Editor's Picks

Our 21 favorite articles of 2021 from The Tempest fam

In recognition of the hard work our writers and editors have done this year, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite articles. These are the stories that resonated with our audience, fellows, and more importantly with each other. 2021 has been a rough year, but we can still find a silver lining within these cloudy skies.

1. Naomi Osaka makes a case for athlete activism

Naomi Osaka wearing a 'Breonna Taylor' mask while playing
[Naomi Osaka wearing a ‘Breonna Taylor’ mask while playing], via ABC Frank Franklin
This article proves that people are more than the basic stereotypes society expects them to live up to. Being an athlete is more than playing a sport. It can also mean utilizing your platform to speak about injustices that affect you to a wider audience. 

2. White supremacy is on display in the US Capitol

[Image Description: Rioters entering the US Capitol with Trump flags. The buildings is surrounded by a fog of tear gas.] Via Reuters.
[Image Description: Rioters entering the US Capitol with Trump flags. The buildings are surrounded by a fog of tear gas.] Via Reuters.
This admittedly embarrassing time for the United States, also reveals an ugly truth hiding in plain sight. White supremacists, in a state of insecurity of losing their privilege, are fighting for their voice to be heard in a society that is already made in their favor.

3. Bridgerton’s new leading lady Kate Sharma is here – and she’s South Asian

[Image description: Simone Ashley playing Olivia in 'Sex Education' looking to the side and wearing a red jacket. ] Via Netflix
[Image description: Simone Ashley playing Olivia in ‘Sex Education’ looking to the side and wearing a red jacket. ] Via Netflix
One of the most-viewed Netflix shows of all time, featuring a dark-skinned Woman of Color in the main character role? And it looks like it isn’t a pandering move for performative representation? Yeah, you know we have to talk about this.

4. Monique Coleman’s HSM story reveals a larger pattern of hair discrimination in the workplace

[Image description: A collage of Monique Coleman as Taylor Mckessie from Highschool Musical and Vanessa Morgan as Toni Topaz from Riverdale.] Via and
[Image description: A collage of Monique Coleman as Taylor Mckessie from Highschool Musical and Vanessa Morgan as Toni Topaz from Riverdale.] Via and
In a white-dominated society, it is easy to overlook something like hair. However, in the black community, hair has so much meaning and reveals a deeper story about identity. Having that not be taken seriously or being looked down on is something that needs to be corrected.

5. All the words I wish I could have told you

An image of a man and woman lying down in a field, her head is in his lap.
[Image Description: An image of a man and woman lying down in a field, her head is in his lap.] Via Unsplash
A very raw self-reflection of a failed relationship. It’ll pull on your heartstrings and will make you realize the impact people do have on our lives. No one is ever really gone even after they left.

6. Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah reminds us not to romanticize the British Monarch

[Image description: photo captured from Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle.] Via
[Image description: photo captured from Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle.] Via
This is a commentary from our editors on the ground-breaking Oprah interview on what happened behind closed doors. Meghan proves how much mainstream media puts the British Monarchy in a lighthearted way, they are still a reminder of a colonial past living on present-day in a new outlook.

7. Corsets are finally back in style – here’s what you need to know

[Image description: a long-haired woman wearing a white corset]
[Image description: a long-haired woman wearing a white corset] Via Unsplash
One of the biggest fashion trends in 2021. Would you think twice about a garment that is a symbol of societal expectations of what a woman’s body should naturally look like just because you saw a celebrity you like wear it?

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

[Image Description: A protestor holding a sign that says I Can't Breathe] Via Unsplash
[Image Description: A protestor holding a sign that says I Can’t Breathe] Via Unsplash
A landmark decision that made everyone hold their breath. An event that sparked #BlackLivesMatter marches worldwide. This is only the beginning.

9. Celebrities are not activists, but they play a role in the public perception of Palestine

Group of persons gathered for a protest in a city with Palestinian flags
Group of persons gathered for a protest in a city with Palestinian flags

You should not take a celebrity’s opinion as law, but they sure as hell have the influence to turn their followers on to a certain issue. Society gives a lot of spotlight to A-listers so when they start talking, it will bring a lot of attention to an issue. However, their silence can speak volumes as well.

10. Let me tell you about Wu Zetian, China’s only empress and most hated woman

An image of Wu Zetian from "An 18th century album of portraits of 86 emperors of China, with Chinese historical notes".
[Image description: An image of Wu Zetian from “An 18th-century album of portraits of 86 emperors of China, with Chinese historical notes”.] Via Encyclopædia Britannica
Wu Zetian may appear controversial in some circles, but her placement in history should be recognized. She made great advancements despite the drama that riddled throughout her reign. But in the end, she is still human and a damn great ruler.

11. The problem with ‘nude’ in the fashion and beauty industries

Seven body luminizing tint tubes in various shades
[Image Description: Seven body luminizing tint tubes in various shades] Via Fenty Beauty on Instagram
The fashion and beauty industries still have a long way to go to become inclusive to their audience. “Nude” was always catered toward white people, not POCs. Here we call out this problem and suggest some great business to look at who reclaims what nude means.

12. Compulsory heterosexuality is yet another thing I had to unlearn from my youth

[Image description: Happy couple relaxing on bed together.] Via Pexels
[Image description: Happy couple relaxing on a bed together.] Via Pexels
Breaking free of what you have been taught is not an easy task. It takes a lot of questioning and recognizing those ideas you grew up with can be wrong and in turn hurting your development. This article will leave you questioning influence other things that were considered normal, and that’s a good thing.

13. Here’s everything you need to know about the controversy around NFTs and artists

A still from the Nyan Cat YouTube video
[Image description: A still from the Nyan Cat YouTube video] Via YouTube
One of the biggest things to come out in 2021 was the rise of NFTs. We lay down what they are and their place in the artist community in an easy-to-understand read.

14. My female friends are the reason why I know true love

[Image description: Photo of women laughing.] Via Pexels
[Image description: Photo of women laughing.] Via Pexels
Platonic love gets overlooked, but it is truly one of the best relationships a person can have. Remember, you can find love in other people – and it doesn’t need to be romantic.

15. Canada continues to violate the rights of Indigenous people

[ Image description: A white teepee.] via Erikawittlieb on Pixabay
A heartbreaking revelation of Indigenous people being wrongfully treated and a worthwhile read. Talking about these atrocities is important and we can no longer allow Indigenous people to have their rights be ignored.

16. Fashion can thank feminism for its leading magazine

[Image description: Hélène Gordon-Lazareff, an early cover of Elle, and a contemporary issue of Elle with bottles of nail polish.] Via,, and Unsplash
[Image description: Hélène Gordon-Lazareff, an early cover of Elle, and a contemporary issue of Elle with bottles of nail polish.] Via,, and Unsplash
The core progressive principles of Gordon-Lazareff live on in Elle Magazine. It’s more than a fashion magazine, it is a symbol of women’s empowerment.

17. How I video-gamed my lockdown away 

A screenshot from Animal Crossing New Horizons, with the main character smiling in front of her house.
A screenshot from Animal Crossing New Horizons, with the main character smiling in front of her house.

