USA Race Policy Inequality

When it comes to activism, what is the true definition of silence?

Following the eruption of public outrage on social media which ensued after George Floyd‘s death, I took a break from my personal platforms, but I felt weak for doing so.

As a journalist and a Black woman, I believe that it is my job to consistently contribute to the current civil rights discussion in my country. But within a week I had seen one too many comments questioning the value of my people’s lives and I could no longer mentally take it anymore. It wasn’t the overabundance of police brutality videos or injustice that weighed on my mind either.

As sad as it is to say – I’ve already seen and experienced those types of things first-hand and I’m used to seeing content like that.

What I couldn’t handle, on the other hand, was the ignorance and hatred. I couldn’t bear to read rebuttals to the absolute fact that Black Lives Matter.

I took a break from my personal platforms, but I felt weak for doing so.

But as I logged off for a few days, phrases such as “silence is violence” haunted me. Was my temporary absence from social media silence? Was I supposed to push through and continue to speak out despite the toll it took on my mental health? I was still consuming the news. I was still reporting on my community. I was still speaking about the issue on webinars yet I wondered if, in a way, my inactivity on social media was wrong. I felt guilty. 

That’s the thing about silence during this time: There’s more than one definition to the term, considering the multidimensional social, political, and cultural curve balls being thrown at us daily.

 Eric Brock Jr., a 19-year-old activist, told me that he too felt pressure from social media to always post, but was taking time off to grieve from the traumatic state of the country. He said that from such pressure, he was compelled to write a disclaimer to his audience that clarified his inactivity. Silence to him runs deeper than consistent activity on social media platforms, especially for Black people. 

“The Black community is not a monolith and it never has been,” he said to me. “We express things in different ways and some people need time to heal.” 

Posting a black square means nothing if you aren’t actively fighting for change offline, too.

Brock says that he does understand how silence can be compliant towards racism for non-Black people though, especially when they have not stepped up their efforts offline in being an ally or contributed to the conversation at all. This becomes particularly dangerous when we see social media users engaging in performative activism online without doing the actual tactical work offline needed to make real change.

We saw this with Instagram’s ‘Blackout Tuesday‘ challenge which aimed to bring awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement. Users posted black screens in an attempt to show their solidarity to the cause.

However, the challenge’s execution essentially drowned out necessary information from the movement and, in my opinion, was used as a performative way for some to show others how good of a person they are.

Posting a black square means nothing if you aren’t actively fighting for change offline, too. It also doesn’t somehow give you an advantage over someone else who may be supporting the movement in different ways than you expect them to. 

But with this in mind, astrologist Tyler Massias said to me that he does think that content outside of activism at the moment can be unsympathetic and distasteful. He said that non-Black people who don’t focus their platforms on the Black Lives Matter movement are practicing a privilege that isn’t afforded to Black people in America. 

“Throughout history, our [Black people’s] existence has always been viewed as subservient. We are always having to think about it and speak about it,” Massias told me. 

And activist Alexis Glasglow, a tireless protester in her Florida hometown, knows exactly what it means to dedicate all of her time both mentally and physically to the movement. She mentioned to me that seeing people’s inactivity on social media can be aggravating at times. 

We have to find things to smile about throughout the day and allow ourselves the time to grieve and heal. 

“You see people doing all of these things and then you also see people that you know, and who you can name, who haven’t said anything or even reached out to you,” she said to me. 

But while social media is a great place to start, it isn’t the only way to use your voice. Glasgow said that people can call out racism as they see it within their communities, attend demonstrations, and sign petitions just to name a few ways to get involved offline. 

As a country, we’re going through a lot right now and we can’t always realistically be our most vocal selves 100% of the time. The consistent exposure to Black death, Black trauma, ignorance, and racism weigh heavily on any average person along with a deadly pandemic that still affects the world too.

We have to take breaks occasionally. We have to find things to smile about throughout the day and allow ourselves the time to grieve and heal. 

Just as our stomachs need food to eat, our minds need care and attention as well in order to continue the Black Lives Matter movement and change the world.

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Culture Family Gender & Identity Life

I’m Kashmiri – poetry helped me embrace that

“I’m Kashmiri.” 

It’s a simple sentence – two words, to be exact. But it took me over a decade to say it with conviction. Or to say it at all, for that matter. Despite being raised to take pride in my ethnicity, it was something I never truly connected with. How could I call myself Kashmiri after everything that my family had been through because of Kashmir? 

I belong to the community of Pandits. As far as I’ve been told, our roots have been in the Valley since forever. That was, until violence cloaked its landscape in the 90s, and my kin was left with no option but to escape the land that was once home. What they hoped would be a week’s disruption lasted 25 years, and before they knew it, their lives would never be the same again. The destiny of their future generations had been rewritten forever; their sense of stability and identity had been gruesomely torn apart by politics. 

Growing up, I was a first-hand witness to the effects of this unexpected displacement. It was the little things that had the most impact on me, like the several times I caught my grandfather admiring a picture of the Dal Lake on his wall, to the way my grandmother wished she’d had a moment to say goodbye. There was this unspoken longing for home that seemed to linger just on the outskirts of every conversation we had. And throughout our talks, I’d wonder how they could speak so fondly of a place that reminded them of so much pain.

But it was perhaps years later, through the strangest of mediums, that I learned to embrace my identity. When I picked up reading poetry, I expected nothing but boring sonnets glamorizing love. To my surprise, I discovered accounts of women of color who had similar experiences and were using words as a medium to heal from their own transgenerational trauma.  I’d found my catharsis, and it altered my perspective on a lot of things, including what being Kashmiri truly meant. 

