Today is Juneteenth. A day when, 155 years ago, the last enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out about their emancipation. A day that came two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had already freed them (on paper) from slave owners.
Today, amid police brutality, rampant racism, the lynchings of black men deemed suicides, and the assault and murder of Oluwatoyin Salau, a 19-year-old Black Lives Matter activist, Juneteenth deserves more than a national holiday.
If you haven’t taken the time to educate yourself on the historic plight of Black Americans, pause and go read my previous post. If you have, it’s time for some reflection.
In the last month, it has become obvious that the systemic racism that has fueled America for centuries will no longer be tolerated. But this isn’t a new concept. People have been fighting for the rights of Black people in America for basically as long as America has existed. And America comes up with bullshit excuses for the behavior every time.
These are often the same people who feel they shouldn’t have to take the blame for their ancestors’ wrongdoings. Or those who feel not all white people are bad, but think that everyone from the Middle East is a terrorist (and don’t feel the same about white men who shoot up elementary schools, gay clubs, or country concerts). These tropes are ignorant, disgusting, and dangerous, and lead to deeply ingrained stereotypes and profiling.
We can’t allow these people who oppose progress to erase and whitewash history any longer. Ignorance may be bliss for these individuals, but it’s detrimental to society at large. And they’ve done enough damage already.
History books tell stories of courageous Britains who traversed the seas to establish their freedom in America, but they forget to mention that Indigenous people still face the repercussions of colonialism across the world. America still refuses to listen to Indigenous people’s concerns today.
The pandemics of 1918, 1957, 1968, and 2009 gave us ample insight to prepare for Covid-19. And if nothing else, the epidemiologists who study this and the successful responses of other countries should have been enough for America to model. But instead we have an administration highlighting all of its own great work like a football team slapping each other’s asses after a great game when the reality is that America has managed the coronavirus worse than most freshmen in college manage STDS.
And I don’t say this to undermine today’s importance, but to point out that while America tries to bury its unpleasantries, it’s refusing to allow current citizens and future generations to learn from our mistakes. It’s historic, systemic gaslighting and it’s propagating more ignorance with every passing day.
This is why Juneteenth needs to be a national holiday.
Not so anyone is forced to celebrate it (as I’ve heard white people crying about), but so it can’t be overlooked anymore.
With more information, people are better educated. With more education, people can better understand the experiences of others. And with empathy, people won’t go out in public refusing to wear masks, they won’t stand behind the racists who founded America on principles of hypocrisy and power, and they won’t fight people who are demanding to be treated with basic human decency and granted basic human rights.
Juneteenth, along with the millions of Black Americans who have been shouting for reform, deserve your undivided attention, self-education, and systemic change. Because it’s become all too clear that in America, we don’t learn form our past, and we regularly repeat it.
With love and less patience for ignorance each day,
Between the horrific instances of police brutality, the global protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and the breakout of proud racism and ignorance in Buffalo, there’s been a lot to take in and a lot to stand up for.
And I am so proud.
I’m so proud of everyone who has been marching and relentlessly fighting for this country to uphold basic human rights, everyone who has donated to BLM and related organizations, and everyone who has refused to be silent. This fight is important and change is long overdue.
But it has become overwhelmingly exhausting to stand up for what’s right, and I want to make sure you’re taking time for yourself, too.
Everyone’s activism is different. Maybe your favorite avenue has left you feeling exhausted, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop altogether. Whether you’ve exhausted your resources or yourself, there are ways you can take a step back without stopping. (Although maybe a quick break wouldn’t hurt.)
If you’re a protester, maybe give your feet a rest and amp up your timelines with informative sources for your followers.
If you’re a social media activist but you can’t stand the online ignorance, consume Black excellence to unwind (for me this is often throughonlineshopping).
I spent most of this week off social media because I just needed a break. And I know how corny that sounds but it’s true. I also know that it’s a privilege for me to be able to take a break and completely remove myself from that which overwhelms me, because that’s not the case for most people ever.
Social media is a great way to connect us, organize protests, and stand together to work toward tangible change. It’s also a host of trauma porn and some of the most problematic opinions, those which would never be said if not typed behind the safety of a computer screen.
So it’s easy to become traumatized, overwhelmed, anxious, sad, and a million other emotions right now. If you’re feeling any type of way, please listen to what you need. Because it’s crucial to protest for Black people’s safety, but making sure you’re healthy doesn’t diminish that fight.
You don’t have to feel guilty for whatever you’re feeling, and you don’t have to feel guilty for taking a step back.
Whether it’s a week or just five minutes, taking time for your mental and physical health is so important right now.
I don’t know what to say. But I know I need to say something.
