its weight and limit it to a pre-defined hashtag.

So men and women, I urge you to commit to more. Commit to making an effort to not assume anything of anyone and to not constraining them to societal roles. Commit to viewing each other as fully human with unique qualities to bring to the table. Commit to loving without limiting. Commit to joining forces with your significant other to be the best partner you can be. And commit to bring out the best in each other and be better versions of yourselves.

Curveball: You may have noticed that the laundry list that usually comes to mind when we think of “the perfect partner” typically refers to acquired skills and doesn’t speak to the character of the person. And that’s part of the problem.

How to Catch the Curveball: If you want to be in a serious relationship one day, here’s what I want you to do if you haven’t already – Take a step back. Write a list of characteristics that are absolutely crucial for your future partner. Then write down another list of qualities that would be “nice to have,” but aren’t as necessary to make the relationship work.

Then, do the same for yourself. What qualities do you think you’d want to give to a relationship? And what skills or qualities would you want to acquire before committing to a person that you don’t have yet but would still be “nice to have” before taking that big step?

This way, you have a clear idea of & an active role in what it is you’re looking for in yourself and in another person.

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#LivingMyBestLife

Welcome to The Curvy Christian Hashtag series where I pick one of the latest trending hashtags and share my perspective on it.


It seems like you can’t leisurely scroll through Instagram nowadays without someone saying that they’re “living their best life.” Those posts are usually accompanied with a picture of them on a sandy beach somewhere or at a music festival  with a mimosa in one hand and a designer bag in the other.

I believe that every moment of wonder, every positive memory and every new accomplishment should be celebrated in order to live our lives to the fullest. Celebrating all things big and all things small. But at the same time, the #livingmybestlife hashtag reflects a lot that’s wrong with the social media culture.

Like most of social media, this hashtag is mainly used to show the highlight reel and not the real stuff underneath. It’s highly possible that the “best life” isn’t something that can be captured on an iPhone 8 with a perfectly formatted caption, 3 emojis and 50 hashtags. It’s more likely that the best parts of your life are hidden behind the scenes. In the ordinary things. Very rarely do you see #livingmybestlife associated with a normal everyday life moment, like going shopping at Target, cuddling your babies, gathering up the guts to say hi to your crush or having a meaningful coffee date with a close friend.

Sure, not every part of your life needs to be posted on social media. But we should aim to be more authentic in the way that we define our ideal life. Bill Murray said it like this, “Social media is training us to compare our lives, instead of appreciating everything we are.”

Not everyone that claims to be living their best life, really is. Which is all the more reason to stop idolizing other people’s lives because we think they have it all and instead start living our lives contently because we appreciate all that we have. The truth is that some people are living their lives to the fullest and others are just faking it for the trend.

I’m sure there’s a way to live your best life, but it would probably look a lot different from the way we’ve been painting it. Living your best life should mean living your healthiest life – mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally. Your best life should be described as your happiest life – full of laughter, love and little loneliness. Living your best life should mean waking up everyday knowing that you have purpose to walk in for today and tomorrow.

And yes, your best life still might mean processing pain and disappointment, struggling with family drama, your next steps on your career path, and much more. No one can have the perfect life. Don’t let someone else tell you that your life is perfect when only you know what’s really going on behind the scenes. Stay in YOUR path to fulfillment. Only you can determine what your “best life” actually looks and feels like. It’s has little to do with material things and everything to do with the intangible.

If you are truly living out your definition of your best life, don’t boast outright about it. Instead recognize your blessings and pull others up. Turn your losses into lessons. Live your life honestly. Surround yourself with lots of love. With people who will celebrate your success and not hoard jealousy in their hearts.  Lead by example. Show those around you how you can realistically live a happy life in a healthy way.

Let’s all aim to live our best lives, but not at the cost of our own sanity. Let’s aim to fully appreciate the life we’ve been given and let it be the truest version that we could possible imagine and not what society or social media deems to be the best for us.

Curveball: A lot of the people who you think are living their best lives are actually struggling silently and actually aren’t as happy as they appear.

How to Catch the Curveball: Hit the pause button. No one is THAT busy that they can’t check on your friends that seem to be “living their best life.” And if that person is you, please please also check on yourself. Have an accountability partner. Seek out a therapist. A helpline. We must press pause long enough to see ourselves and others clearly without any Instagram filters, but rather for who we really are.


