Dreaming Awake…

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Recently, I have been really intrigued by dreaming. Being the nerd that I am, I even watched a whole PBS documentary about dreams on Netflix. Don’t judge me.  According to experts, dreams are seemingly fictional situations and events that we experience in our subconscious while in deep sleep. During our dream state, it seems that our bodies are paralyzed, while a myriad of realistic images and circumstances take place. Sometimes these ideas and situations make no logical sense, but experts contend that it is imperative that we dream in order to maintain our sanity. Culturally, some people believe our unconscious mind uses dreaming to convey important messages. Certain symbols and images in dreams have come to mean many different things to different people in their waking lives.

One of my very best friends exposed me to this quote a few years ago, and since then, I have become enthralled with it. Why? Because I’m a dreamer. I dream often. And when I do, I dream BIG. I envision the ideal with such grandiosity that sometimes I have to snap myself back into reality. I dream about the seemingly impossible, the unthinkable, and the unfathomable.

I must say that I’ve been blessed enough to witness some of my dreams come true. Even though I do dream big and often, it still blows my mind how and when my dreams do come true. Many times, they are better in reality; way better than I could even imagine.

Ever since I was a child, I have had a desire to do many things. It would literally take me until tomorrow to write all them down. My interests are so broad and sometimes unrelated that they would not make sense to a more logical person. Of course, with all of these things, the details weren’t concrete, but the general idea was there. Recently, the trajectory of my life has shifted right before my eyes. I’m witnessing another one of my life-long dreams finally come to fruition. Sometimes, the very thought of it overwhelms me with gladness, and I’m blown away. I live one charmed life. I can’t give all of the details away just yet, because they aren’t quite firm, but trust me when I say that it is huge. I’m dreaming awake!!

I don’t know if there’s a formula for “dreaming awake,” but I know of a few things that have been tried and true in my own life:

1). Know that “God can dream a bigger dream for you then you could ever dream for yourself”… I read this in a little inspirational book by Oprah entitled, What I Know For Sure. This quote was one that has stayed with me for years, and I am really beginning to understand exactly what it means. Remember when I said that oftentimes my reality is better than my dreams? That’s because God has crafted it. Even the Bible says that not only will He “give you the desires of your heart,” [Psalm 37:4] but He will bless you “exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could either ask or think.” [Ephesians 3:20] And, I’m a living testimony of these things, which is one of the many reasons why I love, serve, and make Him the center of my life. When you let God craft your dreams (and your reality), you will be amazed at how BIG and awesome both will be, because He will position you in right place at the right time to see what you’ve been dreaming and praying about come true. I often pray a simple prayer: “Lord, whatever you have for me, I want it, so prepare me for where You want me to be.” Speaking of which…

2). Carpe Diem, or “Seize the day”… I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m always conflicted about whether to take advantage of certain opportunities when they arise. It’s because I’m the type of person that needs to weigh the pros and cons of each decision and ascertain whether or not such an opportunity jives with my projected life path. But sometimes, you just gotta carpe diem! Again, this proves to be difficult for me because I’m a planner that always has a back-up plan, and back-up plan to back up the back-up plan…you get the idea. It’s also difficult for me to do because often my dreams come true at some of the most inconvenient interesting times. Just when I think that I have everything figured out, something changes. It’s one of the most frustrating things a type-A person like me can possibly experience. I think God does that to me to show that He’s the One that’s ultimately in control. He has to shift and move things in and out of my life to make a path more suitable for me to travel. But, I’m learning to discern which opportunities I should seize and which to wait on. Again, this is all with the Lord’s help. I’ve also learned that certain opportunities have a time-stamp on them. They won’t last forever, so it’s important to take advantage of them when they arise. I personally believe that life has seasons, and when seasons change, you have to go or get left.

3). “Write the vision and make it plain”[Habakkuk 2:2]… I’m a writer, so I’m partial to this piece of Biblical wisdom. But trust me when I tell you that it works. When you have a dream or a vision of something, write it down. But, don’t just write what you wish would come true…write down some tentative plans and ways you intend for that dream or vision to come to fruition. I do this for a couple of reasons: (a) things seem to be more concrete (in my mind) when I write them down. They seem more attainable. It’s something about seeing my visions on paper that motivates me to do something to make them happen; (b) I like to keep some type of tangible record of my goals, dreams, and visions to refer back to track my personal growth. Again, it also helps to see the things that you probably once thought were impossible, happen. I know that it helps me to put things in perspective. If God can do this, then SURELY He can do that!

