Sunday, December 7, 2014

Jim Crow is alive and thriving

Michelle Alexander, the author of Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, has helped me further understand why we do not live in a post-racial society or much of a society at all. Below, I have briefly summarized a small section of her lecture in order to help others understand why the USA is not equal when it comes to the justice system. 

“We have not eliminated discrimination but simply redesigned it”

-Michelle Alexander 

Between the 1880s and 1960s, the United States had Jim Crow laws meant to legally racial discriminate against African Americans. These laws were based on the concept of separate but equal, however they only perpetuated and enforced social, economic and educational disadvantages. These conditions for African Americans were inferior to those of Caucasian Americans in order to prevent them from surpassing their caucasian peers or being truly and completely equal in society. Today, in modern USA the idea of Jim Crow is now simply the phrase “conscious intentional bias" yet racial discrimination is not just a conscious action such as of name calling or refusing to hire an employee. No, the concepts and practices of Jim Crow laws remain today rooted into the justice system.  Instead of using race as a label for discrimination, the label of convicted criminal is now being used as the tool for discrimination. A convicted criminal can not vote, can not have access to financial aid for education, will have trouble obtaining a job, is not allowed access to public housing nor even allowed food stamps. We can not think to ourselves, "people of color just shouldn't commit any crimes if they didn't want their rights stripped away" or "they commit the most crime and thus must pay the consequences." No, according to Michelle Alexander, “The explosion of imprisonment is not due to crime rates. Crime rates are at historical lows yet black incarceration rates has soared.” 1 in every 15 black men compared to 1 in 106 white men are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes ( The Jim Crow laws may no longer be legal but incarceration and suppression is now just the new form of racial control.

One may ask "why are there more black people in prison than white people?"  One example would be that The War on Drugs is being exclusively waged on black dominated communities, even though black people are not more likely to use drugs than white people. Law enforcement is not going to white dominated suburbs nor college campuses to search for people to convict of drug possession. In order to find those to convict, random groups of people or individuals are being stopped and frisked. The cop is most likely putting his or her hand on a gun as a fear tactic and definitely not informing the person being frisked that they have a right to say "No." Out of 600,000 frisks in 2010, 87% of those frisks were on people of color (Alexander). It is because of this targeted discrimination that more black men are in jail than white men for nonviolent crimes proving that legal racial discrimination is not dead, it is thriving.

Ultimately, the cycle will continue. First, an underprivileged black man is targeted for something as small as Mary Jane possession. Second, he is convicted to the maximum unless he or his family hires a private defense lawyer with money most underprivileged people do not have. This is especially difficult if his father before was convicted of a crime as well and struggles with finding a living wage. Then lastly, released without the means to thrive in society nor even get back into society such as buying food or having a living wage job. At the end of the day, creating second class citizens without rights nor the means to survive is somehow acceptable in the eyes of the law but that is only if there was no name calling. 

To learn more please watch Michelle Alexander's full lecture on systematic racial discrimination.

More information can be found in these links:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My struggle with PTSD & Stigma

I am not a Doctor. I wrote this post to talk about my own personal experiences of why I felt stigma and in no way it is meant to be insensitive to any one else nor really describe mental illness as a whole. I can only hope my experiences and strength inspires others who struggle with mental pain to seek help or at least treat those suffering with respect.


I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which includes anxiety and severe bouts of depression. I have been hospitalized twice for symptoms related to severe anxiety attacks and destructive behavior. At the height of it all, some of my behavior included staying awake for 2 or 3 days straight, didn't eat, couldn't get out of bed, couldn't sleep for more than a few hours at a time due to nightmares, smoking excessively, afraid hatred would consume me, biting whole nails off, pulling hair, constantly feeling guilty for reasons I shouldn't be and wanting a reset button on my life. There is quite a bit more I could add to that list but overall, I just couldn't really see me as having a future. My head was just foggy. I was so numb and it was worse than any physical pain I've ever endured. And yes, that is from a person who had severe burns, about 15 surgeries and cancer. I was on four different medications at once to get through my day without having an anxiety attack and to sleep through the night.

