Raise Hell

Today, I spent 12 hours listening, talking, thinking, and learning about present day activism. With today only being pre-conference, it was amazing to think of how inspiring and energetic the rest of the week would be. We defined black girl magic, strategized how to weave activism into the classroom, considered the transformation of women’s studies over the past 20-40 years, and discussed activism in the era of the 45th. The final kick off for the national women’s studies association conference was a keynote presentation with Alicia Garza and Angela Davis.

Seeing as I promise a new post every Thursday night, please excuse typos and I now have exactly 12 minutes to tell you 12 commonalities during the meets. I will expand next week once the conference as ended.

Self love/ care: minorities (of color, ableness, gender, etc.) Often do not see self love and care modeled within their community. As Angela Davis even commented, activists during her time spent their time solely on the movement and often making sacrifices when it came to food, family, etc. For black women, this is even more important in that we have this super woman stereotype/ weight on our shoulders to take care of everyone before ourselves.

Visibility: this is a challenge for many minorities and radicals. Finding a way to give voice to the marginalized and muted becomes challenging. However social media hashtags have helped bring life to things like black girl magic and black lives matter. However, many of the older feminist worry that there’s no substance in the hashtag/ trendy.

Art and words as tools: they’re in conversation with those who craft to give visuals to the movement.

Interdisciplinary: we have to remember that everything is interconnect. One teacher taught her science class by teaching them about Harriet Tubman!

Intersectionality: not the same as multi cultural. It’s recognizing different aspects of a person’s identity. For example, black and woman, and the life experience from that.

Freedom seekers: as opposed to saying slaves or the oppressed, positive word choice is a more acquire depiction of those groups.

Personality: you have to bring yourself to the space. Instead of coming in and trying to blend in, don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Context: learn your history… The world’s history answers so many questions for us.

Politics: our whole life is political. And it’s not about parties anymore, but what people stand for and what we’ll continue to accept or discard.

Comfort: real change comes from discomfort. Alicia Garza talked about how she’ll have meetings about things that matter and watch those on the opposite side get uncomfortable. “But I kinda just like watching them squirm… They act like it’s something new. We’ve been here the whole time, you just chose not to see us.”

Humility: Angela Davis reminded us of the importance of being Hubble enough to not be so ego centric and learn from the world. We don’t always have to be the first to speak. We need to listen more and learn from the successes of others.

Raising hell: Y’all… Davis, “if you don’t do the work, there will be no change. Now on the other hand, there’s no guarantee of change if you do the work. So work as if it’s going to change.”

 

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Gap Year: NCRM’s 2017 Freedom Awards

This year marks 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination in Memphis. Every year the National Civil Rights Museum hosts a Freedom Award Show Gala to acknowledge the hard work of other leaders and performers. About a week ago, I was invited to be apart of the crew backstage and my answer was “what time do I need to be there and what should I wear?”

This post will highlight 5 wow moments that I experienced during the preparation and run of the event.

First, The Orpheum Theatre:

The current structure was originally built in the late 1920s on the corner of Main and Beale Street. Over the years, it has become known as one of the hot spots in the mid-south for the performing arts. It has hosted numerous broad way shows, performers/ entertainer, concerts, and local events here in Memphis. It is huge and the aesthetic is fit for royalty.

Although I had been to a couple of plays and acts there, I’d never been close enough to touch the stage, let alone check out the signatures along the bricks toward the back. The combination of the grand interior design, the clout of how many talented artist graced its stage, and the history of this place was enough to have me fan girl (from the inside of course).

Second, Red Carpet Gala:

Something I had never seen before, which was really cute, the crew had blocked of main street and built a red carpet! Even though it usually gets really chilly in October, that night was warm, clear skies, and great lighting for the glamourous outfits swarming main street. Side Note- I’d also like to mention how much melanin was poppin’ on that red carpet. There was a great mix on people whether of color or non-color, but it was awesome seeing African American men and women in clean suits and breathe taking gowns.

