But Fried Chicken

But Fried Chicken

Apparently being black and a vegetarian are mutually exclusive.

For two years now I've been vegetarian. I made the decision because I love animals and do not agree with the way they are treated in the mass food industry. Many disagree with my decision but that's not where I'm going with this. I'm not PETA here to throw paint on your fur. I'm here to ask why in the living hell is being black and a vegetarian such a paradox?

Yes, I know. However will I be accepted among the black masses if my plate does not both have fried chicken and collared greens? My chicken and waffles is lacking in chicken! Oh God! Oh Lordy! How can I be black?

Now that you've had time to soak in how utterly stupid that is you now understand my feelings in this situation. I tell someone I'm a vegetarian and they say "but you're black."

Yes. I am. Thanks for letting me know. What does my dietary lifestyle have to do with my ethnicity again? Oh that's right.


Not only have I gotten "but you're black" but also "you're not black." Not white black person but I simply am not black. After quickly giving myself an inspection to make sure all these veggies hadn't depleted me of my pigment(it hadn't) I wondered why anyone would say that. Then glass shattered and light bulbs lit up around the world as I had the most enlightening question hit me like a soul food induced heart attack.

Is my entire race defined by our fried chicken?

Don't get me wrong. When I used to eat meat my dad's fried chicken was a religious experience but I have several friends that will tell you the same. Oh and guess what. They're not all black.

Oh and guess another thing.

There is no race restriction on being a vegetarian.

Black Card Intact.

Cover Image Credit: gunaxin

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The Labyrinth

(Part II of Recipe for Discontent)

Enter, 2010 USA.

Ahh, citizen, I shall delve more in-depth to American history in future articles but here we are at the Tea Party Revolution. Also known as when all the teenagers took to the streets and started campaigning and ended the Democrat's one-party control of the government.


Ahhh citizen, these angry masses outside the White House. Don't call them uncultured masses! Nancy Pelosi made that mistake and now she regrets it as the Republican Party is slanted to end the Democrat Party's one-party rule.

People became more extreme in their ideologies, and social media usage made it easier to do.

Good news: Americans started talking politics again! Huzzah!
Bad News: we didn't know how.

Let us move into the protest, come on citizen! I promise the angry masses of people aren't going to hurt you- if I took you time traveling into the French Revolution and the June Rebellion then trust me, the Tea Party rallies will be fine!!

Alright now, let's look at this one.
"Obama is a fascist!"
Hmm I think they are going to need to check their definitions a bit, oh look at this one
"Obama will lead our nation into socialism!"
Hmm, these are the two tamest signs, many of these signs I will not repeat, if you feel so tempted to go look them up for yourselves go ahead but I will warn you they are very inflammatory.

Let me explain; this is not the Tea Party's fault. No, it is not Obama's fault either, it is society's. 2010 battered all rules of political discourse, we found new channels and a new world-- and we moved the political spectrum by the voices of millions, it was magnificent and terrible. It was "the best of times and the worst of times" as Dickens would have described such a groundbreaking event.

Whether 2010 was amazing or awful, this fact we can all agree on- nothing can remain the same, the foundation was shaken and the walls were moved.

As we emerge from the dramatic events of the 2010 midterms and enter into the 2018 midterms which want to proclaim itself the "second 2010!"

Here I stand, a former teenage activist from the 2010 events who does not stand with the Republican Party for the 2010 events. Hopefully, I can shed some insight

Class division is another issue, so let's look here at the classes in America.

Class division in the US? A point we love to ignore! Classism is what we *left* Europe for right?

Actually, my ancestors came to America before the Revolutionary War in order to spread pro-republicanism, pro-Enlightenment ideals in hopes of creating an independent country based on classical republican principles. True story.

But yes, many people came because of the "American Dream"--the idea that no matter where you start, hard work will bring you to the top.

USA 2018, its probably going to be very rare to find somebody who actually believes in the American Dream. If you told any American it was a thing, you'd probably be laughed at-- or hear a long rant about that individual's plans to emigrate to Canada.

