a note to black boys

jordan edwards was killed by a police officer in texas two days ago. he was 15. innocent. eric garner was strangled by a police officer almost three years ago. mike brown was murdered by a police officer two years ago. tamir rice was gunned down by the police two and a half years ago. he was 14, and brilliant.

you probably knew all of that, because you have to watch your back. i know that with every step you take, you have to protect your neck, and i know that you are tired. i know that checking your words and tone so carefully to avoid death is tiring. i know that fearing for your life every time you put on a hoodie in cold weather is tiring. i know that no matter how small, your mistakes don’t grant you the privilege of being taken into custody alive, like dylann roof.  i know that you know that this is wrong, and i know that you know we’re trying to fix it.  baby boy, we are trying. it is a fight, and we are fighting.

first, i’m sorry. i am sorry that you live in fear because of prejudiced notions of those sworn to protect. i’m sorry that your existence is treated like a crime worthy of capital punishment. i’m sorry that you have to have living down to an exact science to be successful. i’m sorry that you grow and live in a world where #rip(insert black boy’s name) pops up every three weeks. i am sorry.

next, i want you to know that despite those who seem to devalue your life, you are worth everything. black boy, you are magic and melanin. black boy, the resilience of your mother, the fight of your sister, the adaptability of your father – you have it in you. you carry worlds within you. hold fast to the fire in your stomach, and live. live as activism. live because it is not promised. live because you want to. live because terrible people seem to yearn to take the chance from you. live and learn and love and be, because black boy, i don’t know how long you or i have. i don’t know if you’ll go for a walk tomorrow and be killed for walking while black. i don’t know if you will be the next hashtag. i know that jordan edwards should have woken up today. i know that you should tomorrow.

with this in mind, flex your black boy joy. remember your dreams, and chase them with abandon. remember your struggle, and acknowledge it. remember what makes you happy, and do it. live. live. live. put flowers in your beard if you want to. cut your hair how you want to. wear the sneakers that you want to. win three grammys without selling a record if you want to. create a film that explores racism like no other if you want to. live, because you are worthy. chase, because you can. be, because your life matters.

black lives matter. god help us, they matter. you matter, and i will never stop screaming it. not when i graduate from college, not when i run for office — never. i will never stop fighting for our lives to matter. i will never stop.

black boy, you matter. you matter. you matter.

live.

love,
shalom


 

united divided states.

i’ve taken several deep breaths before starting this. my name is shalom. i am eighteen years old, and live in south africa. i am an american-south african dual citizen. i was born on the east coast of the usa. i voted for hillary clinton in the presidential election. the last sixty hours have been a mess – in my brain and in the world. here’s what we know:

  • donald trump won the us presidential election
  • mike pence will be the 45th vice president of the usa
  • mike pence believes that state funding should go into electrocuting and torturing lgbtq youth until they are heterosexual
  • donald trump, the man who wants to ban a religion, will be the 45th president of the usa
  • donald trump, the man who is on trial for child rape, will be the 45th president of the usa
  • donald trump, the bigoted, hateful man endorsed by the kkk will be the 45th president of the usa

now, if all of the above doesn’t bother you, your privilege is beyond belief.

when hillary clinton lost the election, so much more happened. i don’t care about how you feel about hillary clinton. i don’t care if you think she’s a scammer. i don’t care if you hate her for being a woman. i don’t care if you think obama was wrong for supporting her. i care that so many of us have now lost.

a win for donald trump  is terrifying, not only because of trump and pence, but because of what it means. what it means is that the people who stand against immigrants, literally built the country from the ground up, are free to act on their hatred. the people who agree that lgbtq youth need a good beating, electric shock treatment, or death to cure their queerness are backed by the president. the people who believe that america was great 200 years ago when black people could be stolen, bought, and sold are validated. hatred won. sexism and misogyny won. homophobia, radical racism, and white supremacy won. america; red, white, and blue. is black in there too?

so what now? what does the muslim family that has lived in a republican state do now that 48 hours after the announcement, and 69 days before he takes office, trump’s supporters have threatened them to the point where they cannot walk in public? what do the people with so many intersectionalities, like black, trans, disabled, woman, do? what is to become of this country that voted ethnic cleansing in, when it’s founding fathers were immigrants? what are marginalised minorities to do when white americans — who’s ancestors were ALL IMMIGRANTS — threaten every element of their safety? what is to become of the united divided states of america when the commander is chief is literally a demagogue flexing? he is history repeating. seriously.

