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Archive for August 2013

Almost Time To Get On The Bus

I'm sitting here thinking about all the stuff I planned for this weekend to try to squeeze every drop of fun out of summer before its fast-approaching end. Out of all the events, the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, on 24 August, is going to be the highlight.

I've been speaking with people to spread the word and am surprised that many don't recognize the importance of this march. So, I'll provide a short summary here and if you're interested, the rest can be found on National Action Network's Web site. To start off, the official name of the march is National Action To Realize the Dream March. Part of its purpose it to commemorate the original March on Washington, but the larger part is to recognize that some work still needs to be done to achieve the dream Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about at the original march. We'll be marching for Jobs and the Economy, to take a stand for the parts of the Voting Rights Act SCOTUS recently struck down and judicial rights (think Goerge Zimmerman verdict and corresponding Stand Your Ground Law), women's rights, LGBT equality, environmental issues that overwhelming affect the minority and low-income populations and in my opinion, the most important thing we'll be marching for is our youth and their future.

These are issues that affect everyone in this country, so everyone should be interested in this march. But when talking to people, I've heard two main reasons for reluctance to attend. The first: what will marching do to actively affect change? And the secone more common relates to the personal security as it relates to the concern of fights. To the first I have my own question to pose in response: What good is sitting around doing or saying nothing about situations that negatively impact you?? Yea, us rallying together won't change laws or create jobs, but it will send a message to the people who can. We're letting them know we are paying attention and want them to do a better job representing our interests. It's easy for them to say they don't know our issues or even worse, to ignore us when the only time we communicate with them is at the voting booth. It's much harder to do when we're physically present making our wishes known. As far as the second concern about violence, I have faith that all in attendance will be there for a good cause. I'm going to leave it at that because I refuse to speak any negativity into existance.

If you're on the fence about attending, I hope this post did something to sway you in the direction of coming. And if your attendance is based on some technical detail, please visit National Action Network's Web site for info on buses, hotels, etc.

I truly hope to see some familiar faces this weekend :-)

Until next time,

With ♥ from Halima

America's Need for New Literary Classics: Review of 'Heart of Darkness'

So after 13 years, I finally went back and picked up Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I was supposed to read it freshman year of college, but...well, anyway. One thing that did stick with me all these years was the discussion about racism in American literature that it sparked. So, after all these years, I decided to go back and see what my former classmates were talking about.

You can read more about the plot in the link I provided above, but in short, the story is about Marlow, a young steamboat captain, that is charged with rescuing Mr. Kurtz, an ivory trader, from one of the ivory company's stations. Upon approaching the station in the heart of the Congo region, Marlow is attacked by natives. Later, the reader finds out that the attack was ordered by Mr. Kurtz who had come to relate to the natives. But this bond between Mr. Kurtz and the natives is portrayed as the result of the illness that eventually took Mr. Kurtz's life.

So, what made this book so racist?

Well, outside of the natives being referred to as nothing other than savages or niggers, they received this era's usual treatment of dehumanization. The African men who were mentioned in this novel were either childlike, driven by simple motivators like food or simply in place to serve white men. The reader never learns anything about these characters, not even something so basic as a name. We are simply supposed to take Conrad at his word - that African culture is savage and evil.

And after all this, the reader is subjected to a conversation between Marlow and Mr. Kurtz's fiancé that starts like this:

'You knew him well,' she murmured after a moment of mourning silence.

'Intimacy grows quick out there," I said.

These words could have been those of any war vet. But in this case, what was the war about?? Men who entered a region to enslave the people and take their resources?? One man who got sick while doing this and as a result turned on his own people?? Maybe it's a difference of perspective, but I see no validity in Marlow's feelings.

Furthermore, I see no validity in any of our great American classics that hold this perspective. I wish educators would stop inserting books like this and Huckleberry Finn and The Last of the Mohicans in our curriculums and calling it diversification. These "classics" do nothing but offer instruction on how to continue a culture of inequality. There have been countless novels published since the late 19th century. I think it's time we find value in these and redefine what it means to be a classic.

Journaling the Journey

We are habitual beings.  This is by design; we learn through habit-formed behavior.  The downside is, habits make change difficult and sometimes even painful.  That's why documenting my reality and future goals through journaling has become one of my life's most meaningful exercises.

The story of how I began journaling is almost haunting.  I went to my church's school from first through eighth grades.  It was a one-room schoolhouse, so I had the same teacher from elementary school until the beginning of middle school.  In the first weeks of my seventh grade year, my teacher decided to introduce us to journaling and set aside time for us to practice it during the school day.  At first, I felt it was one of the most pointless parts of my day, ranking a close second to math class.  But a couple weeks later, my teacher passed away due to a brain aneurysm.  Everything I had ever known began to change drastically with the introduction of new people in my academic life and the personal changes I went through as I entered my teenage years.  Long story short, journaling became my go to method of sorting through thoughts and feelings.  It was like my teacher had some divine premonition to leave her students a life coping mechanism as her legacy.

Over the years, journaling has been in my life in varying degrees.  But one of the main reasons I continue is,  it provides a gauge of how I've grown and progressed towards personal goals from year-to-year.

That's why over the past couple of months, as I've been going through a season of change, I've encouraged myself to spend time with my journal almost every-other-day.  At first, every time I sat down, I felt like I'd have nothing to talk about that day.  But without fail, my entries would morph from me relaying the experiences of the day into me exploring root causes of incidents, how I would change the outcome of events and setting goals for the future.  After all, what's the point of living life if you are not actively growing from contact??  And what better way to assess your progress than to document it??

In addition to using it as a measuring device of sorts, journaling has become a simple way for me to state and achieve what I want for my life.  Many who know me know one of my life philosophies is, you'll never get what you want unless you ask.  So by writing my goals down, I actively recognize them and began working to make them manifest.

I've included a photo of my current journal below.  As you can see, it's simply a spiral notebook with cutouts of things that I like or that are meaningful to me.  I've tried more structured journals, but my thoughts were less free-flowing and therefore less useful. 

I apologize for the lengthy post this week.  As I began writing, the title, Journaling the Journey, took on two meanings - I had my initial purpose of relaying how I benefit from journaling, but my journal's journey is intertwined with that story. Without it, I would have never been able to understand such a simple tool.   Hopefully, I didn't lose too many people and will have inspired some. 

Until next time....

♥ from Halima

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