The Perfect 2021 Playlist

Is your life a never-ending soundtrack? Consider this, have you ever stood outside your shower, butt naked, with the hot water running as you scroll through YouTube for the perfect shower playlist? How about standing at your front door with the door ajar, while you stare intensely at your phone searching for the perfect song to carry you across the threshold? If you answered yes to both questions, congratulations, my friend, your life is a never ending soundtrack! Or, like me, you suffer from the occasional bout of depression. I don’t know about you, but I thank God for music because it literally soothes my soul.

They say music can soothe the savage beast, so perhaps it can provide aid to soothe the beast 2021 has already proven to be. If Hagrid can use it for Fluffy, I definitely think it can be applicable here. For those of you unfamiliar, that was a Harry Potter reference and Fluffy is a huge three-headed dog that Hagrid used to pacify the beast. I guess you could say he used a bit of musical therapy.

While researching about music therapy, I came across an article by the American Music Therapy Association where Jodi Picoult, author of the bestselling book Sing You Home was quoted, “Music therapy, to me, is music performance without the ego. It’s not about entertainment as much as its about empathizing. If you can use music to slip past the pain and gather insight into the workings of someone else’s mind, you can begin to fix a problem. ” I have found that a lot of artists today are moving beyond that constant state of ego. Having said that, the list I have cultivated today, is not what would be considered certified musical therapy, but to my generation, predecessors, and generations to come, music is therapy. I do believe that within the context of what Picoult said, it can act as an aid to emotional stability in emotionally tumultuous times. As we stand on the cusp of Black History month, I feel that it’s my duty to introduce you to some life giving tracks, from The Internet’s Hive album, to Sampa The Great, and Chaka Khan that you can find on music platforms such as Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud, Pandora, YouTube, or Apple music that are perfect for the year ahead of us.

  1. Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On?

This song speaks to the activist in me. Gaye was a story teller with his finger to the pulse of society. His well-layered vocals and melody reverberate through my soul and his somber lyrics still resonate today. The numbers for Covid-19 are rising and there is still a very clear line of fear and injustice running rampant through society. The mere reaction to Black lives matter protests versus the storming of the Capital are highlights of racial injustice and civil unrest. What’s really going on? This song may not be as uplifting as you may have hoped, but some truths are uncomfortable, but necessary to face.

2. Alicia Keys (feat. Khalid)- So Done

This is the most recently produced song on this list and the first time I heard it, I knew immediately that would become a favorite. The chorus repeats “I’m living the way that I want” almost like a mantra. It’s a mantra I can live by. 2021 is the year that I manifest all the things I desire to see this year without the censorship of others or the need for approval. Let’s live the unapologetically authentic life we want this year.

3. Solange- Things I Imagined/ Down With the Clique

I remember the night this album dropped very clearly. It was midnight in 2018 and I was in bed at my dads when I saw that she dropped an album. I was ecstatic and I stayed up past midnight to finish the entire album in one sitting. For anyone who is a fan of Solange and her work on this album, you understand the importance of experiencing the album all at once. This song, however, stood out to be because at the time, I was just beginning my study of manifestation and visualizing the life I want to see. It was like I was receiving a sign from Spirit that I was well on my way.

3. SZA- Good Days

SZA’s Good Days is a sad girls vibe. This R&B gem is a bluesy pick me up. A reminder, if you will, that good days are ahead, even if they only exist in our minds. We may not be able to get out and move as freely as we once were, but maintaining a healthy mental space can do wonders for one’s approach to life and she highlights the struggle of that beautifully with this song.

4. AWA- Like I Do

Self-love has made its way to the forefront of the conversation in 2020 and this song is the perfect personification of that. Every lyric in this song emanates the line she sings, “I’m gonna love me loud”. Sometimes we as woman forget who we are. We forget our value in relationships, especially romantic ones, and this song acts as a reminder that we are all the love we need and anyone else’s love should be an addition to the love we give ourselves.

5. The Internet- Roll (Burbank Funk)

Every playlist needs a fun song and Roll Burbank Bounce is that song for me. It has that classic roller rink feel that gets me all nostalgic for childhood days at Branch Brook Roller Rink in my hometown of Newark, New Jersey. When I play it, I can’t help but tap a toe, nod my head, groove to the beat, or all three at once. I think you’ll do the same, you’ll thank me later!

