New Years Resolutions for Black people.

10 Things Black People Want In The New Year

These resolutions are must-do's.

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An incomplete list of things black people want in 2019.

1. Identity politics.

Reps.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) at freshmen orientation on Capitol Hill

and more specifically, race-based politicians.

To be fair, all politics today is identity politics. The problem is that almost all politicians feed the needs of the majority, and very few, the minorities,

In 2019, black people need more black politicians who aren't afraid to upset the white majority by running on a platform in which their main concern is to uplift black communities and have social and economic plans on how to do that. There are reasons to be concerned about the state of our democracy. President Orange, racist law enforcement, wars, children being locked in cages, tear gassed and starved to death along the boarder...all while fascists sit in government and pick their noses....

2. African American History classes.

"Bloody Sunday" display at the Center For Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ashleigh Haughton

...as mandated core class and not as electives. Black people are tired of learning about white history while our own is deemed inferior and thus unimportant, and we're tired of having to explain simple shit to inquiring minds who are old enough to read a book. Instead of "Huckleberry Fin" and "A Streetcar Named Desire", how about we make "The Middle Passage," "Kindred," and "The Souls of Black Folk" required reading?

In reality, many of us have great-grandparents who were born on slave plantations, and parents that grew up in the midst of the civil rights movement, so the plight of black people has always been all too familiar to us. Others, however, have surface level knowledge of black history. Do I need to remind you all of President Orange's unfortunate Black History Month speech in which he referred to Fredrick Douglass as "someone who has done a terrific job that is being recognized by more and more people." Bish, what?

3. Affordable natural hair products. 

Because $17.00 for 12oz of leave in condition is too damn much! We have seen this wave of black millennial women opting to stay or go back to natural, but dear God, it's expensive! There is no reason black beauty products should cost nearly twice the price of white (excuse me..."good for all textures") beauty products.

Maybe if they were more affordable, Walmart wouldn't feel the need to lock them behind glass cases in black neighborhoods...

We also need an end to shaming black women and young black girls for wearing their natural hair. That includes, but is not limited to, touching, poking, pulling, patting, saying things like "you should straighten it," or asking questions like, "do you wash it?"

4. To not be shot by police.

Scott Michael Greene was taken to his initial court appearance in Des Moines in 2016.

...when we have done nothing to deserve it. Sure, black people commit crimes (at the same rate as white people,) but we would just appreciate only being threatened with a gun when absolutely necessary. And if it isn't too much trouble, to be handcuffed and taken into custody, the same as our white counterparts.

Like, Scott Michael Greene, for example. You know, the Confederate flag waving white man who murdered two police officers, evaded custody for two hours, was captured two counties away and then brought in "without incident."

So let us end this narrative of police officers fearing for their lives when in the presence of BLACK suspects.

Please, and thank you.

5. Respect of black women.

Auntie Maxine

"The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman." - Malcolm X

Every day, we see black women attacked, harassed or embarrassed for their hair, for being loud, for being intelligent, for calling out injustices...etc. Through media, we see the callous way words are used to subjugate and crush black womanhood.

Take Rep. Maxine Waters for example. Aside from the death threats, President Orange continuously refers to her as "Crazy Maxine" for her anti-fascist rhetoric, and Bill O'Reilly has even gone as far as to criticize her hair for calling the Trump Administration "dangerous," as if it isn't.

6. To be free of racial stereotypes.

Though many might be considered harmless, funny or even a compliment, they are in fact all damaging and dehumanizing. To be honest, I imagine the young girl in this video growing up to destroy an innocent black man's life, and I bet her mother will have the same reaction.

7. Affordable and comprehensive healthcare.

Tweet about John McCain

James Baldwin once said, " Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor," and good GAWD, if that isn't the absolute truth.

Most black people I know just try really hard not to get sick or die, and while that may sound funny, it's actually quite terrible and unrealistic. An accident or disease should not put anyone in financial ruin, and these politicians know that. They also enjoy their own healthcare plans that the taxpayer pays for.

