Culture Life

I didn’t realize how white my upbringing was until I moved to London

Spain is a very white country – I didn’t notice the extent of it, though, until I moved to London.

In Spain, we rarely talk about race. At least I never did. To give an example, Spain doesn’t include a racial or ethnic category in their census and official documents never ask you to state your racial background. Therefore, an official breakdown of the country’s population by race doesn’t exist.

Genetically speaking, Spaniards are a mix of the different civilizations that have conquered the Iberian Peninsula throughout history, including the Visigoths (Northern Europe), Romans (Italy), and the Moors (Northern Africa). However, if we were to categorize the ethnicity of the majority of the population, they would be white.

Nonetheless, I never realized that I was living in a bubble. I went to a school where everyone only two people in my whole year (around 150 people) were people of color, and those two people were both transracial adoptees and therefore had been raised in a white family. Moreover, everyone was also Christian, or at least ‘culturally Christian’.

According to a survey done in April 2020, 61.2% of the Spanish population considered themselves Catholic. Out of the rest of the population, 36.1% of people identified themselves as agnostic or atheist, and 1.8% said that they practiced a religion different from Catholicism. This is of course related to the fact that, until 1975, Catholicism was the country’s official religion.

The fact that Spain’s population is mostly white and Christian is neither a good nor a bad thing. But it made for a very narrow experience of the world. I was never conscious of it until I moved to the UK.

I moved to London in 2016, an exciting year, to say the least, right after the Brexit referendum and before the USA election. Immigration was, therefore, a hot topic of conversation. Moving to London allowed me to come into contact with people that looked different to me, that believed in different things, that had gone through struggles, and it felt like my whole world opened up.

Granted, London is still in Europe. However, it has a very diverse population. In 2019, 40.2% of its residents identified as Asian, Black, or Other ethnic groups. I was excited about being an international student and I often asked people (I admit it, mostly POC) where they were from. The question usually (and understandably) resulted in annoying looks and people stating “I’m from here.”

Since then, I have learned about Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu traditions. I have learned to not make assumptions about people’s origins, diets, or religions. I have learned to recognize the statements and attitudes that are disrespectful, and I notice when a group of people in a position of power have no POC amongst them.

I notice when people stare at my non-white friends, or when they always get the ‘randomly checked’ at the airport.

I realized I had never been fully tolerant, or accepting because I had never been in a situation where I had to be. It is very easy to say that you believe a certain thing or stand up for something when no one is questioning it.

Leaving Spain put me to the test.

I have committed mistakes, I am sure, But I have learned to identify internalized racism and strive to be the best ally that I can be. I have learned the importance of listening and understanding. The most important step, however, was for me to recognize how much I needed to learn.

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Tech Science Now + Beyond

Science and technology is not the escape from Earth you think it is

The day the SpaceX mission launched, I opened my social media to find various posts from friends and family members all saying the same thing: “They chose the right time to go,” “I wish I could go to space now,” “Now is the perfect time to leave Earth!” I understood what people were saying. It was a tough week, fraught with reports of coronavirus infections, murder hornets, and brutal police killings of Black Americans. The rest of the year continued to face more and more concerns. Nonetheless, all these posts seemed somewhat off to me for a reason I couldn’t pinpoint.

Now, I recognize what that feeling was. Looking over the posts again, I realized that almost every single one was made by a white person, and none were written by a single Black person. It made me wonder: why do we think we have the right to escape this? Don’t get me wrong. I understand that escapism is a natural human desire, and it’s hard to blame people for wanting to escape from a global pandemic and a racist government. But at the same time, what good does escape do?

These posts also reveal another strange phenomenon: how we view science as separate from the “real world.” Space, technology, and science are often considered exempt from our human world’s biases, wholly infallible and detached from racism, corruption, and inequality. But this isn’t true. Technology informs government policies, provides tools to corrupt police forces, and sows seeds of classism and inequality. Science informs health and medicine, two very unequal sectors of our society–as this pandemic has shown with difficulties in distributing vaccines to the most in need. Even the United States Space Program was pushed forward out of Cold-War era political tensions, driven by political motive and power. This isn’t to say that science is inherently evil or corrupt, but that it has an incredible capacity for political and social change.

Human problems don’t end when we go to space. They just change location.

Science is and has always been a human endeavor. As long as humans are involved, it will take on the biases of the people who create and study it. For example, NASA is not free from human prejudice and politics. NASA’s workforce is still about 72% white, and only a third of the employees are women. SpaceX founder Elon Musk certainly isn’t free from prejudice as well. Musk has expressed some progressive views, but he’s also courted controversy by speaking out against coronavirus lockdownsspouting red pill rumors, and fighting union organizing. That doesn’t mean that SpaceX is necessarily racist or evil; it just means that the world of aerospace engineering is still capable of human biases.

These statements also show the wrong way we view science as totally disparate from our society. In reality, science and technology inform almost every aspect of our daily lives, from the information we receive daily to the medicine and hygiene we all need. Science is not separate from human endeavors but entirely integral to it. The world of science is not a detached fantasy world where one can ignore human problems. It is woven into every fiber of the world we inhabit now. We can use science and technology to create positive solutions, or we can ignore this opportunity and allow them to continue to enforce the status quo. Either way, we cannot ignore the impact of either of these sectors.

As attractive as it sounds, going to space will never be a true escape. People in space are still people, with all the biases, prejudices, fears, and traumas of people on Earth. Human problems don’t end when we go to space. They just change location. Science is an intrinsic part of every problem or solution that we have on Earth; it is not a distraction from our society but a fundamental aspect of it.

Most of us cannot go to space at this moment. It would be logically improbably and ethically wrong. Right now, the best thing we can do is stand our ground and stay on Earth. Hard as is it, we need you here, and now is not the time to run — or fly — away.

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Tech Race Now + Beyond Inequality

Gen Z is bringing cyberbullying back — or are they?

I had never visited Donald Trump’s Instagram page before but, when I went to check it for the first time, I found the oddest thing in the comments. Virtually every other comment was a teenager responding to his post with cyberbullying — yes, cyberbullying. All of these comments were various insulting puns with heart and fairy emojis. These comments tend to be witty bait and switches — “You made my day…worse!” or “You tried your best! Stop trying!” or other similar sentiments. Apparently, it got so bad that Trump turned off his comments. Some critics say that cyberbullying is back in a big way. But I don’t know if this is quite true.

