Your smile will silence you

A few hours before I started to write this blog post, Kate Middleton gave birth to a royal baby boy.  This seems to be the highlight of everyone’s day. From the time I woke up, it was apparent through social media that Kate Middleton’s vagina was truly being watched by millions around the world.  Personally, I don’t care about the birth of this baby any more than I care about anything else going on in England (sorry, that might get me in trouble), but that doesn’t mean I’m not hugely relieved that no medical complications have been reported, YET.  Throngs of magazines in the grocery store, television stations, and newspapers have been keeping Americans up to date on Kate’s pregnancy for a while now.  While others may have been playing the guessing game over boy or girl, my heart has ached for the possibility of any number of medical conditions that he could be diagnosed with.

But I don’t want this to be a post about how sad it would be (slash will be, who knows?) if the royal baby isn’t perfect.  I want this to be a post about how DEVASTATINGLY SAD AND DISSAPOINTED everyone would be if Kate Middleton wasn’t perfect as demonstrated by her not shooting a perfect little baby boy out of her vagina.  Maybe some people already know that she isn’t perfect, but from all I see… the pictures of her smiling, pleasant and charming, unthreatening…that is her image.

Kate Middleton’s image has evolved into this perfect, silent young woman.

She has been gracing the covers of tabloids for so long now that I don’t have trouble picturing her face and body in multiple outfits and hats.  However, I really don’t think I have ever heard the woman’s voice.  Her voice, like many aspects of English history… just wasn’t quite important enough to travel across the pond.  Pretty girl, pleasant to look at, easy on the eyes, not really offensive looking in any way, or particularly sexy…

Whatever, whatever… Kate Middleton, blah blah blah. I’m pretty sick of this whole THING around her, and am even a little embarrassed to be dedicating my bi-weekly blog post to her.  So from here, I’ll switch it up:  I was at a graduation party this weekend that I really didn’t want to be at.  And so, naturally, while walking up the driveway to this dreaded event, I proclaimed to my mother, “It is going to be very difficult for me to control my facial expressions at this here shindig.” By this, I meant that there was no way in hell I had the energy to illuminate the scene with a fake smile.  Fake is exhausting, I just can’t do it. Wouldn’t you know that not even 20 minutes later this LADY (someone’s grandmother? My cousin’ grandmother on the other side? NO, was it my cousin’s mother in law? Who cares?) yelled at me to “SMILE!”

Barf. Gag. Punch (I wish I could have).

She later revealed that she wanted me to smile, because I reminded her of Kate Middleton, and she needed me to smile so that she could get a better idea.  NO, lady.  How about you ask me some questions, get to know me, and then decide if my PERSONALITY matches hers or anyone else’s PERSONALITY that you’re familiar with.

wenn5886502The bottom line is that young women, like Kate Middleton, are silenced when they give the world their smile.  It’s like, Kate’s pretty face has been circulated so much that that’s all we need from her.  Her smile has eliminated our curiosities about her character.  We know that she is “pleasant,” “delightful,” “charming.”  She smiles for everyone, and that has made everyone perfectly content with her to the extent that that is all they want from her.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are definitely appropriate times to smile. I smile when I submit a final paper or when a professor lets me out of class 5 minutes early.  I smile when my mom brings my cat into my bedroom to wake me up in the morning. I REALLY smile when I get eggplant parm.  But I don’t smile just to make someone else happy, and I sure as hell don’t smile, JUST BECAUSE, and neither should you.

New Image

Only Three Things Matter

“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of the things not meant for you.”

In a recent discussion with a fellow Moxie, this quote surfaced as an inspiration to reflect on during approaching hardships.  Though the quote seems pretty straightforward, I could hear the phrasing calling for a deeper analysis.   Submitting to this call, I had a few realizations, and I find that they relate very much to my Moxie experience thus far.

How Much You Loved—

love yourselfAt times I forget that expressions of external love are largely reliant on the internal love one feels for his/her/themselves.  There are innumerable circumstances in which behavior can be affected by self-love, including social situations like parties, intellectual environments like university, and sexual settings like the notoriously ambiguous “hook-up.”  ”In the end” what will matter is not only how much you loved others, but also how much you loved yourself.  During Moxie, “loving myself” has included small responsibilities, such as respecting my own opinion enough to speak up and not being so critical of myself when I don’t understand a topic we discuss.