It made me look beyond my angst and realize the resilience my people possessed. The kind of courage and tenacity they’ve had – to rebuild their lives despite everything being taken away from them. And just like that, I fell in love with the sheer spirit that ran through Kashmiri blood. We weren’t lost – we were simply paving another path for ourselves, overcoming obstacles and moving forward like never before. Eventually, it also dawned on me that the Kashmir my grandparents spoke so lovingly of was the one inhabited by these very people – ones with unparalleled resolve and strength – and it was the people of Kashmir they missed more than anything. 

In one of her poems,  Rupi Kaur stated that she was “the product of all the ancestors getting together, and deciding these stories need to be told.” Perhaps, I am also meant to tell this story. One about the indomitable nature of my people, one that I am still in awe of. 

Maybe one day the grey skies in the Valley will finally clear, and we’ll have a chance to go back home. Or maybe we won’t. But all I know is that the next time someone asks me about my ethnicity, I won’t shy away from telling it like it is.

After all, I’m Kashmiri. 

TV Shows Pop Culture

Piper Chapman from ‘Orange Is The New Black’ showed me being ignorant is being complicit

It’s taken me months and months to admit that Orange is the New Black is officially over. We bid a dramatic farewell to Piper Chapman and cast after spending seven seasons behind bars with them and getting personally invested in a multitude of diverse storylines.

The show offered such a rich exploration of its diverse cast that very early on in the show, the protagonist’s story seems to pale in comparison, and Piper remains at the forefront throughout the series. Less as an important narrative thread and more as a glaring social commentary of how good intentions do not eradicate white privilege.

The more obvious reason for this is simple as she represents the main character of the memoir the show is based off (Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman). The memoir and the beginning of the series show Piper as a naïve, white, suburban girl who ended up fooling around after college and is now paying her dues. The audience follows her into the prison on her first day and is witness to how quickly and easily she becomes a target for most women already present.

It is Piper’s faith in the broken system to keep her safe that makes her complicit to her privilege.

As the show progresses, we see Piper become well-adjusted to the system in place but her identity on the outside still speaks volumes for the other prisoners. Sometimes it is addressed as a comic-relief one-liner and sometimes in more overt and dramatic scenes, such as when Piper’s panty-selling business snowballs into a Neo-Nazi self-proclaimed group (Season 4 Episode 5).

It wasn’t just the fact that her race allowed her to remain unsuspected by the guards – hence proving her privilege – it is Piper’s faith in the broken system to keep her safe that makes her complicit to her privilege. The lenience that she experienced in the first three seasons reassures her that she can remain under the radar, until her privilege finally speaks up so loudly, it gains a cult following.

However, because she is the main character, we get to experience this transition with her. And so in the first three seasons, we saw Piper as a rich kid that needed to be humbled and a system that is definitely racist, but we didn’t see a racist protagonist. In fact, because the audience experienced her journey with her and from her eyes, we saw that she didn’t want special treatment because it would’ve made her stand out. We saw her trying to bond with the girls and adjust to life. We saw that Piper had good intentions.

But she’d also had good intentions behind the panty-selling business (as good as an illegal business can get). And we also see how living in ignorance of your privilege does not make it go away – for Piper, it quite literally made a Neo-Nazi group gravitate towards her.

So what does this mean for Piper Chapman?

Does this mean she remains a misunderstood character, or does it make her immediately unlikeable? I don’t believe it is that simple because while I believe that the plot holds a great significance, there are nuances that add a relevant social commentary to the show, and Piper’s character is the culmination of these nuances to provide us with a commentary on privilege even when one means well.  

These nuances are what we were acquainted with as we followed Piper’s story. In her footsteps, we can understand that she was a liberal, well-intentioned woman who was naïve to how ignorant she was about her privilege until she was ripped out of her bubble and placed amongst women from all walks of life.

Your intentions are insignificant if you deny your privilege while being in a position of privilege.

In the cramped four walls of the prison, there was no room for ignorance and so every day, Piper was forced to confront a truth that is extremely pertinent for anyone in the position of privilege to understand – it doesn’t matter if you aren’t actively oppressive because we belong to an oppressive system; your ignorance in itself is an act of oppression. Therefore, when her Neo-Nazi group remained undetected, the prisoners took it into their own hands and, in a horrific turn of events, branded Piper with the Nazi symbol. This visual conclusion to her metaphorical-turned-literal incident is fitting because it is, quite literally, asking Piper to take ownership of who she is.

It’s 2020 and, at this point, I think we are past the point of raising awareness about how racially and culturally corrupt our systems and societies are. The awareness is there, but a lot of people don’t understand their personal roles in not only maintaining a broken system, but also helping perpetuate it. A lot of times we hide behind the masks of a good education or liberal conversations or a well-respected family, but those aren’t enough.

Your intentions are insignificant if you deny your privilege while being in a position of privilege. In a society that is racially and culturally aware as well as evolving, self-awareness and self-accountability are essential if you claim to be a part of the change.

Good intentions, as Piper Chapman learned, are no longer enough. 

Editor's Picks World News The Internet The World

Let’s not pretend Priyanka Chopra was ever a humanitarian

Let’s take this back to the beginning. The relationship between India and Pakistan has always been rocky.

Following a recent attack in Kashmir, India accused the attackers of being from Pakistan and being backed by Pakistan’s government and army. The situation quickly worsened, and suddenly the talk of war was thick in the air. Priyanka Chopra, being the amazing UNICEF Ambassador she is, decided to take the time to comment on political affairs.

In February, Chopra wrote a tweet supporting the Indian armed forces saying, “Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces.”

This tweet came along following an announcement from India that it had launched airstrikes in Pakistan. These airstrikes prompted a retaliatory response from Pakistan, and as a result, the hostilities between the two countries surged.