And it’s important that you know that this post isn’t for people who know that black lives matter. This one is for those of you who are on the fence, who don’t understand, who think the protesters are the problem.
Since you’re here (and have already made a commitment to self-reflecting today) please open your eyes to that which you have been refusing to see, uncover your ears and truly listen. Listen to the voices of black people and protesters crying out, but also listen to yourself and why you’re feeling apprehensive or defensive or angry at people who are seeking justice.
Now that you’re mentally prepared to learn, it’s time that we talked about your implicit bias –– the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Now I know no one wants to admit that they’re inherently racist, so here’s a few examples of how implicit bias can rear its ugly head.
If you have ever:
Clutched your bag tighter when walking past a black person
Been nervous driving through low-income areas
Worried about the safety of a white person living in a predominantly black neighborhood
Said (and, yes, singing counts) the n-word
Wondered why a black person was in a particular space
Then you are inherently racist, whether you want to admit it or not. And if any of those points made you defensive, or you instinctively responded “but I’m not racist,” then this one is for you.
But I’m not just here to call you out, this is a space for self-reflection and personal growth. And I promise that I don’t know it all, I’m not perfect, and I don’t have all the answers. Still, since it is absolutely no black person’s job to educate you on the history of racism in America, there are a series of links below for you to continue your reading and reflection there.
It’s important to note that you would’ve learned all of this in elementary school if America didn’t spend so much time teaching revisionist history. But just as Christopher Columbus didn’t sail the ocean blue to befriend the natives, neither did colonizers land in Africa to network.
These links are only a start. It isn’t hard to find articles and literature written by black people, and I highly recommend you seek out more. (And history.com isn’t always enough.)
The Aftermath of Slavery – Written by William A. Sinclair, who was born a slave in 1858. Reading any excerpt of this will change your perspective, but I recommend you read it front to back.
Why this isn’t just about George Floyd – Written by Keisha N. Blain, an associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, this article explains what elicited the recent protests, and why it isn’t just about one murder or one police officer. I highly recommend you read the whole thing and check out the links Blain has included.
So yes, this time the protests are louder, more widespread, and (as you may see it) more violent than in the past. And they aren’t going to stop.
Because white people have been openly executing black people and facing no repercussions for far too long.
I am terrified for the safety of black people in this country. I am worried that black children will continue to grow up in an education system that propagates lies about their history. And I am disgusted by the silence of my white peers.
Right now, it is your job to listen to the concerns of the black community (and not to add your two cents). It is your job to speak up against racism (and not to speak over black voices). It is your job to support those who are working to make a change (and not show up with a white savior complex).
Because this is not black people’s problem, or white people’s problem. This isn’t a debate between liberals and conservatives. This is a human rights issue, and it’s one that we all need to stand behind.
So think about it, learn about it, and make your decision.
Welcome to AllWhoPonder.com, the official (and *fingers crossed* final) home of my self-reflection, and hopefully yours, too.
Don’t mind the mess, still working out the kinks
If you follow me on Twitter (which you should) you’ll know that setting up this site has been a learning experience to say the least, so I’m going to keep this one short. Nevertheless, we struggle and persevere, and all that corny stuff.
But welcome! Take a look around, and keep checking in for updates.
Two years ago today I was wandering the streets of Athens, pretending that my 1/4 Italian genes and my untamed curls made me blend in with the beautiful Greek people around me.
This week, I submitted my final college assignment, paid off my credit card debt, and completed my student loan exit counseling. Equally fulfilling, but just not the same.
It’s finally starting to feel like summer in Buffalo, which usually means no more snow and consistently happier days. But with every warmer, sunnier day comes another Snapchat memory. I used to welcome these with nostalgia; they remind me of good times with good people, and assure me that happier memories are yet to come. This year, though, they remind me that I’ll have to wait another year for summer bonfires, beach trips with friends, and to see all the places I planned to travel post-graduation.
Summer is typically a time for congregating and seeing more people than you actually like just for the #SummerVibes. In 2020, everything is different and, unfortunately, summer won’t be exempt from these changes. My dear friend Grace once said that summer Jacklyn is more fun than school Jacklyn, and (thank the Lord) school Jacklyn will never exist again. This year, I’m afraid summer Jacklyn won’t, either.
I’m pretty sure I’ve said this in every blog, but it’s worth saying again that I am grateful for my job and my living situation and my support system. Because quarantine is weird and hard and very, very necessary, but that doesn’t change the disappointment of staying home (and at least six feet) away from friends. And all of the Zoom calls in the world can’t replace the feeling of spending time with friends in the summer.
So how do we cope? What do we do to stay busy –– and safe –– when it feels like the world around us is simultaneously opening up and shutting down?
