I was always content with the shape of my body. I never really had major weight issues either. I inherited my small bone structure and my small frame from my mom. I guess you can say I have those good Caribbean genes. I have long arms, long legs, and a short torso. But I also carry my weight well. So, when I gain or lose weight, the distribution of weight is evenly proportioned. At 36, I'm fully grown. I stand 5'4", a DD+, and I don't know where all this ass came from. Now I have a butt I never used to have.
I can't complain. I'm hella thick for my height and frame. But this wasn't always the case. I mean, I was always just skinny. I have always had full breasts, but I also have small, straight, narrow hips. Like, there is no curve to my hips at all.
I used to jokingly say I inherited my Indian side of the family. In my 20s, I was obsessed with wanting perfectly round hips. No matter how many squats, hip adductors, or side leg raises I did, I couldn't achieve what I saw on reality TV or social media.
Slim waist and perfectly curved hips—I wanted that. But it wasn't until recently that I realized this could never be. It's not scientifically possible. Why? Because of the way my hip bones are structured. Skinny or thick, I've accepted that I'm always going to have hip dips.
I can't change my bone structure or how my hips look unless I opt for plastic surgery or Photoshop the hell out of my photos. But none of that is realistic to me, and I do not want to portray an image that doesn't align with what I believe in. However, this is what we see on social media every day.
Our social media feeds are flooded with edited and enhanced faces and bodies.
Self-Image and Social Media
There is no question that social media affects our self-image. Women continuously hurt their body images by constant comparison, Photoshop, filters, and browsing through hashtags like "fitspo." It's like our brain doesn't realize we're comparing ourselves to images that are not 100 percent real. This behavior ultimately leads to disappointment by creating unrealistic ideals for ourselves.
I think this Time magazine article said it best: "If the Internet has been called a great democratizer, perhaps what social media has done is let anyone enter the beauty pageant." The same article points out that when we edit photos to attract positive attention, we create a false sense of control. This leads to a disconnect between perception and reality. We might feel one way about ourselves in real life and feel another about our online persona.
We set ourselves up in trying to achieve these expectations and then stress ourselves out when we cannot meet them.
Does anyone see how unhealthy this is? Because I do. There isn't supposed to be a disconnect between who we are in real life and online.
What The Studies Show
According to an article by Insider, research shows the more time we spend on social media, the worse we feel about our bodies. In 2018, one study found a correlation between time spent on social media, negative body image, and eating disorders. And a stronger correlation was found if the participant was scrolling through appearance-related content.
In a study conducted by a health institution, the Florida House Experience, 87 percent of women compare their bodies to images on social and traditional media.
In the same study, 50 percent of women considered their bodies unfavorable. Social media can also affect pre-existing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. So, if you already struggle with self-image and body dissatisfaction, social media can trigger or exacerbate these issues.
Forbes interviewed Jennifer Henry, a counselor at Maryville University, who stated:
"Increasing awareness of how we look and specifically, how to obtain the 'best' angle, pose, lighting, filter for social media. It's not unusual to see really young girls posing for pictures doing the 'skinny arm' pose or the 'duck face,' instead of just goofing around and having fun. We are missing out on actual experiences by focusing on how to get the best picture of it for our social media pages."
Where is the lie?
I'll admit it. Like many other women, I let social media get the best of me by comparing my body to altered photos of models, celebrities, and the bodies of fitness influencers. I know the feelings associated with this all too well. Frustration, stress, and self-doubt. I too was obsessed with the notion of "If I did this or that, I could achieve this body type," damn well knowing social media standards are not realistic by any means. This is partly why I'm on social media break now. I got tired of paying attention to other people's bodies and lives when I should be embracing my own body and pouring into my own life. And now, I'm just focused on loving my natural self and making healthy improvements where I can.
When it comes to learning to embrace your natural self, social media—more so Instagram—is not a standard you want to compare yourself to.
Compare yourself to the person you are today, yesterday, and the day before that. She is who you are trying to impress.
Your standard of beauty lies within yourself.
Featured image via Getty Images
Steph and his wife Ayesha Curry are one of those couples that you just love to love. They do mostly everything right and try not to get swept up in the trenches of fame. They are grounded and keep their morals close by as they attempt to put their influence toward the good of the culture and for the good of the world.
In fact, one of the things that I love most about them is that they often try to do all of the above in new and creative ways. For example, Steph Curry is one of the loudest sponsors for the Howard University Collegiate Golf team. And because we know that golf isn't as prevalent in the Black community as a sport such as basketball, this is what I mean when I say they find new and creative ways to be involved.
They find the holes and seek resolutions.
This is especially true in their latest efforts: the effort to eliminate food deserts in Oakland. And they're doing so with a loud and colorful school bus.
