History

Large white plantation style home with immaculately manicured lawn
Large white plantation style home with immaculately manicured lawn
Photo by Adam Kring on Unsplash

The first Americans to receive reparations were white enslavers.

After the Revolutionary War, George Washington and a British dude named Sir Guy Carleton (I swear I’m not making this up, his parents obviously hated him) sent letters back and forth to negotiate some of the cloudier details of the Treaty of Paris.

At this point, the American Revolution was like an ongoing fight with your spouse — it was over, but it wasn’t over over. Heck, the Treaty of Paris wasn’t even signed until 1783, but that didn’t stop us from declaring ourselves a country waaaay back in 1776. …


Poetry

A letter to my younger self

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Photo by Matteo Kutufa on Unsplash

CW/TW: Themes of sexual assault

To the boy who jammed his fingers down my pants on the log ride when I was eleven,

You were right.

You said that I would learn to like it.

I did, eventually.

Years later with boys who were not ham-fisted brutes

Boys who cut their fingernails and not me.

You said I would remember you

I have.

You said if I told I would be sorry.

I was,

Sorry I didn’t speak up sooner.

To the boy I didn’t marry because you cheated on me and got her…


Art, activism, and the legacy of Black Girl Magic

Poet Amanda Gorman in a yellow dolman sleeved gown on the cover of TIME Magazine
Poet Amanda Gorman in a yellow dolman sleeved gown on the cover of TIME Magazine
Image courtesy TIME Magazine

“Tyrants fear the poet.”
Amanda Gorman, “In This Place” (An American Lyric)

Amanda S. C. Gorman is a poet, model, activist and change maker. Gorman was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1998. It’s hard to believe that the twenty-two-year-old former National Youth Poet Laureate struggled with a speech impediment from an early age. Gorman has an auditory processing disorder, but this physical disability encouraged her to put more effort into her reading and writing.

Both Amanda and her twin sister, Gabrielle, began working to dismantle systemic oppression at a young age. Amanda became a youth delegate for the United…


Pop Culture

Lessons from Danileigh’s nonapology

Singer Danileigh looks at camera. Her hair is in a curly twistout.
Singer Danileigh looks at camera. Her hair is in a curly twistout.
Courtesy of The Shade Room

I didn’t know who Danileigh was until last Thursday. I’ve never listened to any of her songs (with one notable exception) and probably never will. I would have been completely content to live out the rest of my life in blissful ignorance, but thanks to Danileigh’s reckless endangerment of her career via Instagram, I now know far too much about the 26-year-old singer.

For example, I know that she was born in Miami and her parents are Dominican. I know that despite her culturally appropriative aesthetic, she is not a light-skinned Black womxn. …


Race in America

Deconstructing the ‘model minority’ myth

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Photo by Prince Akachi on Unsplash

It always amazes me how far people will go to avoid facing the brutal reality of American racism. Any time I write about race, my comments section ends up chock full of excuses and rationalizations that they have used to resolve their cognitive dissonance.

One of the excuses I hear frequently is the ‘model minority’ myth. Here’s a recent excerpt from my comments section:

Just one question for you… if America is so deeply racist. The cards are so heavily stacked against people with dark skin, then how on earth are Nigerian immigrants, as an entire group, outperforming White people…


Race in America

And all of them are white supremacist

White man and woman smiling. The man has a Trump sign and the woman has the statue of liberty. Trump is grabbing her torch.
White man and woman smiling. The man has a Trump sign and the woman has the statue of liberty. Trump is grabbing her torch.
Photo by roya ann miller on Unsplash

America loves a binary. Black or white, rich or poor, fight or flight, DC or Marvel. We even envision America itself as a binary. A quick Google search reveals hundreds of Op-eds and think-pieces on “the two Americas” — articles that simplify what’s happening in our country to fit the us-versus-them, single-issue narrative we’ve been using since 1776.

Psychologically speaking, binary thinking does serve a purpose. It helps our brains make decisions in stressful or scary situations. It makes us feel safer and more comfortable in times of uncertainty. …


Ethnically ambiguous man in orange and white plaid polo shirt standing in the sun by a lake or ocean
Ethnically ambiguous man in orange and white plaid polo shirt standing in the sun by a lake or ocean
Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

At the end of 2019, I distinctly remember saying “well at least 2020 can’t be worse!” Looking back on it now, I can’t even remember what about 2019 seemed so awful to me. Of course, ‘so awful’ has been redefined to include things like murder hornets, actual UFOs, fascist state violence, armed white supremacists, more than a quarter of a million Americans dead, you know... the usual.

Even if we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic, human beings are socialized to have an inherent bias toward negativity. According to doctor Suma Chan, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience…


Hint: It’s not as scary as you think

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Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

Most of us are taught to think of racism and other forms of social oppression as human nature. Not only is this untrue, it also creates a false narrative that justifies and excuses racism. After all, if something is human nature, why work towards changing it?

The truth is that racism, like all forms of oppression, is learned behavior. It is not something we are born with, but rather something we are indoctrinated into. In the United States, that indoctrination starts early. Studies show that children as young as three already display implicit racial and gender bias.

This means that…


Race in America

A riot is the sound of a dream deferred exploding

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Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

“I wish that n — a would shut up before he gets us all killed.” That was what my great-great-grandmother,* who was known simply as ‘Mama,’ had to say about Martin Luther King Jr.

*(My aunt swears this was my great-aunt Mary’s quote and that Mama just agreed with her, but I always heard it was Mama)

I never got to meet Mama, she was born sometime in the late1880’s and died seven years before I was born. Nevertheless, she was our family’s matriarch, and through stories and pictures and…


Race in America

Police can’t be reformed

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Photo by Ricardo Arce on Unsplash

Author’s note: I originally published this piece on 1 October 2016 on my OG blog http://mystorybotb.blogspot.com and has been minimally edited for grammatical correctness. In light of recent events, I thought I would take the opportunity to say ‘I told you so.’ Just Kidding. Mostly. I am working on something about our current state of global and American unrest, but in the meanwhile, I thought this article serves as a timely reminder of how very long Black Americans have been trying to convince our white siblings that our lives matter.

When I was a little girl…

Ajah Hales

World Changer. Social Thinker. Business Owner.

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