4). Don’t stop belieeeeeeevin’!I love that song by Journey.  No matter how unthinkable or impossible it may seem well, except for winning that $300 million lottery…you have a better chance being struck by lightening on the second Tuesday of this week,  don’t stop believing in your dreams. Did you know that one of the ways you can kill your dream is by what comes out of your mouth? I believe that my words have power. I speak my dreams into existence and I speak positively about them, because according to Proverbs 18:21, “the tongue has the power of life and death.”  If you’ve let the Lord craft them, position you to see them happen, write them down and go about the business of making them come true, who says they won’t happen?! There may be some difficulties and set backs, but anything worth having is worth working for and sticking with.

So what are you waiting for? Dust those dreams off and go about the business of making them come alive! DREAM AWAKE :).

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“You Ain’t Cute…”: The [Attempted] Annihilation of the Black Woman’s Self Esteem

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...contrary to what some may think.

I just had to do it. I had to share my 2 cents on the ridiculousness that is Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa’s recent piece of hotmessness “scholarship” that appeared on Psychology Today‘s website, titled “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”

I thought this was a cruel joke. A hoax. But, tragically, it wasn’t. Psychology Today really did have the unmitigated gall to post this very “unscientific” article on its website on Sunday. Then, all at once, they yanked it. Still, cached versions of it have been making their way around the Internets all week. Is this 2011 or 1811?

First, Redskins lineman Albert Haynesworth declared that he didn’t even like Black women in an effort to deny charges of sexual assault [that’s a whole other post] , and now we Black women are considered “far less attractive than white, Asian, and Native American women” according to this dude Dr. Kanazawa. Awesome.

Actually, my problem is not so much with Dr. Kanazawa. After all, this is the same guy that made a living off of publishing some other questionable eugenics scholarship promoting racial stereotypes. I mean, how can you take someone seriously who claims that Asians are biologically smarter and that people of African ancestry are intellectually inferior? C’mon son. So let’s ignore his shenanigans for a sec.

My problem is with Psychology Today. Now, I understand that the purpose of publishing scholarship (or an abbreviated form of it) is to get us to a higher understanding of ourselves and our overall environment. Some scholarship has even shaken up some realities and made people upset (Exhibit A: the earth being round instead of flat). Yet, just because it upsets people doesn’t make such discoveries less true. But Dr. Kanazawa’s conclusion about Black women is an entirely different matter. I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure that the study lacks internal/external/construct validity of any kind. I mean, how can  the word “objective” and the concept of attractiveness even be in the same sentence? Essentially, the author of this study fails to outline his methods in a way that scientists are supposed to. I mean, who were the respondents? How many respondents were there? How was attractiveness operationalized?  More importantly, though, how is Dr. Kanazawa defining “Black”? It’s a feat in itself that he fails to even address. Black women come in all hues, shapes and sizes. Essentially, the study has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. Still, Psychology Today decided that it was okay to publish such sub-par scholarship. It makes me question the credibility of the magazine and those making these decisions.

As a friend so eloquently pointed out to me, the larger issue is the social consequences that could result from articles like these. In a world where 8 year olds are being taught to hate their bodies and get botox injections [I wish I could make this up], where it’s still necessary to have “Black” issues of Vogue magazine, it seems to me providing a forum for Dr. Kanazawa’s conclusion creates a harsh environment for young girls and even grown women, especially Black women in this case. It’s just not a good look for fragile or even not-so-fragile self esteems. I mean, how can you scientifically assess attractiveness, anyway? Is that not one of the most subjective concepts ever? Beyond that, Psychology Today’s choice to publish this article signals to me that the Eurocentric view of beauty and attractiveness is what should be praised, while anything else is inferior or “ugly.” I suppose the editor-in-chief ignores the fact that women who lack melanin frequent tanning beds, spend hundreds of dollars on botox injections for their lips, and get implants for their hind parts to become more “attractive” and to obtain more aesthetically pleasing features that many Black women and other women of color tend to have naturally. But, I digress.

Call me crazy, but between Steve Harvey’s books schooling Black women about how to act like women, but think like men to trap, hog-tie, and hoodwink  find, keep, and understand a man; the marriage and mating “crisis” among Black women being publicized and even broadcast on news outlets with reckless abandon; and this article, it seems like there’s a calculated attempt in 2009-2011 to discursively annihilate our self-esteem. I mean, if you’re uglier than your non-Black peers and are ignorant of the ways to maintain relationships and/or marriages with the unavailable and/or un-marriageable pool of Black men that you may desire, what hope is there?!