The 'Eat. Learn. Play. Bus' is a hot pink, pale blue and yellowish gold mobile bus that will roll through the streets of Oakland, in an effort to do much more than the old school ice cream trucks that we know from back in the day. Instead, this bus will feed, teach, energize and engage Black children (and other youths of color) in Oakland's stressed communities. Ayesha opened up about the vision saying:
"This idea came basically from me wanting to find a way to eradicate food deserts within the Oakland area. At first, the idea was around, 'How can we find locations where people can come and pick up fresh produce and other things for their families?' Logistically, especially with Covid, that idea started to seem far-fetched."
From here, according to reports, CEO of Eat. Learn. Play. suggested a bus and the rest goes down in we-gotta-look-after-our-communities history. Cruising Kitchens was solicited to convert the bus, and Oakland mural artists Illuminaries created the visuals on the bus that include Ayesha Curry cooking, Stephen Curry shooting a basketball, local landmarks like the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and more. So awesome!
Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Eat. Learn. Play.
One side will function as a food truck or mobile pantry to provide the community with free hot food and fresh produce to children and families. The other side is a stacked library, packed with books and ways to engage all, which is the Currys way of staying on top of Oakland's troubling literacy rate (Black children in Oakland are four times more likely to be reading many years below their grade level in comparison to white students #whew). The bus also houses flat-screen TVs, a sound system to get the kids pumped, and a bus rooftop area that can hold up to 35 children. Of the schedule, Steph says it will travel randomly to schools, community centers, and churches.
"We want mystique about it. So it may show up anywhere, take on a life of its own and has the capabilities to host an event anywhere."
"And I know a guy who plays basketball, so we added a basketball hoop for the play pillar. It turned into this bigger-than-life idea. It's not the teacher's fault. It's not the parents' fault. It's a community issue. Let's get together, give this model a try and see if we can create some excitement around reading. If we can all join together and try to fix the issue together and turn these numbers around, then I think we're doing something right."
Adore these two! Be sure to be on the lookout, Oakland!
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Featured image by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Eat. Learn. Play.
It was 48 years ago when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a 7-2 decision in the case of Roe v. Wade. This single case granted women in the United States the fundamental right to choose whether or not to have abortions without excessive government restriction. And it was four months ago when Texas state Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that makes abortion procedures illegal six weeks into a pregnancy. Thus, making it one of the nation's strictest abortion measures.
How? Most women don't even know they are pregnant at six weeks.
At the bill signing ceremony, Governor Abbott stated:
"Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion."
And recently, SCOTUS ruled in support of the Texas abortion ban.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
The Supreme Court justices once ruled Texas abortion bans as unconstitutional and now, they have ruled Texas's newest abortion ban as constitutional. If this doesn't scream contradictory, I don't know what does. I want to clarify that abortion is not illegal in the state of Texas nor is it illegal nationwide. But abortion is becoming less accessible.
Other states can regulate and limit the use of abortion. States with "trigger laws" or unenforced pre-Roe abortion bans written into their laws include Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. If Roe v. Wade was overturned, these laws can take immediate effect, making abortion illegal within the first and second trimesters.
What is even scarier is the Supreme Court is scheduled to consider the constitutionality of abortion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. This case concerns a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This same case can ultimately upend Roe v. Wade, leaving abortion rights unprotected in 34 states and five U.S. territories.
What The Texas Abortion Ban Means
The Texas abortion ban, also known as Senate Bill 8, almost prohibits abortion completely, as 85 to 90 percent of abortions happen at the sixth week of pregnancy in Texas. The law states if a doctor can detect a heartbeat, then they cannot perform an abortion. The only exception is for women with medical emergencies. However, Whole Woman's Health, a clinic in Texas reports 90 percent of women who come into their clinic are more than six weeks into their pregnancy. This also means that a woman has six weeks from the first day of their last period to end their pregnancy. This leaves women with at least one to two weeks to make a difficult and emotional life decision. But we all know biology doesn't work that way.
What is different about this specific law is the way it is structured. It was designed to make it difficult to fight abortion cases in court. It also incentivizes abortion providers to comply with the law. According to the Texas Tribune, Senate Bill 8 relieves the government from enforcing the law and allows private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps someone get an abortion after a fetal "heartbeat" has been detected.
And here is the plot twist: the law doesn't require the person suing to be someone who is connected to the person who had the abortion or connected to the provider. So, basically, anyone who is anti-abortion can sue anyone who is in support of abortion.
Yes. You read that correctly.
Because of the broad language of the bill, family members, abortion funds, rape crisis counselors and medical professionals could be open to a lawsuit. What this also means if an abortion case is brought to court, and a judge sided with the plaintiff (the person suing), he or she would be awarded at least $10,000 and costs for attorney's fees. While Senate Bill 8 doesn't allow rapists to sue, it shows no mercy to victims of rape or incest.
Women who are victims of rape, sexual assault, and/or incest are equally subjected to this law too. But the problem is most women do not report rape or any type of sexual violence when it happens.