How Gently You Lived—

It’s easy to think about the typical definitions of non-violence in this case, like ones that preach peace and reject physical confrontation. If you think on it, though, living gently includes knowing yourself well enough to engage with others.  When you live gently by knowing yourself, small things that offend you less.  You no longer enter into situations that are particularly trying or futile, such as heated discussions with people you know to be close-minded.  In addition, you avoid internal turmoil by recognizing the way you think about things and evaluating your opinions based on this knowledge.  During Moxie, my “living gently” has included practicing open-mindedness and committing to engage in weekly reflections in order to learn as much as I can about myself.

How Gracefully You Let Go of the Things Not Meant for You—

This is the most difficult of the three things in that one first must gain the insight to recognize when things are no longer good for him/her/them and then summon the courage to let these things go.  These “things” can include anything such as viewpoints, traditions or ideologies; diets, old shoes or old friends.  I think that realizing when such things are not meant for you happens when you become troubled by the thought of keeping them.  During Moxie, “gracefully letting go” has mostly included realizing the things that trouble me to hold on to.  The next step for me, then, is gaining the courage and wisdom to let go.

Privileges may secretly be a form of Superpowers…

Superpowers… are REALLY cool. I have always had an infatuation with super powers. From shows like Heroes, to books like Twilight I could read, watch, Google, or have conversations about superpowers all day long. I have had multiple (awesome) dreams about being able to fly, be invisible, walk through walls, read minds, or breathe under water. But, if anyone asks me which super power I could have if I HAD to choose just one, I never hesitate to give my answer… TELEPORTATION. Now, after weighing the costs and benefits of all super powers, why did I land on this one in particular? My reasons are three fold:

#1: Teleportation allows you to be with anyone that you want at any time. If you want to be at home with your family- boom, you’re there. If you want to be in Paris for lunch (French baguettes pictured below… YUM)- boom, you’re there.

#2. Teleportation is a power that you can hide from others if you choose to. It is not like flying, where people would be able to tell that you have a super power. This allows you to keep your powers as private as you want.

#3. Teleportation allows you to get out of any dangerous situation at any time. If you are injured and need to get to a hospital ASAP- boom, you’re there.

In thinking more about my fascination with (and desperate longing for) super powers, I can’t help but think about the privileges that I have that are similar to teleportation, that other people may not have:

#1. While I may not be able to snap my fingers and be with my family, I am lucky enough to have the money to travel to where my family is. And, I HAVE a family. There are many people who do not have the privilege of having a family, and there are people who do not have the privilege of being able to afford to travel to where their family is. I have the privilege of having been able to travel overseas (maybe not for a quick lunch in Paris like listed above), but still- the privilege of travel is one that must be acknowledged.

celeb#2.Like with teleportation, I have the privilege of privacy. This may seem strange to some people, but I truly view privacy as a privilege. While I know that many people in the public eye have chosen to be there, I still can’t help but acknowledge how unfortunate it is that they have such a lack of privacy- via the press and media. People in the spotlight are constantly criticized, whether it be for their looks, or their actions. Their personal space is often taken up by paparazzi or body guards, and everyone seems to have an opinion on every little piece of their life. I am so thankful to have this privilege of privacy.

#3. I know that I can’t snap my fingers and immediately be in a hospital, but, I have the privilege of having a phone where I can call 911 if there is an emergency. I have the privilege of having access to great hospitals, and I have the privilege of health care.

I may never be able to actually teleport (although my fingers are crossed), yet I still want to acknowledge the similarities between some of my privileges and the superpower of teleportation. There are so many little things that I am thankful for and grateful for and appreciative of. It is a constant battle to remember these things on a day to day basis, and the concept of privilege is something that is very complicated. I have a LOT more serious thinking to do about the topic of privilege, and I understand that comparing privilege to superpowers may be a bit strange, but it is just a start at my further thinking of the topic.

