#Moxie, Thanks for the Memories

I don’t have a twitter account so I don’t really know how hashtags work, but I’m gonna take a stab at it. I’m going to recount my most memorable Moxie moments with pure hashtag love, so let’s begin.

#cryingonthefirstday #bright-eyedambi #blueberrybeer #Sundays@16handles #NBAfinalswithGrace #pasta #pancakehangovers #karaoke&sushi #where’smelanie? #Sanctuary4familiesgala #themusicstopsoncewehitthedancefloor #blurredlines #Merle #outingSarahasonesexylady #Kristie’slargeassphone@eve #Moxiesextalks #Phebes #Irishmen #asexual/dawnsexual/hetero #Crazynightwithmel #Sarahgetoutofmyroom #Ambermymotherdaughter #accidentalpervert #anitahill #partiesin6c #hotstop…mysavior #summons #Moxieloveconfessions #Sundays@Ada’s #Amber’sdancelessons #Kristieswaffle #Goodstuffdiner #Carlito #youngblackprofessional #JuniorsCheesecake! #JuniorsCheesecakebreadbowl #pregnantwalkinginBrooklyn #BrooklynBridge #tree #claireisperfect #amazingfood@HollaRev #moviemarathonswithambi #AmberlosesitwhenNgozigoestoD.C. #heteroweekend #weekendwithDara #Ann #candy&ice #let’sditchtheseguys #GraceditchesStuStu #IamNGOZZIII #IAmNGOZZIIremix #superlatives@thedinnertable #walter #concertsintheshower #Gracetacklesaboy #usingallofMelaniesstuff #manwiththefannypack@16handles #Sarah’ssoftvoice #theyburnedmyhair #kirkdoingwheelies #CATFISH #LAHHATL #Kristies”binge”sessions


But on a serious note, I loved this experience, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of women to have shared this experience with. I’ve grown so much in the last 6 weeks, both emotionally and professionally. Thank you Yashna for giving me the opportunity to work with the National Domestic Workers.

Thank you Anna Marie for being so supportive. You went out of your way to make sure I was getting the most out of the experience even when I was most frustrated; you genuinely care about me learning through group discussions, so I really appreciate all you do!

Thank you Ada for pushing me to be a stronger woman. When I admitted that my confidence decreased significantly during my transition from high school to college, you challenged me to question why this happened, and what I can do (risk-taking) to rebuild myself. I never thought that risk-taking could remedy my loss of confidence. I’ve been working on taking risks of various degrees for the past few weeks, and it has been pretty rewarding. Thank you again for pushing me to be a better, stronger woman.

And finally thank you Moxies for being not only intelligent AF but fabulous and loving. Lots of love! Thanks for the memories, ladies. #Peaceout

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.

Little Girls Learning Through Lyrics

I enjoy listening to some mainstream rap, especially at parties. There’s nothing like a song with a great beat, catchy hook, and strong bass. For example, I love Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O,” well, all of it except the part when Rick Ross alludes to date rape in the second verse, “Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it, I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it”


Ok I’ll give another example, Juicy J’s “Show Out” is a workout favorite of mine, but if you listen closely to the lyrics, the rappers refer to women as bitches and hoes throughout the track. So now do you understand why my like of this music is so problematic? I am a woman and I should hate these songs because they disrespect and hyper sexualize women as a whole.

Prior to watching Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad,” I didn’t pay attention to the repercussions of demeaning rap music. The video shows a young girl reenacting the dances she sees in the music videos. Seeing this little girl gyrate her hips is what got me, I mean she couldn’t be more than 8 years old. That’s disturbing. Even more, these videos are showing girls to value themselves solely by their looks, there are few mainstream songs that actually appreciate the intelligence and worth of a woman, Alicia Key’s “Woman’s Worth,” is a fave of mine.