[Image description: Priyanka Chopra and husband Nick Jonas greeting India's PM Narendra Modi] via Instagram
[Image description: Priyanka Chopra and husband Nick Jonas greeting India’s PM Narendra Modi at their wedding reception] via Instagram
The tweet isn’t the beginning of the issue.

Priyanka Chopra famously wed Nick Jonas and invited the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to her wedding. Modi is known for his right-wing policies and inciting racism towards the Muslims of India. Recently, Modi scrapped Kashmir’s autonomy and blighted the lives of those living in the Valley. The place is sucked into bloodshed, conflict, and disorder. Innocent people are dying every day. Fear engulfs Kashmir as local people fight for their lives.

It’s not surprising then, that a woman who seeks a wedding blessing from this monster…. well, is a monster herself.

If you’re in the public eye and have problematic views, you must expect to be called out on them. And this is exactly what happened.

A video of Priyanka Chopra being called a hypocrite by a brave Pakistani woman has taken the social media by a storm. At a beauty event in Los Angeles, Ayesha Malik confronted her about her outrageous and irresponsible tweet, Chopra’s mantle of composure fell away at once.

“So, it was kind of hard hearing you talk about humanity, because as your neighbor, a Pakistani, I know you’re a bit of a hypocrite,” said Malik. She went on to point out that despite being a UNICEF Ambassador for peace, she encouraged nuclear war between the two countries.

As someone who has lived through the dangerous times when this country has been at the brink of being torn down by war,  I can understand where Malik’s coming from.

Everyone has been waiting for the talk of war to dry up. Everyone is scared.

Through her privilege, Chopra probably hasn’t experienced this terrifying feeling, and her frosty response to Malik made her lack of compassion evident.

“Whenever you’re done venting … got it, done? Okay, cool,” Chopra said, with a taste of condescension. “So, I have many, many friends from Pakistan and I am from India, and war is not something that I am really fond of, but I am patriotic,” she added. She ignored the point Malik was making and disrespectfully continued to be condescending and just plain uncaring.

It was evident that Chopra was taken unawares by Malik’s sudden question. She sputtered out a response that a) completely missed answering Malik’s question and b) was unfairly attacking the woman asking a simple (quite necessary) question.

Malik was still speaking when two men snatched the microphone from her hands, yet she still held her ground and continued.

Since when have asking logical, relevant, and blunt questions become venting?

Next, she accused Malik of yelling at her. If you ask me, yelling is far less outrageous than cheering for a nuclear war that can potentially wipe out all life from the earth. But then again, Malik wasn’t yelling, only asking a question. And if she hadn’t had her mic taken away, she wouldn’t have had to raise her voice. Chopra tried to turn the tables on Malik, but it didn’t quite work out that way.

She didn’t really answer her question. and more importantly, she has made it evident to anyone who didn’t already know that she is not worth supporting.

Being patriotic and walking the middle ground are vague explanations and do not defend her stance of supporting war. The responsibility of promoting peace falls more heavily on her shoulders because she is not only a famous international actress but also a UN’s Goodwill Ambassador.

Malik has since come out on Twitter and accused the Indian actress of gaslighting her and making her look like the “bad guy”, and rightly so.

Chopra’s insulting and disrespectful attitude toward Malik sparked feelings of anger and disappointment among audiences across both sides of the border. Many took to social media to express their anger.

Nothing can ever justify war. And nothing can ever justify insulting someone asking the right questions.

Let’s hope that Priyanka Chopra Jonas does better the next time.

But then again, I’m not holding my breath.

Race Books Inequality

How Claudia Rankine calls for us to grow as citizens with her writing

I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I remember the time I met Claudia Rankine at last year’s London Literature Festival with pride and wonder. Starstruck with her resolute and wise energy, I remember standing in front of her,  gushing about Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and Citizen before asking if she would mind signing my copy of the former title. Thankfully, despite my rambling inability to contain my amazement, she happily didn’t mind at all.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1963, Rankine earned her BA at Williams College and her MFA at Columbia University. While writing her poetry, she also teaches at Yale University. She co-edits the American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language anthology series with Lisa Sewell. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (2004) and Citizen (2014), are part of her An American Lyric series in progress.

Rankine’s writing sets the groundwork for why #BlackLivesMatter is such a relevant, important movement that should include all of us. In Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, she recalls what her political state of existence when she watched the news. She talks about the time George Bush forgot whether two or three people were convicted of dragging a black man to his death in Texas:

… in Bush’s case, I find myself talking to the television screen: You don’t remember because you don’t care.

I forget things too. It makes me sad… The sadness is not really about George W… the sadness lives in the recognition that a life can not matter. Or, as there are billions of lives, my sadness is alive alongside the recognition that billions of lives never mattered.

Rankine voices the inequality that has always affected people’s lives, even before #BlackLivesMatter came to fruition. She holds readers accountable for the injustices that benefit the racially-privileged who are, in turn, actively indifferent to those injustices.

Years after the publication of Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, Rankine advocates not only for the rights of black people to be recognized but also for white people to use awareness of their privilege to advocate for them. She states that the sociologically-engineered inequality of our society is further perpetrated by the problem of whiteness: “[its] inability to see how intertangled it is with white supremacy” and how there is a continued “investment in centralizing whiteness” everywhere.

Rankine points out the problematic behavior of statements that dominate white discourse on the internet. For example, many white people often state that it isn’t their responsibility to right the wrongs of their slave-owning ancestors. Furthermore, vitriolic responses of “All Lives Matter!” to the #BlackLivesMatter movement prove that blindness to the connection between whiteness and white supremacy. Reactions such as these show a further cultural investment in whiteness, whether via white people’s indifference to the oppression of black people or their societally-imposed desire to maintain the status quo.

