Independent journalist based in the midwest. Reporting on race, education and women's issues. Lover of genuine storytelling, supporter of diverse and inclusive newsrooms, ad agencies and magazine staffs.
Happy New Year y’all! I know it has been a minute (or five) since I’ve written anything. To be honest, I keep going back and forth on what the purpose of this blog is. While I’m not sure the break gave me a clear cut answer, I do know that I missed blogging semi-regularly and want to get back to it this year.
There is so much going on in our world. Our president is a literal child, North Korea is ready to throw hands and men can’t keep their hands off of women. It’s really easy to get bogged down by all the bad news, but there’s so much to be thankful for and so much I’m looking forward to in the new year.
I love the holidays. The home-cooked meals, cuddling up by the fireplace, the constant smell of cinnamon in the house. It’s my favorite time of year and as far as I’m concerned, November 1 marked the beginning of the festivities.
One thing I don’t love about the holidays: finding the perfect gifts for my loved ones. While most people are probably cool with a card full of cash, I like to put a lot of thought into my gifts. So, I usually start a list for friends and family over the summer (yes you read that right). I’m hoping to get all my Christmas shopping done on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
I love shopping, but after six holiday seasons working in retail, I try to avoid malls during this time of year. So, if you’re trying to avoid the mall this year too, I’ve rounded up my faves from this year that I either hope to be under my tree or to give this season. And if you must go to the mall, here’s a pro tip: shop the deals online early in the week and try get as much online as possible. If you must hit up a mall make a schedule–in true Randall style from This Is Us.
Now, onto the gifts!
For the Techie
Popsocket These are a must. Seriously, they have made using my phone so much easier. Plus, they can add character to your phone with all the different colors and designs.
Echo Dot I rolled my eyes so hard when bae broke down and bought this, but it’s actually a really cool product. I recommend this smaller version for those with apartments or wanting one in their room. Spring for the light bulbs too. You’ll never have to get out of bed to turn the lights on and off again.
Google Home Mini I’m sure I’m committing some type of tech faux pas by including this and the Dot on my list, but I really like both of these products. I will say, this is more of a speaker than the Dot, so if you’re wanting something louder that can read your morning news and set the mood for date night, I’d go for this. It’s also important to be product aligned, so if you own a lot of other Google product, this is also probably a better bet.
iPhone 8 Plus Real talk time: I was underwhelmed by the iPhone X. It is definitely the most innovative design Apple has ever given us, but that’s about it. Facial recognition was not convenient, took longer and though making poop talk is entertaining, YouTuber MKBHD pointed out that the software could easily be included in the next update for all the phones since the camera is what makes the animojis possible.
Dapper Black Box I love supporting minority owned businesses as much as possible and this is a recent favorite I found for bae. Not only is the box put together by black men, but the products inside are all made by black men as well. Perfect for anyone who loves to dawn a suit and (bow)tie on the regular.
Old Navy Long Moto Jacket I tried this on in store when they had their first winter sale and it was so warm and comfy. Great for wearing to work! ON usually has a 50% off sale around and on Black Friday, so make sure to scoop this up then.
Girlfriend Collective Leggings These are THE BEST leggings I have ever had. They’re sliming, lifting, so comfy and made with sustainability in mind. You will never want to wear another pair. Trust me.
Radical Dream Pins Okay, so there are a lot of great pin makers out there, but my favorite so far has been Radical Dreams. Shipping is fast, the packaging is brand aligned and Tasha is just so talented. She also runs Black Pin Maker League for FREE to support other black pin makers. These gifts are such an easy stocking stuffer and there’s one for all personalities.
For the Secret Chef
Chrissy Teigen Cravings Besides the fact that everything Chrissy makes on Insta looks delicious, this is the gift that keeps on giving. Get this for the chef in your life, then plan a dinner party where they make a recipe (or three) from the book. They’ll get to throw down in the kitchen and your stomach will thank you.
Food Processor I may just be late to the party of this one, but a food processor should on every household counter. It’ll make chopping veggies and mixing ingredients so much easier.
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet These take a bit more care than regular skillets, but I mean it when I say you will never buy another one again. Take care of this baby and you will keep it for life. My mom still has ones my grandma used with her mom growing up! Don’t forget the handle holders!