I’ll be honest, while I’m not the best at picking out famous faces, everyone looked like celebrities to me. Right next to the Orpheum, we watched these beautiful people crowd the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education for live music, tasty reception food, and social house drinks. The personal touches really brought out that classic, ageless soul of Memphis that we all know too well in the Bluff City.

Third, A plus list:

So in addition to the talented dance number from New Ballet Ensemble, harmonicist Frederic Yonnet, spoken word artist Ed Mabrey, and the house band directed by Garry Goin, the presenters and honorees added more sparkle to the stage and food for thought to the listeners. The three individuals presented with awards during this event were Reverend Dr. Bernice King, Morris Dees, and Hugh Masekela.

Watching the videos, listening to the speeches, and being in such close proximity to movers and shakers in the civil rights movement left me speechless. It was like being in a room with people who were too cool for school, like I definitely didn’t think that I was awesome enough to be on a first name bases with these people.

My worst moment of word vomit was awkwardly standing next to five Sanitation Workers from the 1968 “I am a Man” rally. Like how do you express in less than 60 seconds how appreciative you are for their sacrifice, bravery, and vulnerability. Many of which would say, don’t thank me because it was the right thing to do. I walk around talking about being about “the cause” and I’m interacting with the people who put “the cause” into words, images, and ideas that (at that time) were dangerous to share. There were many other motivational and influential people backstage-which I regret to say that I was too nervous and not confident enough to ask questions- whom I did not mention here. Some of these people were even familiar with Berea College (my alma mater). It was a great night.

Fourth, Rev. Dr. Bernice King’s Speech:

So you all knew this was coming. You may have listened to recordings or read quotes from her speech, but I’m just going to expand on a point she made that resonated with me. While I did not have time or free hands to write the words down, I repeated it in my head until I could recount it in my own words. Rev. Dr. Bernice King said (and I’m totally paraphrasing) that our responsibility as human beings in this current society is to not leave others in darkness, hate, and ignorance. One of her goals, which she believes is our responsibility, is to be the light in that darkness, love in that hatred, and impart knowledge in ignorance. It is to choose to not leave the table without planting a seed within them.

Regardless of your background or spirituality, this directly complements the Golden Rule: threat others the way you want to be treated. So instead of fighting with fire, tears, sweat, and blood, try laughter, empathy, respect, and love. I think that in the Trump era, some people see current events as brand new; however, none of this has been hidden. People often forget to consider context and assume that those strange occurrences “came out of the blue.” I repeat: This year marks only 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years since minorities in the United States of America were desperately and tirelessly demanding for what was right. Those words aren’t even strong enough to communicate the fact that these people were striving for what I think is common sense and humanism…but if college taught me nothing else, it is that common sense just ain’t so common. We see black and white photos and imagine that 50 years ago is so removed from today.

We have allowed ourselves to take those traumatic, tense, and violent events out of context. 50 years ago isn’t old enough to retire. 50 years ago is an aunt, uncle, mother, father, or grandparent. 50 years ago may be half a century, but it is still alive and well in most households today. 50 years ago, in context, is no more than 2 generations from me writing this blog post. These people who are living and breathing within our homes and communities saw those black and white photos in color and experienced that which we have removed ourselves from. So when you see white sheets, mobs, delayed relief efforts, dehumanization of people of color, lack of interest in communities which still do not have clean sources of water, hear the whispers in the wind, feel the chill of an unwelcome place you wandered into, and see something surprising in the news…just remember that it was only 50 years. Just remember that it started well before that. Just remember that our past, present, and future will always be occurring at the same time and nothing just “comes out of the blue.” Ask for the context and none of this will have come as a surprise to you.

Finally, The 1968 Sanitation Workers:

I held the medals presented to the men who said enough was enough. I held the hands of men who wanted better working conditions, higher wages, and union recognition. I saw men who simply wanted better for themselves, their co-workers, and their families. I saw men who were engaged within their communities, fighting for economic and social justice. I met men who probably didn’t think that the medals were necessary because they had added light to darkness and thoughts to a much larger conversation.