8. The federal legalization of marijuana.

Patrick Beadle

Along with the immediate release of every black person currently behind bars on marijuana charges. If Karen in Los Angeles can get a prescription for her 10-year-old son, then Marcus in Fort Lauderdale should not be tackled to the ground, handcuffed and jailed for an 8th of weed.

9. Criminal justice reforms.

Trayvon Martin

Zero police quotas, no stop and frisks, and doing away with three-strikes provisions and mandatory sentencing would be an excellent start!

Then we can tackle racial bias in the courtrooms, inmate slave labor, and the broken rehabilitation system.

10. A new standard of beauty.

Eloise Ambursley

One that encompasses black and brown women in not only skin color but also hair texture, physique, intelligence, and badass-ness.

Black women are tired of seeing the size 2, blond-haired, blue-eyed, barbie prototype plastered on every screen and in every magazine. Not only do very few women naturally look like that, but very few want to. Beauty is in every hue and in every woman.

We also know that representation matters! The cathartic experience of finally relating to a character on screen is one like no other. It gives little black girls, specifically, permission to be themselves, and as a black woman, I can tell you that often times the social climate of many environments demand that we hold back or even silence ourselves.

Let's make 2019 a lot better than 2018.

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How "To Kill A Mockingbird" Still Resonates Today

Over 50 years later, Harper Lee's book is still quite relevant.
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From Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, I had the privilege of reading and studying a variety of books in my high school English classes. While each book maintained their own compelling stories, one that struck a chord with me in particular was Harper Lee’s beloved To Kill a Mockingbird.

Most people are familiar with the book, and if you’re not, it's not exactly about killing a mockingbird. The book is about Jean Louise Finch (nicknamed Scout),” and her father Atticus, who is defending an African American man named Tom Robinson who has been falsely accused of raping a white woman. The title explains a key metaphor in the book-- that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird-- explained by Atticus himself and then Miss Maudie:

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

To elaborate, killing a mockingbird is a sin because they are harmless, innocent creatures. This is a central theme of the novel, as the drive to defend the innocent is what pushes Atticus Finch to defend the accused and vulnerable Tom Robinson. Out of all the books I read in high school, I can say that To Kill A Mockingbird is one that stands out as still culturally relevant — over 50 years since it’s release.

This is demonstrated towards the end of the book, when Tom Robinson is found guilty regardless of the overwhelming evidence that suggests otherwise. Set in 1930s Maycomb, Alabama, To Kill A Mockingbird offers a moving account of racial injustice in America. But here we are in 2017, with racism still rooted deep in the foundation of our society.

To Kill A Mockingbird speaks volumes about ignorance when it comes to any type of injustice in United States. In the courtroom, Atticus contradicted the accusations against Tom Robinson over and over again, but the white jury turned a blind eye to his evidence, focusing instead on the color of Tom's skin. This goes to show that our court and legal systems are far from immaculate, and Atticus is aware of that:

“I’m no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and in the jury system — that is no ideal to me, it is a living, working reality.”

Atticus is suggesting that our legal system is not run by omnipotent individuals, but rather by people with their own prejudices that guide their judgment. But Americans tend to place their faith in these systems, not acknowledging the discrimination that serves as the foundation. This is what systematic racism is. It goes far beyond microaggressions. It is when our own legal systems fail people of color time and time again — it is bloodshed that cannot be covered up by a flag.

Scout and her brother, Jem, begin to realize the discrimination ingrained within their society after Tom Robinson’s verdict. Jem is angry and upset, but Atticus gives him a wholeheartedly honest answer:

“Those are twelve reasonable men in everyday life, Tom's jury, but you saw something come between them and reason.... There's something in our world that makes men lose their heads—they couldn't be fair if they tried. In our courts, when it's a white man's word against a black man's, the white man always wins. They're ugly, but those are the facts of life."