BONUS because I love Chance the Rapper, Cardi B, and this topic:

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What if Your BEST Move was to Just Stay in Your Lane?

The other day, I was driving home after a long day at work and there was a car ahead of me that kept weaving lanes. Every few seconds, the driver would switch lanes back and forth between lanes in an effort to get ahead and beat traffic. But you know what? No matter how much maneuvering the driver did, he didn’t make it to his destination any faster than if he would’ve stayed in his lane. He stayed two cars away from me the whole time.

And that got me thinking: What if we stopped trying so hard to speed along life the way we see fit and instead started driving steadily in our own lane?


lane

lān/

noun

noun: lane; plural noun: lanes

1. a narrow road, especially in a rural area.
"she drove along the winding lane"

synonyms: road, street, byroad, byway

2. a division of a road marked off with painted lines 
and intended to separate single lines of traffic 
according to speed or direction.
"the car accelerated and moved into the outside lane"

synonyms: track, way, course

Lanes aren’t meant to restrict you. Lanes are meant to regulate traffic “according to speed and direction.” People are free to swerve into other lanes lane. There’s definitely room to do that, but it’s not necessarily always for their good or for the good of those around them. We can avoid catastrophic collisions by going the right speed, heading in the right direction and staying in our lane.

Think about people in politics who once had successful careers in other spaces, such as medicine, but now are losing traction since they switched courses. Think of your unhappy family member who started working at the bank because of the promise of a good paycheck even though their passion is actually in the arts. Sometimes it’s really clear that something isn’t for you. I believe that there’s a lane marked out for you in this life that you should do your best to run faithfully even when it’s hard.

Two distinct and very popular verses come to mind when I think of this, “for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11) and the passage in Matthew 7:4 warning that the narrow road is the best way to go, but it’s not an easy one and only few find it.

These passages seem to indicate that there is a blueprint mapped out for us that lead us to a good life. However, there might be different ways to approach the map to get to your final destination. In fact, it might actually take some genuine searching and trial-and-error to discover your way. But  I believe you’re one of the few that will find it. And once you do, you’ll probably find that the path ahead of you is narrow and hard. Nevertheless, there is still much to be gained by staying on that path through thick and thin.

Because as long as your heart is still beating, you have a purpose and path for your life.

So get to know your lane intimately and own it. Walk in it confidently. There’s lots of adventure and possibility to be found in your lane. You can know that you have event coordination skills, but not quite know if you want to be a wedding planner or a celebrity publicist. You can pursue a career in comedy, but end up exploring stand-up, screenwriting and acting options. Our lanes can be narrow and yet still overflowing with room for opportunity, discovery and growth.

It’s so easy to try to bulldoze and strategize our own way through life, like the car that I mentioned earlier that was speeding along without much progress. Do not get me wrong. Planning and maneuvering around obstacles are good things, but it might be more work for little reward if you’re on a course without clear guard rails or goals.

Another way to say it is: Treat life like a marathon. Go for the long run. Keep the finish line in mind along the way. Be purposeful and mindful of each step you take. Get creative with ways to keep yourself energized about the journey. There’ are both wins and obstacles to be found on your path. Don’t feel the need to rush. Pace yourself. Just do your best to stay on track and run your course.

So let’s ask ourselves, what if we just stayed in our lane? What if we purposefully trusted God’s plan, including his speed and direction, instead of trying to create our own? What if we actively leaned in to Him, The One who holds the blueprints, to ask what our next best step is on our path to success? What if we treated life more like a  marathon and not a race? I truly believe this is where we’ll start to discover the best version of ourselves.

Curveball: Before you can even stay in your lane, you first have to find it. And finding your path/passion is the hardest first step.

How to Catch the Curveball: Take some time this week to reflect on the path you’re on and the path you feel like you’re supposed to take. It’s okay if you get it wrong. And it’s okay if it takes some time to get the full revelation. But do the proper soul-searching, ask God and even start asking people close to you that you trust for guidance.

If you already know your lane, then determine what the next step or the next connection is that you need to develop in order to help you on your journey.

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Two Different Dreams: The American Dream and MLK’s Dream

The American Dream: The set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success. A promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people. Rooted in the belief stated in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that “all men are created equal.