8. Big K.R.I.T.- Energy

I came across this song on my YouTube one day and instantly fell in love with the melodic riffs of Jill Scott. That woman can sing like no other! If the song was her on a loop and nothing else, I would’ve been satisfied, but I was then pulled in even further with the message: intention and direction of one’s energy. If you like Houston rap with a message, this is certainly the track for you.

6. Chaka Khan I’m Every Woman

This song is like the perfect wake up and go song, the family reunion song, the go to girls night karaoke song. I mean it’s Chaka! How could you not love her? Her songs inspire so much nostalgia for me and this one in particular reverberates a frequency of power and feminine energy. I love it!

7. Sampa The Great- Energy

In the same vein of feminine energy, I had to include another song titled Energy. Both songs were created by spiritually in tune artists, but this one brings the feminine energy to the forefront of the conversation. She praises the female intuition and ambition, as should you!

9. Toni Jones- No Is Bae

My mom was beyond excited to share this affirmations album and after hearing this song, I wholly understand why. After taking an Enneagram test today, it confirmed a prior personality test I took that said I am a caregiver. This outcome translated to me giving of myself almost to my detriment when I don’t establish boundaries. If you have trouble saying, “no” and telling people what you can and cannot do, this track is certainly for you. I can not tell you how vital learning how to say “no” has been in my life. The lesson of self-assertion has been instrumental in maintaining my mental and emotional health. The establishment of healthy work boundaries allows me to be the best version of myself for those who employ me as well as my family and friends.

10. Koffee- Toast

Gratitude is a running theme in my life and marrying that theme within a reggae song is the cherry on top. The whole song is a vibe. Life may not be perfect, but it is worth living and the best way to live it is with gratitude. You can start by opening a window for some fresh air and follow that up with being thankful that the weekend is finally here! Cheers!

Colorism in 2021

WARNING! If you ever hear a conversation begin with the words, “I just think it’s funny how…” you’re in for a long-winded dissertation on all the ways this person did not find the actions or words in question funny.

I just think it’s funny how colorism is still alive and kicking across the globe. Today, however, I will be discussing the colorism of Black women in the United States. It’s been a problem since slavery and it’s still an issue today. We’re living in the 21st century and the blatant disrespect and distrust have got to end. There’s a level of accountability that must be taken by women of both fair and darker complexions in the Black community. We are all responsible for how we approach and respond to our difficulties in this life. I find it easy to acknowledge my privilege as a woman of lighter skin because I see it as a way to help myself and my highly melanated sisters. If I can get a foothold in the right door, I can reach back and pull someone through when I’ve crossed the threshold. I am a firm believer that my complexion shouldn’t be celebrated as higher than another, nor should it be torn down by my dark-skinned sisters when it is celebrated. Why is it so difficult for all hues of Blackness to be acknowledged and celebrated equally? Is it an internal or external source of contention?

I believe this is what our ancestors marched for; equity regardless of color or creed. The equity I presently speak of pertains to the fair treatment of people regardless of skin tone. This equity should start within the community before it branches out. Colorism is ugly. All differences should be celebrated not exploited. In my school days, I excelled in academics, athletics, and the arts, all of which were celebrated, but I’ve also been disliked for the same reasons among others outside of my control. I learned to cope with being picked on because I was tall and thin and I ignored the girls who didn’t like me because I was a tomboy who hung out with all the cute boys. I did, however, have trouble digesting the words, “You’re not Black enough” as pertains to my complexion or “You’re light-skinned” as a dismissal of my Blackness and relation to the conversation at hand. The words were said jokingly by a classmate, but they left me puzzled and furious.

I’ve been called many things in my life: Sunshine, Ali, Light Brite, Track Star, Ciroc, Babe, Baby girl, “You with the red shirt!” and all of these names were given affectionately and were well received. To be told, however, “You’re not Black enough” by another Black person based on skin tone, or to receive the backhanded compliment of “You’re cool for a Black girl” is something else entirely. It’s mind-boggling how truly ignorant, insensitive, and dismissive people still are. By saying I’m not Black enough, they’re dismissing my human existence as a Black woman. My experience as a lighter-skinned Black woman may differ from that of a darker-skinned Black woman, but it can not negate my ancestry or experiences within this culture.