Rankine does not blame President Trump for reverting a utopian social order of “post-racial” “equality” into regression. Instead, she classifies him as “a symptom” of white supremacy. She states that the election of Trump granted repressed white males permission to voice their disdain for political correctness. 

Praised as “the book of a generation” by the Sunday Times, Citizen takes Rankine’s critique of white supremacy further. Rankine highlights that critique not only in her words but also in their visual presentation. Most notably, she commemorates victims of police brutality such as Sandra Bland and Michael Brown in her “In Memory of” wall. As the wall fades out,  she leaves us with:

Because white men can’t
police their imagination
black men are dying

Pages with In Memory Of people of color who were killed in recent years on left page, and on right page there are the words Because white men can’t police their imagination black men are dying
Pages with In Memory Of people of color who were killed in recent years on left page. On right page, the words: Because white men can’t police their imagination black men are dying

The isolation of the aforementioned lines further accentuates Rankine’s point about the sociological investment in whiteness. By placing those three lines on their own page, she forces us to focus on the statement they form. Her prose forces us to think about how black people are at the mercy of white anger. Moreover, she forces us to confront the reality that white entitlement matters more than black peoples’ lives.

One year later, I am in awe of Rankine and her presence in our lives. As artist and advocate, Rankine uses her love for language to raise her voice above the cacophony of systemic brutality. She reminds us of the complex evolution of racist behavior, calling for us to know, grow, and be better. May she be a testament of Dylan Thomas’ urge for us to not “go gently into that good night” but to “rage against the dying of the light.”

May we be a generation that carries her torch of truth into our futures.

The World Inequality

Best of The Tempest 2018: News and Social Justice

What a year 2018 was. This time last year, we were still reeling from all that had happened to us, wondering how anything could ever get better. But we entered 2018 with renewed vigor. Members of our very own Tempest team marched on behalf of women in the US and in Rome, and we campaigned for LGBTQ rights when we launched our Spirit Day campaign. We fought for immigrant rights while throwing the spotlight on environmental injustice, too. Moreover, we started holding each other (and our politicians) accountable to the greater good. And through it all, we remained steadfast in our vision for justice and equality for all.

The News and Social Justice sections also made a concerted effort to cover more international topics this year. To do this, we took a hard look at politics around the world; we analyzed the way WOC and minorities were disproportionately affected by the agendas of the wealthy and elite. We told the raw stories of immigrants and those living in the most dangerous parts of the world to be a woman. The conversations we had about mental health, sexual assault, and police brutality were also difficult, but necessary. Nonetheless, women and the LGBTQ community saw some serious gains in politics and around the world, giving us hope for a brighter 2019.

I’m so proud of the work that our incredible team of staff, fellows and contributing writers have put out this year. The News and Social Justice verticals have certainly benefitted from their passion.  Not to mention, the wonderful Dominique Stewart joined as Assistant Social Justice Editor this year and breathed fresh, new life to the vertical.

Dominique and I will continue to work hard to push the sections forward in the coming year, and we’re so excited to see what it holds. Here’s to more glass-ceiling smashing, determination, incredible activism in 2019.

Now, without further ado, here are the top picks of 2018 from the News and Social Justice sections at The Tempest.

1. Living in Portland in the age of Trump

Living in Portland in the age of Trump

Amidst an era of political uncertainty, Laura Muth gives us an in-depth look at what it looks like to live in the US right now. “To live in Portland right now is to engage in an endurance test of your capacity for cognitive dissonance,” writes Muth. Beautifully written, Muth portrays the strength and resistance of the queer and black communities in a way that ignites hope for the future of activism.

2. Meet the undocumented, detained women of an Arizona detention facility

Exclusive: Meet the undocumented, detained women of an Arizona detention facility

Shahrazad Encinias goes straight into the heart of an Arizona detention facility to interview undocumented women who’ve been there for almost two years. They’re being held without a clear picture of when they’ll be released: “I’m locked up. It’s the same as being in Guatemala,” says Rosa*. These women tell Encinias of the fear, discrimination, and violence they face on a daily basis. Harrowing and powerful, this piece by Encinias is a must-read.

3. This is what reality is really like for one woman in Pakistan’s red light district

Lahore-based Momina Naveed ventures into Pakistan’s red-light district to find out what daily life is like. She interviews Munni*, a single mother doing sex work as a form of survival. Munni works so that her daughter doesn’t have to: “I will go to great lengths to make sure my daughter doesn’t have to suffer at the hands of the same fate as mine,” she says. Naveed’s reporting is somber, earnest, and fresh. This piece might make you cry, but you will come away with a new perspective on sex work that we’re sure you’ve never read before.

4. What we lose when we take the European Union for granted

This is what we lose when we take the European Union for granted

In this piece, Katie Kaestner-Frenchman confronts the European Union in its entirety. With all its imperfections, flaws, and snafus, the Union is a “project in progress,” but an essential part of maintaining order in the world. Kaestner-Frenchman speaks frankly about what we lose when we begin to lose sight of what the European Union is supposed to stand for.

5. Judges don’t believe sexual assault survivors. So what happens next?

Judges don’t believe sexual assault survivors. So what happens next?

Of course, not everything we faced this year was rosy. Biased legislative procedures around the world make it incredibly difficult for women to report and obtain justice for sexual assault. The stigma attached to women who’ve experienced sexual assault and harassment compounds the issue. What happens when judges don’t believe survivors? Meg Leach gives us a powerful call to action: Vote. Them. Out.