My parents chased this dream from Ghana, a beautiful West African nation known for its natural vibrancy, bright kente colors, friendly people, and of course, its gold and cocoa resources. It’s overflowing with business opportunities that many Americans take advantage of. Conversely, many Ghanaians also go to America for opportunities. Some, like my parents legally moved to America to get a higher education. Entertainers such as Kofi Siriboe, Boris Kodjoe and Idris Elba are of Ghanaian heritage and are talented actors that are shaking the industry (and melting hearts with their tall, dark and handsome optics). The new Chief Brand Officer of Uber, Bozoma Saint John, is a proud, strong Ghanaian woman who is taking the business world by storm.

There are so many people from the African diaspora that are thriving in their homeland and/or outside of it. In fact, even their existence is a blessing to society. Yes, that’s right. Even though it’s beautiful to see the accomplishments that many in the diaspora have earned, many people have found it necessary to lead conversations with their qualifications in order to justify their worth to American society. It’s admirable and even inspiring, but just not quite necessary in these contexts.

But I digress. Here we are in 2018, enjoying a 3-day holiday to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – a man who dedicated his life to eradicating the racial tensions of the United States and instituting freedom for African Americans in many arenas. He stood up for the marginalized. He stood up for Black people, who like my parents, Idris, and Saint John, had a dream but just weren’t given the opportunities to pursue it or the infrastructure to thrive in it.

In his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King said:

“It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment….In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

To put it in the words of Michelle Obama, the wife of President Barack Obama, “When they go low, we go high” even when it’s hard. In fact, without Dr. King, it might even be fair to say that the 44th president wouldn’t have been the first African American U.S. President. And  yet, even still, Dr. King’s dream hasn’t been achieved just yet. Just days ago, the 45th U.S. President said and I quote: 

“Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?”.

He was referring to people from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and African countries in the temporary protected status program. Beautiful people of all shades of black and brown that contribute so much to society and aren’t deserving of such comments no matter their status.

(If you want some statistics about that, check out this video.)

Talk about going low. It’s quite ironic that this country that takes pride in calling itself the “melting pot” has a leader who seemingly does not see the value-add that lawful residents of this country intrinsically bring to the table. But I guess it’s not too surprising:

There are schools in the south that just got integrated (or are still segregated due to gentrification). There are people still being lynched, beat up and killed because of the color of their skin. There are countless Black men incarcerated for selling weed and yet countless white people starting weed businesses, illegally or legally, because it’s “trendy” and inconsequential to their livelihood.

So yeah, I guess I can’t be surprised that America still isn’t completely practicing what it preaches, but that doesn’t mean that I am not saddened by the hypocrisy of it all.

America says, “all are welcome to this beautiful melting pot of a country, but only if you meet our ‘standard’ image.”

America says “we need to protect ourselves from people south of our border,” and simultaneously “oh look how hospitable they were on our gorgeous Cabo vacation.”

America says, that this is the “land of opportunity,” but “we are not going to pay men and women at the same rate.”

America says that “African countries are sh**holes,” but hasn’t cleaned up the water in Flint, or sent enough help to the flood and hurricane victims in Puerto Rico or fixed our homeless problem.

America says that we were founded on the message of hope and freedom, but chooses to forget that they had to take away the freedom and livelihood of a whole people group to get there.

America says, “In God we trust,” but doesn’t even follow the foundational biblical practice of “Loving your neighbor as yourself.”

Dr. King worked tirelessly with generals like John Lewis to make sure that the light, freedom and equality championed by the civil rights movement would prevail. They did not fight for the “American Dream” as we know it today. My hope is that many of us would continue the fight that they started. Furthermore, my hope is that one day soon America will sing a different song, a song that rings true to Dr. King’s Dream. 

America will say, “every nation, faith, origin, creed is welcome here, is safe here, is home here” (and mean it).

America will admit to its sins and its flaws while providing reconciliation and reparations where needed.

America will take the plank out of its own eye before judging another group of people for the speck in their eye.

America will lead by example in all that it does. And treat all people equally and with utmost respect.

That’s the America I hope to one day live in. I, too, have a dream. (And although the focus is on America right now, the dream is not just for America but the world at large).