I only had a handful of people I felt comfortable talking to about what I struggled with behind closed doors because I felt massive stigma. Much of my stigma came from feeling guilty and feeling judged as broken. I felt that I was a burden to anyone I asked help from because my need was so great and I didn't have anything to offer back to them. I felt like I was being ungrateful for the simple things in life and the blessing I had around me. I felt so ashamed because the friends and family I turned to did not wish to address these issues because they did not want to feel like a failure. They would tell me to "just be happy" or that I was "selfish." Those statements disregards the inner battles making it seem like being nightmares, anxiety and depression is a choice. No one wants to feel chronically like he or she is drowning, unable to escape or tortured. It is a heavy burden and war inside. Suffering from mental pain is not selfish. It is an illness like any other illness. You wouldn't call cancer patients selfish, just how it is never okay to call anyone else with an illness selfish. Not only that, the reasons for me was not just a single event but a series of events. I just can't unwind a lifetime of anger, mourning and confusion overnight. I felt so alone but realized that many of my family and friends most likely have never been through the same battles as me and do not know how to handle the situation.

The reason I am able to talk about my own pain now is because I have more confidence in who I am as a person and have a more genuine group of people around me. In order to make progress in recovery, I had to really understand what exactly happened and why. I had to learn that many events are out of my control, but what I could control was my own reaction. However, I can not say I am 100% as I am sometimes prone to relapse. In truth, my mind is still an ongoing battle but at least now in my mind I am winning. And I still struggle with night terrors and nightmares on a daily basis but I have since learned to control my anger. I turned the pain of experience into wisdom and an outward action of helping others instead of inward anger or blame towards others.

What I ask of others is to be empathetic to the struggles others have behind closed doors and that each struggle is individual and unique. Do not try to make a person feel guilty or a failure but instead encourage that person to receive proper help. Just be a friend, you could save a life.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


 I received a huge amount of criticism for gaining weight in the past few months. I've had strangers tell me that I'd look better if I gained a little weight here or lost a little weight there. I haven't always had acceptance of my own body, ever since I could remember I was told that if I was too thin or too fat that no one would want me. Meanwhile, there is no absolute definition of what is enough. Thus, I've learned to realize that if any one who wants to change me to fit their own selfish needs does not respect me hence they can not love me. If that person loved me then he or she would respect me. I am not an object and it is an overwhelming and distraught cycle of thinking I am not good enough. Even if I did try to live up to a standard of how others want me to look, another person may not like that standard. So why try to please anyone when I do not need to please anyone? On the other hand, having disrespectful qualities such being condescending, judgmental, stupid, negative, a predator, a bully, have low self esteem, entitled or vindictive is much worse than being too thin or too fat. Every person has a body type in how their body metabolizes fats and makes muscles. I can no longer be a size 0 and still be considered healthy hence my weight gain. I allowed myself gain the fat and muscle I need to be fully healthy and by allowing myself to stay healthy within my metabolism I ultimately learned to love myself. I didn't let myself go, I let myself be.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival."
-Audre Lorde 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The "Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act" will hurt businesses and animals

The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act is a bill that has good intentions such as minimizing animal testing, establishing a safety standard and setting label requirements for ingredients, however there is a major flaw in its design- if passed, a company must be forced to comply with animal testing requirements for at least one year or not be allowed to sell their products. 