6. Black lives will always matter more than your game, your flag, and your song

Black lives will always matter more than your game, your flag, and your song

Assistant Editor for Social Justice Dominique Stewart provides readers with a frank perspective on anthem-kneeling. A practice used by some athletes as a peaceful expression of political frustration, anthem-kneeling has nonetheless been sharply criticized by President Trump and American voters alike. Stewart sees this criticism as fundamentally misplaced – find out why in this honest and raw piece.

7. Studies show that Indian parents think that mental health issues are shameful. What next?

Studies show that Indian parents think that mental health issues are shameful. What next?

What does mental health in South Asian communities look like? It’s often difficult to say since there’s so much stigma surrounding its discussion. Mariyam Raza Haider combines her personal experiences with an expert interview to sketch out how Indian communities can foster more empathy towards one another. “A public health crisis like this demands a pivotal shift in the way our parents think and understand mental health,” writes Haider. While this piece focuses on the Indian community, this piece is nonetheless relatable to all.

  8. Art-activists Renee Lopez and Ameya Okamoto are breathing new life into social justice activism 

Art-activists Renee Lopez and Ameya Okamoto are breathing new life into social justice activism

Grace Wong explores the practice of “artivism” (art activism) in this fresh and inspiring piece. To do this, Wong interviews artivists Ameya Okamoto and Renee Lopez — women of color working in photography and digital media — to better understand how art communicates and sheds light on their life experiences. Through their art, Okamoto, and Lopez fight for inclusion, ally with Black Lives Matter, and push for greater intersectionality. Featuring original work graciously provided by the artists, this article underscores the power of art as a social justice medium.

9. After the midterms, can we dub 2018 the new “Year of the woman”? 

After the midterms, can we dub 2018 the new “Year of the woman”?

When we said that we entered 2018 with renewed vigor earlier, we meant it. Women of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and millennials made unprecedented gains in US politics this year, and we believe the government (and lives) will be better for it. These strides have made Sara Marshall feel empowered and ready to hit the ground running in 2019. The only question is – will you join us?  

Happy New Year! Our appetite for all things news and social justice at The Tempest will never slow down. Here’s to another year of determination, vigor, and activism!


*names were changed to protect the identity of individuals interviewed

Pop Culture

This life-changing podcast helps me lust out loud

Here is some of what you’ll hear when you listen to the Buzzfeed podcast “Thirst Aid Kit”: two voices, either one a smooth spread. Laughter, cackles, guffaws, snorts, sighs, moans, censures, apologies. Joy, frustration, discovery, and above all, lust.

The podcast’s tagline is after all, “What we do when we lust out loud.”
Via [Image description: A handsome man, actor Chris Evans, raises an eyebrow.]
Each week, co-hosts Nichole Perkins and Bim Adewunmi (with the efforts of their diligent production team) pick a dish to be consumed be it a genre of man or a specific object of desire (designated by the podcast as a “thirst object”) to focus on and lust over. They break down why exactly this object is desirable while having a good ol’ swoony time. 

Perkins & Adewunmi know that women, particularly women of color, are discouraged in patriarchal and white supremacist systems from expressing their desire Just the fact of women doing so hints that perhaps the world is not and should not be centered around the the male gaze and the desires of men, even though patriarchy is built on this premise. Add race, class, and religion into the mix and you’ve got multiple systems making it more difficult to simply and openly express “yes, please, I would like that.”

It is just that, a simple concept. Let’s just talk about what we like. For myself, this is difficult feat. I don’t think I realized just how much so until I started trying to doing so. I don’t say what I want until I’ve done a thorough analysis of what everyone else around me wants, and, though there is a place for thoughtfulness and consideration I have a feeling I have taken it too far (as a lot of women do, it’s how we’re socialized). It’s gotten to the point where I almost don’t know how to just say what I like and want. What we think should be easy is rarely actually so, and so it’s easier to go about this whole process with a friend or, in the case of Thirst Aid Kit, two.

One of the benefits of podcasts in general is that they are intimate and yet distant. I feel safe with Perkins and Adewunmi even though we’ve never met and I do not actually know them. But with their honesty and analysis, a discussion of lust becomes more accessible and less scary.

It can be scary to assert what you want. It takes a type of vulnerability to do so, and vulnerability is terrifying. So for me, being able to laugh through it in the indirect company of two women of color makes it light years less scary.

Via [Image description: A handsome man, Michael B Jordan, laughs while wiping a tear from his eye.]
For me, it’s significant to note that Adewunmi is also a Muslim woman, which is huge to a fellow Muslim woman like me. I have heard my entire life that good Muslim girls do or don’t act a certain way, and part of that has to do with good Muslim girls not being explicit with romantic or sexual desire. Seeing (or rather hearing) a Muslim woman talk about desire is pretty life-changing.

Perkins and Adewunmi are two creative, hilarious women, and even if this podcast wasn’t as eye-opening, it would still be hysterical. There have been too many times I’ll be listening in public and need to cover up an burst of laughter with a cough or else just lean into looking a little mad. But, for me, it is also the former. It tells me “hey lady, it is perfectly acceptable to talk about what you like,” be that Michael B Jordan’s dimples or Rahul Kohli’s full beard. Maybe this reassurance will help me be able to express more readily what I want in other areas of life too. In the meantime, stay hydrated, friends.

Via [Image description: A handsome man, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, smiles and tips a bottle toward the camera in a gesture of ‘cheers.’]
Gender Race Inequality

What you need to know about Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

Today, August 7th, 2018, is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day in the United States.

If you don’t know what this means, fear not, we’re here to provide some context.