What I do know is that members of Gen Z have been finding new ways to confront people online. Sometimes Zoomers will take aim at innocuous people they view as an easy target, such as millennial Buzzfeed readers or anime-loving band kids. Other times, they’ll go after peers and classmates. But something that has gained my interest is the “cyberbullying” of celebrities and politicians.

You might wonder: Is it cyberbullying if it’s a celebrity? Yes and no. Celebrities are still real people, as are politicians, and any form of harassment can hurt them. However, the act of bullying requires some kind of power imbalance.

Think of it this way: Back in school, bullies would usually target kids who were at least at their level or went after people they felt were less powerful. If a teenager on social media “bullies” the president, the same power imbalance isn’t there. The president isn’t a middle school child, even if he acts like one. He holds power over most of the population, meaning that the power imbalance necessary for bullying isn’t there. The same thing goes for other politicians.

What about celebrities? Well, from my experience, most celebrities who get “bullied” or “canceled” are targeted because of past problematic behavior. It can often be unfair, but most recently, people have been targeting celebrities who support Trump or refuse to speak in favor of Black Lives Matter.

One way this manifests itself is by pulling out “receipts” of racist incidents on social media. Within classrooms and college campuses, a similar pattern happens. Zoomers are perfectly willing to call out racist, sexist, and homophobic acts, especially if they can back up their claims with evidence. Most often, this involves digging up offensive social media posts or comments, rather than simply insulting someone. There are entire Instagram and Twitter accounts dedicated to exposing racists. Other generations might find it unusual, but it’s similar to the hate pages of millennials’ youth. The only difference is that these accounts have a social purpose.

These accounts function in a variety of different ways. Sometimes these accounts call for people to lose academic scholarships, college acceptances, or face disciplinary action for offensive behavior. Others have stated that they will remove the incriminating “receipts” if the person involved writes an apology or makes a donation to a relevant fund. In my experience, most just want to make sure that everyone is held accountable for their actions.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes these accounts go too far. Sometimes they “dox” the people involved and reveal personal information. Sometimes people go as far as to send death threats and hate mail. All of these actions constitute actual cyberbullying. However, we need to separate these actions: Sending death threats to a peer or exposing them to real harm is very different from simply calling them out for racist behavior. It’s certainly different from leaving a harmless comment with a fairy emoji on the president’s Instagram account.

Cyberbullying is alive and well, but so much of this so-called “political cyberbullying” is anything but that. Let me make one thing clear: Holding someone accountable for their reprehensible statements and actions isn’t bullying, it’s justice. We should all draw the line at doxing and threats, but it’s alright to hold people responsible for their actions. At the end of the day, let kids have fun with fairy emojis and puns, so long as they direct their mockery to the right people.

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USA Editor's Picks Activism Race The World Inequality

The jury finds Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murdering George Floyd

A landmark verdict was reached today in the Derek Chauvin trial. The jury has found Chauvin guilty on all counts, including second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Following the verdict, bail was revoked and people across the United States watched as Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was escorted away in handcuffs.

Arriving almost a year after the murder of George Floyd, the verdict is being lauded by some as justice for Floyd and his loved ones. While we will have to wait eight weeks for Chauvin’s sentencing, the verdict is a small victory in the fight against police brutality.

Police officers are rarely prosecuted in the U.S. Convicting police officers of a crime like murder is even rarer. Since 2005, courts of law have convicted only 35 officers of a crime related to an on-duty fatality. Chauvin’s verdict could signal a turning of the tide. Officers let off the hook thanks to social and legal protections, such as the blue wall of silence and qualified immunity, will now face the consequences of their actions

Already, we’ve seen this accountability take shape in Chauvin’s trial. Specifically, 45 witnesses testified, including the Minneapolis police chief. Witnesses also included law enforcement officers who broke with precedent and denounced Chauvin’s use of force.

“It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” the police chief said of Chauvin’s actions during the trial.

Historically, police officers have actively protected each other, which has become known as the blue wall of silence. This has made it more difficult to investigate those who have broken the law. The testimonies given in Chauvin’s trial could dawn an era in which stricter accountability of police forces isn’t wishful thinking, but a requirement upheld by all who don the badge.

Following the verdict, many activists and advocates doubled down on ending qualified immunity. Qualified immunity protects police officers from lawsuits that allege the official violated a plaintiff’s rights. Typically, qualified immunity is what makes suing police officers nearly impossible. Colorado and New Mexico are a few states that recently banned qualified immunity as a way to implement police reform.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years of jail time. The trial of Chauvin’s peers—Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao—will start on August 23.

While this is a day of justice for many, the landmark ruling does not conclude a long history of systemic racism. Nor does it signal an end to police violence against Black and brown people. 

Since the testimony of Chauvin’s trial began on March 29, at least 64 people—half of which were Black or Latino people—have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, including Daunte Wright. And, as the country awaited the verdict on Tuesday afternoon, a 15-year-old girl was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio. Ma’Khia Bryant joins Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and more on a too-long list of police violence victims.

At a press conference following the trial, George Floyd’s family cited these recent victims as reasons why they will continue to protest.

“We have to protest because it seems like this is a never-ending cycle,” said Philonise Floyd, Floyd’s brother, according to The Wall Street Journal. “I’m going to put up a fight every day, because I’m not just fighting for George anymore, I’m fighting for everybody around this world.”

President Biden and Vice President Harris called the Floyd family after the verdict was announced, with POTUS stating, “Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there is some justice.”

While justice has been served, there is still much work to be done, especially by the white community. According to a tweet from Alex Moe of NBC News, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi turned Floyd into a martyr, stating, “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice.” Comments like Pelosi’s make it sound like George Floyd had a choice in being murdered when that couldn’t be further from the truth. This minimizes the systemic problems in the U.S., namely how white supremacy and racism have been upheld by law enforcement for hundreds of years, resulting in the deaths of countless Black and brown people.

How many more Black and brown people have to die at the hands of the police before real change occurs? This problem isn’t new. In fact, it’s almost 200 years old. What’s new is holding the police accountable for the violence they enact on communities of color. But will the same accountability occur for the latest 65 victims of police violence?

Maybe it’s time to seriously consider what abolishing our current policing system looks like, and build community care networks in its stead. Because again I ask, how many more Black and brown people have to die at the hands of the police?