In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to Abbot's comments about eliminating rapists and allowing women reasonable time to get an abortion.
"I'm sorry we have to break down Biology 101 on national television, but in case no one has informed him before in his life, six weeks pregnant means two weeks late for your period. And two weeks late on your period ... can happen if you're stressed, if your diet changes, or for really no reason at all. So, you don't have six weeks."
The Texas abortion ban would also require doctors that are sued to report the lawsuit upon renewal of their medical licenses. And 24 hours before the law went into effect in Texas, patients were waiting five to six hours to have their procedures done at one of the Whole Woman's Health Texas locations.
The Supreme Court’s Decision
We should all be able to make our own decisions about our health & future. We have to fight for everyone’s reproductive freedom. Join me in standing with the women of Texas, sign the petition https://t.co/7A7e6TokUw #BanOffOurBodies pic.twitter.com/kNLkXksdW5— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) September 1, 2021
"The applicants now before us have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issues. But their application also presents complex and novel questions antecedent procedural questions on which they have not carried their burden."
The written opinion goes onto explain:
"And it is unclear whether the named defendants in this lawsuit can or will seek to enforce Texas law against the applicants in a manner that might permit our intervention. The state has represented that neither it nor its executive employees possess the authority to enforce the Texas law either directly or indirectly. Nor is it clear whether, under existing precedent, this Court can issue an injunction against state judge asked to decide a lawsuit under Texas's law."
Translation? It means that the case brought before the Supreme Court did not strongly meet the burden requirement so that SCOTUS can intervene.
The dissenting justices also filed opinions. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, "The court's order is stunning. The court has rewarded the state's effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional statute, enacted in disregard of the court's precedents, through procedural entanglements of the state's own creation." Justice Sotomayor further stated, "The court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law."
Chief Justice Roberts wrote, "The statutory scheme before the court is not only unusual but unprecedented. The legislature has imposed a prohibition on abortions after roughly six weeks, and then essentially delegated enforcement of that prohibition to the populace at large. The desired consequence appears to be to insulate the state from responsibility for implementing and enforcing the regulatory regime."
Chief Justice Roberts did not deny the constitutionality of the Texas law either. He explains, "Although the court denies the applicants' request for emergency relief today, the court's order is emphatic in making clear that it cannot be understood as sustaining the constitutionality of the law at issue."
Justice Elena Kagan points out that the court's practice of deciding important issues in rushed decisions is problematic. She states that the court's shadow docket decision-making is "unreasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend." For context, shadow docket decision-making is when the court believes an applicant will suffer "irreparable harm" if the request is not immediately granted. This means decisions are at least a paragraph long, unsigned, and without a full briefing or oral arguments.
Can you imagine a court deciding an issue without hearing oral arguments? Because I cannot, but it does happen.
On a positive note, the Supreme Court's ruling is provisional.
According to the New York Times, challenges to the new Texas law is pending in the lower federal courts and they are able to work through complex issues of the case. I find it interesting that a 1973 abortion case that protected our abortion rights originated from Texas. Now a 2021 Texas abortion case limits access to abortion. And soon a Mississippi abortion case may overturn the same landmark case.
I asked a friend of mine, a local prosecutor, who wants to remain anonymous, their thoughts on the Texas abortion ban. This is what they had to say, "It's mean-spirited nonsense that should be found unconstitutional." My friend wasn't too sure on the procedural questions that the Supreme Court decided on, but agrees that their recent decision "definitely violates their precedent."
I have so many words, yet no words at all. Throughout our country's history, women have fought for their rights in multiple systems, industries, and spaces. We have fought for equality and our voices to be heard. And now in 2021, we are still being told what we can and cannot do with our bodies not only by men but by a system that does not understand the biology of a woman's body or respect a woman's bodily autonomy.
In the words of Tupac Shakur, "Since a man can't make one, he has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one."
Featured image by Getty Images
As a Black child growing up in America, Blackness can look like many different perspectives based on different locations. Oftentimes, cultural conversations are had in separate rooms with only one culture in the room – making it very easy to see Blackness subconsciously as a monolith. I'm from Brooklyn, NYC, the home of the second-largest Afro-Caribbean migrated community in America, second to Florida, according to the Migration Information Source. So as a child, the first massively Black population I was exposed to was the Afro-Caribbean community.
Then, I moved during the middle of middle school to a predominantly white neighborhood in P.A., and it was a complete culture shock. I immediately felt out of place and missing referencing Caribbean cultural topics with my friends back home. In high school, my family moved to a mixed neighborhood, and it exposed me to other types of Blackness, Afro-Latinas, Black Americans, Africans, etc. It wasn't until after college that I thought to myself, wow, I really only know one Black community in-depth, and that's the Afro-Caribbean culture because of how I was raised and moving back to Brooklyn, and it's still my main friend group.