The gender pay gap is no secret. In the United States, based on federal statistics from organizations such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the statistic that is typically thrown around is that women make somewhere from 70 to 80 cents to the dollar per a man. This number is based on taking the difference between the median income of women working full-time and year-round in the United States and dividing them by comparable men’s median income. As of April 10, 2018,  this number came out to roughly 80%. This is already egregious. By these measurements statistics, the average American woman would have to work a fifty-year career in order to make up the difference between her a male colleague doing the same work for forty years

Applying these numbers to comparisons of time puts them in a different light, and that’s just what Equal Pay Days do. Equal Pay Days raise awareness on the gender pay gap by marking how far into the next year a woman would have to work in order to make the same amount of money as a white, non-Hispanic man. For instance, for the year of 2017, Equal Pay Day for all women would ideally be December 31, 2017, denoting that women have made the same amount as their male colleagues over the course of 2017. The Equal Pay Days of 2018 signify how many extra days in a year it takes women to make the same amount as men in the same position in a year.

[Image description: A concerned black woman is visible from the neck up, with the 3¢ on the dollar is not enough. - Judy Miyashita]
Source: equalpaydaytpday .org [Image description: A short-haired black woman with a concerned look on her face is visible from the neck up, with the 3¢ on the dollar is not enough. – Judy Miyashita]
It is important to note that that is Equal Pay Days plural. The reason for this is that the numbers are also strikingly different when broken up along racial lines. Statistics for 2017 as taken from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that, when compared to $1 for white, non-Hispanic men, Asian-American make 87 cents, white women make 79 cents, black women make 63 cents, Native women make 57, and Latina women make 54 cents. By putting that into the extra amount of time these women would have to work in order to make up the difference, we get each group’s Equal Pay Day. For black women in the United States, it takes more than two-thirds of the year.

This is unacceptable and important to remember. Gender and race intersect in ways that are quantifiable, and to ignore this picture would be to ignore the obvious.

Equal pay for equal work is not a difficult concept to grasp. Hopefully, the people in charge of determining pay, typically men, typically white men, can use some of their brain space to learn something new from these days. In the meantime, for more information, check out There, you can find more statistics on the breakdowns between gender, including those of mothers v. fathers, as well as resources for becoming more educated on these issues.

On Tuesday, August 7, 2018 there will be a Social Media Storm at 11am EST. Tweet with #BlackWomensEqualPay and #DemandMore and find resources images at

Food & Drinks Life

It’s National Tequila Day and it’s time to step up your tequila game with these drinks

It’s National Tequila Day in the U.S., and Americans love tequila–we drink 80 percent of the world’s tequila production–even though our current administration seems to hate the place it comes from and the people who often make and serve it. While today it is often associated with American spring breakers doing tequila shots in Tijuana or retirees day-drinking margaritas, tequila goes back a long way.

Tequila is made from agave, a type of succulent plant. Aztecs in what is now Mexico started fermenting agave around 1000 B.C., making a beverage called pulque, a forerunner to the tequila we know and love today. When the Spanish arrived, they got in on the game, distilling agave into something closer to modern tequila. Around 1936, the quintessential tequila drink for most Americans, the margarita was invented, possibly by an Irish bar owner living in Mexico. In 1974, Mexico claimed the term “tequila” as its intellectual property, much as the term “champagne” has been claimed by France. This means legally true tequila can only be made in certain parts of Mexico, according to certain standards. However, producers of this uniquely Mexican spirit are increasingly being bought up by foreign, often white, owners getting in on the tequila bonanza. Today, none of the biggest tequila producers in Mexico is owned by Mexicans.

It’s an interesting commentary on the effects of globalization: even a product essentially copyrighted by a country ends up profiting the wealthy elite of other, often whiter countries. Meanwhile, Mexico and Mexicans are cast as subhuman criminals by the people who both profit from their products and consume them.

So this National Tequila Day, drink to remember! Drink to forget! Drink to find some measure of pleasure in this chaotic world of ours! And try one of these simple recipes. (Pro tip: blanco tequila, which has no added sugar, is supposed to be the best kind to use to avoid hangovers.)

Tequila, especially good tequila, has a distinctive taste: a hint of saltiness, a touch of smoke. Both of those characteristics pair beautifully with citrus, which is why citrusy drinks dominate this list.

1. Paloma

A photo of a paloma on a marble table.
[Image description: A photo of a paloma on a marble table.] Via
Palomas are light and refreshing and go perfectly with a plate of tacos on a hot summer day. To make your own, you’ll need:

  • 2 oz tequila blanco (that’s about a shot and half)
  • Lime juice
  • 3 oz grapefruit juice
  • 3 oz club soda
  • Ice
  • Salt

Stir together the tequila, a generous squeeze of lime juice, a pinch of salt, and the grapefruit juice. Then add the ice and pour over the club soda. If you want to cut down on the ingredients, try just getting a grapefruit soda. Enjoy on a sunlit patio.

2. Tequila Sunrise

A photo of two tequila sunrise drinks.
[Image description: A photo of two tequila sunrise drinks.] Via Food Network
The Tequila Sunrise is another classic tequila and citrus combination.

Add the tequila and orange juice to a cold glass and stir, then float the grenadine on top. If you want to really jazz things up, get wild and use blood orange juice.

3. Tequila Sangria

A photo of tequila sangria.
[Image description: A photo of tequila sangria.] Via Pampered Chef
This one is perfect for hosting your very own Tequila Day celebration. Mix up a pitcher and gather your friends, and the following ingredients

Combine all the liquid ingredients in a pitcher and stir, then add your sliced fruit. Let it chill in the fridge for at least two hours. The longer it sits, the more the flavors will meld together. This is a good time to experiment too–add more slices of your favorite fruits, throw in some fresh berries or herbs. They’ll add extra brightness to your drink, and leave you with a tasty, boozy snack afterward.