USA The World

Here’s what you need to know about the ongoing fight to unionize Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama

Last week, 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, voted on whether to unionize. If a majority vote in favor of unionizing, this will be a historic win for workers in the United States. Even if the union doesn’t pass, The New York Times describes the recent efforts in Bessemer as “the most significant unionization effort in Amazon’s history.” 

Over the last few decades, progress has occurred at a rapid pace. There have been new innovations intending to transform all walks of life. Amazon has largely been at the forefront of this change, introducing technological advancements to many of its operations across retail, grocery, entertainment, and more. However, as Amazon continues to expand, its employees are drawing attention to the cost of this aggressive advancement: workers’ health, wellbeing, and dignity.

As the second-largest private employer in the U.S., Amazon’s growth has helped to create thousands of jobs. The behemoth has also been applauded for paying its workers above the federal minimum wage, which at the time of publishing is $7.25; most Amazon employees start at $15 per hour.

Bessemer warehouse workers are arguing that compensation is still too low in light of the grueling conditions they endure while at work. 

AP News reports that Bessemer Amazon employees work on their feet for 10 hours a day and only receive two 30-minute breaks. At a Senate hearing, one worker testified that people are punished or even fired for taking more breaks than the allotted two. This has prevented warehouse workers from using the restroom a “normal amount,” according to Vice—which echoes complaints by Amazon’s delivery drivers, who often have to urinate in bottles to meet quotas.

Reveal investigated a “mounting injury crisis” at Amazon warehouses. After obtaining company records, Reveal found that injuries have increased over the past four years, with Amazon failing to hit its internal safety targets because of its rapid rate of production. Vice adds that during the pandemic, Amazon failed to properly protect its warehouse workers, resulting in almost 20,000 workers testing positive for COVID-19. 

In addition, Bessemer workers say they do not feel valued or respected. Many have noted that they are monitored throughout the day in order to ensure productivity goals are met. This surveillance on top of what  TIME describes as a “punishing pace of work,” has created low morale as workers feel dehumanized and disposable. 

The culmination of both the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic has brought to light employers’ responsibility to respect, protect, and listen to their employees. In addition to fairer compensation, many of the Bessemer workers who voted in favor of the union simply want to feel dignified in their workplace and have their complaints heard by Amazon. Vox reports that 80% of Bessemer Amazon employees are Black, with Amazon’s “overall front-line workforce disproportionately composed of people of color,” leading union organizers to also focus on issues of racial empowerment and equality. 

Historically, big businesses have discriminated against workers of color, often paying BIPOC less than their white counterparts. In the South, unions have long supported racial empowerment and equality, with sanitation, steel, and mining unions, to name a few, championing for Black workers’ rights during the Civil Rights Movement between 1954 and 1968. Unions are also who we have to thank for creating the framework of today’s work conditions. CNN lists weekends, 8-hour workdays, better pay, health care and retirement benefits, and banning child labor as the results of unions tirelessly working to protect workers and advance their interests.  

However, not all employers and employees support unionizing. Business Insider spoke to two Bessemer employees who voted against the union. They asserted that Amazon already provides what a union would, such as decent pay and benefits, and that a union would not be able to protect workers against termination. 

Amazon is also opposed to the union, preferring to speak with its employees directly on workplace issues. The company has taken an aggressive approach, including a PR campaign and papering employee bathrooms with anti-union rhetoric.  

While Amazon is doubling down on its treatment of workers, Vox notes that Amazon could be more worried that a union would “upend the speed and agility of warehouse operations; typically, the faster Amazon pushes warehouse workers, the quicker the company can get orders out the door to customers.”

It’s also important to note that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO,  continues to amass billions of dollars in wealth, while his employees do not. Brookings reports Amazon has “shared little of its astonishing profits” with its workforce. Specifically, Amazon earned an additional $9.7 billion in profit last year while Bezos added $67.9 billion to his personal wealth—and yet the company chose to end its $2 per hour pandemic wage increase.  

March 29, 2021 was the last day for Bessemer employees to vote on unionizing. After months of advocating, lobbying, and organizing, the results of the vote are expected to arrive any day now. No matter the result, many labor experts are expecting the efforts of Bessemer Amazon workers to inspire other warehouses, with Vox predicting a possible reshaping of the future of warehouse work in the U.S. 

However, the question remains: what is the price of progress? How far we are willing to go in the name of innovation must take into account individuals. It is people who make up a company, and it is people who are helping to drive digitalization. Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, remind us that the price of progress cannot and should not be people’s lives, wellbeing, and dignity.

If we sacrifice that, what will remain?


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How To Use The Internet Now + Beyond

I also don’t understand TikTok, but we should give it a chance

I’m too young to be a millennial and too old not to be one, but when it comes to TikTok, I know where I stand. TikTok does not make any sense to me. When I first downloaded the app in the pre-pandemic era, I told myself it was “for journalistic purposes” and, at the time, I wanted to understand what the madness was about. But I didn’t get the excitement, so I deleted it soon after.

But when the COVID-19 health crisis hit and we were confined to our homes, I began to hear more about TikTok’s captivating powers. Overwhelmed by tides of information and concerned about my ability to stick to my schedule, I told myself not to open yet another social media account. But fast-forward three months later, and I have now fallen into the TikTok trap after deciding to give it another chance.

Get rewarded for everyday activity. $10 sign on bonus.

Let me make this clear, I still don’t get it. I know I sound about 110 years old saying this, but I don’t get why the dances are fun to do or watch. Lip syncing doesn’t seem half as entertaining when it doesn’t involve Chrissy Teigen and I’m far too old to care about the relationship status of teenagers. All of the above notwithstanding, I’m in it for the ride, and I think you—my fellow millennials—should be too.

It’s more likely that you’ll come across very unique content and get to be known for your own individualized content in TikTok than in any other social media platform. TikTok has one of the most effective and secretive algorithms among social media platforms. If you haven’t ventured yet into the crevices of the app, TikTok opens to an individually tailored ‘For You’ feed. This is built around the information you give to the platform based on what you like and what you don’t.

When a new video is uploaded, it’s tested in the feed of a select number of users who have shown interest in related content. In contrast with your Instagram or Twitter feeds, TikTok’s ‘For You’ feed includes content from users you don’t follow, favoring a person’s chances of going viral with their content. In essence, its unique algorithm has turned TikTok into an explosive platform to rapidly amplify previously unknown users.