But yes, the American Dream was a powerful psychological factor, especially in Soviet Controlled countries.

Speaking about the Soviets, fear of Communism and Class warfare is one of the reasons Americans decided not to talk class. We didn't want to be Marxists right?

Now, Citizen, I've read the "Communist Manifesto" many many times and obviously I'm not a Communist! I'm a friend of the republic, human rights, and refuse identity with either major party.

Censorship, which was a very powerful tool in Fascist-era Italy and Spain, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, China, etc came in and were like this.

The statement above is in conflict with the very core value of humanity- the right to think, the right to believe what you want to believe. In a republic- all minds are allowed to speak what they want and believe what they want.

Of course, if somebody goes out there and their belief is "genocide works!!" Of course, I hope the people will denounce this strongly because this belief conflicts with basic human rights.

When human rights are protected and acknowledged among a nation- we can start talking about all the other issues, foreign policy, war, taxes, welfare programs, education, and find new perspectives and listen to opposing viewpoints. This is the core of a republic.

Vive la Republique!

Anyway, picture a typical coffee shop in the United States. There are 4 girls sitting at a table ordering their chai tea lattes- four girls who would probably have never crossed paths outside of my little story. They start chatting about their lives, and dreams.

The Aristocracy: Meet Marie! Her family lives in the suburbs outside DC, and she can afford multiple unpaid internships since she doesn't have to worry about rent. Awesome! Marie's dad is a government official and has so many connections he can get her into any internship. She lives on a horse farm and gets to ride her horses every day. She attends an expensive prep school and really only mingles with those whose dads work in DC with powerful positions. Marie is well versed in French, Italian, and perhaps Mandarin or Russian- her family can afford private tutors and has taken many trips abroad. This is Marie's lifestyle, family connections can get her anywhere.

Is Marie a bad person? Of course not!

But this is a dangerous cultural mentality; if jobs are only kept in the hands of family members and for those with connections it will dissolve into an anarchy and leave a massive amount of discontentedness among the other classes, and brewing discontent will result in a volcano!

The Bourgeous: Rebekah is a student at a university and she is studying the Enlightenment ideals of Locke and Rousseau. She probably has an internship, but without family in the DC area, it is hard to continue doing unpaid internships. Her family probably all has college degrees. Like Marie, she is in an advantageous position but unlike Marie, she isn't from the DC area and doesn't have parents in powerful positions (although it is really important to notice that both Marie and Rebekah's parents have college diplomas). She probably lives at home after college and is working at Chick-Fil-A or a grocery store, trying to get into Marie's world. Also important to note Rebekah-- although not to the same extent as Marie, is probably well versed in French, Spanish or Italian from study abroad. I noticed class differences and language learning comes into play. I'll discuss more later.

So what happens if you have an educated bourgeois class with no means of advancement because they do not have family connections? Why is this a problem?

Why is this a problem?? Oh citizen, certainly you have heard of the European Revolutions of 1848! When across Europe the educated bourgeois class tried to break into power and get democracies so they can have a voice.

Also, in regards to the French Revolution, contrary to popular belief, the revolutionary leaders were educated and well-off, but with no means of governmental advancement.

Simon Bolivar whom I quoted earlier also fits into this class, educated and qualified but with no means of governmental advancement because of no family connection.

Now moving on.

My last class example:

Proleterate/Working Class: Lily and Sarah, two girls- one from the inner city of Philadelphia, and the other from coal country deep in Pennsylvania.

Lily's family lives in a tiny apartment, her parents work at a factory, and Lily often has to skip homework to take care of her younger siblings. She is responsible and a hard worker, she doesn't go to college but she is learning a trade- welding. She never learned a language, except maybe bits and pieces of Spanish from a song she heard once. She doesn't have much time for "book learning" about all theories and ideas, but she is very good with people skills and knowledgeable about the ins and outs of her trade. She has seen her city fall on hard times and wants to fix it and make things easier for her family.