624 Bill$….isn’t it 2013?!

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”


Feminist rockstar Gloria Steinem as an undercover Bunny

                        “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”

“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off”

Gloria Steinem

Feminism is not a dirty word. Within four syllables, this loaded f-bomb encompasses the defiant, unrelenting and radical action of individuals fed up with our sexist, patriarchal society. The beginning of feminist organizing dates back to 1848 when a woman did not legally exist once she was married…though when unmarried she was essentially nonexistent and a social leper. Over the past half-century, one of the most significant American institutions has exercised their influence over the gender equity agenda. Hocus pocus, SCOTUS to the rescue. In the United States, the Supreme Court has played an important role in shaping the landscape for women’s equality over the last half century. By issuing rulings on cases involving reproductive rights, sexual harassment and marriage equality, SCOTUS is inextricably linked to the work of grassroots activists and feminist icons everywhere.

“If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament” – Florynce Kennedy, Gloria Steinem’s lawyer

Sarah Weddington was 27 when she argued and triumphed in Roe v. Wade. While this iconic SCOTUS ruling marked a tangible progression for the feminist movement, it was not without backlash from prominent groups, mainly Republican and religious. Many anti-choice activists fight blindly for their cause without fully understanding the opposition—‘pro-choice’ is not synonymous with ‘pro-abortion’. I have yet to meet a pro-choicer who likes the idea of abortion, or enjoys the bloody posters shoved in their face as they escort women into clinics. As Weddington articulated in 1973, “We are not asking this court to decide that abortion is good, or that everyone should have one. We are asking this court to decide that that issue is one for the individual to decide, not the government.”

All of the key players in the movement flexed their feminist guns during that time; one “glorified dirty old man” in particular. Hugh Hefner, the Plahughyboy mogul funded court cases to challenge laws that hindered his vision of healthy sexuality, including Roe and the legalization of birth control—both crucial to feminists. Hef prides himself on being “a feminist before there was such a thing as feminism” and even tried to date Gloria Steinem before she became feminist royalty. This failed miserably, in fact she turned out to be “the Playboy Bunny Hugh Hefner wished he never hired” when the disguised journalist entered the floppy eared world to reveal just how out of sync Hugh was with the female-empowerment agenda. The 70s were a time of sexual liberation, promoted by progressive legislative change.



          Roe stands on shaky ground these days; finicky state bills are being proposed that could effectively close all existing clinics. Texas was first; luckily, some epic women (Wendy Davis, Cecile Richards) have been working tirelessly to do everything in their power to protect women’s reproductive rights.  Two weeks ago, with the country focused on #StandWithTxWomen rallies and the upcoming holiday weekend, the NC Assembly introduced and immediately passed the “Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act”. This single bill compiles every anti-abortion law that has ever been drafted in one slick move, closing all but one clinic within the state limits. The backlash was incredible; thousands of concerned North Carolinians raised their voices and their picket signs against the sneak attack on the female body. Wisconsin & Ohio have followed suit with similarly ridiculous attempts at ‘personhood’ legislation and closing these spaces that provide life-saving care. I’m sick of seeing old white men sit in the power seat determining these new policies. The tragic news last Saturday that Texas finalized the anti-choice bill will force many women into flea markets for dangerous, under-the-table pills to terminate their pregnancies.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 8.15.29 AM

            Women don’t get pregnant for the sake of having an abortion. Roe v. Wade did not mean that abortions could be performed; they have always and will always be done. However, legalizing the infrastructure, education, services and preventative care that empowers women to determine their own reproductive future will decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies. Today, the gender war still rages on and looks to undo the work of the many waves of feminists before us. As always, the actions of the government and the courts—led by their Supreme—continue to dictate women’s experiences with their bodies and the world. While court rulings have mandated nationwide recognition of some feminist principles, SCOTUS must lead the charge against our patriarchal society as a whole. The legacies of Sarah, Gloria, Wendy, Cecile and all feminist superheroes live on through this next generation of activists. We are primed and ready with compelling signage, a social media army and a ‘sick of this shit’ attitude that promises to make waves and break down barriers. Stop tampering with the women; it’s time to change the system.

“Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It’s about making life more fair for women everywhere. It’s not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It’s about baking a new pie.”Gloria Steinem


Blast from the Past!

When I was eighteen, I wrote for Seventeen Magazine as a part of their “Freshman 15” program–a program where the magazine chooses fifteen college freshmen to post a blog every other week to their website about their freshman year of college (“…detail the drama”). Due to my lack of desire for the limelight and slight embarrassment for writing for a magazine that opposed my feminism in many ways, I had all but pushed the experience–and the blog posts–out of my head. Until last week.

308163_2550431397201_1605517910_nPerusing the internet, I stumbled upon one of my old posts which led me to click, read, and kill an hour and a half of my day. Some posts described issues of extreme banality (I categorize here posts about my relationships, “finding yourself,” working out, etc.), others about general, boring college topics (what clothes should you bring to college?! College is harder than I thought it would be, etc.), and (hidden among the insipid), a couple about feminism.

I wish I could spend my entire blog post expressing my desire to take back some of my words on a medley of those topics. I felt pressured to talk about relationships and body image because that, to me, screamed, “Seventeen Magazine!” I expressed many difficulties with breaking up with my partner at the time, but always with a positive twist! I talked about exercising and losing weight. Some of my comments were vain, vapid, and contributed to an effortlessly perfect image and culture I despise. I hated that the Seventeen editors titled my videos with taglines that read, “Maya and her friends found a sneaky way to avoid dining room crowding — and check out some hot guys!” and spelled women’s rights “woman’s rights.”  Reading over them, I wanted to bury my head in my hands and scream.

But my posts on feminism made me happy. Not because they were very intelligent (No, on the other hand, they really show a disconnect in my understanding of what feminism is), but because they really showed growth. I am certainly still learning and growing, but it was exciting to see what has become a huge marker of my identity–my feminism–in its youth.

I could have talked about a number of things of importance. I wasted my platform to speak directly to young girls about what is really important in life, and in my life. I wish I wouldn’t have talked about my relationships or my body in such vanity because there are very real things about those topics and a million others that need to be said. It was exciting to see my youthful feminism, but I do wish I would have played my cards differently.

As I leaned into the camera with my “stylish” bright red lipstick, I say, “Feminism is all about just being who you are and expecting the best for yourself.”

Knowing eighteen year old me, I suppose it could’ve been worse.

Let me know what you think and Hollaback! at yo’ girl!

Asian Pacific Women and Feminism, cont’d

This week, our readings included an excerpt from “This Bridge Called My Back: writings by radical women of color.” The piece we discussed was written by a Japanese-American activist and feminist Mitsuye Yamada. In “Asian Pacific Women and Feminism,” Yamada denotes the struggle of Asian Pacific women to affirm their own culture while working within it to change it. She furthers her argument with experiences she has had with other American feminists:

 “When Third World women  are asked to speak representing our racial or ethnic group, we are expected to move, charm or entertain, but not to educate in ways that are threatening to our audiences. We speak to audiences that sift out those parts of our speech (if what we say does not fit the image they have of us)… and go home with the same mind they come in with.”

Even in my personal discussions about feminism, Asian women are left out, and I am partly to blame. I would claim that feminism in Korea is nonexistent and depict to my American friends the typical Korean female— submissive, passive and reserved. Yamada’s short piece made me realize just how ignorant I have been of my culture. In expanding my definition of ‘feminism,’ I tried to encompass the diversity I experienced with the other girls around me and yet I had left out my piece of the puzzle—my own culture. In viewing women through such a restrictive lens, I could only discuss what I saw superficially. I failed to look at the deeper picture. I failed to apply new variations to my definition of a feminist.