Even if you don’t understand the trance over tie-dyes, the incredible thing about the app is that there is simply so much more to it. An article from Wired described an entire subculture on TikTok dedicated to videos uploaded by prison inmates and their families. This type of content helps to humanize the experiences of prison inmates and highlight the importance of criminal justice reform. During the large-scale Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, it allowed activists to denounce violence as well as celebrate the beauty of protests that were otherwise not publicized on many media platforms.

To be fair, like most things on the Internet, TikTok also has a dark side. The platform has also become a beacon for extremism and, like many echo-chambered spaces on the Internet, divides its users into discrete spaces. And yet, in my experience during periods of lockdown, TikTok has continued to provide a space for community when there are no other alternatives.

Whatever your opinion is on the matter, we can’t deny that TikTok works as a social media platform. It allows for a new form of communication that is captivating audiences and getting people to pay attention. As much as I love reading and writing, I’m in awe of the production value of many of these videos. (It is unbelievable what can be achieved in under a minute). I’m also very grateful social media was a lot simpler when I was 15.

It is not the first time new trends capitalized by new generations are criticized. Figuring out what works on TikTok has helped me to learn what resonates with a younger generation that is growing up into an incredibly uncertain world: the same world as mine. For all the jokes and tension across millennials and Gen Z differences, we are facing the same challenges and have been tasked with cleaning up a pretty massive mess. It can’t hurt to work on it together.

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Skin Care Lookbook

7 up and coming Black owned skincare brands to keep an eye out for

Lately, the beauty community seems to be shifting its focus to skincare. Skincare tips and information are quickly becoming more popular amongst the public who are searching for beauty related content. There are popular skincare influencers across all major social media platforms from Instagram, YouTube, Tick Tock, and even Twitter. 

Particularly, Black women skincare influencers are a major influence and source of reliability in the skincare community on social media. Notably, many of these Black women who are skincare enthusiasts or estheticians also own skincare lines or companies of their own. 

Here are 7 up and coming Black woman-owned skincare companies to look out for:

1. Rosen Skincare

[Image description: Skin care products from Rosen Skincare.] Via
[Image description: Skincare products from Rosen Skincare.] Via
Jamika Martin, brand owner, and founder created Rosen after her own struggles dealing with acne. Rosen caters to individuals with acne-prone skin and offers people a cleaner way to combat their stubborn skin concerns. Rosen values integrity by committing themselves to be transparent regarding what is in their skincare products, how the products are made, and, ultimately, what makes their products so effective. 

Rosen’s skincare products can be found in Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

2. Black Girl Sunscreen

[Image description: A product photo of Black Girl Sunscreen.] Via
[Image description: A product photo of Black Girl Sunscreen.] Via
Black Girl Sunscreen, created in 2016, is probably one of the most prominent, up and coming sunscreen companies to come out of the last decade. Black Girl Sunscreen caters specifically to people with melanin as the founder, Shontay Lundy, wanted to make a sunscreen that doesn’t leave streaks or white casts on dark skin. However, anybody can benefit from Black Girl Sunscreen’s amazing formula. They do not use parabens or harmful chemicals to craft their sunscreen, which, notably, is also kid-friendly.

You can find Black Girl Sunscreen in Target. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

3. Buttermeupgoods Skincare

[Image description: Skin care products from Buttermeupgoods Skincare.] Via buttermeupgoods' Twitter
[Image description: Skincare products from Buttermeupgoods Skincare.] Via buttermeupgoods’ Twitter
Established in 2014, Buttermeupgoods Skincare covers all your skincare and wellness needs in one go. This Black woman-owned luxury skincare company challenges consumers to invest in their skin and seeks to take your skincare routine to the next level. Buttermeupgoods provides natural, hand-crafted products that are formulated with organic, non-GMO ingredients as stated on their website. Their products cater to various skin types and concerns and have no harsh additives, chemicals, or ingredients.

Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.


[Image description: Two hats from GLOWDEGA laying on the grass.] Via
[Image description: Two hats from GLOWDEGA laying on the grass.] Via
“Like a bodega but for skincare.” GLOWDEGA’s online shop was born amidst the pandemic last year to accommodate the company owner’s temporarily closed skincare studio in Oakland, California. This up and coming skincare store is owned and operated by @FairyGlowMuva as listed across her social media accounts or otherwise Hadiyah Daché.

GLOWDEGA provides a range of products and services. Customers can order face products and cleansing tools from some of their favorite brands as well as book online skin consultations.

Follow GLOWDEGA on Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to Hadiyah’s Youtube channel.

5. Ixora Botanical Beauty

[Image description: Skin care products from Ixora Botanical Beauty.] Via
[Image description: Skin care products from Ixora Botanical Beauty.] Via
Ixora Botanical Beauty’s products are the results of when natural skincare meets science. This small, Black woman-owned company was launched in 2012 from the St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Since then, Ixora Beauty has since sold over $100,00 worth of products and caters to customers across the globe. 

Ixora Beauty’s products specifically cater to dry skin and other skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis in a way that is both natural and affordable. They also offer personalized skincare consultations in addition to their wide range of skin, bath, and body products for both men and women.

Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

6. Honeydipped Cosmetics

[Image description: Skincare products from Honeydipped Cosmetics.] Via
[Image description: Skincare products from Honeydipped Cosmetics.] Via
Honeydipped Cosmetics was founded in 2017 by company-owner Tamara Thomas. This up and coming skincare line is an all-natural, plant-based, organic skincare line that is additionally cruelty-free. Honeydipped offers its customers a diverse range of products from cleansers, face and beard serums, and moisturizers as well as body care items like body butter and washes.

Their products have been featured in prominent publications like British GQ, Vanity Fair, and Harper’s Bazaar. Additionally, Honeydipped frequently offers valuable skincare advice across their social media accounts, including Instagram and Tik Tok.

Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

7. Base Butter

[Image description: Skin care products from Base Butter.] Via
[Image description: Skin care products from Base Butter.] Via
Base Butter has been featured in publications such as Essence, Elle, and Cosmopolitan. Co-founded by CEO She’Neil Johnson and VP of product Nicolette Graves, Base Butter seeks to make accommodating skincare for acne-prone and oily combination skin types.

Their products are designed to be understood by their customers in a way that is simple yet effective. Base Butter wants to help people feel protected and comfortable in their skin by crafting nourishing products that are redefining the intersections of beauty and skincare.

Follow them on Twitter

With the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer as well as it being Black History Month, many consumers are looking for Black-owned companies to give their support. There are tons of great up and coming Black woman-owned skincare lines, founded within the last decade, definitely making their mark within the skincare space across social media and beyond. We’re definitely here for it and hope you are too!