Overall, it was a great night. I made some good friends and great networks. I learned that I need to learn more about our history and that there are meaningful conversations happening all around you. I learned this when I was struggling to match faces with names and being invited to this event. This learning matters because I like to think that I know everything sometimes, but now I know another growth area for myself. In light of this learning, I have been sharing this experience with younger students in Memphis through my work at BRIDGES USA, Inc.

Best,

Cayla Jae

Gap Year: 10 Reasons Why I Swipe Left

My last few posts have been kinda serious and I plan to go deeper during the next few weeks. Next week, I’ll let you know how if felt to sit back stage for the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Awards. For now, let’s have of bit of fun and talk about how horribly confusing life is on online dating apps.

Below, I have listed my top ten reasons for swiping left on any person within my set radius. After graduation, I moved back home, but I lost touch with high school friends. For this reason, I’ve become an expert in the world of online dating apps, in an attempt to find new friends to rediscover my hometown with me.

10 Reasons Why I Swipe Left

  1. I am a woman.

Due to the fact that I’m in the 21 and above club, I prefer a person with a legal ID which allows them to join me for a drink. I also need some who’s mature, respectful, and who will add to the conversation. I want a man. So if your only images highlight some car, that you’re 420 friendly, or something remotely sketchy… Can’t do it. This also includes a stack of money as your first image which leads me to think you are into drug dealing or “hustling”. People with real money don’t have stacks in their profile pictures. Side note: watch out for people who have screen ages 23, look 15, and claim 19.

  1. You use every word but “woman”.

Y’all don’t know how often I see people referring to women as garden tools, females, girls, female dogs, and other degrading nicknames or parts to the female anatomy. If you’re crass enough to hypothetically attack me in your bio… I don’t think you could handle my feminist clap backs. Side note: some people actually request that feminist not swipe right for them lol like no problem, Steve.

  1. I am greeted by your bare chest.

I don’t care to see how built your chest is (or how much you think it is). I’m just hear to see a clear picture of your face and maybe hobbies that interest you, not your birthday suit. Plus, your skin signals to me that that’s the only thing you’re concerned with. Our texts will literally be about you going to and leaving the gym and maybe even dietary stuff. Side note: If anything else, guys that are looking for women, be sure to get some professional or super nice quality photos of your face. Also, try to avoid using mostly group photos because we don’t want to search guessing who you might be. And so the snap chat filters… Like why? We grown people.

  1. Your bio is empty.

I get this part. Most people say that no one looks at your bio anymore and others will note how awkward it is writing one. First of all, bios help me craft my opening message. They also let me know what things we have in common to discuss. Your bio can literally be ” world traveler, art, Latin music, lizards ” and I’d be like cool, “I paint.” Secondly, if I’m on the border of swiping left or right, a good bio will win me over. Whether you spent time on it or not, if it makes me smile, we might match up. Lastly, if a bio is awkward to write, what’s more awkward than putting yourself online asking for friends or friends with benefits or life partners??? Like none of this is traditionally normal, so don’t take yourself seriously, Karen.

  1. Speaking of… you’re ready for marriage.

Now I’ve had a hand full of family members meet their current spouses online and are content and happy. However, I’m not in the head space for marriage. I just want someone to dance with at Spectrum or the Rumba Room. I want to go walking in the park on a pretty day. I want to socialize away from the altar. This is not a negative because lots of people are looking for that happy ending. It’s just not me, love. I feel like marriage for me would come from meeting someone in person, leading to friendship, and then romantic stuff.

  1. You’re never on the app and want me to follow you on another platform.

Like… WHAT?! This ain’t some free advertisement site for you to get more snap followers! What I look like copying and pasting your username, opening my other app, pasting you in the search bar and waiting to see if we should talk… While I’m swiping on the dating app!? What is this madness? Look, if you ain’t using the dating app, hide ya profile and save us all time. Come on, meet me half way… “LEFT!”