In fact, throughout the media (with some exceptions) you can clearly see women valued for their looks alone; for example, the Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” commercial, Hillary Clinton and the focus on her pantsuits, etc. Society is teaching young girls to value themselves on looks alone; I didn’t succumb to societal pressures because I have a strong support group of friends and family, along with the fact that I learned from an early age to be skeptical of the media’s portrayal of women. But for the girls who don’t have support groups?

But the true challenge to myself is how do I, as a college student who loves to go out and dance to this music, respond? Do I abstain from listening to the music? Do I send an open letter to a music exec? Do I lecture my little sister on why this lyric or that lyric is bad? Where do I begin? Is it enough? Better yet- am I even ready and willing to do all these things?

3 Things that I learned from Anita Hill

This week was the Moxie week of celebrities. After meeting Eve earlier in the week, we ended our Friday night with a viewing of the documentary Anita, and our very own Moxie pic with the woman herself. I must admit, I didn’t know too much about the name “Anita Hill” before the Moxie project; in fact, when Ada said we were going to meet Anita Hill, I yelled out the “OMG the singer??!!” (mistaking her for Anita Baker, which is weird because I am an avid fan of Anita Baker, I guess I got carried away because they have the same first name…stupid mistake, I know)

The truth is, I knew Anita Hill more by her image, then I did by her name. I googled her once I got back to  my room and that notorious blue dress popped up on my computer, and instantly, I remembered her. I studied her in my AP Government class in high school and read her story in the introduction of Jaquelyn Dowd Hall’s Revolt Against Chivalry. LIGHTBULB TURNS ON! She’s that woman who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment a long long time ago. As I watched her documentary however, in my mind she transformed from that woman who accused Clarence Thomas,  to that woman who stood up and challenged workplace harassment. I’ve learned a whole lot from Anita Hill this week, and I’d love to share it with you.

anita and moxie


1. You make Plans and God laughs at them

Whether or not you’re religious, I think we all know what this phrase means. Just because we make our plans doesn’t mean they’ll come to be. I’m sure at 20 years old Anita Hill did not envision herself or aspire to be sitting in front of a group of U.S. senators, accusing a Supreme Court nominee of sexual harassment. I’m sure Anita Hill never imagined that she would one day be a major player in the struggle to end workplace harassment. I’m a 20 year college student, and I have all these dreams and career plans, it’s a bit scary to think that my life probably will not go the way I am planning. What does this mean…hmmm I don’t know! I guess I shouldn’t take myself too seriously, or, better yet, I should keep an open mind in all that I do? Ugh that’s a question…it’s obvious that I’m still trying to figure this out.

2. Stay True to Who you Are

Anita Hill is very close to her family and cleverly used them as her support system during the trials. I love seeing the clips of Anita with her mother in the midst of the trials, you can really see how close the two of them were. Without her family, Anita Hill wouldn’t have been able to rise above the negativity of the trials and live a productive life. She is a stronger woman today because she relied on her loved ones in hard times; she didn’t try to do it all on her own. Oftentimes, when I think of strong women, I envision women who can do it all, women who are independent and handle their issues on their own. Anita Hill’s story is helping me realize that relying on others for emotional support does not make a person weak. In fact, having a family that loves you, and submitting to that love only makes a person stronger. This is important for me to realize because I have a tendency to shut my family out when I need the most support. Prime example- finals week.

3. Identities Are More Complex Than Black/White and Man/Woman

Yea, so apparently during the trials Anita Hill was just a woman and Clarence Thomas was just an African-American. What the trials failed to do was acknowledge the complexities in the identity of both parties involved. Anita Hill was a woman without a race in 1991. The fact that she was a woman trumped all other aspects of her identity, thus the “high-tech lynching” Clarence Thomas referred to couldn’t apply to her. Had the Senators taken both Anita Hill’s race and gender into account, America would have seen a different trial. How this relates to me? Well I’ve been having difficulties seeing where I fit into the feminist movement, Anita’s story shows that identities are complex and never black and white-  discovering my identity as a feminist will not be simple either.