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Money Now + Beyond

Defunding the police could benefit American taxpayers. Here’s how.

Last year was a year defined by abolition movements. As a result of several killings by police officers that rightly garnered national outrage in 2020, activists have fought hard to now bring police abolition to the forefront of the American psyche. 

In particular, #BlackLivesMatter and abolition activists have been strongly critiquing the inflated police budgets in metropolitan cities within the United States of America that disproportionately outweigh the budgets of other city departments; namely, city departments that could provide citizens with better economic opportunity. Ultimately, major cities in the US receive up to billions of dollars worth of funding at the expense of American taxpayers.

As a result, police abolitionists have been demanding politicians to “defund the police” — a now controversial statement and call to action that is becoming increasingly misunderstood by the American populace. Even months after several police killings made national or global attention, the popularity of defunding police authorities among the American people is low. According to an ABC/Ipsos poll, only 39% of Americans support defunding the police, while 60% do not. 

This is because many Americans still falsely believe defunding the police would result in societal anarchy or the immediate disappearance of police officers. Rather, defunding the police is the first step towards police abolition which seeks to create a new system (over time), free of imperialism and inequity, that is more effective and beneficial for all. 

There was a police abolition campaign created last year, during the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter protests last summer, called “8 to abolition“— a multi-stepped plan to defund police authorities, encourage decarceration, and accessible housing, and decriminalize Black, Brown, and poor communities.

The 8 to abolition plan provides 8 steps to abolish the police, the first being a call to defund the policing system. Defunding the police, among many other things, entails significantly cutting the disproportionate amount of funds police departments receive from cities and reallocating those funds to under-funded aspects of the community; specifically, city departments that aid in maintaining the well-being of community residents like healthcare, education, housing, employment, and arts.

Many Americans still falsely believe defunding the police would result in societal anarchy.

In truth, upon deeper examination, defunding the police makes more economic sense than keeping the current policing system and would actually benefit most taxpayers’ pocketbooks. Notably, police budgets are expensive and take up a large part of city budgets. “Police budgets remain high in 2020, ranging from 20 to 45% of discretionary funding in major metropolitan areas,” Niall McCarthy explains in an article for Statista.

For example, the city I live in, San Antonio, Texas, spent 500 million dollars on policing in 2020. Other cities like Chicago (where the police departments are even more corrupt) spent much more on their police budgets. The Chicago Police Department (CPD) received 2 billion dollars from their city in 2020Similarly, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) had a 2020 budget of 1.7 billion, and the New York Police Department (NYPD) had a budget of a whopping 5.6 billion

In addition, states across the US spend millions of taxpayer dollars on police misconduct lawsuits.

A Rolling Stones article details the history of CPD’s history of corruption and violence. Regarding money the city of Chicago spent on police misconduct and brutality suits over the last decade, Paul Solotaroff states that “between 2010 and 2017, [Chicago] issued more than $700 million in police brutality bonds.” Correspondingly, in 2017, the NYPD spent $302 million on police misconduct lawsuits.

Consequently, these aspects of police spending and city corruption tend to fly under the radar due to confidentiality agreements and attorney-client privilege. In turn, taxpayers are essentially paying their cities at least millions of dollars for ineffective, corrupt, or downright abusive policing. So much government money is wasted on police departments across America for no valid reasons except to protect officers from legal accountability as well as to allow officers the resources to militarize against the communities they vow to “protect.”

Defunding the police could more effectively benefit taxpayers by reallocating city budgets into new avenues that could create jobs, could increase pay for government or state workers, and put government money back into the community. Sean Collins affirms this sentiment in his article for Vox stating, “Defunding police departments successfully would create a virtuous cycle, in which communities reap social and political benefits that translate into economic benefits for cities, states, and the communities themselves.” 

Between 2010 and 2017, Chicago issued more than $700 million in ‘police brutality bonds’.

Defunding the police is not only an attainable and reasonable call to action, but it’s necessary. Defunding the police would ultimately put government money where it’s most effective — invested in American citizens; more specifically, invested in the working-class communities who are the foundation of America’s economy. Thankfully, cities like Minneapolis (the city where George Floyd was murdered), Baltimore, and Austin along with Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago have defunded their police departments for the following fiscal year. These cities are instead using the reallocated money to invest in social programs, homelessness, Black and Brown communities, and more.

These are the necessary and logical steps to be taken to utilize taxpayer money to maximize financial benefits for, well, taxpayers. This money would get reinvested back into cities and states over time, creating a virtuous cycle of efficient and effective economics.

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Celebrities Activism Gender Politics Race The World

Naomi Osaka makes a case for athlete activism

What do Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, and just about every other teen flick have in common? Jocks? And what do these jocks have in common? Nothing. Apparently that’s all they are; two-dimensional sportspeople with no substance to their characters beyond their athletic activity.

I remember thinking about this when I had to write an essay for a civic discourse class. Although the ‘dumb jock’ stereotype is a cinematic trope, the notions behind it aren’t all that far-fetched. Even in real life, many people think that athletes are nothing more than their muscle or athletic ability.

Take Naomi Osaka for example. Heard of her?

Naomi Osaka wearing a black and blue tank and blue hat during one of her matches
[Image description: Naomi Osaka wearing a black and blue tank and blue hat during one of her matches], via Danielle Parhizkaran—Reuters.
Apart from popping up on my news feed for her continuous wins at the US Open, she has also been the subject of many articles for speaking up and showing support to the Black Lives Matter movement. She has also been the subject of critics who think she should be doing the exact opposite. 

Last year in particular has seen a lot of activism in wake of the continued injustices police have committed against black people, as well as inaction in reference to the coronavirus pandemic. In light of that, many celebrities have taken to social media and other channels to make their voice heard and spread awareness. The sports world has also taken part with many athletes showing their support by staging walkouts and sitting out of games.

In August, Osaka announced that she would not be playing at one of her upcoming semifinal matches. In a social media post, she said “before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman, I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand than watching me play tennis…” 


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After this, the Women’s Tennis Association released a statement saying that all matches would be postponed. 

The statement, as well as Naomi’s actions, prompted a slew of mixed reactions, with some supporting the decisions to take a stance against racial injustice. Other comments expressed disappointment, saying that sports should not mix with politics.

Hmm…. Where have I heard that before?