 

america, we messed up. to the 17 000 people who wrote in harambe, and hennessey – is this still funny to you? lives are at stake, now more than ever. is this a joke? to the bernie sanders supporters who wrote him in after he asked you to vote hillary – you knew what would happen. i will not hold this against you, but you took action fully aware of the consequences. same thing for third party voters. you know what you did.

now, we rebuild. again.

we remember that the sun will rise tomorrow. we remember that the capacity for kindness that we all hold can never be taken away by someone in the white house. we cry. we drink. we listen to fourfiveseconds on repeat really loudly. we pray. we protest. we do all that we can to continue every day fighting the hardest that we ever have for all that we believe in. we unfriend and unfollow the trump voters because they do not care about us. we remember why we believe in this country. we listen to president obama. we practice gratefulness. we use our voices. we create. we listen to senator clinton. we do not grow weary. we continue to do as much as we can for as many as we can for as long as we can. we keep on. we rest in each other.

 

the world is broken, but hope is not crazy. the usa was built on immigrants like founding father alexander hamilton, who time and again, get the job done. the usa was built on my parents who came for education, and threw their hearts into a country that never loved them back. the usa will be rebuilt on the love of our generation and not the hatred of trump. commit to love.

only only only love & hope,
shalom xo

 

rebuild | orlando, islamophobia & unity

this is a response to today’s one word prompt


i don’t know how to write this, really.

i can’t adaqueately express the anger and sadness that i am feeling for the victims of tragic and senseless gun violence in the usa this past week, and for the victims of a tragic bombing in lebanon. i can’t imagine the pain and suffering brought about by the senseless loss, or the foolish backlash that the lgbtq+ & muslim community must be receiving.

i can be sorry, and i can pray that the god i believe in will have mercy, and i know that it isn’t enough. but i don’t know what else i can do.

fifty people were murdered at pulse nightclub in orlando, while almost fifty others were injured. fifty people had their lives taken for no reason apart from being in a space that promoted loving who you love. pulse is a beacon for so much of the lgbtq+ community in orlando, and because of a sensless act of cowardice, people have lost so much.

the entire lgbtq+ community has been shaken by the shooting. if queer people cannot be safe in a space for them, amongst other queer people, where can they be safe? a day after the shooting, a man carrying heavy explosives and weapons was apprehended. he was on his way to the l.a pride parade. he was headed to a space full of queer people with the sole intention to kill them.

what part of this doesn’t look like a hate crime? what part gives you the inclination that there was another reason, apart from rampant homophobia, for these attacks?

is it ignorance? is it trump? i hate to mention trump’s name. i believe that the guy from the apprentice is only in the posoition he is in because of the press we give to him. trump needs a mirror, but more so, he is a mirror.

the fact that so many of the senators tweeting their condolences and prayers voted against gun control, and can’t seem to realise that they need to answer the question, “how do these people get their weapons, and why is it so easy?” in order for us to make any progress is troubling.

the same people who called the lgbtq+ community animals are the ones offering their sincerest regards. those who claimed that the lgbtq+ community in bathrooms is a danger to public society are now looking at the slain members of the community, and finding something else to talk about. calling up islamophobia, and terrorism, ignoring the fact that crime after crime after crime like this can be so easily prevented if some fucking republicans would get their heads out of their asses.

what, then, do these muslim-hating republicans, have to say about the religions of the white perpetrators of the biggest mass shootings in us history? what do they say about the religion of the white people who shot children at sandy hook elementary school, who prayed with unarmed black people and then shot them? why are queer lives not valued enough for this to be seen as what it is – a crime against them?

i am beside myself. i feel selfish for being sad, when so many are directly affected. i feel helpless, because every time something like this happens, a ‘pray for’ hashtag is generated, and the president makes a speech, and some people cry and change their profile pictures and post things on instagram and nothing changes because it always happens again. america, it always happens again.

onion.png

in light of all of this pain, what is left? what is left but the countless souls who will mourn, who will bury the lost, who will have to continue with their fragmented lives – those who will rebuild. the lgbtq+ community will rebuild because it is what must be done when your entire existence is reduced to someone’s intolerance.

twitter is always wild when something like this happens. he-who-must-not-be-named with a nose and bad hair tweets something stupid and ignorant, someone makes a “joke” that’s hate speech, and so many of us spend hours fighting with people trying to stir up hate. i am christian, and my friend yasmin is muslim, and we spent three hours online yesterday trying to explain why islamophobia is (a) always senseless, (b) always unfounded, and (c) should always be avoided in every way. i got hate from several christians for advocating for lgbtq+ rights, as did yasmin from many muslims. i’d like to share a passage from the bible and the quran each with you:

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbour?