Yet, all of the above are just mere attempts. We know what we’re working with. My self-esteem hasn’t gone down any from these attempts, and  the beautiful, educated, married, and successful Black women I know don’t seem to be affected in the least bit by them, either.

But, as I stated on my Facebook page, defamation like this must end. I’m tired of the myths, foolishness, and unfounded conclusions about and portrayals of Black women that clog up our precious media space. I called attention to this article not to give a racist dimwit “scholar” more shine, but to ignite some action among those of us who are fed up. On Monday, I e-mailed the editor in chief (click here for the contact info) of Psychology Today to express my disapproval and disappointment in the content they chose to post. Though the content has since been removed, the fact that it was even seen on the website is problematic enough for me. [If you care to read the article, here is a cached version]. So, I urge you, men and women alike, who feel the same way to express your opinions as well. Let’s show Psychology Today that we won’t tolerate these types of things to be spread all willy-nilly.

“‘De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see. Ah been prayin’ fuh it tuh be different wid you. Lawd, Lawd, Lawd’” -Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

I Gotta Thank the Lord That You Made Me…

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My beautiful mother and I

Allow me to introduce you to the most fabulous woman I know. She’s my hero, my mentor, my role model, my closest ally, my “ride-or-die”…She’s my momma. And I love this woman more than all the words in the dictionary.

I already know it’s an impossible feat, but for the sake of this post, let me try articulate why luhhh (yes, luhhh) this woman. I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I believe that my mother is actually a superhuman angel sent to this earth. Seriously. There’s nothing that this woman can’t do. She was a successful entrepreneur, minister, awesome mother, and devoted wife. It’s mind-blowing that I have had the great fortune to have her as a mom.

Ever since I could remember, my mom has supported me in everything that I ever wanted to do except for that Spring Break trip to Florida with my friends in high school sans chaperones…it was for the best. At 7 years old, when I thought I wanted to teach myself French, she bought me the audio tapes to learn. At 12, 13, and 14 when I wanted to learn how to play the clarinet, the piano, and the guitar…guess what? She went and bought me all the equipment (and lessons at the local conservatory) I needed to rock out in my bedroom. And, at 16, when I was no longer feeling any of it, and I wanted to quit, she let me do that, too (although she begged me to at least stick with the piano…I didn’t…and she still hounds me about that to this day). At 15, 16, and 17 when the travel bug hit me, she (and my father) took my brother on one of the most amazing trips throughout the Caribbean evaarrrrr. At 18, when I wanted to venture out and go to school out of state, she encouraged me to go and constantly made a way for me to stay there. At 23, when I expressed interest in taking a year off to travel throughout Europe after graduation, she enthusiastically encouraged it.

Even when there were many instances we didn’t see eye-to-eye, she has still loved me unconditionally and supported my growth as an individual. I can’t even count the number of prayers she devoted to my brother and I and the Godly example she set before us each and every day of our lives. A spiritual powerhouse and source of strength, it seems that my mother is not phased by anything. It’s like nothing makes this woman break a sweat. Anytime she’s in between a rock and a hard place, she prays about it, gives it over to God, and lets it go…something that I’m learning to do, as well.

My mom has never tried to be “the cool mom,” or even my best friend, but somehow she has managed to accomplish both of those things. The older I get, the more I appreciate the role she plays in my life…a role that is unmatched by anyone else. It’s hard to write this post and not get emotional, simply because of all that we’ve been through as a family. But through it all, with God’s help, we have emerged stronger and more blessed than ever.

I could go on and on about how great my mother is, but I’ll end with the fact that my mom is so awesome that she has other people calling her “Momma,” too. Instead of getting jealous at my “adopted” brothers and sisters, I look at my Mom with pride because she has touched more lives than I can count. I just hope I could be half as great as she is.

“There’s no way I can pay you back
But the plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated…”

I LOVE YOU, MOM!

Can the President Ever Be American Enough?