Looking back to what I learned in my history classes, there was very little information given regarding Black history, that's only taught about 8-9% of the school year. So, 1) we're robbed about learning about majority Black American pioneers; and 2) Black immigrants' stories are often misrepresented from Black media and literature, which leaves our learning about each other through who we grew up around, self-educating ourselves, and traveling, which is another luxury in itself.
For way too long, we have been learning about every aspect of whiteness, from Italian, French, British, Germans, etc., and they are all allowed to take up space and be celebrated as separate white cultures globally. But when it comes to Blackness, we're often looked at as homogeneous and robbed the access to all those resources and tend to go off of stereotypes of each other or comparing struggles of each other's journey.
So let's be open to healing from these stereotypes and learn about our actual cultural journeys. Take a look at some of the resources below to be more informed about the collective Black women experience through the lens of various Black cultures like Black American, African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latinas, Bi-racial black women, and transracial Black women experiences.
How To Learn More About The Afro-Caribbean Experience In America
The Afro-Caribbean community in America started increasing in the 1960s throughout the country. Many immigrants moved here thinking the "American dream" is accessible to everyone, when in reality, it's just a scam. Back in the 60s- 90s, it wasn't cool to be from the Caribbean; they were often told to go back on their banana boats to their countries because, in Black Americans' eyes, they were robbing their opportunities, but that was never their goal. They fled from their home countries that didn't face many racist issues but faced classism and economic issues.
Unfortunately, many people weren't educated enough regarding how the Black American community was treated at the time; Afro-Caribbeans heard stories of how intense segregation and Jim Crow Laws were, but hearing about it and living it are two different experiences. Like many immigrant communities, they tend to flee from their countries to spaces that many other people from their communities are, so some of the biggest Caribbean communities in the States are in Florida, NYC, and Atlanta, but they are also sprinkled throughout the nation as well.
Some books to read to familiarize yourself with the Afro-Caribbean experience in America are Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream by Christina M. Greer and Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities by Mary C. Waters. You can also check out a phenomenal documentary series called Small Axe, directed by Steve McQueen, based on the initial migrating Afro-Caribbean community in the U.K. called "Windrush generation."
How To Learn More About The Black American Experience In America
You would think learning about the Black American experience is easy because they are the dominant Black community in America. However, we live in a timeframe where Black culture is celebrated more than Black history. And often, Black history is ostracized from American history, so it's harder to access it if you aren't self-learning.
The community that deserves the most flowers for paving the way for all Black people in America is Black Americans – for all the doors they've opened thus far.
I think it's essential to read some older books based on the Black American experience from the past few decades prior to be more effective with combating issues in the present. Frequently, patterns of oppression repeat themselves but through new ways in a different generation.
Some of my recommendations for every Black person to read is The Autobiography of Malcolm X, written by Malcolm X, and Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by Bell Hooks, which is an informative read about the history of Black feminism in America. There are countless recommendations regarding the modern-day Black experience, like Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The latter thoroughly explains today's modern-day slavery in the nation's mass incarnation system that disproportionally targets Black men.
How To Learn More About The Afro-Latina Experience In America
The Afro-Latina experience feels like such a new age sub-culture of Blackness because for so long, I just heard several Latinas say they were just 'Latina' as if it's a race, or they would say they are Black, but they just speak Spanish based on where they come from. But the truth is, Afro-Latinos collectively have existed for generations. According to Pew Research Center, "for a long time, several Latin countries didn't collect official statistics on ethnicity or race, especially from populations with African origins." It was only within the last few years it's been recorded because of the high demand of minority groups requesting it. This means that many people aren't fully aware of their racial background from those countries.
Afro-Latinas, like Haitians, have another layer of an intersectional Black experience in America because their first language is Spanish, French, or Portuguese. Anyone coming from Hispanic countries, inclusive of the Caribbean, Central America, South America, that comes from African descent are Afro-Latinos. Their race is Black, and their ethnicity is Latinx.
An educational documentary series I watched recently called Black in Latin America opened my eyes to the lineage and discrimination of Afro-Latino communities in Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Brazil. And a great read to get acquainted with to learn more about the Afro-Latina experience in America is The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States by Miriam Jiménez Román.
How To Learn More About The African Woman Experience In America
African women are a unique group of Blackness because they aren't included in the Black diaspora because they come from the motherland. So to all my African-American sistas, you aren't the only ones that don't know where you come from. Afro-Caribbeans and Afro-Latinas also don't know our full roots because we were brought to these western countries based on colonization and slavery.
Don't let our new flags, foods, and cultures fool you; we have always been digging to learn about our African roots too.
They also come from predominantly Black countries that are more fixated on classism and don't deal with as many racist issues as Afro-Caribbean countries. Africans have another intersectional Black experience to deal with in America; many of them speak languages other than English as their native language, like Igbo, Hausa, Oromo, Yoruba, Portuguese, Francophone Africa, etc. An enlightening read to start with is Voices of African Immigrants of Kentucky: Migration, Identity, and Transnationilty by Francis Musoni, Iddah Otieno, and Angene Wilson.