As a child, one of my favorite songs from the Schoolhouse Rock was “The Great American Melting Pot“. I appreciated the catchy cadence of it in my youth, but as an adult, I can’t help but appreciate the vision of a land where people came to achieve their dreams while marrying their culture with that of this country. My great-great-grandmother on my father’s side was Scottish, while my great-great-grandmother on my mother’s side was one generation away from slavery. Without the combination of both lineages, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today: a 5′ 10” Black woman of light skin with deep brown eyes and curly-coily hair that takes a reddish hue under the care of the intense summer sun. I am American and I am Black. As a child of divorce, I was raised by a single mother who gave me and my brother as much love, emotional support, and stability as she could. I haven’t been the direct recipient of physical violence from racist bigots, which may attribute to my complexion, but I have borne witness to the verbal assault on my mom from a narrow-minded older White woman in the streets of Burbank, CA in 2016. The assault started on the corner as we crossed the street and continued all the way down the sidewalk toward the downtown Burbank mall as other White witnesses stood by and did nothing. They said nothing as I hurried my mom away from the soon-to-be battered woman as quickly as possible. I’m not the type of person who argues. Neither is my mom. We are women of action, and I was a broke grad student, so I quickly calculated the situation and saw there was no alternative to getting the heck out of dodge. Looking back, I had to watch this situation through two lenses. First, the lens of a black woman, and then I had to step outside of myself to envision what the white woman saw; my light skin versus my mom’s caramel skin. In this situation, my mom became The Provoked and I, The Witness. Both experiences are valid and both roles are traumatizing. Racism is alive and kicking in the 21st year of the 21st century, Black women shouldn’t have to be traumatized by colorism too.

Unfortunately, it seems like the head on this pimple is about to burst because people just keep picking at the issue every time something arises. On the flip side, all this public discussion could be good? For the first time, I saw the issue of colorism being addressed in a TV show a few years ago. I don’t know if you watch the TV show Blackish, but I vividly remember the pain I felt as I cried during the first few moments of the episode called Complexion. Those first few notes of Kendrick Lamar’s song “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” were all I needed to hear to know the direction and tone of this episode. The song oozes self-love and affirmations while it addresses the colorist issues within the Black community. It took me back to a time in college where a teammate told me after months of having known me, that she wasn’t sure if she was going to like me, to which I replied, “Because of my skin tone.”, which was more of a statement because this wasn’t my first encounter with colorism. She responded, “Yes” and the moment was bittersweet because here she was telling me that she misjudged me, but I also felt honored because she respected me enough to tell me at all. While watching the Blackish episode, I noticed how they touched so many necessary topics that have been pushed under the rug of Black society for scores. They mentioned the light skin men are “softer” versus dark skin mention issue as well as the light-skinned women, who are most likely to be mixed, “aren’t really black” versus dark-skinned women “aren’t that pretty” issue. I have to make note that even within the context of this episode, the men’s conversation follows the vein of whether their complexion makes them more manly while the woman’s conversation had more to do with aesthetics and racial identification.

In addition to watching that episode, I’ve also watched YouTube interviews with Jorja Smith where her complexion was addressed in a conversation. Before seeing this interview, I saw thumbnails of other channels discussing how she had replaced artist Amia Brave on the remixed version of the song “Peng Black Girls” by ENNY. The comment section was flooded with Black women’s distaste for the decision to remove the other artist from the song. Many women drug Jorja’s name through the mud saying that she was chosen over the other artist because of her complexion, which is very likely considering the way the music industry operates, but Jorja is also a very talented singer, so I find their basis for bias to be lacking. My biggest issue, however, was that any comment of praise for her talent and contribution to the song was lost in the sea of discontent. Following this disheartening experience, I decided to watch Jorja’s Lost & Found, Colourism, and “Pretty Privilege” interview with Apple music.

I understand. I get it. I’m a conversation starter.