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An actual billboard...This conspiracy even has its own Wikipedia page

I just had to take a break from planning the trajectory of my post-graduate life to write about this issue that has everyone abuzz: the legitimacy of President Barack Obama’s United States citizenship. Here’s my little 2 cents on the matter:

For nearly 3 years now, there have been many conspiracy theories about whether the President is actually an American citizen. If you recall, the controversy was first started around the time of the 2008 campaign, and some even called into question Republican candidate John McCain’s own citizenship since he was technically born in the Panama Canal Zone, but since it was occupied by the U.S and since he was a white man and a veteran Congress quelled the argument and deemed him elegible to run for President. Many scholars and experts had to really examine the wording of the Constitution, and realized that in McCain’s case, the issue of being “natural born” turned out to have many shades of gray.

In June of 2008, Obama released his certificate of live birth in Hawaii (which became a state in 1959, therefore undoubtedly American territory), complete with verified signatures, a raised seal, support from both Republican and Democratic leaders, and legitimization from the Hawaii Department of Health. But alas, that wasn’t enough for those who really believed that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya and/or the certificate was forged.

So once again, the “Birthers,” as they have been referred to colloquially, have caused quite a stir as the campaign for 2012 begins. Perhaps their most notable spokesperson is businessman and Celebrity Apprentice star Donald Trump who is keeping America on-edge about whether he is going to be running as a Republican candidate for the 2012 Presidential election and who is best known for bad hair and numerous bankruptcies. He has basically been on the press circuit asking what the big deal is all about and why can’t the President just show us his “real” freedom papers?

Today, the President held a brief press conference about this issue and released the long-form of his birth certificate, which was verified – again. In the press conference he stated:

“I have watched with amusement and have been puzzled at how things kept on going…we’ve got enormous challenges … we are not going to be able to get things done if we’re distracted by side shows and carnival barkers.”

First of all,  let’s just call a spade a spade. I think that this whole “Birther” scandal is just another codeword for race/racism. Despite what some say, just because our President is Black does not mean we are in post-racial America. Bottom line, I don’t believe that the President should have had to do this. I know that he’s trying to make nice despite what his detractors and doubters say, but do you honestly think they would have let the first Black President even have a shot at candidacy before double and triple checking his citizenship? I’m inclined to believe not. With all of the controversy surrounding this man’s place of birth, I can’t help but think about the immigration issues that are going on down in Arizona. I’m hard pressed to believe that we are not the 1800s. Should everyone that’s black or brown carry around proof of their citizenship or their freedom papers?

Secondly, there’s a larger, more disturbing issue going on here. I believe that this idea of the “Birther” movement implies that no matter what he does, President Barack Obama will never be able to prove that he’s American enough for some. From the man’s place of birth to questions surrounding his religious beliefs to referring to as Michelle his “baby mama” and deriding his children for their hair styles and clothing choices, the President is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Although this is a free country, you wouldn’t know it from the way we treat some of our citizens. From the time Barack Obama stepped onto the scene as a viable contender until now, I believe that our President has been treated like some sort of second-class, pseudo-citizen. It’s disrespectful. And, there’s no way in the world someone else of a lighter hue would have had to jump through all of these hoops to prove himself.

Finally, the fact that this is even getting picked up and egged on by major news networks is telling of what we as Americans prioritize as “newsworthy.” This whole “bread and games” form of distraction is keeping us from tackling more important and dire issues like: the abysmal state of the economy and the 2 (or 3 – if you count Libya) wars we’re involved in. We have bigger fish to fry as a country than figuring out if our President is American enough for the doubters. He’s got the job already, so the “Birthers” lost from the outset.

Let me know what you think:  should the President have released the long form birth certificate at all? Should he have done it sooner?

“The Fab Five”: The Missing Media Conversation

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The University of Michigan's "Fab Five": King, Howard, Webber, Rose, & Jackson (from l to r)

Spoiler Alert: I include some details in this post about the Fab Five documentary, so sorry if I include some spoilers (I had to in order to prove my points).

I’m not one to usually tune into anything on ESPN, but after hearing all the media hoopla surrounding Jalen Rose’s “Uncle Tom” comments about Grant Hill and other Black ball players at Duke in the Fab Five documentary, I had to see it. But, what I got out of it was something different than all the sound bytes suggested I would. I’m not #TeamHill or #TeamRose by any means, because I understand where both men stand. I understand why Rose felt as he did as an 18 year old. I also understand why such comments would compel Grant Hill to write an op-ed response in The New York Times, too. Basically, I believe that this conversation all boils down to an identity crisis in the Black community, particularly among Black males, about who or what is truly Black – a conversation that needs to be had.