This bill states that yes, a business is allowed to use alternative methods of testing their ingredients and products, approved by the Secretary, that do not require animals but there aren't any actual alternative tests listed as of yet. This means that a business must either comply to the laws that require them to use ingredients tested on animals or not be allowed to legally sell their products. These ingredients that would be retested will include already FDA proven safe ones. Not to forget to mention, the awaiting alternative methods do not necessarily mean that animals will not be used at all. It could possibly mean that perhaps more animal testing methods could be made, however just with less than 350 animals per test. Either way, an animal had to suffer because painkillers are not used in these tests as they could disrupt the study. A study that does not accurately depict an animal's anatomy to one of a human. Therefore a business has two choices, change from cruelty free to animal tested or pull out of the market. If a business chooses to stay in the market, that business would be forced to pay fees to have their finished products be tested by a 3rd party. Not only that,  the cost of already FDA proven safe ingredients would become higher from Fair Trade farmers just trying to get by. To add salt to the wound, fair trade farmers would not be allowed to export their ingredients outside of the USA to countries that have already banned animal testing due to alternative methods that include computer models and synthetic cells in long term studies. Fair trade farmers from outside of the US will not be allowed to import to the USA unless they pay the fees for 3rd party testing, however then they will not be allowed to sell to countries that do not allow testing on animals. In conclusion, we as a country can not afford to widen the poor vs rich gap if it means giving up our independent morals or carry a heavy unnecessary distasteful burden

This dog was not given any pain killers as his eye was being cut out. 

Here is what you can do:

In order to prevent this bill from passing, please write to your political representative stating that you OPPOSE this bill.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Health, Beauty & Blog Resolutions for 2014

I see every new year as a chance to better myself in a healthy direction. Past resolutions that I've accomplished included transitioning into all non-animal tested makeup, be more social, learn to cook and quit red meat. The goals that I make are not accomplished overnight but as a gradual transition. Sometimes goals can be like a cha-cha dance with two steps forward but one step back. However, I know that if I keep pushing myself in a healthy direction and do baby steps, a goal can not only be reached but stay.

1. Have a healthy sleep cycle

I don't sleep enough and have very bad insomnia. I sleep maybe four hours a night on average, hence the chronic eye bags and poofiness. I want  to try to set my schedule to sleep at 11pm and wake up at 6am. If I get to bed by 10:30pm then I can try to make my body get used to needing to sleep at a certain time. Not only that I should try to spray my bed with relaxing scents after I do my skincare so I can further train my body to know it is time to say goodnight.

2. Shop Small Business
I want my money to go to real people. Spending money on small business helps families and the economy thrive. I'm exhausted on spending my money on companies that pay their employees only minimum wage and don't seem to appreciate their customers. Helping out the underdog helps real people and families get ahead and a chance to have more opportunities such as education and healthy living. In order to accomplish this goal, I plan to spend my money on small businesses such as independent cosmetic or soap companies, family owned produce stores and various other items such as jewelry or clothing.

3. Be more naked
In the past few months I've felt more happy with my body. In the past I felt too skinny or very unattractive physically. Now, I love my body and don't feel shy to wear tank tops or bikinis. I know that my body is just for me and I don't need to prove anything to anyone. I'm healthy and I'm happy with it. In order to accomplish my goal of being more naked, I plan on wearing more bikinis at the beach, wear more skirts and whatever I want to wear according to the warm weather that makes me happy. I'm not doing it for attention, I'm doing it because I love and accept myself.

4. Home cooked meals, juice and smoothies

Eating out all the time is not only costly but has some mysterious ingredients for flavor that can be unhealthy for me. First of all, buying juice and smoothies add up for the price of convenience when I can easily make my own. Second, cooking my own meals means that I know what is in my food as well as where the ingredients come from. I can guarantee that the vegetables or fish I buy is fresh and not spoiled or full of pesticides. I can accomplish cooking my own food and making my own juice and smoothies by going to the grocery store twice a week to buy fresh ingredients and setting time aside the night before to cook my meals for the following days.

5. Support my beauty blogger friends more
My beauty blogger friends are some of the most positive people I know. I tend to stay friends with the ones who are down to earth and kind. I want to show my support to them more to know that I appreciate them. I plan on doing this by retweeting their blogs, sharing their blogs and leaving more comments.

Overall, I believe each of these goals can be reached. They are realistic to me and can be built up over time.

What are your new years resolutions?