For the Magical (Natural) Black Girl
Eva NYC Hair Masque A new edition to my hair routine, I’m loving this product. Best of all it come in a 17 oz jar for only $12!
Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle I am a product junkie to the max. I’ll try a new product real quick. Still, this conditioner is my holy grail, my one and only, my true love when it comes to co-washing. Best of all, it’s affordable. At $4 a bottle, this makes a great stocking stuffer for us natural girls with a lot of hair.
Hot Head Thermal Hair Care I’ve been eyeing this and it’s definitely on my list this year. I deep condition every week, but now that it’s getting colder out, some heat would do my hair some good for strength.
Curlformers or Flexi Rods If you’re buying these products for the natural in your life, don’t worry about how they’ll use them. That’s what YouTube is for. But if you feel led, look up some tutorials on YouTube and write down your favorites to share with the curly cutie in your life. Perfect way to add a personal touch.
Curl Friends Pin Full disclosure: I work for this brand, but I genuinely love this pin that celebrates, black women, our kinks and curls and friendship all rolled into one.
What’s on your holiday list? Let me know in the comments below!
This posts contains affiliate links for Amazon, but all thoughts and reviews are my own. Items not sold on Amazon are not affiliate links and are based on my own opinions.
I mean that as sincerely and genuinely as possible. Do. Better. Stop making excuses for yourself, stop waiting for someone else to speak up. Stop waiting for someone else to tell you that your actions are problematic and harmful. Read a book, do the work and then do better.
Over the last few weeks, the entertainment industry has been shaken by accusations of rape, assault and sexual harassment. It’s disappointing that for those in the industry, most names haven’t been too shocking, even worse is how women of color coming forward have virtually been ignored, or straight up shot down.
In theory, we all need to better. We do. We all know someone whose comments felt off to us, but we didn’t say anything. We’ve all been in a crowded club, or walking around town and seen a man approach a woman he did not know. Even if we couldn’t heard the words exchanged, we’ve seen the woman walk faster after those types of encounters.
It’s not okay. None of this is okay.
I don’t care how many survivors come forward, I will never normalize any of this that is happening.
But what can you do about? Answer: anything. Literally anything. I can understand how that answer may be too overwhelming. So, I’ll here’s where you can start.
1. Educate yourself.
I’ll admit, it’s been very easy to scroll past allegations on social media, especially in the last week (more on this in a future post). But if you can stomach it–men, I’m talking to you–please do. Please read these accounts. Read what Ellen Page said over the weekend. Read Danielle Young of The Root’s account. Read Lupita’s. These stories matter, even if they were decades ago. These events stay with survivors for the rest of their lives. You may never be able to take their pain away, but you can educate yourself enough and fight back so more people don’t feel like them in the future. Initiatives such as Green Dot and It’s On Us are great places to start.
2. Watch Your Language
Words are often discounted when it comes to isms, but they have so much weight. Saying things like “I totally raped that final,” are how this culture of accepting rape and sexual assault begin. When your friends go unchecked for their harmful rhetoric online, you’re giving them a pass. You’re letting them know that if those words ever become reality, you’d be okay with it.
Saturday night, a Twitter user said this:
He eventually deleted the tweet after enough people told him that what he said he’d do is rape. I don’t know if him being called a rapist hundreds of times will stop him from doing what he described above, but I do know not calling him out makes what he said okay to him and all who retweeted it (too many y’all). We can’t have that. What you say matters. You don’t get to write it off as a joke and “it’s just Twitter,” is not an excuse.
Watch what you say about women, think about the women you love and the men that love them, would you be cool with language that suggests it’s okay to assault them?
3. If You See Something, Say Something
The entire premise of Green Dot and It’s On Us is bystander intervention–in other words, speaking up when you see or hear something that’s not quite right. Think about how many people weren’t and aren’t surprised by the accusations coming out, it’s because they’ve already heard behind closed doors, but didn’t speak up. While I strongly believe that a survivors story is not yours to tell, there are other ways to speak up. At work, when an inappropriate comment is made about a woman’s body, call out your coworker, report them to HR, do whatever it is you have to do to show them that their behavior is not normal and won’t be tolerated. If you’re out with friends and one of your friends keeps bothering a woman who’s mentioned she isn’t interested, tell him to back off. Don’t remove yourself from the situation and act like it isn’t happening, remove him. Remind him no means no. Don’t surround yourself with shitty people and then refuse to check them when they behave disgustingly. Be a friend. Tell them the truth. Call them out.