Since I’ve read so many interesting takes on this particular matter, I don’t want to contribute to the clutter. Instead, I would like to see the conversation in the media shift to a topic I think is as equally important to identity that this documentary does a great job of covering provocatively: economic disempowerment and exploitation by the NCAA. I think this, among other things in the documentary, is getting overlooked because of sensationalistic sound bytes.

I’m baffled that we’re not talking about this because it needs to be discussed. The Fab Five  brought more than just “swag”  and “style” to the NCAA basketball court. The 5 five starting freshmen also brought millions of dollars into the University of Michigan because of that very “swag,” popularity and pure talent. But while the dollars were flowing to the University, the Fab Five saw none of that (I mean if you want to argue that Chris Webber did, I digress. He did eventually, but I’m hard-pressed to believe that he saw substantial amounts from U of M himself. It’s my understanding that a booster fronted him the cash he is sanctioned from – not the University). Everything from $75 jerseys, baggy shorts, and trading cards to custom sneakers, t-shirts, hats, black socks, and everything else under the sun were sold because of the Fab Five. In fact, according to documentary, Michigan made $10.5 million from merchandise royalties (up from $1.6 million after the team’s 1989 NCAA championship win) without having won NCAA championships during the Fab Five’s reign. All the while, though, Fab Five members, like Webber and Rose, had to scrape to get by by borrowing a “coupla dollas” here and there from friends to even buy pizza or to put gas in their beat up hoopties cars (like Jalen Rose’s old Dodge Shadow).

Sure, these were college basketball players that agreed to abide by the NCAA rules before they signed up to play for U of M. Sure, they received tuition remission from the university in exchange for playing on Michigan’s basketball team. And sure, I’m convinced that these players received some perks in the U of M community (like more tacos, according to Jimmy King) because of their popularity. But all of that doesn’t explain away the bottom-line: that these players and many other players before and after them were and are still being exploited economically by the NCAA.

What I was impressed by in this documentary was the Fab Five’s eventual awareness of their exploitation. Freshman year was all fun, games, and hard work on the court to prove that they could and should be the starting line-up for the U of M team. However, by their sophomore year and after an eye-opening trip to Europe, these young men became more mindful of who was getting paid (legally) for all their hard work – and it wasn’t them. In fact, Rose remembers feeling “like a professional athlete that wasn’t getting paid.” So, in protest, they wore plain blue warm up shirts without the Nike icon and without the University of Michigan icon. The Fab Five realized they were simply “cogs in a wheel” of economic oppression, and I can’t help but to agree. In fact, I will go so far to say that the Fab Five’s popularity was the catalyst for such blatant exploitation by the NCAA that still goes on today.

So, I would like to see the media’s conversation shift to this idea of economic exploitation in the NCAA and whether or not NCAA players should receive some type of compensation in addition to tuition remission for making these universities millions. I think that the attention to the Fab Five documentary provides us with a good opportunity to raise these issues again, because it’s only getting worse. Some may argue that the Fab Five all went on to make the big bucks in the NBA eventually, but what about those players who don’t get a chance to go on to showcase their talents professionally? Sure, they may have a college degree (if they’re lucky enough to graduate and if the university supports them academically as much as they do athletically during their time in college) to fall back on, but how is it fair that these coaches and other people get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, and these players can’t see a red cent?

I think it’s funny that these athletes have to abide by the strict rules of the NCAA forbidding them to take money of any kind from anyone associated with the NCAA – including borrowing money to buy a bite to eat or get a winter coat – while the NCAA and the universities that attach themselves to these same star athletes are making out like fat rats and raking in millions of dollars. I think that – not some kids playing ball for a college education taking money here and there to survive because they’re not getting fairly compensated – is what’s most morally reprehensible…

What do you think? Do you believe NCAA division I players should get paid in some way for playing? Why or why not?

What Are We Really Learning?

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So, I’m just gonna be frank with you and tell you that this is another one those posts. Yep, that’s right. Another edition of a few more of the 5,234,567,865,234,566 reasons why I abhor grad school and and higher education as an entity. You may say, “well, you’re a product of it.” Tis true. But, I love learning, which seems to be a complete contradiction, but it seems to be that sometimes never the twain shall meet – education and actual learning, I mean. Since the cat is out of the bag about my distaste for academia right now, I might as well do some therapeutic writing and see if any of my readers can relate.  See, I think I have figured IT out…

Allow me to share my current stream of consciousness with you…if I may…

…before I begin, though, I fully acknowledge that this is about to be one of those rants I warned ya’ll about, so buckle up…and if you don’t want to hear me talk candidly about some of the things I’m struggling with in education, then I really suggest that you don’t read any further…So here goes:

While I value all the lessons that grad school taught me, I am still very cynical about the entire process. Heck, about the entire American educational system, if I want to be honest. But never have I been more disillusioned with this entire process than I am right now.