The U.S. has painted itself as the ideal – the place for freedom and opportunity for people of all races, ethnicities, religions and other identities – and yet ostracizes the very people that are a result of this “American Dream.” As I say regularly, I love my country. I’m a proud American and this is my home to stay. But it’s important to correct the things that you love. So I’m here to say that the “American Dream” that we are living out today is NOT the Dream that Martin Luther King Jr. was referring to. The ideal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has to be a reality for all people for it to be true for a whole nation.

So we have some work to do, America.

Let’s start with our day-to-day lives. Let’s commit to radical change in our communities. To not exploiting others for their resources/what they can offer but instead truly loving our neighbor as ourselves and working towards mutual edification. Lets commit to stepping out of our comfort zones and learning/living with people that are different than us. By having faith that this dream is achievable and taking the actions to back it up.

To put it simply, as Dr. King said, “Let’s not overlook the urgency of the moment.” We’ve got a dream to fulfill.

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Your Current Calling

Not all of us are doing what we’re called to do. At least not fully. At least not yet.

Some of us are working 9-5s, not to waste time or put off our dreams, but rather to build a foundation and skill-set to get us to where we’re supposed to be. Others are still in school or exploring what the next big move will be. So what are we supposed to do in the meantime? In the tension of it all.

I’d propose this: you live out your current calling.


In second grade, my teacher had the class memorize Colossians 3:23 and it says, “Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for men.”

You hear that? Whatever you do. Not just the things that you believe you’re called to do long-term. When you brush your teeth, you better do it for the Lord (and floss while you’re at it). If you’re in a job where you’re filing papers, you better do it for His glory too, even if you don’t fill like it’s contributing to “your ultimate calling.”

There’s this famous quote that says, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” And I’d argue, that this saying is missing a last phrase – “and do it well.”

Every step of your life has purpose and there something to be said about running your race and doing it well.


Here’s another perspective: if you don’t do it for the Lord, then my guess would be that you’re doing it to please other people or maybe even yourself. But I promise you that will only leave you longing for more, losing direction and leaning on a faulty pillar for support. Your identity isn’t found solely in your job and your future isn’t revealed just through your community of peers. I’d challenge you to look higher. Raise the bar.  What would happen if you stepped into your current situation with God in the forefront? Are you tracking?

What I am saying is that you should let God lead. If you do that, then where you are now is most likely where you’re supposed to be and is part of your road to even greater self-discovery. And while you’re on that journey, live out your day-to-day as if each day is your “current calling.”


Oh, and one last thing. While you’re taking it day by day, don’t lose sight of your “long-term calling.” By living out your current calling, every step you take should be one step closer to fulfilling your purpose. And in order to do that, you have to make time for what you are passionate about. In the midst of the everyday craziness, carve out time to dream, to plan and to take actions towards something bigger.


So live out your today with purpose and prepare for your tomorrow with patience and perseverance. Do everything with excellence, set the bar higher and don’t compare your “now” with someone else’s “later.” Yours is coming. But in the meantime, be faithful in the now.

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Dreams Aren’t Just Made For the Dark

Did you know that the dreams you have at night are meant to be lived out in the daytime?

So many people classify dreamers as airy and unrealistic thinkers. But I disagree. We all dream and so we're all "dreamers," but the difference is not all of us actually take action on our dreams. I don't aspire to be a dreamer, I aspire to be a world-changer and that only happens when I make my dreams come to life.

Albert Einstein ascribed the theory of relativity to a dream he had as a young boy.  Dr. Frederick Banting discovered insulin in his dream—and won a Nobel Prize. Stravinsky, Wagner, and Beethoven heard musical compositions, from fragments to entire canons, in their dreams. And Martin Luther King had a dream that we're still living out today.

Not convinced? Okay, let me take you to the world's bestseller then – The Bible.

One-third of The Bible would be irrelevant without dreams and the manifestation of dreams. In the Old Testament, Abraham had a dream that he would be a father of many nations, Jacob had a dream that Abraham's lineage would carry on through him, Joseph had a dream that his family would bow down to him (and he interpreted others' dreams that led to the fulfillment of his first dream). In the New Testament, Jesus' whole life was hinged on dreams. Joseph, his earthly father, had a dream that his son would be the Son of God and to therefore not divorce Mary, his pregnant fiancée. Joseph also had a dream that he had to flee to Nazareth because the king was going to kill firstborn boys.