Jorja Smith, Lost & Found, Colourism and “Pretty Privilege“, Apple Music, June 24, 2018

Jorja Smith, the Walsall, England born artist, is the daughter of a Jamaican father and English mother. When I heard the words she spoke (as quoted above) I was taken aback because I had never heard a summation about our complexion so elegantly put. Our complexion, light skin, is a conversation starter. It was mentioned how she would like to be seen as an artist first, and that resonated with me so deeply, but unfortunately, that’s not how things work right now. When someone sees me before I’ve even had the opportunity to open my mouth, an assumption has already been made and an internal conversation has begun about my character. I become the sum of my melanin and it is so disheartening. I still feel the pain of being a Black woman, but the difference is that my antagonizer tends to be within my own community and sometimes in my own family.

As a light-skinned woman, who I am, my character, and flaws should not be calculated or summarized by the amount of melanin in my skin. My ancestry and life experiences link me to my African American and Western European identity. Both pieces exist in harmony. So who would have the authority as an outsider (of myself), to tell me who I am and if my melanin is enough to sustain my “Black Card”? If anything, it should be revoked because I’m coming up on 30 and still haven’t gotten the hang of playing Spades. All joking aside, I’m tired of having to bear witness to social injustice online, hold first-hand accounts of racism, and suffer colorism from my own people.

I’m not entirely sure just how long it’s going to take to unpack the years of colorism and self-hatred that’s been ingratiated in our DNA, but I am hopeful because I see the slew of self-love posts on my Instagram from other Black women. The journey has begun and I believe that one day my lighter tone won’t be seen as better than darker tones, but the differences will be celebrated equally and moving forward, we will share open-hearted discussions when tensions arise. I’ve caught a glimpse of a beautifully harmonious future. It will be a bumpy journey, but the destination is worth it! There is a timeline where darker-toned men will not intimidate whites on sight, and lighter-toned women will not inspire distrust in dark-skinned women regarding their men. It’s out there and we’re well on our way. I can’t wait to meet you there!

We LOVE Heirloom Seeds

Our seed arsenal. Photo by Kim Mendoza.

The foundation of your gardening efforts begin with seeds.

Heirloom seeds are seeds that have been passed on and saved from generation to generation around the world. Heirlooms have a story and are part of our culinary and horticultural heritage. We feel they are our cultural foot prints on earth – and each variety comes with a story (and sometimes a song).

We where seed savers by necessity. Our grandparents and their parents selected the best plants from which they saved the seeds. Seeds where traded between neighbors and passed down to each new generation. Gardeners from every corner of the world stashed seeds in the lining of their suitcases, sown into clothing, and even woven into their hair-do, as a reminder of their heritage in unknown lands. It also ensured you could enjoy a traditional dish once settled in.

Seed saving some of our favorites. Photo by Kim Mendoza.

Untold numbers of old-time varieties and priceless genetic characteristics have been lost because elderly gardeners don’t have family members interested in growing or maintaining these living heirlooms.

The good news is that during the last decade several grassroots genetic preservation projects have started to reverse these loses by collecting and distributing heirloom varieties. You can even find them in seed catalogs which makes it easy to get in on growing heirlooms.

You can check out a list of our favorite heirlooms here. The unique colors, taste, and shapes have always been a conversation started in our gardens.


Photo by Kim Mendoza.

Gaining an understanding of the source and breeding of seeds will assist you in taking the first steps to farming with your fork and supporting seeds companies working to keep this ancient art of seed saving and breeding alive. We encourage you to choose heirlooms in order to keep the stories (and yummy flavors) alive.

Do you have a family “seed” story? Please share with us in the comments section below.

Dovanna Dean is a permaculture geek.

A Matter of Place

Blue-gray morning and sun-obscuring clouds is my place

Place of home and creation

A home where words are birthed and where my body lives

Location of being

I make my place here by walking barefoot on the backyard dirt

By feeling the crunch of autumn leaves I wait months to remove

from around my home so the animals and ground critters can bask in them

as they desire

Placemaking on this land is to keep the peace between the canine and feline

I live my life with

To spend quiet moments observing and whistling to the native birds that daily

occupy the old oak trees standing strong all around me

Photo by Georgina Marie, Oak Trees in Winter, Lakeport, CA

Much less a poem, more of an observation of my place of home in this time. After attending a writing workshop this past weekend, the following prompt was offered, “What does place and placemaking mean to you?”. This is a glimpse into what my place has become for me during a worldwide pandemic. – Georgina Marie

Dear 2020,

We need to break up. I know you’ve probably been expecting this ever since Christmas, when I stopped returning your texts and emails. Maybe you realized I’d blocked your number. I want to explain why I haven’t reached out—and why I won’t be.