If you weren’t the group of people who decided to take up a side hustle during the lockdown, did you end up playing video games instead? Sometimes you don’t need to make money to feel like you need to accomplish something. Sometimes you just need to go fishing on your animated island with all of your animal villagers and smile.

18. Is freelancing a risky or necessary career move?

[Image description: Person sitting at a computer.] Via Pexels
[Image description: Person sitting at a computer.] Via Pexels
This isn’t a simple yes or no question and it wasn’t designed to be. Capitalism robs us of feeling like our artistic passions are only meant for a paycheck and not as the form of expression it was meant to be.

19. Chloé Zhao admitting she still writes fanfiction made my 2021

Chloe Zhao sits in front of a yellow background
[Image description: Chloe Zhao sits in front of a yellow background] Via Oscars
Doesn’t get as relatable as this. All those nights reading amazing fanfiction to only realize one of them was made by an Oscar-winning director? Isn’t it great to imagine you got a glimpse of success so early before their breakout moment?

20. The good fortune of being a nobody

A woman stands in front of a camera. Via Unsplash
[Image Description: A woman stands in front of a camera. Via Unsplash]
Life leads us to the path we were meant to be on. This is a scary moment of how a brush of success can be a major turning point as to where your life can lead.

21. When you need a break from the news, it’s okay

A group of people protesting.
[Image Description: A group of people protesting.] Via Unsplash
It is important to stay informed at to be on top of news as it happens, but it is equally important to check in with yourself. When the news gets too much, you need to know when to step back. This article is a great way to remind yourself to do so.

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Did you like what we picked? Which was the article that spoke to you the most?

We want to thank you all for a wonderous 2021. It’s been a wild year, to say the least. Thanks for making us part of your corner of the internet. Here’s to another year of great content to consume. Much love from The Tempest Fam!

Editor's Picks Love Life Stories Advice Career Advice

Here’s the graduation advice nobody will ever tell you

I never thought I’d be writing a letter to college graduates, but considering the world that we live in today, and the many terrifying fears I remember going through in the day of and weeks/months/year after graduation, I think it’s definitely more than time for me to plunge into this.

I’ll lead with a disclaimer: take these nuggets of advice and see whether they apply to your life. Not everything will.

I’m not a fan of writing blanket statements, and hell, it’s okay if you’re not in the place many are today. If so, kudos!

1. I know everyone and their mother is already asking what your next steps are, and it’s probably reached a fever pitch, now that you’ve got your diploma in hand.

Here’s the truth: if you don’t know yet, that’s okay. One of life’s biggest secrets is that even the people asking you don’t know what their next steps are. Hell, sometimes they’re just asking in a desperate attempt to get some sort of advice or validation about their lives.

Another secret: once you graduate college, life is fluid. You don’t have to do what others are telling you. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Everyone has a plan for your life post-graduation – but the only one that has the real power is you.

I get it – I’m the oldest child of parents who have big, big dreams for my siblings and myself. I faced a lot of heated discussions the weeks leading up to and following graduation, all of which had the same tone: why aren’t you doing anything with your life?

 Know what that means? It means that your value is inherently determined only if you’re doing what your parents/relatives/friends/strangers deem to be appropriate. And that’s a load of crap.

Know that there will be a different future out there.

It’s a known fact that I worked at Princeton University for two years after graduation, but the thing I didn’t tell those who knew me was that I worked in Staples, struggling to apply to jobs and keep my head up, for the summer following graduation. I had even put in an application for a second job at Chipotle when I received the job offer from Princeton.

I do want to make this clear: in no way did my time at any of the three locations matter more or less than the other. Ultimately, it came down to keeping my head up, surviving incoming bills, and trying to still go after my dreams.

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I was okay with every moment, grateful for the opportunity – even if those who knew, weren’t – because I knew that there’d be a different future out there.

3. Your life in the year after graduation does not determine your worth or future or opportunities. 

Yeah, we all know about that wunderkind that’s got four incredible job offers, acceptance at five Ivy Leagues and a Truman Fellow. Want to know something? They’re just as unsure and insecure about what’s going to happen next, just as you are. And that’s okay. 

The reason “roadmaps” after college don’t really work is because – to be frank – you don’t know how your self and life will shift and morph and grow post-graduation.

You are incredible, no matter how you might feel right now.

What intrigued you during college won’t make you blink in the year after, or five years after. I graduated with a minor in education studies.

Newsflash: I haven’t really used it since then, but that’s okay.

I take it for what it was.

4. It’s okay to be afraid of what happens next.

I’m going to repeat it, just in case you haven’t really understood it: it is more than alright to be afraid of what life looks like ahead.

The biggest crime you could commit in this scenario is to let that fear hold you immobile, hold you back from trying. Don’t let that happen.

Throw yourself into things that just might pique your interest. Try out that internship, pick up a job, do what you can to remind yourself of your value – but don’t give up.

It is okay to be afraid of what life looks like ahead.

Don’t let the fear swallow you up – and if it does, confide in a friend you trust, a mentor – or a therapist.

5. The best part about being done with college is you now have the ability to make your life truly your own.

Regardless of whether you’re back living with your parents, crashing with friends, or living on your own, this is it.

This is life. You’re in full control.

No matter what people might tell you/advise you/berate you/try to drag you down – you’re the one in the driver’s seat. Never let someone strip you of that power. You are incredible, no matter how you might feel right now.

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You have your whole future ahead of you, to make of it what you will.

And that, that is truly empowering. I promise you.

But sometimes it’ll be lonely – which is okay. Hit me up on Instagram if you want to talk things through – even though I graduated years ago, I believe in helping those who need it.

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Books Pop Culture

Aya Khalil invites us to step into the shoes of an immigrant child in “The Arabic Quilt”

This might be the understatement of the century, but having to flee your country and leave your past, your life and your beloved ones behind is quite a hard experience. There are about one million people who immigrate every year in pursuit of a better life in the US. Having to fit in a new community while also trying to hold onto your beliefs and traditions is a challenging task that many people struggle with. Aya Kahlil tries to tackle this issue in her new book The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story. 

Aya is a freelance journalist and blogger who holds her Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. Her background as an immigrant and her love for teaching are what drove her into writing her book. She wanted to deliver a message that being different in culture or speaking a different language is something that makes you special and you should be proud of it.

She described her book saying: “An Egyptian American girl learns to appreciate her family’s language after a teacher encourages a classroom project.” The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story tells the story of Kanzi, whose family recently immigrated from Egypt to America, and on her first day in the new school, she is trying her best to fit in. She feels ashamed of her mother who wears a hijab and calls her Habibti (loved one) in front of everyone at school and she even doesn’t want to take any authentic food with her to school to avoid any teasing. She later learns, with the help of her teacher, to love her ethnicity and language and to appreciate her family and be proud of them.

When talking about her inspiration behind the book, Aya told us of her own experience growing up as an immigrant in the US and how one teacher helped her get through this and helped her appreciate her identity more. “I was in about third or fourth grade, I and my brother were the only Muslims in the school and my teacher knew that we were Egyptians and immigrants so she asked me to write my classmates’ names in Arabic and bring them to class. My mom helped me out in writing them and the next day, I handed out the cards with the Arabic names to each student and they each copied their names and the teacher hung them up. I remember it being hung up in the class and it made me feel welcome and that there is no hostility against immigrants and it made me feel so good and proud.”