If Joseph didn't act on those dreams, then Jesus' story wouldn't be as we know it today. If MLK Jr. didn't act on his dream, then America would be in even worse condition than it is today (oy vey!). Some of the world's greatest discoveries and joys would be non-existent if people didn't follow their dreams.

"Follow your dreams" isn't just some fluffy Disney quote, but a way of life. Keep a journal by your bed. Write down your dreams. Share them with people you trust so you can interpret them together and be held accountable for your actions. Take little steps here and there to make your dreams a reality because dreams were not meant to stay in the dark.

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, 
and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." 
- Harriet Tubman
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Whitelandia

I’ve never actually watched the show “Portlandia,” but I figured since I now live in this infamous city, that the title of this post was fitting. I live in Portland, which has been named one of THE whitest major city in America. It’s super progressive, but still super white, which I’ll touch on later.

I’ve been grappling with this reality for a while now and am becoming more and more aware that I am the overwhelming minority everywhere I go. (You know the universal head nod that black people give each other? Well where I live, I want to take it one step further and just straight up hug any melaninated strangers.) Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic. There are black people here. But coming from Atlanta, the demographics here have taken a bigger toll on me than I expected. At the same time, I’m thankful. I love my city. And I love all the people I’ve met. My friends (mostly white because duh) are so genuine and I wouldn’t want to do this season of life without them.

That being said, I still have some qualms I need to work through in this new environment. This is not meant to be passive aggressive. Take it more as perspective or better yet, an open letter to my white friends in Portland and beyond:

Dear White People (whom I love very much),

Let’s start light. Firstly, I may say it’s okay to touch my hair, but it’s not. I may smile and nod when you generalize Africa because of your one missions trip experience, but let me remind you that Africa is a very diverse continent, not a country. Oh and I care about your sunburns (kind of), but just know I can’t relate or contribute to those daily conversations about how much sun you got.

Whew okay so now on to the real stuff. I love that you’re progressive, but just know that you live in a bubble. A very white bubble.

Your protests are great. Your “wokeness” is cute. But what are you fighting for if you aren’t challenged to live out your fight daily? I say this in love, BUT you’re not even around people of color enough to even practice racial reconciliation. You march down the very streets and shop at the very “hip” stores that were once black-owned (*cough cough gentrification*). I love Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Alberta Street as much as the next person but I’m also acutely aware that most of those establishments have displaced people like me and pushed them out of the city. What good is progress when it contributes to the cycle of injustice?

Dear White people, know that as a black woman, I don’t feel safe everywhere. That I’m going to be unapologetically me. Know that a lot of times I’m uncomfortable. And yet I feel like I have to be more comfortable in my skin than the average white person just to prove myself. Like I have to either stand out by the mere color of my skin or stand out on purpose based on how I act, dress, etc. Talk about unnecessary added pressure. Know that my story looks a lot different than yours. That I’m happy to share my experiences, but also not willing to be a token friend. Know that I’ll rock overalls and plaid shirts, but also big hoop earrings and box braids. Know that I love all people, but will never stop fighting for my people and other oppressed people.

So now for some encouragement. Keep learning about different cultures. Keep uplifting others. Keep being allies. Keep caring about the environment. Keep trying to be the best you you can be. But don’t forget that there’s more to do. That your hipster culture and progressive utopia aren’t perfect. That you have neighbors that don’t look like you that might not feel welcome in your spaces.

Progress doesn’t look like multiracial relationships, naming a street after Martin Luther King Jr. or putting black art in your restaurants. Progress looks like going the extra mile to include others. Caring as much about preserving black culture in your city as you did about protesting the transition of the first black president.

I love you Portland in all your white glory (lol) but being the majority means having power and as the great Ben Parker once said (well not in the most recent Spiderman movie but still relevant), “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.”

Oregon, much like the U.S. as a whole, hasn’t been very kind to black people in the past and the present. But you can still do something about the future. Use your power wisely.

With love,

A fellow (Black) Portlander

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What They Don’t Tell You About Life After College

Way too many people graduate college and almost immediately feel overwhelmed and underprepared for the real world that’s ahead of them. But then, they stay silent about their struggles because they say to themselves, “this is normal” and “everyone else has done it and somehow survived.”

Well I refuse to stay silent anymore. #Adulting is flat-out hard and nobody, not even school, prepares you for the real world. So to all the upcoming graduates, let me attempt to prepare you for some things that are coming your way.