How To Learn The Black Bi-Racial Woman Experience In America
Being a Black Bi-Racial woman in America is a subjective experience based on how you were raised, if both partners were in your life, and what race you look more like. Black bi-racial women are perceived and treated very differently in society based on how dark or light their complexion is, as well as what their hair and facial features like. What could be perceived as two people from different backgrounds in a loving relationship and having a child in the world brings forth a range of conflicting issues to deal with once this child is born.
Most individuals in the world aren't mixed, and they often want their child to choose their race more than their partner's race. I've been there myself because I'm a bi-racial Black woman, that has always identified as more Black based on how I was raised, the parent I was closest to, and what I look like more. But my experience isn't apples to apples with other bi-racial black women that may look less Black or identifies more with her non-Black side.
Then, there is the you're never Black enough to lead the protest, or you can't speak to the Black women experience because you're not "fully" black conversation. And there is a long list of bothersome fetishes as if we chose our racial ethnicities or our existence is some hip trend. Overall most bi-racial people never feel like they truly fit, and we're interrogated of whether or not we are being Black enough or enough of our other race. An informative read exploring the Black bi-racial journey is Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural by Claudine Chiawei O'Hearn. You can also check out this documentary called Armor: Biracial in the Deep Douth directed by Sarah Gambles.
How To Learn More About The Transracial Adopted Black Woman Experience
Transracial adopted Black women are Black women that are adopted by non-Black families. This experience isn't often spoken of in-depth, and it was brought to my attention when I listened to an episode on the Therapy for Black Girls podcast where Dr. Joy Bradford interviewed Judith Sadora about the transracial adoption process. People often see adoption as something to be grateful for, but it's more responsibility to adopt a child outside of your race. It becomes the adopted parents' responsibility to teach and provide resources for their children based on how the world sees them and is going to treat them.
However, many people aren't aware of the additional responsibility and just raise them as their race. And because of that, transracial adoptees often grow up with a lot of identity issues, having no biological parents to reference for things that speak to their direct racial issues.
Some good resources to inform yourself about this particular journey are tuning into the bonus episode of Therapy for Black Girls podcast interviewing transracial adoptee Angela Tucker. You can also tune into her podcast, the Adoptee Next Door Podcast. Also, one of my favorite shows currently streaming on Hulu, called This is Us, is a heartfelt show that features a transracial Black man growing up searching to connect with his Blackness all throughout his life.
There is so much power with learning our stories! It's an unfortunate reality that the world is currently complacent with obsessing over Black culture rather than they are about learning about all the beautiful layers of the Black lineage. The more we are open to learning about each other's specific journeys allows space for less criticizing and the more empathy that we can extend to each other. No more crabs in a bucket lifestyle; we need to change the narrative because it's always gone against us with every other culture working together to help each other, not hold each other back. We all have unique qualities to contribute to the collective Black lens.
As brother Malcolm would say, "Without education, you're not going anywhere in this world." Without learning about each other, it limits our collective growth when staying in segregated cultural Black communities, so be the pan-Africanist you want to see in the world.
Featured image by Getty Images
Some of y'all might recall a couple of years back when I wrote an article for the site entitled, "How To Handle Folks Who 'Trigger' You". Hmph. Let me just say from very up close and personal experience that once you have truly mastered how to "deactivate your triggers" (oh, and control your physical and sexual appetite yet that's another topic for another time), you are pretty much unstoppable.
And while a lot of what I said in that piece could translate to how you handle your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts, I thought it would also be beneficial to offer up some tips on how to handle those specific kinds of triggers. Because since most folks spend around 2 ½ hours a day on various social media accounts, it's really important to know how to navigate the rocky waters known as the internet — how not to let people (or content) get (or keep) you shook.
1. Remember, Social Media Isn’t Therapy
Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with someone who asked me if I thought they shared too much on social media. My response was, "I think the bigger question is do you think you expect too much from it?"
Listen, people are fickle. Humans are fallible. And when you're interacting with dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of them at a time, you are setting yourself up to, at the very least, be disappointed.
You're grown, so if you want to tell all of your business on your pages, that is totally up to you. However, sitting around taking in opinions about your personal life, dilemmas and traumas all day is setting you up to be disappointed more than helped. I have a motto — social media ain't therapy. Sure, it might be free to use yet therapists/counselors/life coaches are far more equipped to give you what you need than a whole lot of random commenters. If you remember this point alone, it can spare a lot of triggering. Trust me.