And how in the world will I ever get my summer tan while avoiding overpopulated Buffalo beaches?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I obviously don’t have the answers.
So far, I’ve chosen one (1) friend to see regularly. We wear masks and go for walks and get coffee and enjoy the outdoors. We might even go camping, who knows. But having a designated person to see and spend time with (and knowing that we’re both actively social distancing) helps fight off the overwhelming feeling of isolation that the warm weather has brought.
I know this is hard, and everything is uncertain. Every day that passes will bring new challenges but they also bring new opportunities to self-reflect and learn. If you’re anything like me and are fortunate enough to use this time as a break, why not make the most of it?
Please stay safe, please stay healthy, and please wear a mask in public. But please take care of yourself and find ways to beat the summertime slumps, too.
With love and an overwhelming desire to sit by a bonfire,
No, like, how do you really feel? Not what you tell the people you live with, or what you post to social media. What is your mind/body/heart/soul trying to tell you that you’ve been ignoring for days/weeks/months?
Is it saying you need a good cry? That you’re tired and need a break? Maybe it’s thanking you for taking time to rest for the first time in months (even though you would feel guilty admitting it to anyone else).
And when’s the last time you truly listened?
For me, it’s been a while. And if you asked me what I was feeling two weeks ago I honestly would have said “I have no idea.” Because I’ve been so caught up in holding on to the past and searching for the future that I never took a moment to be present.
Today I can confidently say that I tried. I tried to stop and listen to my mind/body/heart/soul and I was honestly shocked at what I heard. Because I was expecting absolute chaos, a total apocalypse of the heart.
But when I put aside my worries about the world outside of myself, my mind/body/heart/soul met me there. And you know what she said?
“We’re good, sis.”
Metaphorically, of course. But still! I couldn’t believe it! I took a moment to be mindful and what I found wasn’t more of the crippling depression/anxiety/stress I’ve been feeling for weeks now. Inside — like deep inside, like in the corners of my brain where the trauma hides — there existed a peace that I haven’t known in a long time.
It felt like when you’re a kid and you have no worries in the world. Now believe me I was an anxious and depressed teenager, but it’s bigger than that. It’s the kind of peace that promises that even though you’re unhappy now, the future is limitless. You can do whatever and go wherever and achieve anything you want.
Those hopes and dreams and doe eyed perspectives died a long time ago; they faded as the heavy burdens of reality set in. But today I found those aspirations again, I connected with them like an old friend — cautious but familiar and welcomed with open arms.
Taking a step back helped me remember my motivations, and stop caring about the past and worrying about the future. School was good and bad and I’ll move on with my life just as I have before. I’m pursuing writing jobs because I like to write. I’m passionate about public affairs because I care about people (which is also why they make me terribly frustrated, sometimes). And if quarantine has taught me anything it’s that, near or far, I have amazing people in my life who will support me from any distance. (I am grateful for you all.)
Mindfulness doesn’t fix all of my problems. I still have a lot of actual work to do and there will be real obstacles along the way. But taking the time to remember my own values helped me recenter. Thinking about my goals gives me a clear perspective to respond to life. It helps me move with intention, instead of just going through the motions.
So take some time to yourself today, you might need it more than you think.
I have never known what I wanted to do with my life.
Just ask my parents –– I swore I would be a brain surgeon, a musician, I’d live in a van down by the river. My eighth grade bio teacher had me convinced that I should sell medicinal marijuana. I’ve pursued music therapy, psychology, communication, journalism. I spent $40,000 to attend a private university without ever declaring a major. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized what I want for my future.
I want to be my own boss.
I don’t mean I’m going to start a business, or profit off pyramid schemes selling flat tummy tea. I strive to do more than oversee a small staff or scale the managerial ranks of retail.
Being your own boss is a mindset, as corny as it sounds. It’s one I’ve learned about in entrepreneurship classes, but it’s one I’ve seen first hand from being stepped on and looked over in educational, professional and social settings. It’s an aura that CEOs and white men everywhere emanate effortlessly. (That’s a joke.)
And I want to be the one to cancel meetings when my day is just too overwhelming.
I want to feel so empowered to ask people their credentials before allowing them to speak to me.
I want to have executive control over my schedule, my roles, and I want to have the final say in all the decisions I make.
(Yes, I’m being facetious. I’m not that much of an ass.)
Luckily, I have jobs that are (still paying me and) allowing me to have general control over my work. But these are temporary positions, and I’ll be working for the rest of my life.