After Aya decided to pursue teaching and work in the field, and after she wrote her book about the influence of a teacher in changing a student’s life, Aya was able to reconnect with her teacher from elementary school who was the inspiration behind the book, and she even gave her a copy of the book to thank her.

Attribution: [ Aya's teacher posing with a copy of her book in front of her elementary school]
Attribution: [ Aya’s teacher posing with a copy of her book in front of her elementary school]
During our interview, Aya also touched on her motive behind the book and the message she wished to deliver, saying “It’s about representation. I want immigrant kids, marginalized kids, Arab kids, and people of color to see themselves in stories and to have them say I am worthy enough of being a character in a picture book.”

Immigrants and minority groups have been suffering from symbolic annihilation for quite some time and finding someone who truly represents them without any biases, stereotypes, or misrepresentation is a dream to many minorities. “Being heard and having the feeling that they matter and being able to embrace their culture, heritage, identity, language, and everything.” She continued.

Aya has always had a passion for teaching English, she discovered that passion when she was on a vacation and decided to pursue that passion. “When I would go back to Egypt in the summer, I would volunteer with a charity organization to teach English and I really liked it, so I came back that summer and enrolled in the Master’s degree in teaching,” Aya said.

“Persist, be authentic and always ask yourself who am I writing for, who do I want to empower through my book” were Aya’s words of advice to new writers. “Always write and get feedback from writers who are on a similar path. Publishers are always looking for diverse writers so I think this a really good time. Write, ask questions, decide your target audience, you might get rejections, but don’t give up.”

If a proper representation is wanted, then writers and actors from that background are who should represent themselves. Stories about minority groups should be told by minority groups themselves, not anyone else. That’s why Aya talked about persistency and authenticity, as they are strong tools for diverse writers to achieve fair representation for themselves and their communities.

Aya has also wanted to show that Muslims and Arabs can be anything they want so when she was asked what does she think Kanzi would be when she grows up her answer was: ” An athlete, she loves swimming, she would definitely want to become a swimmer. But she will also write on the side to express herself.”

In her book, Aya shows kids that embracing your language, identity, religion, and culture can seem intimidating at first, but everyone is unique in their own way and everyone’s background is what makes them unique.

We’re doing a giveaway of Aya’s book The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story on our Instagram, stay tuned and enter to win a copy! 

If you absolutely cannot wait to start reading it, get it from Amazon or from our brand-new The Tempest bookshop helping local bookstores!

Editor's Picks Self-Care Fashion Lookbook

Here’s what those “comfy” Insta-famous sneakers are really like

When it comes to shoes – especially sneakers – you know that the look is never really that universal. You’ll see the shoes on the model, the shoes in real life, but they’ll always have a unique fit on you.

So we decided to do something different when we discovered Cariuma, and instead, had our team try them on, instead. Who better to tell the truth, right?

These six women – Deema, Yannise, Meagan, Aafiyah, Tamanna, and Tiara – are the willing testers.

Meagan (top left): I work in an office setting so I’m all heels and flats during the week and typically wear booties or flipflops (depending on the weather) on the weekends. Sneakers? Not so much. I never felt like I had the legs or style to wear them without looking a little silly. I mean, of course, I wear them to the gym, but that’s different! 

Aafiyah (top middle): I don’t really wear sneakers, choosing instead to wear boots. I always thought that I wouldn’t be able to buy sneakers that are reasonably priced and still be able to dress well. Instead, I usually choose to wear boots and my past experiences with sneakers? Nothing to write home about. 

I never felt like I had the legs or style to wear them without looking a little silly. —Meagan

Tamanna (top right): Sneakers are my everyday go-to, but finding shoes that are stylish, sustainable, and comfortable is close to impossible. In my experience, I have to compromise at least one of these factors for the rest. Because of my chronic pain, I prioritize comfort, ending up with sneakers that allow me to painlessly go through my day.

Tiara (bottom left): I’ve always been a big sneakerhead. I grew up in the South and it’s just a part of the culture there. Every year, I was always so excited to pick out a new pair of sneakers to show off to my friends. To this day, I’ll quickly grab a pair of sneakers over anything else. Comfort is a must, though, otherwise, I get plantar fasciitis, which exacerbates my flat feet and bad ankles.

Deema (bottom middle): More often than not, my carefully-curated sneaker collection can’t be used out of fear of creasing and wear. As someone who wears sneakers 75% of the time, this can be a bit of a struggle. Logical? Not really, but hey, aesthetics matter to me.

I’ve always been a big sneakerhead. I grew up in the South and it’s just a part of the culture there. —Tiara

Yannise (bottom right): I don’t remember when it became the norm, but sneakers have always been my go-to for casual footwear. If I had to choose my favorite brand of sneakers before this experiment, I’d have to say Converse. Their style has always appealed to me, and can really elevate an outfit. I’ll wear them down until they have nothing but holes in them, which I prefer anyway!

Since Cariuma’s always touting just how eco-friendly, consciously-made, and comfortable their shoes are, we definitely had to put them to the test. So we each got a pair and wore them every day for a week. Here’s what happened.

…some thoughts while waiting for the packages to arrive…

Meagan: Frankly, I was a little worried. I kept thinking, ugh they’re suede so I can’t wear them everywhere, plus I have no idea how to match sneakers to my outfits.

Deema: I’ve been a borderline sneakerhead since I wore my first pair of classic Adidas. When I discovered Cariuma, I was hesitant. Ordering shoes that were ethically sourced was something that was largely new to me. In a way, ordering the clean-cut OCA Low sneakers in Off White Canvas felt like a way to “give back.” 

Deema wearing Cariuma OCA Low Off White Canvas sneakers.
Deema wearing Cariuma OCA Low Off White Canvas sneakers.

Tiara: Before the shoes arrived, I assumed they wouldn’t work for me. Generally, canvas shoes that look similar to the OCA Low sneakers that sport the flat bottom shape are absolutely terrible for my feet. I was also worried they wouldn’t fit since my feet are wide (flat + wide feet = difficult to find cute shoes).

Deema Alawa / The Tempest Media, Inc.

The shoes we got were a variety of OCA Low and High sneakers. Sustainable and eco-conscious materials are a big part of Cariuma’s brand, and they use everything from canvas, rubber, and leather (both vegan and not) to make their stuff.

So some of us really loved getting the packages in the mail. Like, really, really loved it.

Tamanna: The first thing that caught my eye when I received the shoes was minimal packaging. I have reused, repurposed, and recycled every part of the packaging, which is rare for an international online order. 

Tamanna showing off her Cariuma OCA Low Navy Canvas sneakers.
Tamanna showing off her Cariuma OCA Low Navy Canvas sneakers.

Aafiyah: The box is bright and colorful. I love it! To this day, I still put my shoes back in the box so that I have an excuse to keep the box.

