Archive for the ‘wellness’ Category

fyah links- books, Grenada & class politics

Growing up I read a lot of Sweet Valley and Goosebumps. not a childblack girl reading 01 of colour in site. I managed to come out all right, but I certainly wouldn’t want generations to be further inundated with whiteness and token racialised persons. So for the children in your life- biological and non-biological, 25 books featuring strong black girls.

revolutionLast month marked 30 years of the killing of Maurice Bishop, leader of the NJM in Grenada. Groundation Grenada shares two reflections from two generations on the revolution now and then. Watching an documentary on the revolution I was moved by how excited and hopeful people were. I’ve found maintaing hopefulness for meaningful political change pretty difficult in my adult life time…

I’m likely not to understand the full shopping bagsdynamics of this story surrounding young black men buying extravagantly priced items at a high end store NY and getting profiled. But one of my favourite commentators of higher education and its complications especially for poc in the US has a wonderfully personal reflection on the how and why of spending money when working clas. She highlights how people make judgements on our appearance all the time, and those judgements can close and open doors of opportunity.

Fyah links Friday

indexHey Fyah Family, this week has been full of stuff. Good stuff, bad stuff and all that lies in between. For the bad and in-between I found some internet inspiration. I hope you enjoy it as well.

1) My younger sister is a boss. Caring, funny and smart, she is the true super-star and heart of my family. She also happens to have special needs. When I read about Aaron Philip in the NY Times it automatically thought of her and her bravery and strength navigating this world that sadly does not appreciate her skills and contributions.  Read this story about Aaron and check and follow his tumblr.

2) I came across this listing of photographs depicting  love/love stories and even my jaded icebox of a heart went all warm and mushy. Awwww 🙂

3) So, life as a grad student is  something I think you have to experience to believe. Readings, grades, assignments, schedules, a shit load more readings and assignments, working as a TA, working on a thesis, looking for a job that pays cus this tuition is expensive, more readings and assignments, weight gain, and then it all seems worth it  for the times when I am reminded that it is pretty great to be a grad student. Yes, it actually is that frenetic. I was sitting at my desk staring at about 6 student emails about something or the other  and during one of my Facebook breaks , I came across this hilariously revealing post.  Fellow grad schoolers or recent grads, let me know if this resonates.

Have a great weekend!

makes the ppl come together- workout music (and we’re back to soca)

keep calm and love soca music

I like to start my workout like I’m now going out to get paint and mud all over my body on j’ouvert morning. Undoubtedly one the biggest songs for the year, that I still don’t know the words to.

When it’s time to increase the speed I like to remind myself of FANTASTIC FRIDAY. On actual fantastic Friday I was shoveling snow in Toronto wishing I was in the stadium. Boy am I glad those days are over.

Keeping the run in high gear. It hurts me to post this, but that “we not staying down, we getting off the ground” makes me pick up the pace every single time. I’m seeing this video for the first time… I may be in love. That little boy holding he head at 3:27! Ah love it!

A great cool down! pieces2peace reintroduced me this Kes song. I must say I wasn’t on the Kes train in the early days. Lines like, “tonight the red man feeling to party” will never get you in my good books but he does give a great live show and I’ve never heard him repeat those words. 

Fyah Friday links

malala

1. October 2013 marks one year since Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen – her “crime”, to have spoken up for the right of girls to be educated in a blog that she was managing anonymously for a few years.  This is the first in depth interview she has given since the attack and she has some very interesting views on how she believes peace can be attained with the Taliban through discussions.

Two things stood out to me:

  • The treatment of women and girls by the Taliban was used as a reason for intervention and military action. I took some time to look for what has been done to attempt to learn about some of the plans to achieve this objective and was unsuccessful. I certainly found out a lot about military engagement though.
  • Malala believes that the US (hmmm) and ambiguous governments are the ones responsible for brokering peace with the Taliban. She hopes to take an active role in this in the future as she aspires to hold political office.  I hope that she can continue to bring a voice to girls in her region but her sources of that hope give me pause.