For decades, even centuries, athletes have used their platform as public figures to protest injustice. From Tommi Smith and John Carlos to LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick, this phenomenon is nothing new. Especially considering that many of these athlete activists are people of color, whose victories as first-class athletes does not negate the fact that they or their families can be treated as second-class individuals. But despite that fact, critics still respond to athlete activism with some response pertaining to “stick to sports”. 

Sports have historically been marketed as a form of escapism, an island separate from reality. So I’m honestly not surprised when people criticize athletes for being outspoken. When an activity is viewed as an escape from the real world, its participants will undoubtedly be positioned as absent from tangible things. But – that needs to change.

Here’s the thing: athletes are humans too. And just like any other person, they have a right to speak up regarding issues, especially those that directly affect them. Just because someone plays sports for a living doesn’t mean that their entire life revolves around that. Sure, being an athlete and a public figure means that their profession is a larger part of their day-to-day existence. But that doesn’t, and shouldn’t discredit their opinion on things not sports-related.

The opinion taken by most critics about athletes like Osaka who have spoken out is part of a greater conversation about athletes and their participation in the discussion of political, social and moral issues, particularly those considered polarizing or deviate from conservative views.

However, the fact remains that there is absolutely nothing polarizing about human rights. The harmful and vicious effects of racism are real. Athletes’ support for an ongoing quest for racial justice is not a lecture. Instead, it is a consensus of support for players who are Black. Instances of police brutality and institutional racism hit close to home. If sports leagues do not stand up against bigotry during this moment of social upheaval, they never will.

When people claim that supposed social justice biased sports will no longer be a place for fans to escape polarization, they really mean sports will no longer be welcoming for racist viewers.

Athlete activism today is a powerful thing because unlike earlier times when they couldn’t speak freely to the public, social media has provided a means to communicate to millions of followers – which is no small thing. That kind of platform has the potential to raise awareness on things that truly matter.

Naomi Osaka expressed similar sentiments when an interviewer questioned her about wearing seven different BLM masks during the open. Her response: “What was the message you got? I feel like the point is to make people start talking.”

And people are talking.

I grew up playing sports; I ran track, and I loved every moment of it. But never for one minute did I think that the presence of my athletic ability meant an absence of my intellect or voice. Why should professional athletes be considered any different?

It is time that people regard athletes as more than robots, but rather humans with convictions and morals they feel obligated to uphold.


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Editor's Picks Activism Race The World Inequality

58 years later, Martin Luther King’s words ring true: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

In 1963, Martin Luther King wrote a letter from a Birmingham, Alabama jail cell after being imprisoned there for participating in a peaceful protest against segregationist laws. King’s letter of 7,000 words over 21 pages quickly became some of his most famous written work.

During his time in jail, King reflected on Black people’s continued fight for liberation, why the demonstrations of the fifties and sixties were vital for Black people’s survival, and the need for accountability and allyship from “liberal” white America. King decided to write this letter to address criticism from white religious leaders who felt the civil rights demonstrations King was leading were “unwise and untimely.” A very familiar sentiment white Americans, on both sides of the political spectrum, use to critique Black civil rights movements to this day.

King was released from jail shortly after writing the letter and immediately returned to his activism in Birmingham. Notably, two weeks after his release, on May 5, 1963, over 1,000 children participated in the Children’s Crusade, skipping school to demand integration and equal rights. In response to the protest, Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety ordered dogs and fire hoses to be used against those who participated; as a result, 600 children were jailed and brutalized on that day. The excessive use of police force exerted against child protesters had been broadcasted on television, thus horrifying the rest of America in the process. 

Martin Luther King famously stated in his letter, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and at the moment, injustice in America lives all around us.

However, although America was seemingly disgusted by the horrific images they saw, their horror was short lasted, as there was very little tangible change surrounding racial power structures in America after the shock died down. People instead remained complicit in the ways in which white supremacy continued to viciously brutalize Black Americans.

Given the now-infamous storming of the capitol in the name of fascism enacted by white supremacists and Trump supporters from earlier this month as well as the global uprisings in support of Black Lives Matter from last summer, I found it necessary to reflect on King’s letter today. Like the white liberals King fired back at almost sixty years ago, many people on social media similarly criticized Black Lives Matter protestors and demonstrations; saying there are better ways or more appropriate times to get our demands for equality across. And, in a familiar fashion, critics of Black Lives Matter protests made these critiques without giving any alternatives to what they perceive would have been a better way for Black people to advocate for justice.

What is more eerily similar is how the capitol riots were broadcasted on television in real-time, and Americans again watched white people commit acts of violence in horror, only for calls to “just move on and let go” for the sake of unity to arrive from US senators hours after the “insurrection” occurred. Another stark contrast to how the BLM protests in the summer were treated.

Adding insult to injury, tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter protestors have been arrested since last summer. More specifically, approximately 14,000 BLM protestors have been arrested across 49 of the 50 United States so far according to a Forbes article. All of which further highlights how so little has fundamentally changed about the race and power dynamics in this country over the past six decades.

Black people fighting for equality are still criminalized harsher than white supremacists.

58 years after MLK’s letter from that Birmingham jail, and Black people fighting for equality are still criminalized harsher than white supremacists. In addition, when Black people lead civil rights protests, we’re still being held to higher standards of behavior, decency, and respectability compared to white people who enact domestic terrorism. 58 years and Black people are still putting our bodies on the line in the name of freedom and simply wanting to be a respected part of America’s democracy. So, what do we do about it?

In a couple of days, President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office; however, we cannot ignore the existence of Trump’s supporters and white supremacists simply because Trump is out of office. As Martin Luther King famously stated in his letter, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and at the moment, injustice in America lives all around us. Many of the people who committed criminal offenses at the capitol were seemingly “average” and “unsuspecting” racist white people who take up spaces in schools, as medical staff, in office-related work environments, in law enforcement, military, and more that negatively impact Black people’s lives.

For example, Black women are up to 3 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes compared to white women due to medical racism. Black students are 4 times more likely to be suspended from school and almost 3 times as likely to be expelled compared to white students. Black people make up 13% of the US population but account for 42% of people on death row and 35% of those executed; similarly, in 2018 Black people accounted for 33% of the prison population in America, nearly triple our general population. Black trans women have high mortality rates, and therefore have a life expectancy of 35-years-old. In workplaces, Black women are paid 38% less than white men and 21% less than white women. Needless to say, Black people are constantly subjected to harmful and life-threatening racism, in every facet of our lives, at the disposition of white supremacy.