1. Not everyone is going to see potential in you.

This was really hard for me to grasp. I think I’ve always been in an environment where people encouraged me, supported me and believed in me. However, when I stepped outside of the academic bubble where “self-care” and “brave spaces” were prominent, the world was not as kind.

It’s up to you to protect your identity. You have to know who you are and show the world that you matter. It can be easy to get swallowed up into the craziness of this world until you feel invisible. That’s why you have to find a community. I cannot emphasize this enough. Seek out people who will let you be you, encourage you and feed you spiritually and physically. Otherwise, you can get lonely, feel discouraged and go without free food.

I kid you not, these seem like small things but they’re really big changes especially because, in school, community was built-in and not something you truly had to seek out.

2. Bills. Bills. Bills.

The inevitable. They pile up like your roommate’s dirty laundry. I’m telling you. Bills are not a joke. Even if you were a business school student, nothing prepares you for the level of responsibility and will power it takes to budget and pay your bills on time. I’ve learned to update my budget every two weeks when I get my paycheck. And I set a coffee date up with myself the last weekend of every month to go through the list of bills that I owe and pay them off right there and then even it’s more than a week early. I don’t care. I need them gone and not collecting interest.

(P.S. If you’re relocating for a job or school, you’re going to have a ton of things to pay for before you even have the money to pay for it. Just another reason why budgeting is super crucial.)

3. Your friends are not a hop, skip and a jump away.

I really really took living in close proximity with my friends for granted. I had no idea that I’d be living on the other side of the country months after graduating. It’s so different to not see a familiar face everyday. It’s the little things like grabbing lunch at the cafe, running into each other on the way to class and impromptu nights out that make all the difference – the memories that you were unintentionally creating.

After graduation, friendship becomes even more intentional than it already is. And if the effort isn’t there, then you can easily lose your friend or at least the tight connection that you once had. I know this is something I’m actively working on getting better at.

You definitely have to take a good hard look in your circle and see what friends are worth keeping. You can’t be everyone’s friend anymore. Some people are going to have to go. There’s no more popularity contests, sororities or clubs. It’s all about true genuine ride-or-die friendships after school. You have to put in the work and find things to talk about other than classes and parties. And FYI if you’re not in the same state as your friends or alma mater, #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) can be so real and pretty emotional.

4. Politics becomes taboo.

Liberal arts colleges tend to be very open and free spaces to talk about politics, protest for social justice and debate on the change we so desperately need in this broken world, but for most people, they become more concerned with their career after graduation than the world around them making it very hard for progress to occur.

People feel like they have to be ten times more careful to make a peep about anything of substance if they want to keep their job or get into grad school. This is the time where a person is tested about what they really care about.  It’s extremely easy to fall into a trap where you don’t even watch the news anymore. Why? Well, there are no more structured dialogues happening. No Black Student Alliance events. And no protests outside your dorm room. Everything takes effort now.

Although the climate definitely changes post-grad, I’d highly recommend still doing the good work. It’s now where you have even more power (finances +influence) to make a difference in this messed up world.

5. You start to reevaluate your whole existence.

Life goes by so fast and so does college.

If you decide to take the summer off after graduation, it might not hit you right away that life has drastically changed. But if you take your next move, right after commencement, then you’ll start to feel the difference of living a new life and it will continue to hit you in waves.

And for that, I have some advice:

A lot of change will happen at once so the things that you can keep constant, do.

Do your best not to compare yourself to others because everyone has a different path to take. Everyone’s journey is uniquely made for them. And if we start comparing each other, then we stop enjoying our own journey.

Just do you, boo. Seriously. It’s tiring trying anything else.
So keep the faith, hold tight to your convictions, don’t compare your journey to others and never stop fighting for the things that matter. #youcandothis

 

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“The New Christian”

Spoiler alert: I’m a Christian. I know. It’s not like my blog title gave that away or anything. I’m no saint, but I do take my faith pretty seriously.

I’ve noticed a shift in what people perceive it takes to be a Christian.