I met someone new. I was trying to describe our relationship to him, and it suddenly struck me that I was doing it all wrong, starting with the ending, forgetting everything that came before and all of the in-between that held us together, at least for a while.

Remember that New Year’s Eve party my ex threw last year? I was surprised he invited me; we’d only just broken up. He’d never mentioned that you worked together. Maybe he knew I’d lose interest in him the moment I saw you.

We danced together in that crowded living room, everyone laughing and spilling their drinks. We snuck out onto the balcony right before the ball dropped and clinked our glasses. Someone put on Auld Lang Syne, and when you kissed me, the night let out a great sigh. 

As the magic of midnight unspooled and someone broke a glass inside, I thought I felt in your quiet something ominous. I never imagined that party would be our last, or that we’d lose touch with most of those friends before we’d run our love to its inevitable end.

It’s easy to blame what happened in March for everything that would follow. At first we banded together. We chalked “hang in there” on the sidewalks and swapped our hard pants for athleisure. We started meditating, kept a gratitude journal, made color-coded homeschool schedules. I started a podcast called Shelter in Place to help me find metaphorical shelter in a time when I was stuck in my own physical place. I thought it would be a small project, that all of this would be over in a few weeks. 

And then one morning in May we woke up to a different world–or rather, it was the same world, but its shiny layer had been peeled back to reveal the decay underneath. We took to the streets, a new kind of rallying. Our protests were layered; we didn’t just want things to be different–we wanted history to be different. Some days we wished we could erase ourselves from the story. 

I had not anticipated how my daily podcast would force me to take a long hard look at myself. There was no hiding from the death and destruction all around me—or inside me. I still wrote episodes six days a week, but now I sought out other voices and stayed as quiet as I could. Some days I wanted to stop talking altogether. 

I called friends and had awkward conversations. Even the trying marked a stark division. My friends were sad and discouraged and angry–but they were not surprised. For every person in America who was finally waking up, others slumbered on, lost in dreams of a world that had never been. Meanwhile my friends kept the midnight watch; they’d been wide-eyed and overtired all their lives.

Now my nights were restless, with twitchy legs and patchwork dreams. Sometimes I’d get up in the middle of the night and do the work I hadn’t been able to finish during the day, when I was officiating kid fights and administrating Zoom schedules. It was unmanageable, but there seemed to be no other option. It was surprising how we could all go on living half-dead.

I kept writing and recording, fighting my instinct to shut down. Each day was a refrain of losing hope and finding it, losing it and finding it again. They were not sequential events, but rather parallel tracks. There was the hope and the loss, the loss and the hope, always there together. Optimism was no longer a simple thing. 

Summer came. For months I’d held a secret hope that we could get the old life back. I even thought about calling my ex. But now the kids would not be going back to school. The coming year stretched out like a long impenetrable fog. 

And then one day the fog wasn’t fog, but yellow smoke blanketing our skies. The sun turned red. The air smelled of burning plastic. Ash fell like dirty snowflakes. We formed a new faith in the apocalypse. We weren’t suicidal, just so very tired of living. 

The smoke cleared for a few hours and I sat on the back porch crying, wanting and not wanting you to find me. When you finally did, you surprised me by agreeing that we were not okay. We needed to do something drastic. For once I didn’t micromanage you. I let you take me wherever you thought we should go. We set out on a month-long road trip across the country, not stopping until we reached family on the opposite coast. We let go of our shelter, of our place that felt like home. 

It’s been four months since you took me to Massachusetts. The kids are doing better with grandma overseeing school. I’m lonely sometimes, but I’m okay. I still don’t know when we’re going home. 

I tried not to think about you on New Year’s Eve this year. There were no parties. I didn’t see midnight this time around. The kids and I sang Auld Lang Syne at 8 p.m. and I finally taught them what it means. It begins with a question: is it right to forget days gone by? 

Remember that terrible fight we had in November, when you screamed questions I couldn’t answer? 

Would I erase you from my life if I could? Some days I think yes. You broke me again and again. 