I have reused, repurposed, and recycled every part of the packaging, which is rare for this sort of order. —Tamanna

Tiara: When the shoes arrived at my door, I was so excited! I’m a massive shopping junkie, and I absolutely adored the Cariuma packaging. I know it sounds strange but I loved that the box was completely sealed. I hate when I order shoes that come in the traditional box because they’re always half-open. I’ve had instances when my shoes come all messed up. I especially liked that Cariuma sends you two pairs of shoelaces because it allows me to play around with my style a lot more. 

Deema Alawa / The Tempest Media, Inc.

…and how things went down when we threw our fresh pairs on for the first day out:

Yannise: Putting on the OCA Low Stripe Leopard Suede sneakers wasn’t difficult, and they surprisingly had some height to them (I am 5’1 and love those extra inches). Since I was going to work, I wore light blue high-waisted jeans, a gray long-sleeved top, and an oversized black jacket. Usually, I wear long socks, but this time I chose to wear ankle socks with these shoes. Big mistake.

Yannise Jean rocks the Cariuma OCA Low Stripe Leopard sneakers.
Yannise rocks the Cariuma OCA Low Stripe Leopard Suede sneakers.

Not only was it a rainy day, but the back of my socks slid off of my heel, making the commute somewhat uncomfortable. Can’t blame that on the sneakers, but definitely make sure you’re wearing longer socks if you rock the low tops (or no socks!). 

Tamanna: I got the OCA Low Navy Canvas sneakers. I was excited because they aren’t completely neutral and can bring some understated color to an outfit. On my first day, I styled them with wide pants and a colorful button-up. I love that they didn’t take away from my overall look, but were also interesting in their own right. Over the next few days, I styled these sneakers with midi skirts, jeans, and dresses. 

I styled the shoes with a metallic blue skirt from Zara and Madewell shirt and the sneakers pulled the entire look together, giving a classic edge to street style. —Deema

Meagan: When I pulled out my OCA High All Camel Suede sneakers, I couldn’t wait for daylight to try them out – I decided to go out that night. I immediately put in the brown laces (the OCA sneakers come with two shoelace colors) and was off to a winery with some friends. I combined them with jeans and a green flannel shirt. I looked cute.

Meagan rocking her Cariuma OCA High All Camel Suede sneakers.

Deema: I tried the OCA Low Off White Canvas sneakers on the spot and instantly felt relieved that I didn’t have to worry about creasing the soft canvas. The shoe’s low-cut heel and complementary off-white canvas gave the shoe texture, adopting street style’s shift to juxtaposing textures while retroactively supporting sustainable fashion. I styled the shoes with a metallic blue skirt from Zara and Madewell shirt and the sneakers pulled the entire look together, giving a classic edge to street style.

Tiara Jenkins rocking the Cariuma XXX
Tiara rocking the Cariuma OCA Low All Black Suede sneakers.

Tiara: The next morning I styled the OCA Low All Black Suede sneakers with my normal work attire: black slacks and a sweater, and took off. When I wear shoes with no support I can almost immediately feel the shock in my ankles when my feet hit the concrete, but that wasn’t the case this time! I can’t say I made it all the way to work without any twinges of normal discomfort, but they’re much more comfortable than most of my other shoes. My ankles remained supported and for me, that’s a win.

Deema Alawa / The Tempest Media, Inc.
Deema Alawa / The Tempest Media, Inc.

Now that our week with Cariuma is over, here are our main takeaways:

Meagan: I will say that the next day my butt was a little sore…strange right? I wonder if the shoes act like shape-ups and help tone my legs while I wear them? Technically, they aren’t meant for that, but that’s my belief. Honestly, these are cute-ass sneaks that match with a ton of different stuff and they are ethically-created. Plus I didn’t experience any of those first-day-of-wearing-new-shoes blisters. The price for what you’re getting? Worth it.  

Aafiyah rocking the Cariuma OCA Low cloud grey suede sneakers.

Aafiyah: To be completely honest, initially, the inner sole cushioning worried me slightly, and that I would feel it against my foot. However, it’s felt like I’ve been walking on a cloud. 

Honestly, these are cute-ass sneaks that match with a ton of different stuff. —Meagan

Since I first heard about Cariuma through The Tempest (they’re not that well-known in the UK), I was worried about how good these shoes actually were. To date, though, none of my other shoes compare to the comfort of these sneakers. Since the first day I slipped these on, they remain my go-to for whenever I have to do something for long periods of time. I’m a massive fan.

The shoes are light, somewhat airy, so it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything less than a cloud. —Yannise

Tamanna: I love these sneakers, and they’re going in my regular rotation! Even after my busiest days, my feet didn’t get cramps like they usually had before I discovered Cariuma. There was a break-in period for me (I mostly felt it on my ankles), but after a week, they felt like a second skin. These days, you’ll find me in my Cariumas if you run into me – so my verdict? Hell yes. 

Tiara: To my surprise, I was pleasantly comfortable in my Cariumas – but! Cariuma, if you’re reading this: in the future, I’d love to see a little bit more cushion or arch support, for those of us with foot problems. I feel like it’s possible to have cute shoes that both help out the wearer and the environment. 

[We reached out and asked Cariuma, and they stated that”our insole is completely removable and can be replaced with special insoles as needed by the wearer!”]

Even after my busiest days, my feet didn’t get cramps like they usually had before I discovered Cariuma. —Tamanna

Deema: The shoes did not disappoint. I’ve been wearing my Cariumas for over a month now, and the fact that they only get more comfortable every day makes me a die-hard supporter. The shoe’s classic look and resilience to wear and tear consistently delivers, making them one of my favorite accessories. Absolute 10/10 on quality, style, and performance. 

Yannise: The shoes are light, somewhat airy, so it doesn’t feel like you’re dragging your feet (which is a massive plus if you live in New York City). Of course, they will feel a little tight when you first wear them, just like with any new shoe. But they’re perfect for styling with any type of wear—casual, formal, dressy, etc. Overall? Ten outta ten.


So now, when you see Cariuma on Instagram you’ll know what they’re all about — and if you want a pair of your own, check out their online store. In the words of one of our fave memes:

[Image description: Shia LaBeouf in front of a green screen, saying
[Image description: Shia LaBeouf in front of a green screen, saying “Don’t let your dreams be dreams. Just do it!”] via Giphy

Seriously. Find your solemates today – before they go out of stock!


How Rep. Ilhan Omar failed humanity with just one word

In the House of Representatives in the United States, members vote on a bill by either stating “aye”/”yea”, “no,” or “present.” To vote present means that the representative opted to not take a stance or side on a particular bill.  On October 29, 2019, the House of Representatives in the United States passed a resolution acknowledging the Ottoman Empire’s genocide. Aside from the Armenian genocide, the resolution included the Assyrian and Greek genocides as well. It was a vote with a  405-11 margin.