Martin Luther King said, “justice delayed is justice denied.”

All of us should now see clearer than ever the oppressive double standards for how Black people are treated in the US compared to whites. To achieve true equality, racism must be addressed and rooted out in both liberal and conservative spaces. Additionally, Americans must hold our elected officials accountable for their participation in white supremacy and force them to earnestly denounce racism as well as create laws that provide equity for Black people. We cannot just keep moving on when white nationalists display themselves because we’re consequently allowing the same racial injustices to be forgotten for the sake of white people’s comfort or for fear of making the country “more divisive.”

However, the focus needs to be less on white comfort and more on vehemently ensuring Black people’s survival. Martin Luther King said, “justice delayed is justice denied.” So, how much longer are we going to continue allowing racism to not only exist but prosper so blatantly before we’ve decided enough is enough?


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USA Editor's Picks 2020 Elections The World

White supremacy is on display in the US Capitol

As I am writing this, the Capitol of the United States is under siege. During the certification of the electoral college vote, thousands of ‘Proud Boys’ and Trump supporters have descended on the hill with two goals in mind: to stop the vote and cause chaos. The rioters breached the building by breaking through windows with shields and climbing through. Many of those who joined the mob were heavily armed and have reportedly pulled out their guns and fired shots.

Watching this play out is a surreal experience. The past four years of the Trump presidency has been marred with police brutality and blatant racism. The KKK has resurged incomprehensibly all the while the President himself has consistently used decisive and dangerous rhetoric which encouraged the kind of visceral we are seeing today. Joe Biden’s win in November incited a catalyst in which Trump objected to the integrity of Democracy and has used Twitter as well as his base to argue that the election was stolen from him and, in effect, America has been stolen from the people. The events that we are all currently watching are what white America does when it doesn’t get its way. It is an eleventh-hour attempt by the MAGA militia to give the election back to ‘the true winner’ and away from the “liars.”

In reality, however, this demonstration is a disorderly assault on American Democracy and one of the largest domestic terrorist threats of our time. 

What has really struck me is the lack of work and preparation from security forces, particularly in contrast with the civil rights protests from the summer. The Black Lives Matter protests were met with riot shields, tear gas, rubber bullets, and oftentimes military forces. At the time, streets were filled with tear gas to a point where a fog had descended and protestors could barely see through the smoke. Some activists even lost an eye after being severely pelted with rubber bullets.

This demonstration is a disorderly assault on American Democracy and one of the largest domestic terrorist threats of our time. 

In sharp contrast, only the Capitol Police, who in hindsight did the bare minimum, were present when unhinged terrorists stormed onto and raided a building that is meant to be a beacon of Democracy. In fact, there are live images of them watching the rioters from the balconies in minimal gear. If these were Black people, many would have been harassed and brutalized 20 minutes in with the police wearing military-grade protection. This doesn’t just show white privilege but white power. Law enforcement is certainly at fault for much of what took place today, and speaks to its level of complicity with this behavior.

Such lack of action paints a sobering picture of who those in power deem a threat. On Capitol Hill today we saw an overwhelming number of white armed bodies, mainly male, who were widely not viewed as a threat even after weeks of organizing and making their intention to be violent clear. Meanwhile, when peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors, mostly consisting of Black bodies, took to the streets over the summer to denounce white supremacy, police brutality, and the state violence, they were attacked and berated. The harsh reasoning behind this contrast and ultimate inaction is the seed of white supremacy which has been planted irreversibly at the root of our society. The rioters on the Capitol are fighting a legitimate election that has been counted multiple times during which the US President consistently held that the votes were fraudulent – a claim that many courts have thrown out. They are domestic terrorists emboldened by Trump’s inflammatory, seditious and false rhetoric. This was not a spontaneous coup, in fact the hate it so vehemently and deeply projects has been brewing for centuries.

This was not a spontaneous coup, in fact the hate it so vehemently and deeply projects has been brewing for centuries.

The biggest question I have been reflecting today is what is the result for American democracy? The US itself has openly and proudly invaded other countries which have had similar events take place, claiming the urgent need to preserve democracy. If this was any other state, the US would have surely invaded, and denounced the demonstrations as anti-democratic, vicious, or uncivilized. If the bodies ‘protesting’ weren’t white, then blood would be dripping from Capitol Hill. But the question remains, if this is the democracy the US wants to transport to the rest of the world, why should we accept it?

Thinking back again to the protests around BLM and more specifically police brutality, the call for the abolishment of the police was met with the slogan #BlueLivesMatter. Of course, the implication being that police officers are also victims, and the BLM protests failed to recognize their sacrifice. The very same people who so proudly shouted Blue Lives Matter then, are committing acts of violence against the Capitol Police today. They argued that people should ‘respect the cops and you won’t get killed’ but are now fighting, punching, and kicking those same officers. The BLM protest had nothing to do with disrespecting the police and everything to do with Black people demanding actions which would ensure human rights. This makes clear that what was seen as offensive to the white population had nothing to do with lack law and order, and everything to do with race.

The harsh reasoning behind this contrast and ultimate inaction is the seed of white supremacy which has been planted irreversibly at the root of our society.

Perhaps one of the most sobering images I have seen from todays events was the Confederate flag being flown in the Senate Chambers. This horrid flag stands as a personification of white power and white control. No one who cares for racial equality looks to the Confederate flag with anything but disgust. The message the flag bearer, who was surrounded by anarchists claiming to be ‘real Americans,’ intended to send was clear: white supremacy is alive and well in the United States, and they will go to great lengths to restore dangerous ideologies they so passionately believe in.

These events aren’t new either. Coups have taken place all over the world when citizens and in some cases the military have been dissatisfied and taken over the government. The US has always flown in as the beacon of liberty and democracy and, with its military force, attempted to solve the issue. Time and time again we have heard ‘this isn’t America’ – but it IS America. When white America has been unable to get what it wants it historically responds with violence. Think of the Tulsa Race Massacre or the Massacre at Wounded Knee as examples.

After much time and convincing, and after most of the damage had taken place, the President went on TV and asked the rioters to return home. He did so while reiterating that the election was stolen, stoking more violence, and called them ‘special people’. He also told the terrorists that he ‘loved them.’ There was no denouncement of their actions nor did he oppose any future action. The statement was pathetic. Throughout the height of the violence, he sat and watched. Fascists will not stop fascist movements, however, so I am not surprised that authorities allowed this coup to continue for as long as it did.