But as much as I want to hate you, I can’t. You stole so much—but you also gave me a life I hadn’t known I’d needed. You made me uncomfortable—but in the process I learned to live with less. I learned from you that it’s okay to ask for help, that relationships take work, that the best things in life usually aren’t easy. That process of crumbling all of my previous self-sufficiency and–I’ll admit it, selfishness–has revealed something quite unexpected: it’s no easy answer or silver lining; it’s insecure, and not fully-formed. It’s fragile, but solid at its core. It’s small, but it could grow. 

What you gave me, dear 2020, is hope. It’s far more expansive than I’d imagined; it doesn’t require us to agree before we can care for each other. It laments the past and casts a vision for the future. It can say I’m sorry; it can learn to forgive. It’s got joy and pain tangled around and inside it. It doesn’t mind the contradiction.

This person I’ve met is nothing like you. He says exactly what he means. His expectations are low. The kids are still getting to know him. I am, too. But for as many times as I’ve wished this year away, I won’t forget you, dear 2020, whom I have loved and hated. It’s a cup of kindness I raise to you tonight, because you taught me that, too. 

Thank you,

Laura

This post was an excerpt from an episode of Shelter in Place podcast. Listen below or visit shelterinplacepodcast.info to read the full transcript.

Does COVID-19 Kill Compassion?

Most likely COVID-19 does not kill compassion. Probably four years of proactive modeling of toxic masculinity did kill some compassion. If it didn’t affect negatively, recognize that for many the toxic fallout from the Trump years is akin to PTSD, ravaging hearts, minds and spirits from coast to coast. In fact, few regular people could thrive under the conditions characterized by instability, lies, bullying and unpredictable rage—all the traits of David Koresh and other cult leaders used to control their followers. Now it’s not fair to blame the victims, but it is our responsibility to heal ourselves now that the tyrant is gone. In other words, time to relocate our moral compasses.

For me and many people, most of 2020 but the especially the last few months of the year and January 2021 have been traumatic and painful. The constant racial stress people of color have experienced combined with totally ineffectual response to the pandemic has led to distress and many socioeconomic problems. Compound that with sickness, food insecurity and isolation, and it’s clear that we need to reconnect with ourselves so we can help others.

Here are some steps you can take to heal society and yourself from the moral depravity of the last four years:

  1. Acknowledge the global pandemic and the toll on everyone’s lives in every country in the world. Accept that truth. It’s horrible. If you can help in some small way, you can be being to alleviate any feelings of helplessness and pain.
  2. Act in your community to protect your family and neighbors from casual COVID-19 spread:
    1. Wear a mask
    1. Distance from others wearing a mask
    1. Respect the six-feet rule around public ingress and egress paths; public spaces are for everyone.
  3. Take time out: Stay home with your family and cool off from social media.
    1. Watch a Disney movie, and turn off the news.
    1. Set up a family jigsaw puzzle table for the family.
    1. Have a weekly family game night after dinner.
  4. Work to reconcile with those you may have hurt. Start by toning down the volume even if you’re upset, a reprieve may bring a new perspective in the morning. Us the cool-down time for discernment. You may need to end some relationships that are unhealthy and cause distress.
  5. Engage in social activism to repair the damage. People are dying. Ask how you can help if you have extra resources, food and clothes. This is a global crisis. Many people need help in the US and abroad. Giving feels good. It also heals.

If you love me, hold me accountable. If you love yourself, be willing to be held accountable for your words and deeds. Accountability requires communication, compassion and desire for wholeness. We have a chance to bring about a new era in our society, one that demonstrates liberty and justice for all. Start with preventing the spread of COVID-19 and embracing the compassion that sees us all as humans worthy of life.

Edissa accessorizes a mask when she leaves the house to protect her family and community from COVID-19. She’s cool like that!

Donate today to support our writers and artists: https://karmacompass.wedid.it/

The Power of Blessed Objects

Even a small stone will remind you of your intention to change or grow. What would happen if you invest in your new direction with a customized Reiki Talisman?

“Pure Magic!”

Protect your memory and your personal space from unwanted depletion with this protective talisman.
Bears offer protection and this one’s in a state of calm repose with a bell to call forth the higher Divine Powers of Angels.