I think I need to give some background. See, I grew up in a solidly middle class Black family (privilege). A dad with a college degree (privilege). A mom with her own thriving business (privilege). In a homogenous white community with pretty decent “Blue Ribbon” public schools (again…privilege). I was encouraged and praised for being an honor roll student throughout my secondary education, which apparently did some good because it earned me a full ride scholarship to my alma mater. My family was big on education. Heck, my parents sacrificed so much of what they had to send my brother and I to the best schools and surround us in a thriving environment, and for that alone, I’m forever indebted. But, I was also encouraged to go as far as I could go up the formal educational ladder (read: get a PhD) because education is power, right? Especially for a Black woman. Heck, I still have family telling me to stay in school, even though I’m about to chuck the deuces and blow this popsicle stand graduate and become a part of the “paycheck plantation for a bit find employment. I considered doing all that…until I woke up.

I realized that even though I was more than capable of doing it (getting a PhD and teaching young minds the values of media literacy and all the “isms” and “schisms”), I really didn’t want to. So, I’m not. I didn’t think that my lackluster attitude toward academia would do a PhD program any justice when there are others who are truly passionate about it and would do a better job at at it than I. More importantly, I viewed that decision (if I were to make it) to be a relatively safe one…for me. I have a pretty good idea about how to navigate these waters, but it’s time to learn a new language, and take some risks while I’m still young. My heart is elsewhere and I can’t deny it any longer. (Did that just sound like a line out of The Notebook?). It’s high time that I stop feeling like I have to “represent” for my race by becoming highly educated and just do what will fulfill me and make an impact on the world. Because at the end of the day, I  truly “represent” when I operate in my calling and do what I love.

I’m also beginning to see (well, at least what I think I see) some of what’s going on and what we’re really learning when we come to college/grad school in liberal arts-centered programs like the ones I have been enrolled in. That’s the IT I was talking about earlier on in the post. It seems to me that all this jazz is about exclusivity at the end of the day. Who gets a degree from where. But, not only that, who gets to use cool acronyms (NCA, ECA, AEJMC, anyone?) and big words to talk theorize and navel gaze about the contemporary social problems plaguing our society while the other drones (wage slaves) worry about that quarterly report they have to turn in for that for-profit-only company they work for. Some are scholar-activists, so I’m not trying to cast my net too broadly here, but others are just cynics who don’t have any faith in the masses and they can’t because if they did, then there would be no exclusivity to be had or maintained. So, in a nutshell, among other things, I’m learning how to be exclusive and operate on a higher plane than most. Does it feel good? No. Why? Partly because of numbers 1-5 that I mentioned in my last post.

And let me just say that I am fully aware that (a) I have been granted awesome opportunities time and time again that I am so appreciative of and that others would give their right arm for. So, I’m trying not to sound ungrateful. (b) I have had the privilege of being able to be inside my own head nearly 24 hours a day for the past 2 years, which I value even though I fear it’s posts like these that are probably making me appear unstable because I have learned so much by doing that. (c) Wage slavery and the paycheck plantation are not walks in the park and can sometimes be worse than academia. So, I’m working hard to not idealize that experience too much but how can I not when I’ve been a student for the past 19 years? because it comes with its own set of unique problems that I will soon find out about first-hand. (d) I am complaining about higher education, but haven’t found a way to take it out of the abstract clouds and into grounded reality yet. Further more, not only am I a product of this thing, I will inevitably reap some benefits from having been apart of it.

So, where do I go from here? I don’t know. But I feel like I HAVE to problematize this ideal notion that so many people have about higher education and where it can take you…

But, what say you? Do you agree? Disagree? Why?