Cho Yoon–Sun, the current Minister of Gender Equality and Family of South Korea

Yamada’s reflections weren’t shocking and yet, I was surprised. This week made me reflect on the Korean women around me and realized with much embarrassment how I neglected to see any progress. I tried to fit many of the women I encountered to the idea of what I thought was the ideal American feminist. And since they didn’t fit this image, I had failed to see them as feminists. Take for example, my mother’s best friend Cho Yoon-Sun, the new Minister of Gender Equality and Family. Known for her passive mannerisms and inability to say ‘no,’ Ms. Cho takes on the stereotypical character of an Asian Pacific women. And yet her words and actions indicate otherwise. In the news, anchors and experts comment on her good looks and attempt to feminize her but that has not deterred her from her progressive goals. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, she noted some of the faults with Sheryl Sandberg’s advice for women to “lean in.” Given individual situations and the system around us, she said, being proactive in one’s career is not the ‘one size fits all’ answer. She is currently focused on increasing the percentage of women in high-ranking government positions to 15% (at the moment, it is only 5%). Her demure character contrasted with her liberal views of women allow her to work within the system while changing it.

Relatively, Korea is not progressive and radical in terms of feminism. We have a long way to go, but that doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. It’s time we begin to open up the discussion to these women and not only listen but also take to heart what they have to say. Because contrary to popular belief, Asian Pacific women are interested and active.

Racial Profiling: A Continued Mechanism to Save the World

On Saturday, all I could see on both my Facebook and Instagram newssfeeds were images and photos somehow related to the Trayvon Martin case (I don’t have a Twitter, but I bet that would have been overflowing with tweets about Zimmerman). I spent the last week reading articles describing the racial profiling that was occurring inside of the court; ironic, because I believe this entire trial is occurring because, initially, someone racially profiled an individual. I also spent my week watching the trial live—and I know there were so many moments filled with doubt about what truly happened that night between Martin and Zimmerman.
This case, although I believe was not treated adequately and the Martin family did not receive any justice, has made me think about so many other dire issues. For example, how would this trial’s verdict differ if Martin was white (or if he was a female) and Zimmerman was black? What about if Zimmerman was white? Of course! The verdicts would have been the extreme opposite. It is such a tragedy that racial profiling is STILL present throughout the court system. Just because the victim is black, he or she is seen as more dangerous than a white victim. Or, simply, because the perpetrator is not white, he or she could not have possibly racially profiled a black person.
What is this world that we have come to? Why is it that our race make such a huge impact on how we are perceived and how we are treated—even worse, why is our race judged by the court system? Shouldn’t all women and men have equal rights as well as equal opportunities, regardless of their race?
Like Martin, he did not have a choice that night. He was innocently walking home and although he had some contact with marijuana in the past, (similar to almost every other teenager in this country), what makes him a target? Is it that he was wearing a hoodie—umm, why wouldn’t he? It was raining. Or is it that he was black? If the reason is because of his skin color, then the legal system must also understand that as a colored young man, unfortunately, Martin had probably been stereotyped throughout his life before this incident. Therefore, as Zimmerman followed him, of course he is going to act defensive! Martin probably thought to himself, “Why would an older and bigger man be following me?” Even to me, that’s scary—I would have probably acted in the same manner that Martin did. If Zimmerman was allowed to “stand his ground” then Martin should be allowed too—Martin acted in defense to an older man following him.
I guess what I am trying to describe through this post, is that the society that we live in and the way people are allowed to treat one another scares me. This trial sends the message that racial profiling is allowed—racial profiling is the only mechanism that can be used to solve issues. Isn’t this supposed to be something that our country has been fighting since Abraham Lincoln roamed these states? Almost 20 centuries later, we are still facing these issues.

Let Her Fly (Collection of Thoughts on my little sis)

I have a younger sister, she’s 14, and I love her. With this love comes a need to protect her, shield her from heartbreak, wrong decisions, etc. So you can imagine how our conversations pan out- “Umm, I was in high school not too long ago and yada yada yada, blah blah blah.” I must admit that my anxiety increases as she ages, questions circulate throughout my brain, all having to with what kind of woman she will be.

sistersI’ve been thinking about my little sister in future quite a lot lately, especially in light of the Trayvon Martin verdict. Immediately after the verdict hit the web, I shot my family a call. After trading thoughts with my mother on the acquittal, I asked to speak to little sis. “Hey girly, what did you think of the case?” Her answer, “I didn’t really follow the case.” Late Sunday night, “Hey, how’s Newark doing. I heard there’s a protest over there, do you think it’ll turn into a riot anytime soon?” “Eh, I don’t know.” So my little sister knows little about the Trayvon Martin case and aftermath, why did this bother me so much? Well because my sister isn’t interested in anything political. She’s always been more concerned with sports, dancing, and celebrity gossip, and that’s never bothered me, until now.