2. Use It for a Purpose. More than a Distraction.
If you've ever been curious about the history of social media, an article worth checking out (that was published by Maryville University) is "The Evolution of Social Media: How Did It Begin, and Where Could It Go Next?". A line in it says, "In less than a generation, social media has evolved from direct electronic information exchange, to virtual gathering place, to retail platform, to vital 21st-century marketing tool." Indeed. Yet, let's be real — it's also turned into a cesspool for gossip, trolling and passive aggressive ways to target people. Although I don't personally use social media, I see various purposes that it can serve and that's kind of my point — remember the purpose for why you are using it. If all that you're on there for is to see which real housewife is in some mess or to spend hours talking about how men are trash (eye roll), all that's doing is wasting precious time. Plus, how is that improving you and your life on any substantial level?
Am I saying that social media shouldn't be fun? Sure, it should. Yet really think about why it can easily take up hours and hours of your day. If you can't connect it to how it's helping you progress on some level, that's a good enough reason to scale back. Even if it's just a little bit.
3. Customize Your Notifications
Other than having a low-key social media addiction (check out "Social Media: How To Take Back Control Of What You're Consuming"), I'm not sure what would make us watch our phone ring and then let it go to voicemail and yet see notifications go off and think that we immediately need to check every single one. And then, based on what we see, let it totally throw us off and even put us in a not-the-best-kind-of mood for hours on end. That's why I'm all about folks learning how to customize their notifications so that only certain ones go off or they are reminded to only check them during certain times of the day. Listen, keeping up with the monkey-branching hamster wheel dynamic of Ben and J.Lo isn't going to help you to finish that report that's due, clean up your bedroom or pay those bills.
Besides, if there's one thing about the internet, it's that, whatever's been posted, you can find it by doing a quick Google search hours, days and even years later. In other words, you're really not missing much to the point where you need to act with a sense of urgency; regardless of how much your notifications go off. Anyway, if you want to learn more about this particular point, check out Shift's "How to Avoid Notification Overload" and then consider doing what it says. You shouldn't be a slave to your notifications. You've got the power not to be.
4. Post Something Positive to Combat Negativity
Negative bias is a real thing. If you don't believe me, ask someone to share with you five things they like about themselves followed by five things that they don't; I'd be shocked if they didn't list the things that they don't like first. This is why a lot of people can be drawn to bad news more than good news. Unfortunately, social media has plenty of the former. If, as much as you like being on Black Twitter or surfing IG, this is what gets on your nerves the most, be a light in your little part of cyberspace by posting something positive — a quote, a great picture…something that will inspire others. It might not seem like you're doing much on the surface yet you'd be amazed how much something this simple can help to shift energy, even if it's only on your own pages. Just try it and see.
5. Actually Use the “Mute” Feature
I'll be honest — when I do tiptoe in to see what folks are doing out in social media, it's like it's a social media experiment on how many people know what a monologue vs. a dialogue actually is. In other words, while social media apps are supposed to be about communicating with others, some folks just want others to hear them talk all day long and so, whenever someone else doesn't think they've got the greatest thoughts ever, they mute or block them. Yeah, one day we'll get into the rise of social media narcissism. For now, I'll just say that I once read an article that stated social media has caused a 25 percent increase in narcissism among people who are between the ages of 18-34. So, when I talk about using the mute feature that's available on most apps, I'm not advising this to folks who only want to hear themselves speak.
No, what I mean is some folks are contrary just to be contrary. They don't want to get to know you better, hear your point of view or have a healthy exchange. They really just want to be assholes. If as much as you know that, you still can't seem to shake how they affect you, then yeah — mute 'em. That way, they can keep on ranting if they want without you having to see it. By the way, the mute feature is also cool for if you want to hop online but you need a break from someone else's timeline traffic or you want to mute a word so that you don't have to keep hearing about the same things over and over again. Muting is a social media feature and a blessing. Use it as another way to deactivate an online trigger.
6. Know What You Know
Back in my Facebook days, many years ago, I set my page up to be a free forum for folks to share their thoughts. One rule that I had, even when it came to what folks said to and/or about me, was I wouldn't delete any comments. And boy, did that make things really interesting. Anyway, even back then, I had to really get pushed to get upset because I could tell who was sharing an opinion vs. who was actually speaking facts.
Something that's kinda crazy about social media is how many people are so passionate about their own feelings and conclusions that they think they are truth-based data when opening up a Google browser can oftentimes easily prove otherwise. That said, there is a pandemic of unteachable people on social media — individuals who think they know every damn thing (and don't). There's no point in letting those kinds of folks get to you. If you know that what you know can be proven and cited, share the info and then let the potential debate go. Facts can easily stand on their own which actually brings me to my next point.
7. Free Yourself from Always Needing to Have the Last Word
As I've gotten away from controlling relatives (check out "Why You Should Be Unapologetic About Setting Boundaries With Toxic Family Members"), it's amazing how less controlling I've become (check out "You Just Might Be A Control Freak (In Recovery)"). Hmph. Funny how when folks are trying to run your life, you find yourself trying to do the same thing to others…as a form of gaining back some sort of control (chile). As I've freed myself from this pattern, something I've needed to have less and less of is the last word.
