“I don’t think I should have to stand up”

Race

Today, on my 21st birthday I would like to celebrate the life and legacy of someone I can only aspire to become. This woman showed bravery and strength in a time when she could’ve been killed for defying a white man.

I am honored to share my birthday with this wonderful woman. Rosa Parks was a remarkable woman. Not only did she light the flame for the Montgomery bus boycott during the Civil Rights Movement, she was deeply involved in her local NAACP chapter and worked tirelessly to end segregation and the racial tension deeply rooted in the sourosa-parks-mug-shotth.

As a little girl I can remember learning about Parks in school, but my teachers never went much further past “Rosa parks refused to give her seat to a white man and that started a big bus boycott in Alabama.” As I got older I wanted to know more. I wanted to learn more about not only Rosa Parks but the Civil Rights Movement in general.

Throughout all of my schooling, the Civil Rights Movement is something that was almost always looked over. Teachers would touch on it vaguely during February because of Black History Month, but it was always the same thing, every year.

It wasn’t until I got to college and took an African American Studies class that I really learned about my history and what the Civile Rights Movement really entailed. Since then I have made it my goal to educate myself about that time period.

After Parks’ arrest, she was fired from her job and her husband was also let go. While she was a hero within the Black community, she was seen as a problem by whites. This is the same narrative that most black people face when they stand up (or sit down) for equal rights.

Rosa Parks was not violent or hostile to the men who told her to move on the bus. She simply said “I don’t think I should have to stand up,” which she had every right to say. What made that man so special? Did he have a disability? Was he holding a small child? Had he just finished running a marathon? No, I don’t think he was any of those things. He was a white man though, and that was the only thing that mattered. The color of his skin automatically made him superior to anyone of darker complexion on that bus.

The actions of Parks reminds me of what a few individuals are doing right now. You may recall me talking about Colin Kaepernick in an earlier post and how him simply kneeling during the National Anthem has caused nationwide outrage.

You may be tRosaparks_bus.jpghinking to yourself, “Jasmine that’s not the same thing, what he’s doing is disrespectful.” Is it really that different, though? Parks decided to stay seated because she was tired, not only from work but she was tired of giving into the racism. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Kaepernick is not kneeling because he hates America, he kneels because he, like many black people, is tired of discrimination, systematic racism, and senseless police brutality that is still all too present in the country.

I realize this post has strayed away from my original intent, but the message is still the same. Rosa Parks was an incredible woman. She embodied strength and dignity and did not give up on what she believed in. I can only hope that I become half of the women she was.

I am honored that I share a birthday with someone who was so influential in the Civil Rights Movement. It is my goal to uphold her legacy and live my life as fearlessly as she did.

The Power of “X”

Race

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” -Malcolm X

If you asked me a few weeks ago who I thought Malcolm X was, I would’ve told you he was the crazy, brash, hate filled antagonist to Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement. I would’ve told you Malcolm X advocated for violence “by any means necessary,” and that he hated white people.

My mindset has totally shifted. In part, I am angry at my educational system (I’ll elaborate more later) for not educating my fellow classmates and I more on Malcolm X. Everything I was taught up until college was that he was the bad guy. Well, I don’t think it’s possible for me to disagree with that any more than I do now.

I just finished The Autobiography of Malcolm X written by Alex Haley. I went into the book with a hunger to learn more about this man I felt I knew very little about. I expected to dive into a book that was full of negativity and hate. Don’t get me wrong, that was definitely in there, but there was also mystery and brilliance.

young-malcolm

A young Malcolm Little

Malcolm X never went further than the 8th grade in his education because his teacher told him that his dreams of being a lawyer were “no realistic goal for a nigger.” Now I know that if someone told me that when I was in 8th grade I would’ve broken down in tears. Not Malcolm.

He went on to become one of the most influential civil rights activists during his time, and even still today. Now the road there was bumpy and not one of a Disney hero. I mean honestly up until he discovered the Nation of Islam, and even for some time after, he wasn’t the most upstanding person, but he was driven.

It is true that everyone is the way they are because of the experiences they’ve had throughout their lives. Malcolm X is no different. I believe his true hatred for white people was solely based on his life experiences and how he was taught to think.

We all know the saying “too much of a good thing can make it a bad thing.” To me, that’s what happened with Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. I am in no way an expert on Islam and their practices so I won’t go too in-depth on this, but I have a perspective.

421311I feel that Malcolm X discovering the Nation of Islam and joining with the Black Muslims is the fundamental reason he became as well known as he is. However, the Islam he learned and practiced for many years is also why he is known as the bad guy.

It wasn’t until he broke from Elija Muhammad that he started making real progress towards helping the Civil Rights Movement. His trip to Mecca was a huge eye opener to what Islam truly is, and from that point forward the narrative he preached changed.

Sadly, his life was ended entirely too short. I feel that he was on the brink of really igniting a change and starting a movement within the black community.

mlk_and_malcolm_x_usnwr_croppedMalcolm X was never going to be like Dr. King, and Dr. King was never going to be like Malcolm X. Their differences are what made them both so important. To me, they were the “good cop” “bad cop” roles. Malcolm X brought a fiery and explosive approach, whereas Dr. King was more logical and thoughtful. They both had a deep passion and dedication to the issue and neither lacked in drive or willpower.

It is not fair to put them against each other. Neither one of them was a bad person. Malcolm X was not a bad person. Malcolm X was street smart. He was intuitive. He had charisma and charm. He knew what to say and where and when to say it. He was, in my honest opinion, brilliant.