One of the eleven members that voted “present” or against that recognition was none other than Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. A shocking move considering that she’s only one of two Democrats to have voted in such a way. Even more shocking considering her unwavering demands for human rights in so many countries.

a woman wearing a blue plaid blazer with a blue head covering speaking at a podium
[Image description: A woman wearing a blue plaid blazer with a blue head covering speaking at a podium.] via Flickr
As an Assyrian, I was conflicted with emotions. While I felt joy that the House voted to pass the resolution, I also felt anger towards Rep. Ilhan Omar. Who knew that a simple word like “present” could have so much weight?

Her reasoning for the decision? The United States has yet to acknowledge its own genocide against natives. While I agree with her on that front, giving weight to one atrocity over another is not a solution. It is a slap in the face. As a former, avid supporter of hers – I feel let down beyond imagination.

The representative went on to defend her stance by tweeting:

The timing? We have waited 104 years for this country to acknowledge the genocide committed against us. 31 countries had acknowledged the genocide prior to this resolution. Tell me, Rep. Ilhan Omar, how much longer should we have waited for our turn?


I didn’t realize that genocide recognition is on a “first come first serve” basis. She has a platform. She has a voice. As a pastor of St. Sahag Armenian Church in St. Paul said: “It is discouraging [that a representative who serves many Armenians in her district] chose not to hear their voices. It goes against her work, as she claims to be fighter for justice, for doing what’s right.”

I could not have said this better myself. A simple yet strong message would have been to vote in favor of the resolution and then acknowledge the genocides that still need to be recognized.

She claims that the United States was using this bill as a political ploy. What she fails to realize is that this was the perfect time to submit this resolution. Amidst yet another Turkish attempt at ethnic cleansing, this time in Syria, it is time for the world to acknowledge these atrocities.

If I am being honest, I don’t buy her reasoning.  Let’s not forget that on the same day, Rep. Omar voted against a bill that would place sanctions on Turkey after their violent assault against Kurdish forces. The Turkish forces also laid siege against the Assyrian, Armenian, and Arab communities in Syria, killing many.

Her reasoning this time? Sanctions are not effective. Interesting, given the fact she has stated, rightfully so, that sanctions and boycotts should be imposed on Israel. I agree with the latter. Ilhan wrote in an opinion that sanctions:

“Hurt the people of the country – generally  the very people we’re purporting to help – without making a dent in the country’s behavior.”

She goes on to give examples of Iran and Venezuela and how the sanctions negatively impacted their populations. While I agree with this notion, the bill presented against Iran is not the same as the one being presented against Turkey. The sanctions being imposed on the latter are targeting government officials and their investments directly – not the populace.

Which raises the question – why the change of heart? I believe it is because of her undeniable ties with Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In 2017, Rep. Ilhan Omar met with the Turkish President despite the already mounting human rights accusations placed against him. This was not the first, nor the last interaction between Omar and the Turkish government.

As a representative that claims she is for human rights, she has a responsibility. That responsibility is to be an advocate for the human rights of ALL PEOPLE. That means putting aside political ties and relations when it means standing up against crimes against humanity. This is something Rep. Ilhan Omar has failed to demonstrate at least twice since her election into office.

She has the voice and platform many of us do not. It is a shame that she is opting to not use it. It is even more shameful that she is opting to wear the all too familiar politician hat, rather than one of a true humanitarian for all causes.

USA The World

2020 Democrats are boycotting this year’s AIPAC conference, but it’s just an act

Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Jay Inslee, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Julian Castro have decided not to attend the 2019 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference after the progressive advocacy group,, partnered with the activism startup, Mpower Change,  urged candidates to boycott the event. John Delaney, another 2020 runner, is also not attending but only due to scheduling conflicts.

AIPAC is a pro-Israel lobbying group and one of the most important players in promoting US-Israel relations. The organization provides bipartisan support for political campaigns and candidates and has received support from both parties as seen in its conferences (like in 2016 when both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump attended the event). Top Democrats like Nancy Pelosi will be in attendance, along with Republican politicians and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

News of Democrats pulling out of this conference comes not too long after freshman lawmaker, Ilhan Omar, came under intense fire from both parties for her comments regarding AIPAC’s influence on American politics and her support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Top Democrats and Republicans called out Omar’s strings of tweets as being “anti-Semitic” in nature, perpetuating a narrative that inaccurately conflates the Israel-Palestine conflict as one of religious discourse rather than settler-colonialism and human rights violations against an indigenous people.

Warren, Sanders, and Harris have offered their support for Omar during the ordeal, defending her right to start conversations about the extent of the power pro-Israel lobbying groups like AIPAC have in influencing the US’s political and economic support to Israel.

O’Rourke has also recently come out to criticize Netanyahu on “openly siding with racists.”

But before we praise the prospective 2020 Democrats on their seemingly progressive stances, let’s take a moment to consider that the move to avoid AIPAC is a one devoid of any actual solidarity with Palestine.

Remember that Kamala Harris has spoken at AIPAC’s conferences in the recent past. Or that O’Rourke has offered criticisms of Netanyahu, but continues to describe himself as a “proud advocate of Israel.” And, when Omar commented that Israel’s failure to recognize other religions didn’t uphold the statutes of a democracy, Pete Buttigieg called it inaccurate despite he himself stating that Israel couldn’t be a democracy and also a solely Jewish state not too long ago.

Just a few days ago, House Democrats began to push legislation to condemn the global BDS movement, a campaign that looks to use various forms of boycott (mainly economic means) against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.

Let’s break down exactly why this proposed legislation makes no sense.

To start off, there’s a significant violation of our First Amendment’s right to organize. Generally, BDS seeks to achieve the following goals: Hold Israel accountable for their illegally occupied territories and settlements, ensure equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens, return displaced Palestinian refugees to their homes, denounce state-sanctioned violence against Palestinians.

With all that in mind, it becomes clear that moves like refusing to attend an AIPAC conference are fraught with hypocrisy and performative solidarity.

Many of the Democrats boycotting the conference have expressed varying shades of criticism for the current administration in Israel, but continue to support it as an integral foreign ally. All of this takes place while they vehemently denounce movements like BDS, which are fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people.

This “boycott” will definitely continue to widen the growing rift between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to an overt, unwavering right-wing support of AIPAC.

As long as Democrats continue validating Israel’s statehood and crippling the movements fighting for the civil rights of Palestinians, they’ll remain a massive roadblock in the path to Palestinian liberation.

Editor's Picks Gender & Identity Gender Policy Inequality

Muslim American “representation” is a myth

On Tuesday, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota announced that he was running for Minnesota attorney general. This opened a seat in Congress and Ilhan Omar, a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, filed for candidacy. If she wins this race, she will make history as the first Muslim woman to be in Congress.

Keith Ellison and Ilhan Omar are not new to being the “first.”

Ellison is the first Muslim to ever have a seat in Congress and in 2016, Omar made history when she won the general election and became the first Muslim to be a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. If Omar wins this race, she will become the first Muslim woman to have a seat in Congress. However, Ilhan Omar isn’t the only one that wants to have the chance to be the first Muslim woman to have a seat in Congress. In March, Refinery29 profiled a first-time candidate, Fayrouz Saad, that was also hoping to be the first Muslim woman to have a seat in Congress. Granted, Saad could not predict the future or the domino effect created by politicians retiring or changing posts, but the fact is everyone is fighting to be the first.