2. Since the tragic shooting in Newton CT. late last year, the public discussions around dealing with people living with mental illness has been really difficult to sit through. Laws that significantly compromise confidentiality in mental health care and stigmatize those in treatment or who may have been treated in the past have been rolled out in a frenzy to appease some unfounded urge to save ‘us’ from them ‘them’

This Atlantic article shows are ill-prepared police officers are to deal with mental illness in times of crisis, relating the the recent shooting death by the police of a woman at Capitol Hill

I was reminded about attempts to facilitate gender training sessions with police and immigration officers . I left those sessions knowing that most officers were only there because they had be and were less than concerned about the subject matter. Additionally, the  fact that these sessions were being as one-off sessions and not part of comprehensive mandatory training , made me even less hopeful that the change I was hoping for would be realized.

images3.  Sigh. Why does the Dominican Republic want to manufacture more hardship for people of Haitian descent? The Constitutional Court in Santo Domingo has ruled in favor of stripping citizenship from children of Haitian migrants. The decision applies to those born after 1929. Really? Really now?  Here, PJ Patterson, former Jamaican PM is asking that CARICOM take a stand to strongly condemn this ruling.  What does strongly condemn really mean? I don’t know. But hopefully enough negative attention on this matter will force the D.R to pull this foolishness back.

Fyah Link Fridays- Randoms

Family, I hope you had a great week. I had a pretty exceptional week (if I should say so myself) because on Monday I started grad school. Classes are interesting and demanding and my free time has been left in the dust.  However I wanted to make sure I shared with you all some of the interesting things that I read this week between all the scholarly articles. I promise to not post any of those here lol

  1. Catfishing and such.  Over the past month or so I got into the MTV show Catfish and it iscatfish entertaining to no end. Only one situation that I saw ended well and that was because both parties were being dishonest about themselves and by chance they happened to connect in the end. In all other episodes it has been anger, tears and major disappointment. It is really easy to say that you would never get caught up in an online dating lie, and there are some pretty simple ways to mitigate at least some of the foolishness early out, but if we really think about it is this really that uncommon and new-age? This NYT article fleshes it out really well and gave me some new perspective on how we really go about knowing someone.
  2. Faith and Spirituality. I don’t talk about God and faith much, but I think about it quite often. Growinfaithg up very very catholic is a significant part of how I got here and I am still negotiating a lot of how I feel about Christianity on a whole. I came across this article from Esquire and read it about three times because I sometimes feel this is where I want to be, other times not so much.

3. NKOTB. nkotbWhen I was about 9 or 10 I was in love with Donnie and Jordan from New Kids on the Block. I was obsessed. I had all their music on tap, nighties, notebooks, stationary, videos of their performances and I am pretty sure I wrote them about 46 letters (I was that kid) and waited with baited breath for the responses that never came. I wasn’t big on the other boy bands but NKOTB brought me great joy. Can you imagine how excited I was to hear that New Kids on the Block is teaming up with Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees for a 2013 stadium-sweeping super-tour called THE PACKAGE. Sigh. I could go on and on but me sister from another mister Lindy over at Jezebel lays it out in hilarious plain language for those of you who may not know. Best believe that I have already scoped out the NYC dates, best believe.

Enough of my randomness, have a great weekend yall.

justice, rape and sexual violence

Trigger warning: This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.

Disclaimer

  • I have written about rape and sexual violence.
  • I have read a lot about rape and sexual violence.
  • I have thought a lot about rape and sexual violence.
  • I support a lot of initiatives regionally that deal with rape and sexual violence.
  • I have said no and it’s been ignored.
  • I have said no and it’s been accepted with grace.
  • I have said no and it’s been accepted and I’ve been made to feel shitty about it.
  • My politics are unapologetically feminist. I think rape is violent and often inextricably linked to masculinist notions of power and entitlement. Victims and survivors of rape (who are predominantly women) are never to blame.
  • I believe that regret regarding a sexual encounter and not wanting it to happen at the time (regardless of whether it is conveyed in ways a partner thinks are “strong enough”) are two very different things. The first indicates a conscious decision to have sex at the time, the second does not.