  1. My finger slipped, just being honest.

There’s not much to add here. Although most apps are free, undoing a swipe ain’t free. Sometimes I’m in such a groove swiping left that I accidentally go left on someone great and they’re lost to the universe. So you could honestly have been the perfect fit, swiped right on me, and then nothing… Because your photo was surrounded by selfies of ab/ stomachs. And I’m not sure you’re worth the $9.99 commitment to a month free of back swiping… Just saying.

  1. I don’t know that I could be in the same photo with you.

This sounds crazy but I actually do think about whether we’d look abnormal in a picture together. I’m also thinking about where your photos are taken. Like could I see myself hiking with him, do I even like mudding, or would I join him in a tattoo parlor? I also think about if you’re physically “my type” because if we clique as friends I want to know if I have to friendzone you or not. I just don’t want to be awkward and loose a foodie buddy. But honestly, I’m always awkward so I want to be prepared if that conversation comes up.

  1. You say your an introvert and a homebody, but expect me to solve your hermit lifestyle.

Dude/ dudette, whyyyyy? I get it, I’m introverted and love a good night in, but I’m also on the site cause I want to do more than watch Netflix, sit on the couch, play video games, or take naps. Like I want to do stuff and make memories. And I can’t come into this friendship knowing that you’re awkward in conversations, would rather spend 25/8 playing video games, and you don’t like my energy. Like no. Well you know maybe there are apps for pen pals, but this ain’t it.

  1. Your dog wasn’t that cute.

I know that secretly most people post pictures of their pets because most of us on these sites likes animals more than humans… I mean come on. So you gotta make sure that your pup, doggo, kitten, or baby lama is the cutest living thing ever. If not, I gotta swipe left. Real talk, guys, I’ve literally swipe right on people just for the chance to meet there pets and it works. Animals never let you down.

Long story short, online dating is not the fix to find love, but it makes for some interesting stories and unforgettable adventures. I hide my profile often because it’s so distracting, but it’s so cool realizing how many strangers exist that we never cross paths with. My advice go get involved in something outside your house and try your luck by meeting some cutie in real life.

I would love to hear about what makes you swipe left. Leave a comment below of one of your pep peeves.

Best,

Cayla Jae

Strength

Although everyone experiences rock bottom emotionally at some point, I think it’s important to remember three time frames. The past is that which remains unchanged. Remaining in it’s suffocating embrace, weakens the spirit and mind. The present is that which remains in process, creating the future that is always ready for you to take charge. Sometimes we have to move away from our pasts, in hopes that our futures will seem like dreams.

Self-Improvement and Self-Love

“Be so busy improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.”- ThinkGrowProsper

This quote spoke to me because I am guilty of comparing myself to others. In an attempt to make myself feel better, I resort to pulling others and their achievements down. This unhealthy method of criticism only hurts me in the process, while also leaving out the most important component. If I want to feel better about myself, then I need to work on myself. Not saying that anything needs to be “fixed,” but there is always room for improvement. If you don’t like something, change it!

I encourage you all to focus more on yourself and how to convert your weaknesses into strengths. But above all, I wish for you to love yourself unconditionally for all of your flaws and strengths. Be the best version of you that only you can be.

Why Do You Welcome Thieves?

“You’d never invite a thief into your house. So why would you allow thoughts, that steal your joy, to make themselves at home in your mind?” -repost by Healthy Light

Often, we are our own worst enemies and biggest critics. For some reason, our brains are wired to lean more towards the negative. Remaining pessimistic and allowing negative thoughts to exist within our minds is easy. It is the easy road out of the confusion we call life. We worry about our personal items going missing. We worry about people who come and go like seasons. However, we do not worry about how certain ideologies and commentaries eat away at our spirits, our souls, and our missions.

If you will not allow a stranger to steal your electronics, then do not allow foreign thoughts to steal your peace and happiness.

Key Chain Still Life

still life_keys

After some classes in Drawing Fundamentals, I took a strong interest in observing for accuracy. It takes a good amount of effort to shut of the symbolic brain and draw what I actually see rather than what I think I see.

For example, drawing a piece of paper on a table is difficult. The reason for this being because your brain wants to make a square or rectangle, when its actual shape is some weird, angular four sided object.