With the growing visibility of Muslims in the mainstream––both in politics and entertainment––I have one question: What are we really challenging by fighting for token representation?

Representation of Muslims in the mainstream media has increased since Trump got elected. It wasn’t until after Trump got elected that the first hijabi model, Halima Aden, walked the runway during New York Fashion Week. The Bold Type, a show on Freeform, has a queer Muslim character on it. L’Oreal ran a campaign with Amena Khan, a fashion blogger, who later left due to the online abuse she faced for being pro-Palestine. Even MAC mistakenly advertised a glam suhoor makeup tutorial to an audience that, as Twitter would say, couldn’t relate––only to leave it up on their Middle Eastern social media accounts. Muslims are everywhere in the mainstream now, and – not to be that person – but isn’t it odd how we continue celebrating these firsts on a planet with over one billion Muslims? Why now? Muslims were being deported, prosecuted, jailed and killed long before Trump was elected.

Let’s also look at who tends to get these coveted token slots––slots with a quota–– in these various industries, because there is a particular archetype: light skin, conventionally attractive, able-bodied, with bonus points for light eyes. More often than not, these tokens also hail from middle/upper class, college-educated families as well.

Tokenization, or what some would mistake as representation, does not happen in a vacuum.

The most “respectable” Muslims tend to become the tokens, thus recreating the hierarchy that all of us wish to escape. The messaging is clear: in order to succeed, you must be respectable and have proximity to wealth, whiteness, and thus, power. Instead of subverting the systems that will inevitably find a way to turn its back on them, tokens give in to the myth that they are the exception and they should lead us.

I can analogize representation with a technique used in information and graphic design called the exploded view diagram. If you’ve ever assembled furniture from Ikea, you’ll know what the drawings in instruction manuals look like: they’re meant to show the marriage and the place of all the pieces waiting to be assembled. Every piece has a place and function in the foundation of the furniture.

After assembling, let’s say, a coffee table together, representation is the coffee table book that rests on top of the table. Interchangeable and aesthetically pleasing, the table is the systems of power, standing firm. It doesn’t shake the table to have a coffee book sitting there, quietly. And the foundation, or in this case, the table, was not built with marginalized people in mind.

Similarly, identity-based politics is at the forefront of the work any tokenized individual does.

So why not just throw away the old coffee table? Why ask for a seat?

The fight to win first place displays the limitations of representation in an oppressive system.  Even though corporations are partnering with hyper-visible Muslims, the beauty, fashion, and entertainment industries have clearly picked their tokens.

Representation is an opportunity for these companies and individuals to look “woke.” Plastering Black and brown faces on campaigns and women in hijab in ads won’t change policy, it doesn’t change the very white, very male political sphere. To quote Laila Alawa, who wrote about this two years ago, “serving as the diversity quotient means that you will not be able to create true change.”

Because these diverse ads create a new audience for companies that have historically neglected these people, they are parading them around in an effort to distance themselves from further critique.

With the commercialized and politicized increase in interest in Muslims and our narratives due to Trump, what has become evident is how fickle and superficial representation and identity politics has become. Kimberly Foster recently wrote about the left’s misuse of identity politics, saying:

Thoughtful conversations and meaningful activism require a measure of openness that the current paradigms for identity politics don’t always allow. We have to make sure that our exchanges do not reproduce oppressive power dynamics, but every challenge is not oppressive.

Amena Khan feared for her safety when tweets of hers surfaced denouncing Israel, which is a good example of the way identity politics has almost become either apolitical, or a political ideology of its own supported by corporate, mainstream imagery. Keith Ellison silently voted in favor of a Blue Lives Matter bill that Congress recently passed, and if it becomes law it will be a federal crime to “knowingly caus[e] serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer, or attempts to do so.” Ellison voted in favor of this bill even though Philando Castile was killed by police in Minnesota almost two years ago. Ilhan Omar has publicly supported pro-CVE candidates––such as Deqa Jibril and Mohamed Noor, even though CVE (Countering Violent Extremism), is a program that has disproportionately targeted and harmed Black and brown Muslims in Minnesota.

Representation suspends a veil of false community and unity, and it blinds us to the fact that representation won’t solve the majority of our problems. Seeing people that look like us is important, especially when the erasure of Muslims in art, politics, academia, etc. dates back to the inception of the invasion of this country, but, under what conditions and under whose gaze are we represented by?

Representation has no real substance outside of the people being represented having control of their own narratives.

Because what can a very visible population gain from visibility and representation, aside from more surveillance and a recreation of oppressive power dynamics? Hypervisibility has been and will always be surveillance. Unfortunately, the majority of tokenized Muslims in the mainstream unwittingly and unsuccessfully occupy their time defending the contradictions in their own aspirations by deflecting when held accountable, or by weaponizing the language of social justice to reduce the very valid critiques people have. It is important for any of us that do work publicly- from work office to public office to entertainment- to be patient.

This is a systemic issue.  

I want us to break this cycle, to challenge the notion that winning recognition from institutions, based on individual accomplishments, is not a feat for our community. Every time one of us claims to be the first, every time one of us gives into wanting to be the “first,” it adds on to a history of Muslim erasure, and it distracts us from the sustainable, communal work we need to be doing.

To succeed in this, however, we will have to confront the underlying problem in our approach to criticism that happens within the community. Everyone needs to be held accountable for having their hand in this problem. Individualism must be rejected. We face unrelenting attacks from a white supremacist capitalist system – so accountability and critique from members of our own community is integral to our progress.

It is in our interest and our obligation as people that care about our community’s collective future to demolish the illusion and fantasy of representation.

Until we do that, we’ll be stuck in an endless rut of celebrating a facade while being showcased in a systemic cage that is meant to keep us there, stagnant and carefully watched by those both inside our community – and outside it.

Until we do that, we’re stuck debating the same minutiae every few months.

Culture Family Life

The only way my Mama showed me love was by hurting me

If you ask me the question, “Does your mother love you?” to give you an honest answer, I would tell you that my mother, at times, didn’t love me at all.

“But how can you say that? Every mother loves her child,” is what I bet some of you reading this are thinking.

Growing up, my father worked in the oil industry in Saudi Arabia. My mother, siblings and I lived in New Jersey. In addition to raising kids alone, my mother did not have a communal support system that would have enabled her to breathe and see her missteps more clearly.

I remember getting the silent treatment from my mother when I was about 5 or 6 years old.

My mother was completely alone. Her parents and family lived miles and miles away in Syria. The fact that her heart still beats, despite being worn down by loneliness and fear, is a miracle.

Though I have always understood what my mother was going through while I was growing up, I still can never bring myself to justify what she did. Pain is not a language of love.

I remember getting the silent treatment from my mother when I was about 5 or 6 years old.  Every time I’d try to talk to her she would act as if I didn’t say anything. She’d turn her face and look the other way. As a kid, I’d blame myself for the silent treatments she gave me. But now I can’t believe I had to go through that at such a young age.

When I was in high school, I used to always get into arguments with my mother, mostly about how she made me feel neglected.