Today however, my reaction to hearing of a case (of which I know no details) where a man was sentenced to ten years for rape threw me for a loop. I was genuinely shocked at the length of the sentence. Well firstly, I was surprised that the case went to trial, and was successful, without it being a statutory rape case. But secondly, and almost frighteningly and shockingly, I thought: 10 years is too long.

What my reaction made me realise is that I have never really thought about punishment
and consequences surrounding rape and sexual violence. Most of my work has been on the prevention tip. With inspirations like Yes Means Yes I have more readily focused on sexuality, negotiating sexual relationships and teen romance to talk about sexual violence.

Upon further reflection though, my issue is not so much around the sentence itself, or sexual violence but my complete and utter lack of faith in the prison system. For anyone who knows me and my future this is pretty ironic. But I believe Angela Davis has the right idea, prisons need to be abolished. The length of the sentence is not a deterrent and I think in the long run it actually breeds contempt in the individual and the wider community.

Rape and sexual violence are not victim-less crimes but I think we need to think more explicitly about what we would like to see that will make things better. I believe in the possibilities of trans-formative justice. I know we’re not there yet, but I hope one day to be a part of making that shift. So regardless of a conviction, i.e. once a charge is brought, fully off the top of my head I would like to see:

for survivors of sexual violence:

  • praise for coming forward
  • counselling re:
    • (re)building intimacy and trust
    • dealing: with community backlash and negative emotions

for perpetrators of sexual violence

  • counselling re:
    • power, coercion and entitlement
    • negative emotions
  • psycho-education models re: enthusiastic consent

Longer periods in jail do not increase chances of rehabilitation. In the Caribbean as our crime rates continue to rise, and our prisons begin to fill to the brim we need to think more comprehensively about the long term effects of these measures on our communities. As a future mental health professional, I know there are possibilities, I certainly recognise the need. But without a doubt, we need to be more supportive (for the survivors) and creative (for both the survivors and the perpetrators) when it comes to justice.

Self Care Pledge

One of the standard workshops I run is on self-care. The last activity in the workshop, we ask people to write themselves a promise, a “Self Care Pledge”, one thing that they will do for themselves i)each day ii)each week and iii)each month. Each time I facilitate this workshop, I fill out my pledge and, more often than not, do not follow through on my commitment to myself. Fyah stirrers, I’m sharing my self care pledge with you today in the hopes that I will have too much shame to break such a public promise.

I pledge to go to bed early every day. I am not a person who can feel rested on 6 hours of sleep – I need 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night in order to wake up smoothly and not suffer a severe energy level crash at 2pm. Something always tends to feel more important than getting to sleep by 11pm though – finishing a True Blood episode I’ve already seen, having a phone conversation with someone I can call the next day, online shopping on Forever21. Going to sleep late also means I am less likely to get up early for a run, and I’ve learned running 3 mornings a week can make my mood infinitely better. So, I promise that I will make every effort to be in bed and asleep by 11pm at the latest.

I pledge to prepare lunches for myself every week. I used to be really good at doing this every weekend. This requires me to go grocery shopping and set aside time to cook which is simple enough, but often by Sunday I’m so tired that I fail at my half-hearted attempts to get myself out of bed. The times I do manage this, my week tends to go a lot better – I spend less unnecessary money, I feel better since I generally cook healthy and delicious meals (yes, that was me bigging myself up – I good to put in house), and my weekday nights feel a lot less rushed because one major task is already done. With 40 days left in Toronto, my evenings are throwaways in terms of not spending money on food and eating healthily since I’m going out for dinner with friends a lot more often, but my lunches can still be sensible.

I pledge to take time to reflect and unpack every month. I remember derevolushun telling me once that a lot more people should go to therapists because we pick up so much little shit in our daily lives and never take the time to think about it/unpack it/release it. In this vein, I’d like to promise myself to take some alone time every month (maybe go on a date with myself) to evaluate my thoughts, feelings and journeys for the month past, and figure out how i’d like to move forward into the next one.

Fyah stirrers, are you good at taking care of yourselves? Do you need to make some public promises here too? Let’s hold each other accountable!

Happy Monday.

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