And I know, “We get it, Jacklyn, you want to be bold and you have control issues. What’s new?” Lately I’ve just been feeling like everything is upside down, and I’m losing control. Places aren’t hiring writers. Actually, writers are getting fired pretty regularly right now, along with so many other non-essential employees. But even if places were hiring, I still wouldn’t know where I want to work or what I want to do.
In my current “boss” role, I’m on top of things. I know what needs to be done, how to do it, and who to assign the job. I know my staff’s strengths and weaknesses, and I know how to manage my own and my staff’s deadlines.
Still, when it comes to taking charge of my career, it’s like I’m new here. I fumble through objectives, I miss deadlines, I’m unfamiliar with the terrain of this office space.
So I procrastinate and focus on things outside of my future, things outside of myself. I fulfill my current workload of tasks for other people, other jobs, and figure I’ll discover what lies in my future once it comes.
But that isn’t working for me anymore. I graduate this month and I’m less certain of my career path, my life path, than ever before.
The simultaneously reassuring and terrifying fact of the matter is that I’m not alone. Everyone experiences some sort of career-induced anxiety fresh out of school. I just always thought I could do anything, and that I’d have my life figured out by the time I graduated. In some aspects, I have, but in others I’m still blatantly negligent.
Maybe it’s because I’m part of the laziest generation yet (which, I’m considered, is how every new generation is seen). Maybe it’s because I’m spoiled. Maybe if I think hard enough I can find 753 other extrinsic factors that must have been the sole proprietors of my career path’s detriment thus far.
And I say all of this to say that I don’t even necessarily want to be someone else’s boss. I want to be part of a team, one that works together and cares about the work they do, where everyone has a stake in the organization. I want to work for a company that lets me decide what’s important and choose what topics to pursue. These involve working for someone else (so, specifically, not being anyone’s boss) but I think finding these possibilities starts with being my own.
It means taking control of my life, and taking responsibility for where I’ve ended up. It also means that I need to figure out what I want to do in the next six months.
If I’m my own boss, that means it’s my job to make sure business is in order, that everyone (read: every part of my brain) is on board and working toward shared goals. As the boss –– of myself –– I have to fight for my business and prioritize my ambitions.
So basically, I need to get my act together. Because that’s the boss’ job.
People have been asking me about my final college days since “distance learning” started, and I always said the same thing: I hate UB, I’m glad classes are online. While that was –– and remains to be –– true, there’s been this overwhelming stress looming over me lately. (A slightly different stress than your average, everyday stress.) But it’s not because we’re in quarantine or I’m not going to school or I can’t find a full-time job because over 26 million Americans are unemployed right now, and more are losing jobs every day.
What has really been stressing me out is the number one fear of my Gen-Z cohorts:
The fear of missing out has plagued graduating seniors across the nation. But I’m not afraid of missing out on walking across the commencement stage, or never sitting in a classroom again. I’m afraid that my entire college experience wasn’t as fulfilling as it should have been, and now it’s ending with less of a (bang!) and more of a (bleh…). I’m mostly afraid that I don’t really seem to care.
I have more work to do in the next 15 days than I’ve had in the last 15 weeks, and then I’m just done. I’ll finish my projects (in sweatpants at home), I’ll write my goodbye column (also in sweatpants at home) and I’ll move on to the next chapter of my life like the last four years never happened.
Which is like, super weird, right?
Shouldn’t I care about all of the work I’ve done? All the people I’ve met? The things I’ve learned about myself?
I’ve worried because I keep going back and forth; I care about my accomplishments, but don’t care about college. And I’m starting to think graduating feels less like growing up, and more like breaking up.
I’m sad that I might’ve made a mistake in coming to UB; I left my first true love (Naz) for someone (UB) I never knew. And I’m angry because my UB experience sucked. It dealt me a hand of depression, dissociation, and disrespect that I would never tolerate in a relationship with a person.
But without getting pushed to the edges of my capabilities –– and my mental and physical strength –– I wouldn’t be the (completely damaged and entirely exhausted) person I am today. “It built character,” as people love to say about bad experiences.
Over the last four years I’ve made lifelong friends and had experiences I’ll never forget. I learned about myself and grew closer to the person I want to be. I’ve learned to endure the bad times because the good times almost make them worth it.
And, as the kids are saying, it just be like that sometimes. When you break up with someone it doesn’t mean you didn’t have a good time, it doesn’t negate all of your experiences, or erase the people you’ve met along the way. It just means that you’ve grown and you’re ready to move on without that person (for better or for worse).
So yes, college and I are breaking up. We had a lot of good times, and we’ve made a lot of memories. But it’s time for me to move on with my life. And it’s a little sad, sure, but I’ve grown out of our four-year relationship.
It’s all I’ve ever known, but I’m certain that what’s coming next is way better than what I’m leaving behind.