On one side, I’ve noticed that, although Christians are not a minority, we’re not really embraced by the world either. But on the other side, I’ve noticed that being a Christian is now a loose term. It’s like when you tell your mom you’re studying, but you’re just saying that to make her happy. Your textbook is open, but you couldn’t really tell her what was in it. You just want to look the part to seem like you’re doing the right thing. Similarly, we want to do the bare minimum to be a Christian and be as close to the world as we can without going “too far.” For some reason, it’s now okay to live in unrepentant sin as long as you’re still quoting scriptures on Instagram.

Identifying as a Christian can’t be summed into 140 characters. It will never be trendy. The Bible isn’t some bill passed by government that can be revised as the world evolves.

The Word says that we should be in the world, but not of it. However, I’ve noticed that many Christians are obsessed with the world. Even if we’ve been “delivered,” we still happily reminisce about the “good ol’ days” and shrug when we slip up again. It’s like we don’t get convicted anymore. We’ve set our own standards that can easily be broken and adjusted based on how we feel. We mold our beliefs around our imperfections instead of shifting our focus to Jesus because of our imperfections.

The truth is that we all have our shortcomings, including me. But we don’t have to accept our shortcomings as permanent or even innate, instead we should try to pull ourselves as far away from these things as possible and push ourselves closer to all things holy.The fact that we are imperfect creatures should compel us even more to make righteousness our standard.

Because as much as we try, we’ll never be the one’s fully in control. If our standards don’t align with God’s,  we’re not redefining our religion, but instead living a life that deems Him unnecessary.

In summary, there’s no old and new Christianity.You can’t finesse your lukewarm faith and rename it “your truth’ or the “new Christianity.” There’s one God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. In our attempt to be make our beliefs fit the world’s, we’ve lost sight of this never-changing truth. Life with God is so much better than anything else this world has to offer, but first, you have to fully surrender to Him.

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Embracing My Curves: Beyond the Cat Calls

I was objectified like crazy growing up.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was. Guys would undress me with their eyes, call me thunder thighs, whistle when I walked by, and even whisper when I simply got up to sharpen my pencil in class. I can distinctly remember seeing the smirks on their faces every single time I made a move.

I didn’t believe there was any guy my age who would be interested in the non-physical parts of me.

And the sad reality is, I was okay with it. It’s disgusting to think about now, but it’s true. I have an amazing father figure in my life and I have always known my identity and never compromised my standards, and yet no guy my age had ever treated me differently so I embraced it. I knew my curves were poppin’ and I knew that’s how I’d get attention so I wore form-fitting clothes. And I didn’t even want to wear long shirts that would disguise my figure. Yep, I dressed for the male gaze.

When I got to college – a much bigger and freer environment – I realized that people weren’t looking at me the same way. Well …maybe they were my first year when I was a cheerleader, but after that, it wasn’t something I noticed as much. I was no longer in the confines of small classrooms with people I’d known forever. Everyone was a stranger and expected nothing of me and it was so freeing. I dressed for me. No one talked about my body (at least not blatantly). I could wear long free-flowing shirts, be comfortable and STILL get complimented.

But despite this feeling of liberation, my lens in which I viewed myself still had not completely shifted. The battle of the sexes, now became the battle within my mind. I started doubting my beauty because I wasn’t getting the attention I was accustomed to. And that uncomfortable feeling, at times,  turned into low self-esteem. So I started to examine my body closer to see what was wrong. Sure, I gained a few pounds here and there, but the curves were still there. Maybe it was the stretch marks. I hated my stretch marks. Stretch marks for me were a sign that I was fat and forever single. I would do whatever I could to cover it up. But then, I was reminded by the poet Propaganda that stretch marks are a sign of growth, of hard work, of my womanhood. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

I think at that point, there was nothing else on the exterior that I could point fingers at other than me. The real me. Deep within myself, I had let the objectification that I had experienced in the past determine how I defined myself. I had let what others thought of me become an idol – something that elevated above the important things. Once I realized that, I vowed to love myself first.

I’m not going to lie, I’m still getting over those years of objectification. I still find it difficult to imagine anyone being attracted to me without seeing my body first. I still question myself when I wear clothes that reveal my shape – I wonder whether I’m dressing this way for me or for someone guy’s attention. But it’s a process.

I’m learning that embracing my curves doesn’t necessarily mean showing them off all of the time, but it also doesn’t mean hiding them. I’m learning that there’s more to me than my body. And it’s been a fun journey discovering who that is. If you can relate to my story in any way, I hope you can join me on this journey too.