Sarah, like Marie, comes from the countryside. Unlike Marie's beautiful horse farm estate, Sarah is from a tiny former coal mining town in Pennsylvania. The house isn't that big, but it is home. She hears people from her town talk in fear about "the outside" and those who aren't like them, and their "way of life dying." Sarah doesn't really have political opinions, but she is seeing a problem and feels hurt by the snobby attitude when people find out she doesn't have a degree.

Now picture these four girls in 18th century Europe.

Marie= living in a beautiful chateau with maids, and constant balls.

Rebekah= probably around Robespierre and Saint-- hearing all about the latest scholarly writings.

Lily= a Sans-Culottes-- knitting socks by the guillotine maybe? She is marching on Versailles for bread to feed her family.

Sarah= a peasant girl, removed from the conflict but may join the march on Versailles.

These girls start chatting and soon find out they don't have much in common. Rebekah and Marie may strike up a conversation about the Communist Manifesto, while Lily and Sarah feel excluded since they never had to study such theory.

Lily and Sarah may understand a pop culture reference but Marie and Rebekah feel out of the loop.

Marie may be really happy about getting a job because her grandpa was the former Speaker of the House, while everybody looks on with envy.

Rebekah may talk about a time she studied in Berlin and learned German, and both Lily and Sarah will feel uneasy.

Lily may talk about how the streets become "unsafe" after dark, and everybody might be a little judgemental. Sarah may talk about life in a coal town, and the other girls will not understand.

These girls *can* be great friends and they should be. They have a lot to learn from each other if they just listened to the other people's stories.

But nobody seems to listen these days, hatred and stereotypes cause people to demonize others.

These myths and stereotypes lead to further isolation as we only hang out with people who are like ourselves. True, people are naturally drawn to those like themselves. But if we only know those like ourselves, what do we learn about the world? How do we end the myths about other people? How can we stand up for the rights of the oppressed if we do not know who the oppressed are?

I've seen people snubbing the lower classes for being "uneducated voters," or likewise the lower classes mocking the upper classes for getting degrees but not practical jobs like welding.

Both welding and the philosopher are equally important.

For the first time, our nation is starting to experience a brain drain- young people are fleeing the country for better jobs abroad. Of course, it is awesome to move abroad- I strongly encourage it if you want to get a chance to experience a new country.

But when it is because there is "no opportunity" in your own country, that's when you know something must be changed.

When jobs stay in the same family for generations, and you have to have multiple unpaid internships and spend thousands for degrees while housing prices are unattainable? Something must be changed.

We cannot keep ignoring this problem, as we become more polarized. It is almost like we are speaking different languages without a translator.

If Marie is speaking Russian, Rebekah may be speaking Polish- they can understand a few words but not too much.

Meanwhile, Lily is speaking French, and Sarah is speaking Spanish- they can kind of understand each other, and may be able to understand a couple words from Marie and Rebekah but not much.

However, imagine if they all had a common language- like they all spoke Swedish?

Or if they at least had a knowledge of the other languages?

"Oh yes! my mother language is Russian, but I can speak Spanish as well!"

Lets see the other social classes, not in a condescending light but have the attitude of, "alright you were born with more money than me, you are still a human," and explain your struggles, and "alright so you were born with less money but that doesn't mean you are lazy"--we are all citizens of the world.

Citizen! I know the map of the labyrinth-- talk to those of different backgrounds, and listen to them as well.

Remember to balance both talking and listening, learn about other people and their struggles.

Of course, some people have asked me about Neo-Nazis, and they are in a totally different category. There is a big difference between somebody saying, "let's lower taxes" and somebody saying, "let's commit genocide!"

Thankfully, most people are not Nazis. Take time to listen and not to jump to conclusions, take time to hear Lily talk about her siblings and dreams.

Listen to Marie talk about her time in Rome and riding her horses.