I Like to Have Fun

So, one week down in New York and I’m loving it! The food is great, the nightlife is exciting, and I’m enjoying getting to know my fellow Moxies. In the midst of all this excitement I have to somehow compose a thoughtful blog post that ties my recent experiences to a feminist framework, so this week I guess I’ll talk about privilege. I’m a first-generation African-American female, I attend Duke University, have access to an education, knowledge, healthcare, and this summer I’m living free of charge in the Lower West Side; I’m going to D.C. with the non-profit that I’m an intern at, and I even get to meet the rapper Eve tomorrow, I mean does it get better than this!?

Well, I didn’t outline my life just to brag about how great my life is, I outlined my life to remind myself of how privileged I am. I’m so lucky, and in being so lucky and privileged, I tend to get wrapped up in my own life and fail to see the bigger picture- that life is so much more than just me and my problems.

This week I committed my first offense in the Moxie program when I failed to hand in my personal reflection to my site coordinator on time. Instead of emailing the reflection, I decided to chat up some friends over a cup of frozen yogurt. I went back to my room, fell asleep, and that was it. The fact that I could take this reflection so lightly shows that I am already taking my experience for granted, and the fact that I could and was taking this experience for granted shows that I am privileged and maybe even a teeny bit spoiled. The truth is that 50-60 years earlier, a 1st generation African American female could not do what I am doing now. It took the hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance of activists and leaders to give me the privileges I enjoy today. So, while it is totally understandable for an unaccompanied 20 year old to get caught up in the excitement of city life, I challenge myself to develop my identity as a leader, a risk-taker, and as an activist.

Men and women fought for racial and gender equality in earlier generations where it was (in many cases) fatally dangerous to do so, despite this, they continued to fight for societal change. I am extremely thankful that it’s much much easier for me to partake in social activism. I am extremely thankful that I can be a young college student and enjoy myself in the city; but it is not enough to simply reap the benefits of movements of the past, I have to give back so others can enjoy as well.

In my backyard

Ngozi is a rising junior working at National Domestic Workers Alliance this summer.

Friend: Oh my gosh! You’re doing Duke Engage!? Where are you going? Wait- don’t tell me. Um…Kenya

Me: Nope

Friend: D.C.

Me: Guess again

Friend: Cape Town?

Me: Keep on trying

Friend: Ok, I give up. No, hold on, somewhere in China?

Me: New York City

Friend: But you live so close, why would you choose NYC?


This is the typical reaction I receive from friends and family when I share my summer plans. The people in my life have a difficult time digesting why I would ever want to spend my one and only Duke Engage experience at a location only 15 minutes from my home in New Jersey. To that I say, some things are best learnt close to home (especially if close to home means NYC), and I have lots to learn.

But before I elaborate on what it is that I intend/hope to learn during the summer, I’ll tell you a bit about me.

My name is Ngozi, I’m a sophomore studying History and Ethics at Duke. I’m a first generation Nigerian-American, I love museums, musicals, doo-wop, and baking. This summer I’ll be interning at the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). NDWA is a powerful non-profit committed to providing housekeepers and nannies with a political and economic voice.

I first heard about the organization on a Youtube commercial featuring Amy Poehler. She urges viewers to support the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in California because as a workingwoman and mother, she is highly dependent on caretakers to keep her home running smoothly. Honestly, after 5 seasons of Parks and Recreation, I’ll support anything this woman says!

No, but seriously, domestic workers are an invaluable resource to families where one or both parents work outside the home. Yet, many state governments fail to recognize domestic work as legitimate occupations. NDWA is working to change that.

This summer I want to explore the various methods that NDWA will use to legitimize domestic work. What works? What doesn’t? And where better to learn the tricks of the trade than in New York City? The city is a center of social activism and political activity; how many protests, marches, etc. have been staged in this city in the last 5 years alone? Beyond the bustling political scene,  the city has some delicious food, great music, and Broadway. I’m ready to go!