When you’re ready to serve, rub a wedge of lime around the rim of your glasses. Pour some salt on a plate or cutting board and dip the edges of the glasses in it. Add ice, then pour and enjoy.

Sometimes “holidays” like this one can feel silly, especially when the world is in such turmoil. But they can also be fun, and that can be important to hold onto especially when the world seems like it’s going to hell in a handbasket. So take a little time to catch up with your friends, try out a new drink recipe, and learn to love tequila in a new way.

USA Politics The World

Trump is using this woman as a political prop – but that shouldn’t surprise you

In October 2017, pop culture icon Kim Kardashian-West tweeted for the first time about Alice Johnson, a woman serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for a first-time, non-violent drug offense she had committed two decades prior. Since then, Kim has been an advocate for the release of Alice, meeting with President Donald Trump and many of his advisors to discuss Alice’s case. Finally, after months of campaigning, Trump granted Alice clemency and she was released from prison a few weeks ago.

I do believe that Alice deserved to be freed, especially considering that she only handled low-level operations for a drug trafficking ring to make ends meet after suffering several personal and financial upheavals within a short period of time. However, I can recognize that President Trump is only doing this because Kim Kardashian-West is a celebrity and because her husband, rapper Kanye West, is such a big Trump supporter.

So far, Trump has mainly used his powers to pardon or grant clemency to those who support his political ideologies and who are relatively famous and/or wealthy. For example, he pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio, a man who was so racist that he was convicted of illegally racially profiling Latinx people even after the court told him to stop. Arpaio was a huge supporter of Trump during his campaign, which likely plays a huge role in Trump’s decision to pardon him.

He’s also pardoned well-known conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted of violating campaign finance laws to try to elect Republican candidate Wendy Long. D’Souza is also a serious supporter of Trump. So it makes sense that, since Kanye West is such a fan of Trump, that he would grant Kim Kardashian’s pleas for him to release Alice Johnson.

Alice Johnson is only being granted clemency by Trump because she gained the attention of Kim Kardashian. If that had not happened, Alice Johnson would have more than likely died in prison, like thousands of others convicted of nonviolent drug crimes.  

Some conservatives lauded Trump’s decision, saying that granting clemency to Alice Johnson, a black woman, proved that Trump was not the racist that the “liberal media” had painted him to be. And although it is true that Alice’s clemency was an act of justice, it hardly makes up for how biased Trump is towards racial minorities, especially those in the criminal justice system.

The criminal justice system is incredibly biased against people of color, especially African-Americans, with over-policing of predominantly black neighborhoods resulting in the disproportionate arrests of black people for drug crimes, like Alice’s. Black people are also much more likely to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole, especially for nonviolent offenses, just like Alice was. The American Civil Liberties Union found that, of people serving life in prison, black people made up more than half. And when looking at life without parole for nonviolent offenses, that number was above 60%. Trump has not released any current plans to effectively address the racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Trump has, however, vowed several times to be more “tough on crime”—a phrase that has often carried racial connotations. The “tough on crime” approach has been a justification for the over-policing of non-white neighborhoods that have partially lead to the overrepresentation of minorities in federal and state prisons.

I am very glad that Alice Johnson is now out of prison and able to return to her family, but it’s still important to note that her situation would have played out much differently if her plight had not been noticed by a wealthy, white celebrity with connections to the Trump family. Trump’s clemency for Alice is just a political prop so dealing with real issues in the criminal justice system can remain unsolved.

Race Inequality

The ultimate guide for not having the cops called on you for being Black

Technically speaking, the police do not exist for one’s benefit of harassing a group of people.

But in the world of concerned white civilians and neighborhood watches, which are arguably interchangeable, we have been inundated with stories of Black people having the police called on them for sleeping in their dorm common rooms, asking for plastic cutlery, and barbecuing in a public park. It’s as if an agency whose roots can be traced to preserving slavery can be weaponized for white convenience, but also the Caucacity to do so with impunity.

Though to be fair, it’s not their fault we’re not white. Have you tried to discern who is the threat: a Black child with a pellet gun from a white teen who brings an assault rifle to a school? Or a Black girl hanging poolside in a bathing suit. The onus is on us to be less threatening. So in the spirit of black preservation, here are some tips on avoiding white people calling the cops on you.

1. Hire a skywriter so you never show up unannounced

Body camera footage of two women being pulled over my police.
Via AP

Understand that seeing a minority in a white space can be jarring. To put everyone at ease, keep a skywriter on retainer, so they can introduce you whenever you’re staying in an Airbnb or taking a campus tour.  Remember your existence is to entertain. And who doesn’t love seeing a small plane write “Jesus” in the clouds, followed by your criminal history?

2. Align yourself with the “Justice for Harambe” crowd

People protest the death of a gorilla at his vigil outside the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.
Photo by John Minchillo

Casually mention the injustice and savage murders of Cecil the Lion and Harambe. They’ll forget to report that you were trespassing on your property by going into a diatribe on why the kid’s neglectful parents should have gotten shot instead of Harambe.

3. Wear closed-toe shoes to the park

Women calls police on black people barbecuing.

If you’re a Black man 40-years-old and up, consider trading in your fisherman sandals with a closed toe shoe, ideally something with velcro in all designated grill zones in city parks. This is more so for your safety as wearing open toe shoes does create a pending threat when worn while barbecuing.

In other news, the city of Philadelphia will honor the brave men who celebratory burned, flipped, and committed other forms of self-expression towards cars after the Eagles victory by giving them the key to the city.