The fact is that To Kill A Mockingbird offers a powerful narrative that is still relevant today. The killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer is what sparked a series of protests across the country, but regardless, his killer will not be charged. The same can be said for the murders of Philando Castile and Trayvon Martin, because despite the evidence against their killers, they were still able to walk free. This resonates with me because it is too similar to the fate of Tom Robinson, who was found guilty regardless of the evidence suggesting otherwise. The systematic racism of 1930s America is still here, alive and well in 2017. But many people look the other way because they believe that racism went away with Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech and the Civil Rights movement. The truth is that racism is still present and killing innocent people every single year.

When an innocent African American man is killed and the murderer is not brought to justice, the themes of “To Kill A Mockingbird” seem too familiar for being set in the 1930s. It inspires the kind of anger that Scout and Jem felt after Tom Robinson’s verdict. It is incredibly frustrating to think that although To Kill A Mockingbird was released over 50 years ago and set almost a century in the past, the story is a stark reflection of what still occurs in 2017. Racism and prejudice sticks out so starkly in our society, yet people still pretend it isn’t a problem.

“Atticus-" said Jem bleakly.
He turned in the doorway. "What, son?"
"How could they do it, how could they?"
"I don't know, but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it—seems that only children weep.”



Cover Image Credit: Hamacapty

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Dear Beautiful Black Girl, Never Forget Your Worth

An ode to all the beautiful black girls.

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We live in a society where societal standards greatly define the way we view ourselves. Although in 2019 these standards are not clear cut, some things are not easy to change. Not to play the race card, but this is true for women of color, especially black girls.

As much as I'd like to address this to all women, I want to hit on something that I'm more familiar with: being a black girl. Black females have a whole package to deal with when it comes to beauty standards. The past suppression and oppression our ancestors went through years ago can still be felt in our views of beauty. It is rare to see young black girls be taught that their afros and nappy hair are beautiful. Instead, we are put under flat irons and dangerous chemicals that change our hair texture as soon as our hair becomes too "complicated" to deal with. The girls with darker skin are not praised, but rather lowered in comparison to their peers with fairer skin. A lot of the conditioning happens at a young age — at the age of 8, already you can feel like you're in the wrong skin.

As we grow up, there are more expectations that come here and there, a lot of very stereotypical and diminishing. "You're a black girl, you should know how to dance," "black girls don't have flat butts," "black girls know how to cook," "you must have an attitude since you're black" — I'm sure you get the idea. Let me say this: "black girls," as they all like to say, are not manufactured with presets. Stop looking for the same things in all of us. Black girls come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and talents. I understand that a lot of these come from cultural backgrounds, but you cannot bash a black girl because she does not fit the "ideal" description.

And there is more.

The guys that say, "I don't do black girls, they too ratchet/they got an attitude" — excuse me? Have you been with/spoken to all the black girls on this planet? Is this a category that you throw all ill-mouthed girls? Why such prejudice, especially coming from black men? Or they will chant that they interact with girls that are light-skinned, that is their conditioned self-speaking. The fact that these men have dark-skinned sisters and mothers and yet don't want to associate with girls that look the same confuses me. And who even asked you? There are 100 other ethnicities and races in the world, and we are the one you decide to spit on? Did we do something to you?

Black girls already have society looking at them sideways. First, for being a woman, and second, for being black, and black males add to this by rejecting and disrespecting us.

But we still we rise above it all.

Black girls of our generation are starting to realize the power that we hold, especially as we work hand in hand. Women like Oprah Winfrey, Lupita Nyong'o, Chinua Achebe, Michelle Obama — the list is too long — are changing the narrative of the "black girl" the world knows. The angry black woman has been replaced with the beautiful, educated, and successful melanin-filled woman.

Girls, embrace your hair, body, and skin tone, and don't let boys or society dictate what is acceptable or beautiful. The black girl magic is real, and it's coming at them strong.

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