-James 4:12 (NIV)

Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.

-Qur’an 5:32

there is no place for hatred. there is no place for prejuciced christians who love selectively. there is love, and love wins. my god is a god of love, and love wins. as lin-manuel miranda said last night at the tony awards, “love is love is love is love is love is love, and cannot be killed or swept aside”. hate will never win.

“if anyone knows how to rebuild, it’s us.”  please watch this stunning & evocative piece by anna oakes-monger. to the entire lqbtq+ community: we are with you. i am with you. this is not and will never be okay, and we will fight with you. “if anyone can love through pain, it’s us.”

love and light,
shalom xo

Scoot on ~ The Beautiful Craziness That Is My Home

DEAREST INTERNET HOW I’VE MISSED YOU

MARRY ME

NEVER LEAVE ME

Beautiful beings, I’m back! Huge huge huge shout outs to my dearest dearest Jess – this girl is my the left boob to my life and I really did miss her! (‘Left boob’ being an affectionate term, and contrary to popular or unpopular belief, Jessica Rachel Craven is not a breast.) Then to Miss Beckensträter: JENNA YOU’RE LOVELY AND I HOPE YOU’RE DOING A-O-GOOD PIE! And lastly, to anyone and everyone out there who reads this, to beating hearts all around: I hope I get to come in contact with your beautiful soul someday! ♥

Now, the question at hand: Where the hell have I been, and WHY ME NO UPDATE????

To be frank, *takes deep breath*, I went to Ethiopia for 2 weeks because my dad now works at the AU and I sat in the lobby of the apartment we were staying in because the wifi was there and at every available moment, so was I, and I wrote posts and published two of them and also stayed indoors of the Furnished Diplomat Apartments, Addis Ababa, for most of the time except during the last week when I went to the AU (African Union) Headquarters and the National Museum of Ethiopia partially because I had to take pictures or my friend Rebecca would kill me with fire and then I packed up my stuff and headed back to South Africa for all of one day and then re-packed and hopped back on a plane to Nigeria where *ANOTHER DEEP BREATH* we’d be denied visitation rights to my mother’s insanely amazing familia and forced to go to y father’s village where everything village like exists including evil witches who use you don’t want to get on the bad side of and I got malaria and then flew back and I am now in Johannesburg in my house on a couch updating.

In brief, that’s where I’ve been the past month. 

I’ve been on 4 planes and in 3 airports, and I’m tired as hell on a stick (I do wonder how tired hell really can be if there are people burning in it?I I guess burning is rather tedious.) and right  now, I have some serious appreciation for South Africa.

Today, at 3am, I watched a sunrise from a South African Airways plane seat. I watched the sun rise from above the clouds. I saw my home unfold – and I was silent, for a while. I mean, it’s not every day, or even every second day that you see something like that. And I’m sure I could have been flying to Tehran and seen exactly the same thing, but there’s something about coming home that changes the way everything is. 

I guess it’s been difficult to orient myself with a specific nationality, just in my eyes though. My mom and dad are Nigerian born and raised (HUGE stigma in South Africa) and I was born rather patriotically on July 4th in Prince George’s County, Maryland, USA. I live in Johannesburg, South Africa. 3 passports makes it difficult to identify yourself. I’m an American born South African with Nigerian parents. WHAPOWOWOWOWOW!

After a month away from my own house, I can tell you one thing: Tonight, I may not sleep well. What’s certain, however, is that I’m here in SA, and it is my home; I love it.

I love this country, and I love these people, and I love this place.

Spend a month in the rest of Africa -or even just 2 countries- after living comfortably in Joburg, and you would too.

This pampoen is getting her SOUTH AFRICAN I.D tomorrow 😀 somebody drop a whoop! Stay wonderful now. 😉

All my love, all the time

-Scoot xx