My sister is aging; she’s in high school and I thought she’d start caring about political issues by now, but that’s not the case for her. She’s an athlete, a blogger, and a tweeter (I think that’s the proper term). On the surface I was freakin out because she might turn out to be a politically unaware woman but in reality- I was afraid that she might not turn out to be a mini-me. What a nightmare!

All my life, she’s followed my cue-I went into sports, she went into sports, I joined chorus, she joined chorus, I started baking, she began to bake. Now, she’s forging her own identity. I feel like a mama bird watching her chick fly for the first time, it’s scary AF. But what kind of woman do I want my little sister to be? Well I can’t be sure. I’m only 19, I barely have myself figured out. I know I want her to be genuine and successful. Could I ever see her at a program like Duke Engage in NYC? I would like to, but probably not. Only time will tell.

Enlightening the Enlightened: We are never above the lessons learned from our Family

There are two worlds that I live and they are entirely different – or at least I have always seen them as two separate spheres. My life as a feminist, activist, Duke student, and young woman trying to figure out who she is (this is who I am for a majority of the year) and then there is my family, my upbringing…my roots. Some people aren’t very close with their family. They can go through an entire college experience without visiting home, or move far away when they have obtained a career, not to be heard from for years on end.  I never had this attitude with my family. In high school we were together every weekend, my nana, papa and aunt pam coming in from Queens and my cousins living just 5 minutes away. Rarely did it feel forced, rarely did I want to be somewhere else, other than with them…until I went to Duke and found my new independent self.  Of course I have always felt that I was independent, but this was new. I was 10 hours away, I was engulfed in a community of “intellectuals” my age, and I was forced to figure out everything on my own.  Over the years at Duke I have gained so much from other students, classes and numerous opportunities that would never have been available to me if I were to live at home and go to a school right down the road from my house.  However, Duke also changed me in another way, which I constantly have to check myself for.

             Being at an elite institution can sometimes make you feel “Elite”. It can make you feel as if your knowledge, and the education you are privileged enough to have access to, makes your opinion more right, or closer to truth, than another’s. I dislike this attitude, but it seems as if whenever I go home I unknowingly speak with a know-it-all tone, and it can often sound dismissive.  This weekend I saw it happen again and I justify it by saying “its my passion…I have done multiple readings on this topic so I know what I am talking about…it’s not opinion it is truth.” Not only did I learn that these statements are reflective of an uncontrolled Ego, but I also found that there are so many things that I can get from being with my family, that my other world could never give me.  It took 24 hours, removing myself from the city (Moxie Life), opening up of an undefended self, and 15 close family members to open my eyes.

            Here are just a few things that I took from this weekend:

little marc

1.      No matter what age, wherever they are in their life, everyone has a story and whether it is my grandmother or my 2-year-old cousin I can take something valuable from each of them.  On Sunday it was uncomfortably hot and no one wanted to do much. Many, if not all individuals in this weather, usually get cranky and irritated but not my baby cousin Marc.  Driven by the curiosity that all children have, and the energy of life pulsing through him, Marc was exploring everything and everywhere (that is, after a 2 hour nap).  He reminded me of the care free attitude that is intertwined with innocence, the freedom that comes with naivety.  Sadly, as we get older and are exposed to the truths of our world I see many losing hope, losing energy and frankly, losing interest.  