The wrong use of language hasn’t helped either. Many news outlets and tweeters have referred to the rioters as protestors; this is intentional. When we hear protesters we automatically tend to support them because protests largely happen against oppressive regimes. Let me be clear: these are not protestors but domestic terrorists. They refuse to accept a legitimate election and have chosen to attempt a coup and to destroy the democratic system. As one would expect, BLM was referred to as a riot. This automatically painted people peacefully protesting for equal rights as criminals and vandals. Language is important in the way we interpret a cause. In this way, white people are again falsely seen as a beacon of civility against the Black criminal rioter due in large part to language.

The last time the US saw this level of attack on government was in 1776, the same year it gained independence from Britain. Not even during the Civil War has democratic buildings been attacked in such a manner as we saw today. If today’s events have shown anything it’s the extent to which white extremists will go to voice their concerns. It highlights the importance of carrying on the fight for equality. The day Biden won, people cried. It was finally over, it felt that they were no longer at war for the basic right to live. We should look at the events of today and begin to dismantle the white supremacy which infects America like a plague and start to bring justice to people who have been ignored and brutalized for so long.


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Race Inequality

How we have failed Black Lives Matter

There are three slogans that immediately come to mind when I think of 2020: whether from work emails, local business ads, or neighborhood storefronts: In these unprecedented times, We are alone–together, and Black Lives Matter. How did an organized political and social movement, which first came together in 2013, after the US justice system showed its favored hand in acquitting Trayvon Martin’s murderer, become the loudest cry of 2020?

The May 24th murder of George Floyd in broad daylight sparked a resurgence of activism across the United States and abroad. His, and many other Black lives have become casualties to systemic and ingrained prejudice, which has aggressively attacked the lives of innocent individuals—often going about their daily lives. The fact that this act of brutality by white police officers was caught on camera opened the door for a spate of brutal killings preceding May 24th to come to light. One of the earliest among them was the murder of twenty-six year old Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020. Joining the cry of “I Can’t Breathe!” was a fierce reminder to, “Say Her Name!” 

This chant, first initiated by the African American Policy Forum, was meant to reinstate the urgency of recognizing not only Black death in its numbers, but in its intersectionality. In her TED talk regarding the importance of intersectionality, Kimberlé Crenshaw (one of AAPF’s founding members) highlights the disparity in acknowledging male and female deaths. She asks the audience to stand for a litany of names, sitting only once they’ve heard a name they don’t recognize. The familiar names of Black men are read to a mostly standing audience—once the names of women are read off, the number drops drastically. This, Crenshaw reminds her audience, is why we must “say her name”—the bodies of Black women do not receive the same urgency or mobilization. 

It seemed in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s death, that we had finally heeded Crenshaw’s advice: we said her name, we posted widely on social media to call for the arrest of her murderers. However, we were quickly, and rightfully condemned: unlike with George Floyd, merchandise and memes made Breonna Taylor’s body a marketing strategy for us to feast on. What day wasn’t a wonderful day to call the Louisville police and demand that they arrest the cops who murdered Breonna? 

On September 23, 2020, the verdict was clear: we hadn’t made Breonna Taylor a movement, but rather a media spectacle. We had failed Breonna Taylor. News first emerged that only the stray bullets discharged had been condemned, reminding us how little we valued the bodies of Black women. Then we learned that the officers who had fired their weapons at Breonna had never even been charged.

While it is an exercise of our democracy to protest and demonstrate against these injustices—what has been left of this summer of activism except a capitalist machine reawakening from the drowsy haze of March-May quarantine? What workplace, or institution, didn’t send an email condemning police brutality—or at best, a senseless murder? My own sphere as a graduate student of English, and writer, called it a reckoning: were we highlighting Black voices? Were we publishing enough BIPOC writing? We had been thus far focused on the optics of not being racist; now we had to learn how to be actively anti-racist. Ibram Kendi’s books flew off the shelves as book clubs formed, Zoom invitations flooded our inboxes as we put the pressure on our mourning Black colleagues to educate us—tell us how we could help them.

As a non-Black woman, there is a limitation on how much I can claim in a space that was carved out for a much more marginalized group than my own (Indian-American, and fairly well represented in academic institutions, if not my own department). However, watching this intersection of space occur within my own communities has been a reminder of the everyday microaggressions that I have seen culturally normalized. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality has, quite literally, been a lifesaver for those who fell through the cracks of a system that didn’t recognize their varied experiences and identities. So if we know the importance of this in 2020, then we must be applying it widely, right? Well–these intersections only work when we actively choose to recognize them. 

For example, Islam is the third largest religion in the US, and while many of the mosques follow de-facto segregation based on immigrant community pockets, there is in fact a much larger community that often gets overlooked in the public narrative of American Muslims. Black Muslims make up one of the largest demographics in the US. Yet it took waves of BLM protests to remind immigrant communities of this. In my own twenty some years of experience I have witnessed first-hand acts of microaggressions against Black Muslims that even the most devout of our community would deny. 

Black mosques exist—this bears repeating—Black mosques exist, despite my (Desi) community’s apparent ignorance of the fact. Each Ramadan we hold fundraisers, inviting only for one night a local imam with a radical idea: raising money for a mosque just across town that we didn’t know existed. Why? It primarily served the Black Muslim community. We would, for one night, remind ourselves that there is no superiority among Muslims, raise a meagre sum, and then go back to campaigning for a (boys only, of course) basketball court in Stage Three of the mosque construction dream plan. No wonder then, that I would receive emails as a community point person during my undergraduate years requesting locations of nearby mosques in Baltimore, with the local lists shot down until I suggested a larger Desi mosque out of town.   

With such a framework in place, we were not prepared for the activism asked of us as Desi-Americans this past summer. A sign in itself is not enough. In the end, amidst a scramble of companies, organizations, and institutions attempting to attach themselves to the right side of history, it remains clear that the intention was to keep themselves on the right side of their consumer base, making BLM “just good business”. A storefront sign becomes just part of the window display, and we decide we’ve talked enough about race. 

I don’t know what the next few days will look like (hi, 2020) but in order for us to atone for commodifying this movement—one with literal lives on the line, I’m looking at each “intersection-ed” community. It’s time to step up and speak up for what unifies us, not lay complicit in what divides us.


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