Perhaps all four of these girls through discussing their struggles and dreams can find a way to make dreams work for all of them. Find a way to make an America where you can start out with nothing, but become President of the United States if you want.

What happens if these girls don't talk it out? The volcano keeps brewing into a recipe for discontent. As the volcano brews, it is bound to explode, and we must address the root of the problem and give love where there was no love; give solutions were there were complaints.

Citizens, in closing this journey through the labyrinth of American politics, I must remind you- we are the future, we are the ones who will change things.

I believed when I was a Generation Joshua activist in high school, and I believe it today- it is up to us to make the world better for liberty and equality. This is the purpose of life, we must shine our light to the world and work to make it a better place. In Solidarity, we can all change things little by little. No, it will not be a perfect world, but I do believe it can be made a lot better. Nobody thought slavery could be abolished until it happened. Citizens, embrace each other in the spirit of liberty, equality, and fraternity and do not just fight for your rights but the rights of the oppressed and downtrodden as well. All people should live with the liberty to speak, the liberty to believe without living in fear of their lives being ended. All people have the equality to pursue their dreams and ambitions and live to their fullest. In fraternity, all humans helping each other to climb the barricade and achieve their dreams. Turn your ears to those different than you, and don't stop until the bondage of oppression is broken.

I started this journey with a Les Miserables quote, and I shall end with one

"It is a bad moment to pronounce the word love. No matter, I do pronounce it. And I glorify it. Love, the future is thine. " - Enjolras, Les Miserables.

Cover Image Credit: Emily Hausheer

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My Curls Are So Much More Than Just My Hair

Learning to love my natural hair was the first step in my journey to self-acceptance and self-love

I will always remember being the little girl who considered my thick and curly hair to be a flaw. For any special occasion I could think of I would ask my mom to straighten my hair which she did by literally... ironing my hair on an ironing board. I was always so excited to show up to school for my birthday or Valentine's Day and feel pretty.

This continued throughout most of elementary school until my mom got me a flat iron and I began straightening my hair every... single... day. As you can imagine I basically fried my hair over the years and any sign of a curl pattern was gone. By sophomore year of high school not only did my hair stop growing past my shoulders, but it was thinning out too. Although I hated having no length, I didn't feel beautiful if my hair wasn't pin straight at all times.

Senior year, after dancing for a couple of years and putting my hair through every high bun, teased mohawk, and half up half down hairstyle you can imagine, my hair totally hated me. It didn't help that I had been dying it red every three months for the past two years either.

I vividly remember washing my hair one day and as I went to straighten it I realized I liked the way it would twist and turn. For once I didn't hate the waves/curls and felt like I could go to school without using any heat on my hair. I received so many compliments that day about how great my hair looked and how it suited me better. I smiled most of the day and realized how many people didn't care if my hair was curly or straight. They cared about me.

This was the beginning of an important journey. I wanted to love my natural hair for so long but wouldn't stop using heat long enough for it to be healthy. Spring semester of senior year, I slowly put the flat iron away. I also began the process of getting the red hair dye stripped out so I wouldn't have to color it anymore. Within a few months, I had completely stopped using heating tools and I loved the changes I saw in the mirror. My curl pattern returned and my hair was finally growing. It even went back to its natural color. I felt as if I was seeing myself for the first time.

I noticed an inner change in myself and my mentality about what was and was not beautiful. For many, it is easy to wear their hair naturally on a daily basis, but for me this was - and still is - a big deal. My curls have become a part of my identity that I am proud to share.

I will admit that sometimes when I see girls with perfectly straight hair I feel a little envious, but I know that my hair curls this way because my mother's hair was curly and her mother's as well.

By wearing my hair natural I am embracing who I am and proving to myself that I am just as worthy of self-love as when my hair is straightened or curled or up in a messy bun. My hair journey has also been a huge step in my self-acceptance journey and I'm so happy that I can now embrace my curls as a beautiful extension of myself rather than feeling the need to alter them.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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