Monday, July 20, 2015

Just Pick One: White or Black?

Cari Amici,

I normally keep my book reviews and my personal blog separate, but today I'm going to make an exception. I learned that an acquaintance of mine wrote and published a book. 

I was impressed, curious, and so I decided to pick it up. I had not idea what to expect. The title was "Just Pick One:" Stories of a Biracial Girl. I figured it would be about race on some level, but other than that I had no expectations. 

Before I talk about the book, let me share a personal experience. 

Today I was planning an activity and was using a poem that told girls they were princesses. In other words, the activity was trying to instill a sense of self worth into girls and women who unfortunately often lack it in today's society. 

Somebody had created two versions of the poem with accompanying images: one had a black girl and one had a white girl. 

I stared and debated long and hard about what I should do. I felt like it was drawing a division between the different races that seemed too stark and pronounced. Almost as if I were saying you can be white or black, but you can't be in the middle. So if you're black, then you have to get a special one. You have to have a different one from everybody else. 

I didn't feel comfortable drawing this much attention to differences in race. I felt like I was saying, "You're black, so you're different from anybody else, and I'm going to make that perfectly clear."

But then I thought if I were black, how would I feel getting a white girl being called a princess? Somebody who didn't look at me? I thought I'd feel like "oh joy, just another reminder that I look different."

I was startled. 

This issue of race was staring me straight in the face, and I didn't feel qualified to come up with a solution. 

Shortly afterwards, I read "Just Pick One," and my eyes were opened even more. What if you were neither "white" or "black" or what if you were both? How would you deal with race then? Which princess would you choose then? And would people force you to choose the "black one" because you looked closer to black than white? 

I don't pretend to confess that Caucasian me can make any claims or statements regarding race or can begin to understand this struggle, but this book was a beautiful and enlightening read. 

I will start out by saying that on some level I do know the author personally. I wouldn't go as far as to say we are close friends, but we are definitely acquaintances. 

I keep in touch with her on Facebook and probably keep in better touch than the author realizes (more or less read all of her statuses). 

I won't try to say that didn't affect to a certain degree how I looked at this book. It probably did, but honestly I don't think it really did affect my opinion all that much. 

The topic itself spoke to me as did the experiences the author shared. None of which I was privy to and none of which I was aware of.

And, if I'm being honest, I didn't even know that she was biracial, and unfortunately, I probably would have identified her as African-American, just like so many others did in the book.

(Although I hope in not nearly as snooty or racist of a way as some of the people portrayed in her book.)

That's why this book spoke to me. It opened my eyes to a real person's struggle that I had never been aware of. And not the struggles of a stranger, but of somebody I knew for a year.  

Tinesha Zandamela's book is poignant, heartbreaking at times, and eye-opening. She allows readers a personal look into what it means to be biracial. She doesn't ask for pity or as she talks about "play the race card," but presents, as the title says, a look into one girl's stories. 

This book is only 99 cents on Amazon and incredibly short (33 pages). It's one I would recommend everybody read. Do yourself a favor and go buy it on Amazon

I was skeptical, but I have no regrets about reading this one. 

They say good writing allows you to make connections to your own life, change the way you view things, and leaves you thinking about it long after you turn the last page.

This book did all of that and more. 

Just as the author promised, there are no neat, tidy conclusions. No answers of how society can fix the racism that plagues us. No foolish, impractical solutions.

It's merely one girl's experiences; but it's one girl's experiences that prove to be impactful and insightful. 

I always have a hard time rating non-fiction, but I'll give this 5 stars because of all the emotions I felt while reading.

Warnings: No violence, sexual innuendos, or swearing. Perfect for all readers. 

So I invite you all to join me and stop and think: How do I view race? Am I a little more unaware of racial issues than I thought I was?

Read the book and find out. 


Danica Page 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Burying Our Heads Doesn't Change Reality

Cari Amici,

Rarely do I engage in political or controversial issues online. It seems that whenever you do, there are a thousand voices ready to slam whatever you have to say down. 

However, some issues are worth speaking up about. Some issues are worth issuing a wake up call for.  

The truth is burying our heads is never going to change anything, not in a million years will ignoring problems lead to a solution.

If people hadn't stood up, would African-Americans still be enslaved? Would labor laws ever have been unforced? Animal rights? Human rights? The list goes on and on.

People deserve to be treated as people. People deserve to know that when they are victims of something horrible that somebody cares. People deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. 

We all have the responsibility and ability to step up and help make changes. 

Ignoring human trafficking that takes place in our backyard, pretending that children aren't abused in our neighborhood, acting as if there are no cases of domestic violence, and pretending like everybody has been given the same opportunities we've had won't make these realities any less real. 

It never has and it never will. 

We have the ability and the responsibility to step up and do our part. We have the moral obligation to care about our fellow brothers and sisters (our neighbors). 

Ignoring these problems won't change anything.

We all need to step up and commit to making a difference. The facts are there; the problems are there; and the solutions are there.

Now it's just up to us to make a difference. That's what I'll be exploring over the next few days. 


Danica Page 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Need to Stand Up

Cari Amici,

Often we look back to the past and at issues like slavery and we think I wouldn't have let that happen. I would have stood up and made a difference. I would have been the Harriet Tubman to run the Underground Railroad.

But would we have been?

I've heard people say something along these lines often: "If you're not willing to stand up for today's social injustices, what makes you think that you would have stood up for the issues in the past?"

I have to admit that it's a poignant question. If we're not making a difference today, why on earth would we think we would've done so in the past. 

There are several atrocious social injustices today: sexual trafficking, the myths of the rape culture, domestic violence and assault, children starving, a large population of illiterate adults, and so on. 

People need our help today. People that live in our backyards need our help today. 

If we're willing to condemn the past for their mistakes, we should be willing to step up to help with the issues of today. 

There are so many ways to get involved. Where I live, there are organizations to help with each one of these issues. 

If we want to start making our world a better place, then we need to stand up and make a difference. 

Yes, our contribution might not change the world, but I like what Mother Teresa has to say.


Danica Page

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Art of Being Busy

Cari Amici,

Sometimes I think we let ourselves get so busy that we lost sight of what really matters.

I'm a pro at this.

Being busy is something I thrive on. If I have free time, I always find ways to fill it. More classes, another job, more service, etc.

However, sometimes I think we forget the joy in just relaxing or not having a schedule.

Is being busy really a good thing?

I'm not so sure it is. When we're busy, we forget to stop and smell the roses (figuratively and literally).

Being busy is seen as a badge of honor, but at the end of the day isn't having time to spend quality time with our friends and family more important?


Danica Page