People who are consumed with needing to have the final say on something are typically battling with some form of needing to control something or someone, whether they realize it or not. These days, I'm more concerned about being impactful with what I say; if that's the case, who cares if I said the "final" thing or not? Same point applies to you on social media. A profound word says so much more than needing to get the last one.
If you totally get this and you still have a weakness in this area, remember what I said about the mute feature? Exactly.
8. Remember, You Don’t Know Those People (at Least Most of Them)
The older (and hopefully wiser) that I become, the more I'm like, "These folks really think we're still in high school" — in life, in general, and definitely when it comes to social media. When it comes to caring what people think, those in my life who really know me (check out "5 Signs You Really Know A Person") know that the people's opinions I care about, I truly do; oh, but that list is quite far and few between. And when I was on social media? I don't know 80 percent of those folks while 10 percent more are pretty transient in my world. They don't shift my life dynamic on any real or lasting level, one way or another, so honestly, after about a five-minute exchange, who cares what they think?
We see a lot of celebrities who totally lose their minds due to what happens on social media. And while I get that social pressure is indeed a thing — again, like peer pressure was in high school…see my point? — when you really stop and ponder the fact that your tribe isn't all of your online friends and followers, it helps to put things into a healthier perspective. When you hop online and really think, "I don't know these people like that", it gets harder and harder for them to trigger you because…why do they matter enough to get to you in that kind of headspace? This brings me to my next point.
9. Accept Trolls for What/Who They Are
Bots. People with 10 followers. Folks with wack ass bios. Individuals who have avatars instead of pictures. People who have something ridiculous to say every time you say something. In short, trolls. They're basically folks who live to be controversial because they want to get up underneath your skin. What they say doesn't have to be right or even make a lot of sense; if they know it will get to you, they will say it.
You know what this means, right? You cannot give a troll the satisfaction of figuring out how to press your buttons. He or she isn't a significant part of your life, so why give their simple selves the satisfaction? Bottom line, if a troll truly gets to you, do some soul-searching into why. They're not worth it so why is it…worth it?
10. Have “Off” Days
Wanna know a sign that you've got a low-key social media addiction? One is if it's the first and last thing that you do on a daily basis (you wake up and get on it, you go to bed with your phone in your hand). Another indication is you can't imagine going even two days without checking your social media accounts. And here's the thing about both of these points — there is scientific evidence to support that taking social media fasts can decrease anxiety, increase positivity, boost your self-esteem, lower your stress levels and even help you to sleep better at night.
A couple of years ago, another writer penned, "What I Learned From My Two-Month Social Media Fast" for our site. Between it and other articles I've read on the topic, I haven't seen anyone say that they regretted taking time off of social media, a few times a year. It's definitely something to consider; especially if you find yourself getting triggered a lot later. Take some moments to woosah and gain your bearings. Because again, social media can be cool yet it's not worth having a heartache over — all because you've allowed too many randoms…to trigger you.
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Despite an ongoing global pandemic, other countries are in severe chaos and crisis. Afghanistan is under the control of the Taliban. Yemen is facing a humanitarian crisis as a civil war continues. Somalia is threatened by food insecurity with thousands of children at risk of acute malnutrition. In Bangladesh, a four-year refugee crisis continues with no hope for a resolution. And in Haiti, thousands of people have lost their lives and homes to a massive earthquake.
Major news outlets have focused their attention on events in Afghanistan and so have other countries by offering relief to the Afghan people by opening their borders to accept refugees or donate money.
But what about Haiti?
Known as the Republic of NGOs (non-government organizations), Haiti has been plagued with political crises and natural disasters throughout its history. In 2010, a 7.0 earthquake destroyed the country's infrastructure, and 10 years later the Haitian people are still recovering from the lasting effects. NPR reports, Haiti was in crisis before Moïses assassination – facing political instability, a cholera epidemic, foreign political meddling, and gang violence. In July of this year, it was reported by multiple news outlets that Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home leaving the country without a president.
And on August 14, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. Two days later, Hurricane Grace flooded the country in the same region the earthquake struck.
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The recent earthquake has left more than 12,200 people injured. More than 50,000 homes were destroyed and 77,000 were damaged. More than 2,200 people have died and 344 people are still missing. And more than 800,000 people have been affected by the earthquake. Several hospitals have been damaged leaving a shortage of doctors to attend to survivors.
The Haitian people need shelter, clean water, sanitation, emergency healthcare, food, and protection.
According to an article from Reuters, providing relief to Haiti has been complicated due to the country's current political state, gang-controlled roads, flash flooding, and landslides. Though the United Nations and other countries have provided humanitarian aid to Haiti to support relief efforts, the Haitian people do not trust their government with the funding based on what happened in 2010. You might recall the Red Cross raised half a billion dollars to help Haiti rebuild. In 2015, NPR reported there were no new roads, schools, or homes.