5 Ways Grad School Has Made Me (Even) More Socially Awkward…

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I’m sure that by now, you know how I feel about grad school, since I declared unapologetically that I didn’t need my grad degree.
I’ve nearly completed this experience, and I wanted to share an anecdote about how grad school has changed my (social) life…

A couple of nights ago, a friend (and a grad colleague) hosted a small dinner get-together at her place, since we were on Spring Break and could live with the idea of doing something other than school work. Some of us were in the same program, but all but one of us were grad students, and tried as we might, we just couldn’t NOT talk about school. Seriously. We even openly acknowledged the fact that graduate school had consumed our lives and just had some good ole light-hearted fun talking about our classes, our instructors, undergrads, the terms of our indentured servitude teaching and research assistantships, our relative poverty and, of course, our own research. In fact, we got so enthralled in academic conversation that we didn’t even watch the movie we were supposed to watch. Of course, our conversation was peppered with talk about the most current events, but ALL of those were discussed from an academic point of view. It was then I realized the almost inevitable effect that grad school had upon me: I was becoming increasingly more socially awkward.

One my colleagues declared, hilariously, that grad school had messed everyone of us up in the mind, and I whole-heartedly agreed. I was able to specifically identify 5 ways that grad school made me (even) more socially awkward. I realized that…

  1. I can’t hold simple conversations anymore. I’m not even kidding. Especially about ANY current event or with anyone outside of academia. It’s not because I think I’m so smart. It’s because I’m so steeped in the academic vernacular. See? There it goes again. Since I’ve been in grad school (and even a little bit before then) my conversations have been peppered with academic buzzwords like “hegemony” and “discourse.” It’s really hard for me to hold a conversation with ANYONE without using a buzzword. It’s actually pretty annoying. I can be talking with someone about whether Nicki Minaj’s butt is real or fake and I guarantee you that somewhere in that conversation I will say something theoretically grounded. ABOUT NICKI MINAJ!  Which leads me to my next point…
  2. I overanalyze EVERYTHING. I can’t even watch Superbowl commercials without pointing out something problematic. I can argue that anything and everything is either racist, classist, patriarchal, capitalistic, imperialistic, or all five.  Now, I know what you’re thinking…”But, you’re studying media.” True, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to participate in a little escapism, too. I can’t turn my brain off. I’m always armed with some type of theory or critique, which doesn’t bode well for others in my company who just want to watch whatever it is they want to watch. The socially awkward part is not the fact that I overanalyze everything…It’s that I VERBALIZE my analysis. All. The. Time. and to anyone who will listen, which leads me to the fact that…
  3. I’m a narcissist. Yep, I am, and I blame grad school (hahaha). Since my grad program requires me to write a thesis to graduate, all I’ve been doing these days is reading, writing, and reading some more. Now that I’m done drafting my proverbial baby, I realized that I’ve mastered the skill of giving elevator speeches about my thesis. This thing ain’t some short semester paper, either…it’s nearly 90 pages of pure genius. I study the media’s role in disasters and crises, and since there are so many occurring these days, when anyone talks about ANY type of disaster or crises, I shamelessly plug my research. Why, you ask? Because I know that the only people really interested in reading a critical discourse analysis about  media during the Haiti earthquakes are my 3 committee members and maybe my momma. so I seize the opportunity while I have a captive audience. Speaking of seizing opportunities, I realize that…
  4. I can rant about anything at any given time. Because I’m pretty well-versed in every “-ism” and “schism” you can possibly think of, I’ve become increasingly frustrated and disillusioned with a lot of things lately. And because many of the courses I’ve taken are discussion-based, I’ve perfected the craft of ranting. But, not just any type of rant, it’s that “angry Black woman in a predominately White male environment” type of rant that prompts folk to roll their eyes and deeply sigh. I’ve noticed that outside of the classroom, discussions about nearly anything debatable trigger rants, too, which, a lot of times, end with me declaring that I’m moving to some far away land and only taking those aware of all the “-isms” with me. Finally, speaking of awareness, I realize that…
  5. I can’t do anything without experiencing an incredible amount of cognitive dissonance. Being exposed to the “world of ideas” (really, since undergrad) has challenged my very core beliefs. It’s that hyper sense of awareness that gets me every time. I can’t even watch Basketball Wives or The Real Housewives of Atlanta without feeling guilty about perpetuating long-standing notions of women, and women of color at that and feeling like a hypocrite. Although I enjoy Ne-Ne’s brand of candor and marvel at Tami’s brand of crazy, all this critical cultural scholarship has caused me to give many of these programs the “side-eye.”

Ok, now that you know how grad school has changed the ways I operate socially, tell me: how has college or grad school made you more socially awkward?