A Better Dream

2021 has been such as been such an eventful year already. Who would have thought that Wednesdays could provide us with so much history and terror? Two weeks ago, on Wednesday January 6, 2021, I was on the road with my boyfriend for a celebratory staycation in the city of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia, PA), when he got a call about white protestors marching to The Capitol. We got a play by play of how they proceeded to take it by storm under the guise of a “revolution”. Mind blowing right? What was even crazier was that we were scheduled to go Washington D.C. two days following this protest. Thankfully, our trip went well and the only thing we suffered from was disappointment because we were unable to see the sights while everything was locked with a vigilance that should have been in place two days prior. I digress… This Wednesday, January 20, 2021, however, was full of moments that will be ingrained in my mind for years to come.

I watched my Instagram feed provide gifs and stills of Trump’s underwhelming departure, streamed the inauguration of our new President Joe Biden live from YouTube, and I celebrated the birthday of a friend via FaceTime (Thank God for technology). It was a truly glorious day! Big moments aside, what I loved the most, were the little things, the moments within moments. Within the presidential inauguration, I witnessed three things: 1. The unbotheredness of Bernie Sanders, which has become a meme unto itself, 2. The array of color amongst the women present, and 3. the moment where I was gripped by the very presence and words of Harvard alum Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first African American youth poet laureate. It was these three things that highlighted the dream of a promising future for America.

Unbothered Bernie

There aren’t too many pictures, I feel, that represent my mood for 2021 so concisely. The year came in, ignored my “Dear 2021…” post, and began to wreak havoc in ways that myself and other members of the African American population knew it could. I can assure you that on Wednesday January 6, 2021, most of us sat in our respective homes and watched the news with the exact face Bernie has in the picture below. There may have been exclamations of shock and reproach, but I’m sure there was one person in the room who sat back and said something along lines of, ” That’s some white privilege” and “That’s none of my concern” because they stopped peaceful BLM (Black Lives Matter) protests with mace and tear gas, but allowed a storming of The Capital for reasons I believe are all too obvious… They were White. Anywho! Let this Bernie meme be our mood all 2021: Prepared and unbothered. May our masks be raised high, and our stress levels low.

Monochrome!

Do you see what I see? I see a moment from “The Wiz” where all the people danced around the television for the Wizard. The comparison is uncanny! It was glamorous, vibrant, and monochromatic. I LIVE for a monochromatic moment! There is such a strength, stability, and confidence that comes with wearing monochrome that I am certain that this fashion choice was the right one. It spoke loud and clear of the vibrancy that lies ahead for this nation. Watching all these fabulous women, I felt like it was a representation of the people waking up from a dead sleep under the #45th administration. It was like they woke up and decided to put on their “Sunday’s best”. I loved every moment of it.

The Hill We Climb

Amanda Gormon, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, is a Los Angeles native whose words have won her invitations to the Obama White House and to perform for Lin-Manuel Miranda, Al Gore, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, and others. She also has work available for purchase, “Change Sings” and poetry collection “The Hill We Climb”, both being released by Penguin Random House this September. In addition to all these accolades, she is stunning! Her gorgeous melanin, complimented by her bright yellow trench immediately grabbed my attention as as she read her piece, “The Hill We Climb“. It reminded me of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech that inspired the nation, but there are so many unknown quotes from him that still resonate.

“But ever since the Founding Fathers of our nation dreamed this dream, America has been something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against herself.”

“The American Dream”, Martin Luther King Jr. , July 4, 1965

With the momentous sightings of Wednesday January 20, 2021, a palindrome mind you, I feel so hopeful. Hopeful that our fear-driven society could become one of love and peace and justice. Things have been so disjointed towards minority groups in this country since its conception that it will take time to maneuver and eradicate some of these things. People have been avoiding the darkness of this country for so long that they forgot it existed and now is the time to shed some light on it. The most powerful words uttered by Amanda in her piece pertain to light.

“There is always light is only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”

“THE HILL WE CLIMB”, AMANDA GORMAN, JANUARY 20, 2021

If we can be the light that we seek, maybe the nights won’t be as dark, and if we remind ourselves of Joe’s quote from The Bible in his inauguration speech, “Joy comes in the morning” we can spread hope and love (light) instead of fear and hatred (darkness). Dr. King’s words and his life’s work may not have been fully realized in his time on Earth, but I believe we can achieve that dream in this new day and age. You’ve made it to the weekend, so have an amazing Friday my loves!