NPR and ProPublica conducted an investigation to search for the missing $500 million. The investigation revealed a string of debatable events – poorly managed projects, questionable spending, and false claims of success. After the review of hundreds of internal documents, emails, and interviews with Red Cross officials, it was found that only six permanent homes were built in Haiti. And until this day, no one knows what happened to the missing funds.
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Despite the past uncoordinated relief efforts, acting Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry promises he would do a better job in the disbursement of humanitarian aid. In an article by USA Today, Henry says:
"My government does not intend to repeat history on the mismanagement and coordination of aid. I will personally ensure that help reaches the real victims."
Several news outlets have reported though aid is being sent to Haiti, the Haitian people are frustrated with the timeliness of the delivery. This is because of the lack of security to transport supplies and damaged roads.
However, humanitarian aid has been able to travel to affected areas of Haiti with a recent truce between local gangs. Local Haitian gangs have been encouraged to help where they can by showing solidarity and sharing resources. The article further stated that the problem with many aid agencies is they don't provide people with what they need. Christy Delafield of Mercy Corps stated:
"Once you get past shelter issue, which is almost universal, then you get more specific needs. One household needs to replace a wheelchair, another may have lost livestock. We try to give people what they actually need. The best way to do that is to provide emergency cash."
With that said, this is how the United States and others are working together to help Haiti.
What The U.S. Is Doing To Help Haiti's Relief Efforts
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According to an article from USAID (Agency for International Development), the United States government has mobilized to help the Haitian government and people. Under the direction of President Biden, a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) was deployed to Haiti. DART is a 97-person team that is working with other U.S. interagency and humanitarian partners to coordinate and expand relief operations. This includes search and rescue operations to locate earthquake survivors. USAID has disbursed 160,000 pounds of food aid, built field hospitals, and flown more than 400 injured Haitians to Port-au-Prince for medical treatment.
The U.S. Coast Guard is currently in Haiti and has provided air support by transporting 143 medical staff, search and rescue teams and 6,800 pounds of medical supplies to affected areas of Haiti. Additionally, the U.S. has pledged $32 million in humanitarian aid for Haiti earthquake victims to help fund shelters, food aid, and medical assistance. And the U.S. Navy and Marines have joined disaster relief efforts by conducting 56 missions, assisting in saving 40 lives, and delivering 35,000 goods, supplies, and medical supplies.
How Other Countries & Organizations Are Helping
As of August 25, the United Nations (UN) and partners have launched an appeal to provide $187.3 million to provide relief assistance. However, The UN Central Emergency Response Fund has made $8 million readily available to assist with on-the-ground support. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) issued $15 million for the primary needs of the Haitian people.
According to an article by Relief Web, France has deployed its military ship to transport cargo and 25 soldiers to Haiti. France's Civil Security Force has offered to provide a water purification unit equipped with a team of 40 people and 22 tons of equipment. Pope Francis also sent $200,000 euros in charity funds to support recovery efforts in Haiti.
How Celebrities Are Stepping Up To Help Haiti
Actors, singers, and athletes are coming together to help Haiti. Revolt TV reported that hip-hop artist Future announced a benefit concert that is scheduled for September 3 in Miami, Florida. Other celebrities Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively donated $40,000 for response and recovery efforts. Naomi Osaka, who is also of Haitian descent plans to give the prize money for a tennis tournament to relief efforts in Haiti. Cardi B tweeted, "I got a soft spot for Haiti and its people. They my cousins. I pray for Haiti they go thru soo much. God, please cover that land and its people." Actor Sean Penn flew to Haiti on August 25 to help earthquake victims through his disaster relief organization CORE.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have also partnered with humanitarian organizations through their nonprofit Archwell Foundation. They have supported relief efforts by providing daily nutritious meals to hospitals and shelters. And Haiti's native son Wyclef Jean took to his Instagram and released a call-to-action for people to help his home country stating:
"I encourage everybody – everybody and everybody – please do your part so we can help the country. As we move forward in the world of climate change, let us rethink how we can protect our country, even if it means relocating the population to different parts of the island."
What You Can Do To Help Haiti
Funds are currently available to stabilize the situation and provide short-term solutions. But what Haiti needs is strong homes, strong neighborhoods, and kids back in schools. This was the response from CORE co-founder Ann Lee when CNN's Anderson Cooper posed the question about what we can do to help. Lee further stated sustainable funding is needed to make an impact on Haiti.
With that said, here are nine non-profit organizations we can donate to:
- World Central Kitchen
- Hope For Haiti
- Project Hope
- Doctors Without Borders
- Mercy Corps
- Partners In Health
We seem to live in a world exhausted by endless chaos and crisis, but the journey to recovery is even longer. We are still in this global pandemic together. What the people of Haiti need right now the most is long-term support to rebuild their country. And we can do this by supporting our neighbors in the fight for their homes, their health, and livelihood.
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