Photography by Jonathan Mason, J. Braxton Photography
It's not about the riots; it's about persistent injustice.
Black people in America often have to accept racism, economic exclusion, and unequal access to healthcare. On top of that, we are more susceptible to death in the pandemic. Given all these oppressive factors, it should not be difficult to believe the anger surrounding the murder of George Floyd. There is video evidence of four officers' involvement, and they weren't even arrested. This was simply the tipping point of a community that couldn't take it anymore.
As a Black woman, I am deeply saddened and hurt by the recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. It's important to note that the outrage about Breonna Taylor is much less than the outrage for men. In my mind, it goes to show how society as a whole continues to value the life of men more than the lives of women. While no one has the right to judge the grief of another, injustice towards women continues to be lost in the narrative.
This was simply the tipping point of a community that couldn't take it anymore.
I live a little less than two miles from the protests that occurred over the weekend in Atlanta. I noticed the increased police presence in my neighborhood, as well as the evidence of cleanup happening the next day. After the first evening of protests, I decided to talk to the women working in security and concierge positions to better understand how they were navigating the difficult situation. These women were afraid but had to take care of their families, so they had to come to work.
This narrative has continued to be true throughout time. Time and time again, women have had to suck it up and bottle up our pain, bottle up our hurt, bottle up the weight that exists on our shoulders, all to make sure our communities stay intact. We do it by focusing on our love for others and often overlook our own needs. Black feminist Audre Lorde famously said, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." She meant that Black women must replenish themselves because they spend so much energy caring for their communities in the face of oppression. One way I care for myself is by focusing on my self-care routine every morning and evening.
Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." Audre Lorde
The Friday night of the protest, I woke up to text after text asking if I was alright. I remembered seeing the military vehicles outside my house when I came home and decided to check twitter. The first image that I saw was of the press conference given by Mayor Bottoms. She talked about how she was afraid for her sons, how we have a city with a legacy of diversity, and how we are the home of Black leadership. When she spoke, I cried. I cried for the deep understanding I have of the difficulties of being a woman in power, a mother, and a steward of our culture all at the same time. I cried for the understanding that things are going to start being more difficult for us before they get better. And I cried for the many who feel like they have no say and no opportunity to thrive in this world.
We cannot give up the fight. We owe it to our communities, we owe it to our ancestors, we owe it to our children, and we owe it to ourselves.
Beyond my tears, as a Black woman who started a company that strives for economic justice for women, I'm reinvigorated. My "why" continues to be necessary. We cannot give up the fight. We owe it to our communities, we owe it to our ancestors, we owe it to our children, and we owe it to ourselves. I strongly believe that in order for society to change, access to resources must change. Diversification of business ownership is part of the solution. Business owners are the brokers of goods into the community, and they influence politics and legislation. The pandemic in itself is supposed to put 42% of all businesses owned by Black people in the US out of business, so supporting those businesses is an important way to ensure that our culture is not left further behind.
This article was originally published June 5, 2020.
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It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.
Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.
Read with a Purpose
Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.
Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.
When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.
Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.
You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.
Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.
Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.
If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.
Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.