4. Ditch the cutlery and start eating with your hands

Black woman wrestled on the ground by two cops.
Via Canita Adams/ Storyful

Get rid of your cutlery in exchange for eating with your hands.

White people will follow suit thinking it’s some strange, new trend that you created despite it being the norm across the world. Plus, opting out of plastic cutlery will help lower your carbon footing, which will win you points with your white, bohemian neighbor with dreadlocks who was five minutes away from reporting you to the homeowners’ association for leaving your garbage can out the day after pick up.

5. Give them permission to say all the words in M.A.A.D City

Five black posing for a picture.
Via Myneca Ojo / Facebook

What white people won’t admit is that they really want to say the n-word in rap songs. Kendrick Lamar’s M.A.A.D City helped them through a rough patch last month, in which they witness a group of Black golfers using a putter throughout the course, instead of switching between clubs for short and long distance shots. The situation still has them shaken.

Besides aren’t we just oppressing ourselves by not letting them say it? For it was Martin Luther King Jr. who once said, “no one is free until we are all free to say it.

6. Use the “all Black people know each other” excuse to your benefit

Black teen interviewed by off screen reporter.

Unlike white people, who share the one Black friend, all Black and Brown people know each other.

Use this to your advantage, by suggesting that “Tyrone had wanted you two to meet.” Brad will be too busy trying to remember this nonexistent friend that he won’t notice that cashier has finished ringing up that jacket he had accused you of stealing.

7. Just don’t be black

White woman posing as a black woman.
Via KXLY News

I would suggest donning white face, but that’s reverse racism.

Politics The World

There’s no white genocide in South Africa. I should know: I’m a white South African.

White strangers on the internet keep telling me I’m in danger. I’m a white person living in South Africa, and a white genocide is underway here, I am told. Sometimes these people are South Africans. Sometimes they are not.

24 years ago, a few months before I was born, apartheid legally ended – but its economic and social legacy continues. I have had white privilege all my life, despite the fact that I was never alive during apartheid. When you’re white, the white privilege here is like air: it surrounds you, so much so that you forget it’s hard to identify. To white South Africans, this privilege is so normalized it feels invisible.

On average, white South Africans earn five times more than black South Africans. We’re less likely to live in poverty or be unemployed. We’re more likely to have access to quality healthcare services. White people hold the majority of shares in stocks. Despite the fact that we make up 9% of South Africa’s population, we own 23.6% of rural land and 11.4% of the urban land, with 67% of the total land being owned by the state, companies, churches, communities and traditional authorities.

That’s not to mention the intangible evidence of white privilege in this country: the microaggressions that suggest white people are superior to black people. I’m not saying that some white South Africans don’t have it hard. Some do – but that’s not because they’re systemically and institutionally oppressed because of their race.

But despite the overwhelming evidence that white South Africans are privileged, many claim that a white genocide is underway in South Africa.

I’m telling you that this is absolutely not true. There is no white genocide in South Africa.

There are many prominent right-wing figures who’ve spread the myth about white genocide. Steve Hofmeyer, a South African musician who’s well-known for his racist remarks, has said that white South Africans – especially Afrikaans-speaking whites – are being killed like ‘flies’, a statement that was proven incorrect. Mike Cernovich, an alt-right activist in the US, tweeted that ‘white genocide in South Africa is real’ back in 2016 – again, a statement that is unsupported by data.

More recently, after our Parliament made a move towards considering land expropriation without compensation, the topic of white genocide was again brought to the attention of an international audience. Peter Dutton, Australian minister for immigration and border protection, said that Australia might fast-track visas for white farmers who want to emigrate to Australia. His reasoning behind this was that white farmers are facing ‘horrific circumstances’ in South Africa – that is, genocide and land expropriation.

Most claims about white genocide seem to rely on exaggerated statistics about farm attacks – that is, brutal assaults, robberies, and murders that occur on farms. Many have misconstrued the reports on farm attacks to assume that all farm attacks are against white farm owners for racially-motivated reasons.

There has been an increase in farm attacks, but as many have pointed out, there’s been an increase in violent crimes throughout the country. Additionally, not all victims of farm attacks are white, nor are all of the attacks racially motivated. There are very few statistics that suggest farm attacks are politically motivated, and with a total of 74 farm murders in total happening between 2016 and 2017, it’s certainly not at a genocidal level. Statistically, young black men are more likely to be murdered in South Africa than any other demographic.

Genocide Watch, a global group, is often cited by those who believe a white genocide is happening here. The group placed South Africa on stage 6 of their “10 Stages of Genocide”. However, the group itself has stated that there is no genocide underway in South Africa – not to mention that Genocide Watch’s methodology has been called into question.

The statistics should make it obvious that a white genocide is not happening in South Africa. So why do so many people believe that it is?

Partly because there’s a vicious spread of misinformation, misleading statistics, and blatant lies on social media. Despite the fact that conversations about ‘fake news’ have led to some of us being more vigilant when it comes to fact-checking the news, others simply gobble up this information.

Our country has a problem with media literacy. White people a little older than me were taught not to think critically about what the apartheid government put out there, and they were indoctrinated into accepting white supremacy.

But that isn’t an excuse. While certain social media posts can be misleading, the lack of critical thought amongst white South Africans is astounding. People often believe not what they’re misled to believe, but what they want to believe. You don’t fact-check statistics that tell you what you want to hear. And honestly, I think many white South Africans want to play the victim after being (rightfully) blamed for apartheid.

Claims about white genocide in South Africa are ridiculously untrue. In a country where we clearly hold the majority of institutional, economic, and social power, comparing our situation to genocide is an insult to every people that’s ever experienced actual genocide.