The frequency of “Me Too” stories should’ve been enough to show the prevalence sexual assault and harassment have in women’s lives. You being a “good guy” isn’t enough. Congrats you’re decent enough that you’ve never made a rape joke or assaulted someone. Great. Now pass that decency on. It will take you “good guys” standing up for us women to send a message. So again, I say, do better.
Are you ready to do better? Let me know how you plan to help in the comments below, then go help!
Originally published June 22, 2016. Trigger: depression, anxiety, neglect, abuse
Deciding to seek out help to deal with anxiety or depression is tough enough. So, it’s hard to believe that some experience added pressures when trying to seek help. A person’s socioeconomic status and race can be huge factors when it comes to the ease of receiving help and that should not go unnoticed. While the prices of medication and therapy can break the bank, getting the runaround treatment because of your race creates an entirely new set of frustrations.
Last year, The Atlanticpublished an article about this very topic. The author described a study conducted by Princeton University doctoral student, Heather Kugelmass. Kuglemass selected 320 doctors in New York City from a directory of Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield’s HMO plan. Next, she had voice actors call the offices asking to schedule appointments using different scripts. Two scripts were supposed to reflect white callers (working class and middle class) and two scripts were to reflect black callers (also working class and middle class). She found that 28 percent of the actors reading from the white, middle class script got called back. Only 17 percent of black middle class callers received a call back to book an appointment.
When it comes to both white and black working class individuals, the call back rates were the same, at eight percent.
While it is hard to assume race over the phone, even if dialects are changed, the study confirms what so many black people have experienced when trying to seek help; a lot of rejection. Based on these results, a middle class black man would have to call 81 different offices just to set up an initial appointment; a white woman would only have to call five.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to combat this. I’ve rounded up a few solutions for readers who may be struggling to get the help they deserve due to financial limitations or racial discrimination.
1. Check to see what your job can do
Familiarize yourself with your job’s health benefits. Many companies have health plans that include mental health help, meaning the cost of your therapy visits or medicine could be significantly reduced or free of charge. Some companies offer confidential help through EAP or Employee Assistance Programs. Check out your company’s human resources offerings to see all the benefits they offer. If it’s still unclear, speak with someone you trust at your job to find out more info. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
2. Benefits for students
This next tip is for students at any level; undergraduate, graduate, J.D., and even doctoral candidates usually qualify for free therapy through their university counseling center. Each school is different, but check your school’s student health website to get a full list of what is included and available to students. The stress of school can be a lot at times, and it is more than okay to see someone and talk about it.
3. Turn to toxic-free social media spaces
Social media can also be a source of comfort for individuals struggling with depression or anxiety. While it is not a replacement for seeing a professional, hashtags such as #MyDepressionLooksLike or #BreaktheStigma are full of people who are willing to be open and honest about what they’re going through and share what has helped them cope. Beyond these hashtags, virtual therapy is also an option. It is usually lower in cost, flexible so it works with your schedule and can be less intimidating than the process of going to an office once a week, which can come with its own set of anxieties.
4. Call a hotline
Lastly, there are a plethora of hotlines and online chatting options by which users can call and text anonymously to talk about anything they may be dealing with. This option completely eliminates the opportunity to be discriminated against because these resources are specifically set up to help anyone who may be struggling with their mental health. While there is no guarantee that one could call every week and get the same operator, this is a great resource for those times when a loved one when is not available or you just need someone to listen without any judgment. There are hotlines for domestic abuse, depression, LGBTQ individuals and drug abuse.
If you’ve been completely ignored when trying to seek help, know that it isn’t your fault. Don’t let the ignorance of a few stop you from getting the help you want. There are people who want to help and will help.
Know of any other affordable services for those seeking mental health help? Share them in the comments. This post originally appeared in Ourselves Black.