I wish I could go on longer about my thoughts on who he was, but that would be a book in itself, so I encourage all of you reading this to do your own research and become informed. I highly recommend reading the book, but you could also read old news articles or credible information from the internet. Expand your knowledge beyond “Malcolm X was bad, and Dr. King was good.”

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” -Malcolm X

 

The Revolution Will Not be Televised. The Revolution Will be Live.

Race

I have thought long and hard about whether or not I should post what I am about to say. At the end of the day though this blog is supposed to be a reflection of who I am, and that includes my thoughts and opinions.

Since the beginning of American history people of color have been oppressed decade after decade. Although slavery and segregation have been abolished, the lingering effects of racism and discrimination are still present in today’s society.

As someone who is biracial talking about this kind of stuff can be challenging because in no way am I anti-white, but I do consider myself to be pro-black. What’s taking place in our country right now shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone, no matter their race.

Over the past five years, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has taken off as a response to the countless acts of police brutality on African Americans. There have been marches, boycotts, peaceful protests, protests that turned violent, basically everything we were taught about the Civil Rights Era during school, is happening now.

Many celebrities have used their platforms to speak out on these issues, but in my opinion, no one has taken quite a stand as the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Now unless you have been living under a rock these past few weeks, you should know that Kaepernick has chosen to sit/kneel during the National Anthem before the start of his football games.

The criticism and praise he has received from this simple action have been insane. Not only did his jersey shoot to #1 in sales but, he is also the reason behind #boycottNFL.

Personally, I think there are many other reasons to boycott the NFL, for instance, domestic abuse, substance abuse, concussions…and so on. But people have decided that someone kneeling for a few minutes during the opening ceremony is worse than the previously mentioned items.

With all the fuss over his actions, the message Kaepernick is trying to share has been lost. He is trying to shine a light on the injustice and inequality that is still very much real and alive in America. 

What he is doing is not intended to discredit the brave men and women who have, and continue to fight and defend our country and our freedoms. He is trying to bring awareness to a subject that has been swept under the rug decade after decade.

He is also not making this an anti-white issue. I mean honestly, he is biracial and was adopted and raised by white parents. As someone who is also biracial, and was raised by her white mom in a predominantly white town, in the south, I can only imagine the stress and confliction he must have felt, and still probably feels about his decision.

It is hard being a biracial individual who feels strongly about the injustices half of our culture endures. It can feel like you’re trapped because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but at the same time, as you get older you get tired of never voicing your opinion.

That’s about the point I am at now, and that seems to be where Colin Kaepernick is as well.

I understand why people are upset by what he is doing, and they have a right to feel that way. But Kaepernick has that same right as well.

Another point that I feel keeps getting forgotten or looked over by the media is that he is not just kneeling. He is actually making a change within his community.

In a recent interview, Kaepernick pledged to donate the first $1 million he earned to organizations that work in communities to better the relationships between the people of the community and the law enforcement. He made the same promise with the money he will receive from his recent increase in jersey sales.

Kaepernick has started a movement. Across the country, thousands of people are joining him in kneeling during the National Anthem. Not only are other NFL players taking a knee, but many African-American high school athletes are too.

 

I give a special shout-out to all of the young African American men and women who are brave enough to take a stand in front of their peers. It’s hard enough to not give into peer pressure, but to take a knee in front of not only their peers, but their administrators and parents take a whole lot of courage. I’m not sure I had that courage when I was in high school.

I kneel with Kaepernick. He is not backing down from what he believes in. Hopefully, his actions will start conversations within communities about the injustice that still lives in our country.

I kneel with Kaepernick because he is inspiring a younger generation to have a reason to have passion and a fire within themselves to stand up for what they believe in.

I kneel with Kaepernick because as a young biracial woman he has inspired me to not be afraid to stand up for what I feel and believe is right. He has shown me that it is ok to defend and take a public stand for my black side, while still loving and appreciating everything about my white side.

With the donations he is making into the community, as well as police officers like Officer Norman from North Little Rock, AR, I believe that we will begin to see a change. 

This isn’t going to happen overnight, it might not even happen in the next five years. All that matters is that conversations are being started, policies are being reevaluated and all parties are held equally accountable for their actions.

I have felt passionately about this topic for many years, I just haven’t had a platform, or the courage to properly share my voice. 

Mixed-Girl Monday Spotlight

Mixed Girl Monday, Race

Hello, all! It has been awhile since I have posted something new for Mixed-Girl Monday. I have been super busy moving back into college and getting everything set up. As promised from my last post this one is going to be all about a mixed girl that inspires me daily.

*Drum roll* It’s Alicia Keys!Alicia Keys

When I was younger and trying to understand what it meant to be biracial, my mom told me about Alicia Keys and how she was biracial. I had heard her music before but it felt nice knowing someone that famous and successful was biracial like me.

To this day Alicia Keys inspires me to be the best and truest me possible. I am not going to get into a super long biography about who she is and where she came from, but I do want to highlight a few of her most recent projects that have inspired me.

A new hashtag as been trending throughout social media, and I am all for it. #nomakeup is a campaign that prominent female celebrities like Alicia Keys have taken hold of to fight against the contour movement the Kardashians have started. It is all about feeling strong and being beautiful in your own skin.

In an interview, Keys said that she has vowed to stop covering up, “not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”  It is very refreshing to see someone of her status take a stand on an issue that has been overtaking young girls across the world.

Another movement that Keys has been a part of is taking a stand against gun violence and police brutality. Along with other celebrities, she shared a video telling of 23 ways you could be killed for being black. To me, this is very important because she is biracial and she is taking a stand with other black celebrities and no one is judging her for doing so.

Here’s to a Mixed-Girl that is rocking the world and making a difference!