2.      Speaking to my nana the evening before, I saw an entirely different attitude than Marc’s and rightly so. She is on the other end of the spectrum; describing it as being “on her way out.”Here I am, a 21 year old, still in college, still trying to decide what to do with my life, going on and on about my passion and about “changing the world,” trying to make her understand.  I can now see why it was more difficult to jump on Brianna’s Activist Train. My nana has been through much more than I know, and even though she has not studied feminist theory or has researched social norms and gender construction, she has seen the world, she has had the experiences.  It is more difficult for her to be invested in a movement that takes time, lots of energy and acquired knowledge when she knows the world better than I do and may have lost some of the optimism that fuels me.  My nana is an activist in her own way. She is an assertive, strong, compassionate woman, she is a leader, an amazing grandmother, mother, sister, and aunt, and she is always there to shoulder the burden of others.  Whether it is watching her grandchildren, cooking for 15 people, taking care of her husband or calling up her sister when she is sick, she does not miss a beat. I come from a line of independent and tough women – and my nana is one of them.  She reminded me that we all have different passions and responsibilities throughout our life and right now her’s is taking care of her family and helping those close to her. She reminded me when I spoke about changing the world and empowering others, that charity always begins in the home. nana and pam

3.      I will always remember my 12 year old sisters embrace and my 15 year old brothers smile when they walked into my nana’s house after a long ride back from their soccer tournament. They were probably wiped out, hungry and just wanted to sleep but they still had the energy to show their love for me.  I must always remember these little moments when we are in a fight or irritated with each other over stupid things, never let the emotions overwhelm me, because it is not worth it.  There is nothing comparable to having my younger siblings still be excited to see me. I do believe they look up to me and I constantly try to be a good role model, sharing my passion and enthusiasm with them so that they can enter the “real world,” prepared, but also optimistic that they have the power to create change.   So when they have these moments it subconsciously affirms my role and responsibility as the older sister and I will never take them for granted.

4.      My final conversation of the night was with my uncle Paul, who I always get into philosophical conversations with. It is usually about examining the self, being in the now, and most importantly being aware of the Ego and the power it has over our expressions and I believe, our outlook on life.  As I described to him the difficulties I was having during Moxie Reflections, and coming off too strong and sounding dismissive of others opinions because I was so consumed by my own, he reminded me that when I get sucked into these thoughts and beliefs it is because I am allowing my Ego and my thoughts to define me. I have attached myself so strongly to these ideas that anything that challenges them seems like they are questioning me as an individual.  What I need to consciously practice, is stepping outside of my thoughts and just observing, listening, and allow the world to happen around me and speak to me, rather than forcing my energy, passion, and many times, my EGO on it.  That doesn’t only go for taking a break from my thoughts, but taking a break from “doing”,  as well.  Sometimes just sitting in your Nana’s house on a Sunday observing, interacting, and taking everyone and everything in, is more enlightening, refreshing and inspiring than anything you could read in a book.

I am so grateful to have a close family that loves, encourages, but also pushes me out of my comfort zone. They may not be my fellow students at Duke but they teach me about love, life, compassion, strength, family and support, to name a few. They teach me how to be a better me, to remember my roots and also to take a step back from it all.  And for that, I am forever grateful.


accidental pervert 2<<<<< odd play

This past week was s-e-x week.  GASP!! We pondered the topic of what it meant to be sexually liberated.  Initially, I was excited.  Surely I could stay awake in our three hour discussion if it were about sex and I did get a kick out of telling my mom that I was going to a sex museum.  However, I didn’t really like the museum, or discussing the topic, or watching this really strange one man play we went to go see about a man’s life after he became addicted to porn at the age of eleven.  The main character (only character) wore no pants the entire play, was really sweaty the whole time, and about seventy-five percent of the script was made up of offensive pornographic film titles.  Most of the girls remarked on how displeased I looked the entire time and even when I did want to smile just for the sake of being a good theater participant, I couldn’t.

No definitions for sexual liberation really suited me that we came up with and I found myself so critical about the topic that I hardly wanted to contribute to group discussion. Personally, I feel like sex is a very private matter.  So this week I really felt like the personal became political…and uncomfortably so.  It’s not like we were sitting in a circle talking about fantasies and sexual encounters, but when it comes to what sexual liberation looks like mine is completely different from yours. And it’s personal.  But it’s political too. SIGH. If this were anything less important I would certainly brush it off.  Because sex is so closely linked to health, human rights, and a long spectrum of gender based violence that I am committed to ending, I just can’t give up that easily.  But here’s my question.  Is there a way to talk about the political without talking about the personal?