One time, the arguments between us got so intense that we didn’t talk to each other for a week. At the end of that week, I got into a loud argument with my brother. As we shouted at each other, my mother rushed out of her room, grabbed me by my hair with one arm and wrapped her other arm, rather gently, around my torso, almost as if she was giving me a half embrace.

I can’t believe I had to go through that at such a young age.

As I screamed out in pain, at that same moment, I felt my mother’s pain and love. Her painful embrace felt like she missed me, but at the same time, she was furious with me.

Now that I’m married to the most wonderful man, with two kids of our own, it boggles my mind.

How did my mother raise six kids all on her own? I’ve come to realize that she was able to do that because she unintentionally sacrificed the most sacred part of a mother’s relationship with her kids: sharing her love with each child equally.

My mother spent her energy making sure we were all fed, clothed, and finished our homework. By the end of the day, she only had enough energy to share her love with some of us – usually the eldest and youngest.

I don’t think she did this intentionally. I now see that my mother allowed herself to be directed by fear. She was afraid of losing her children to bad health or trashy ethics. She instilled in us the fear of disappointing her, accompanied by a whole lot of tough and deeply painful love.

When I was in undergrad, I was always known to be the risk-taker among my siblings. I knew what I wanted in life and I set out to make it happen, no matter the obstacle.

My mother didn’t approve of my attitude towards life.

I revolted against the mental conditioning that I was exposed to at home, which was intended to make me want to become “a good housewife.” Whenever I invested in my own self-development, my mother would punish me. She’d manage to get all my siblings to follow her example and give me the silent treatment.

I can’t see her love through the pain she dealt me over the years.

It was not until many years later that my sister admitted to me why she followed my mother’s lead. Rola explained that my mother made her feel like that if she didn’t hate me, or at least treat me in that way, my mother wouldn’t accept her or show her love.

I know and believe that deep down, my mother loves me. But I just can’t understand how tough love and fear resembled love. I can’t see her love through the pain she dealt me over the years.

I’ll admit that I love my mother, though it’s difficult for me to know how to best love my mother. I still carry the pain she’s dealt me over the years.

I hope to love my mother in the way she deserves and appreciates, without causing more pain for myself.

It’s something that I still carry with me to this day.


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Culture Gender & Identity Fashion Lookbook

Stop telling me that I’m “not like other Muslims”

Presented in partnership with SADOQ. 

Generalizations are never a good idea.

Yet most people don’t offer Muslims that common courtesy of not passing judgment. To too many, we look physically the same, our names are blended, our cultures are wrongfully intermixed (insert Aladdin),  and our voices are silenced.

According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims make up a majority of the population in 49 countries around the world. And although many people assume Muslims are all from the Middle East, we are more widespread than people think.

Journalist Zara Asad (@zaraasad) in Sadoq’s EMANUELLE scarf. Property of Zara Asad.

That means that not every Muslim knows one another, nor do they have an underground book club discussing how they plan to conquer the Western world and convert everyone to Islam. It means that we come from all over the world, speak different languages, crave different foods, practice different cultures.

The main keyword here: different. 

Yet we are constantly painted with the same harsh brush of people’s biased opinions, which are then equated as “facts” on mainstream news or “harmless comedy” in movies and TV. 

Spoiler alert: it’s harmless to everyone but Muslims.

But what if we reversed this Western cultural ideology of blaming Muslims? 

What if we forced white Christians to explicitly explain to people on a daily basis that they’re not part of the KKK because their skin color is white. 

What if we demanded that every Christian condemn the acts of the KKK, along with every white Christian gunman that’s committed an act of terrorism? 

Now think about not only having to explain but apologize and present a strategic game plan on behalf of all white people explaining why you aren’t going to be the next shooter because of your religious beliefs. 

Imagine simply trying to take a vacation and “randomly” getting pulled aside in a small, dark room to be questioned whether you really love this country and if you consider the president your president.

No other religion in the Western world has to deal with its followers getting generalized with the same decades-old stereotypes, but for us, there’s no escape. 

It’s never-ending. 

It seems no matter how many articles are written or videos are made or interfaith events are held or Muslim men and women serve in the armed forces: Muslims will always be considered a monolith.

[bctt tweet=” Contrary to popular belief, Muslims don’t get a preview of upcoming terror attacks in mosque basements because they have nothing to do with them. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

This generalization is an underlying problem in our country and culture. It’s a threat to minorities and all skin colors that are a slight shade darker than white. Why is it that we classify Muslims as one body, only in reference to anything criminal and insensitive? One person commits a crime and every Muslim alive is suddenly accountable.

There is no excuse for ignorantly asking Muslims to explain their association to ISIS or to ask Muslims to speak on behalf of the barbaric militant group. It’s absurd to ask Muslims to condemn terrorism but most people don’t think twice. 

It’s mind-boggling to make the statement, “I’m not saying all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.” 

Yeah, except for the vast majority who aren’t. 

But if we ask every white person to condemn slavery and mass shootings and ask them to condemn them all the time, most people are stunned. 

Rather, as Dalia Mogahed says, “We need to take a step back and ask a different question. Is it justified to demand that Muslims condemn terrorism? Condoning the killing of civilians is the most monstrous thing you can do and to be suspected of doing something so monstrous simply because of your faith seems very unfair.”

Journalist Zara Asad (@zaraasad) in Sadoq’s EMANUELLE scarf. Property of Zara Asad.

Contrary to popular belief, Muslims don’t get a preview of upcoming terror attacks in mosque basements because they have nothing to do with them. Even if the individual who committed the violent act identifies himself/herself as a Muslim.

Sidenote: Do mosques even have basements? Most barely have wifi.

This idea people hold of Muslims being a monolith not only affects Muslims as a whole, but it affects Muslim men and women individually. Muslim men are subjugated to intense “random searches” at airports. On the other hand, Muslim women are considered a monolith of oppressed, voiceless beings who have been forced to hide their bodies and bow in silence to men. These are the stereotypes many people consider to be the truth and from which they base their claims of having Muslims all figured out.

Time after time, debate after debate, Islamophobes like to make the argument that the Muslim community knew the terrorist, the Muslim community did nothing about it which turns into, the Muslim community is not on the side of the American people because they knew what was going on. “The Muslim community,” instantly becomes solely responsible.

Here’s where the problem lies: the American people know nearly nothing about mosques because most of them have never attempted to visit one, nor have they integrated with the Muslim community on a regular basis. To constantly badger the Muslim community and to pin them as responsible is where we, the American people, become incredibly irresponsible.

The reality is there is a different standard with different rules for Muslims, especially in the West. As Americans, some of us like to say, “They’ve come to our country so they have to leave their backward cultures and non-American ideologies behind.” Muslims are expected to know and respect other people’s religions. Muslims go out of their way to research and look up what communions, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, baptisms, Passover, Easter, and other religious and cultural traditions are, whether they have friends of those religions or not.

But here’s a question: how many people look up Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-al-Adha, Ramadan, the Quran, or anything Muslim related?

So here’s my question for you: when will we – as Americans – start understanding Muslims or their religion? When will we stop making every brown movie or TV character a terrorist, who conveniently happens to be a Muslim? 

Muslims are not a monolith, despite how convenient it is for your plot lines, newsrooms and political agendas. And continuously putting out these false narratives ironically affects not just Muslims – but the world as a whole.

It’s time to move past that.

Gender & Identity Life

I’m here to tell you it’s okay to be weird.

Dear back-then Laila,

I’m here to tell you that truly believing in yourself is the most powerful thing you can do.

It’s difficult, I know. You spent your childhood surrounded more by books, siblings, moving boxes and animals than you did around your two friends (who were long distance, but that was okay because you spent hours on the phone with them every week). You were homeschooled since the second grade, you embarked on your own projects just because you were interested in insects or the digestive system or words. You didn’t know what it meant to wait for deadlines and opportunities because you always went ahead and created your own. You grew up surrounded by a self-defined world that most people couldn’t really understand. It was a reality that you thrived in, but as you grew older, the people you ran into told you that you were not allowed to be proud of it.

At first, their words didn’t matter. But they kept being repeated. By people you looked up to, by people you wanted to be friends with, by people you didn’t even really know. Your weirdness was something to be begrudged. Your differences weren’t something to be proud of. You were too other to be a part of us.

The words dug deep underneath your skin, forming roots and self-doubt where there didn’t use to be any. You began to close yourself off from what you could be, intent only on ensuring that you were what others could find palatable. It became a game you played, figuring out what you should be this time, to fit into this group or that cause. You became the ultimate people-person. But you lost your own self.

I know you just wanted friends, but true friends don’t make you change.

I know you wanted to fit in, but fitting in isn’t supposed to mean losing you.

I’m here to tell you that your story is not as strange as you have been led by others to believe. It’s okay to have to work towards accepting yourself but know that the words of those around you mean nothing when you aren’t giving your own self the chance to thrive and be.

I want you to know that your weirdness will be a source of pride for you one day and that your words, once laughed at for being so big, will be words that are read and passed on by those who once scorned you.

It’ll take time. You’ll have to work through the vendetta you are undergoing against yourself. Some days you’ll move forward in self-acceptance, and other days, you’ll fall back on self-doubt. But on the day that you finally regain the joy and thrill of being truly you, you’ll find the world finally lights up around you with the knowledge of your self-worth.

There’s something about embracing yourself that is so full of freedom, of joy, of light. I know you aren’t supposed to take pride in your weirdness, but I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to embrace yourself.

You owe it to yourself to welcome the unknown.

The Tempest Radio Episodes The Expose Show Audio + Visual

THE EXPOSÉ | Episode 41 | “Guess Who’s Back, Back Again”

This week we’re catching up on everything – all the crazy news that happened over the break, what’s new in our hosts’ lives, and meeting our brand new host, Donya. From Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, to Laila’s exciting announcement, no subject is off limits in this episode. 


Alessia Cara – How Far I’ll Go
Beyoncé – I Was Here

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GIVEAWAY + 7 networking secrets everyone should know

Presented in partnership with Naseba. 

 Let’s face it: meeting people outside of the social space can be a hit or major miss.

Networking events can be one of the scariest parts of being in the workforce. After all, you typically have to be in a cramped space trying to make small talk with people you don’t know, all in the hopes of making better connections for later on. We’re here to change all that, though.

This year, we partnered with Naseba to give you the ultimate ticket to fast-track your career – plus we’re sharing our top tips around how to make the most of networking. Scroll to the bottom to check out our giveaway, where one lucky reader can win a $995 ticket to the 2017 WIL Economic Forum to jumpstart their professional life. Good luck!

Here’s the link to the giveaway.

1. Always, always, always give before you receive. 

Edit Platter

One of the biggest networking mistakes people make is jumping the gun when asking for a favor. One cardinal key of successful networking: Give before you can get. So think of networking like a bank account—you have to make deposits and shore up social capital before making a withdrawal. Immediately add value: how can you help them? What can you offer them? Take the time to learn their goals, and then work to help them achieve those goals – no matter how scrappy you need to be to do so.

2. Instead of trying to connect with everyone, work to connect in an authentic way.


Focus on the person across from you – not on yourself. Everything you do signals who you are and what you stand for, and this move signals that you have empathy.  Take the time to figure out who the “keepers” are in your network, by asking yourself a few questions: Are they generous and do they keep their word? Do your values match? Are there any yellow flags? If so, run – don’t walk. As Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

3. Most networking events are a waste of time – so choose wisely. 


I wish someone told me this years ago before I put down money to enter those events. You know which ones I’m talking about: there’s a half-hearted introduction to the day by the host/ess, then everyone goes back to eating food and staying with the friends they came to the event with. You meet maybe one person if that, and leave disappointed and tired. Instead of that, get in the right room. Where do the people you want to network with hang out? Go places where there are people smarter than you and have the resources you need in order to be able to achieve your goals.

4. Understand that everyone’s probably feeling as awkward as you are. 


Do you ever go to an event or a conference and just look around the room? While you probably see lots of people talking to each other, you will also probably see several people sitting at tables looking through the event guide or talking on their phones. These people are probably nervous about talking to new people, so they are avoiding it by looking busy. You can help these people by introducing yourself. See, they probably want to approach total strangers, but they just find it hard to break the ice. You can come along and make life a little easier for them, which could lead to some interesting opportunities.

5. If you’re trying to get an “in” with someone specific, do it carefully. 

The Fader

Stalk them–gently. Scour the company website. Search for local and national news stories about the firm. Identify that one person (the asset), preferably a sharp, hungry someone well short of the C-suite, but whose star is on the rise. Start with her bio, then dig deeper. You can learn more than you think from Twitter and Instagram feeds: Think food porn and article postings don’t matter? Study those, and you learn what really matters to someone. This might sound weird, but you’ve probably done it once or twice before in other circumstances – you’re just being smart about how you’re approaching the situation.

6. Drop the small talk – nobody really wants to talk about the weather, anyway. 

Ayesha Go.

After that initial “hey!” it’s okay to be yourself. Ask the other person what their goals are, instead of asking them what their job is. Share your dreams, goals, and challenges – and then ask how you can help them. It might take your contact by surprise, but her answers will tell you a story. Stories lead to a real conversation – and that real conversation leads to a sincere connection. During the conversation, know that your efforts won’t work if you aren’t being sincere. Always keep your eyes trained on the person across from you, put your phone away, and listen intently.

7. Pull – never, ever push.

Networking is all about conversation. It is also about finding out more about the other person than telling them about you or your company. Napoleon Hill tells a story about how he went to a dinner party, and afterward, the hostess thought he was the most charming man in the world. Why? Not because he talked about himself, but because he kept the conversation focused on the hostess by asking her questions. You have to earn the right to be heard about what you do and what you want to accomplish. People really don’t care about what you do until they know that you care about what they do. So, don’t push a conversation. Instead, gently pull on it by asking people about themselves.

I can tell you the number of times I’ve sat down with an aspiring entrepreneur or media personality, only to be bored to tears forty-five minutes later with their stories. Don’t make it about you. Make it about the both of you.

In case you missed it earlier in the piece, here’s the link to the giveaway.

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