Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Famine in Somalia and What You Should Do

Two days ago, the United Nations finally announced that a famine was occurring in southern parts of Somalia. Although initially reluctant, the UN hoped that the declaration would galvanize the international community to respond to the crisis that is also affecting neighboring countries Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. A famine is defined as:

  • More than 30% of children must be suffering from acute malnutrition
  • Two adults or four children must be dying of hunger each day for every group of 10,000 people
  • The population must have access to far below 2,100 kilocalories of food per day

The last time a famine was said to exist was in 1992 and it was in Somalia as well. The country has struggled with acute poverty, conflict and drought ever since. The capital, Mogadishu, was once evacuated because of civil war but now thousands from the southern regions are retreating in a desperate attempt to receive some sort of aid. Relief efforts have been difficult because the country has become a stronghold to terrorist organizations who either bribe agencies or subject them to taxation for the goods they bring. It's all just really, really awful.

When disasters occur in places where structural poverty is prevalent, it is almost impossible for us to not reflect on our relative privilege. How can you not feel hopeless when already downtrodden people are forced to endure to worst of tragedies? The possibility of that hopelessness being valid is even more troublesome. 

I always find that what little you can to help out always makes me feel better. Your donation to Doctors Without Borders may be modest but hope can only exist with effort. You only bask in pessimism if you sit back, read depressing news stories and bitch about how terrible the world is. Don't get me wrong, I am notorious for being vocal with my complaints about various injustices the disenfranchised face. Yet, we should not allow our cynicism to take the place of our humanitarianism. 

So please, I know the economy is still shitty and we all want to enjoy our summer. But please, considering donating to an organization- a reputable one-that is on the frontline trying to save lives. Here is a list of some via

World Food Programme You can donate online to or you can make a $10 donation to the World Food Programme by texting AID to 27722.Charges will appear on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Message and Data Rates May Apply. Full & Privacy Policy

Doctors Without Borders

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)


World Vision's Horn of Africa response


Save the Children You can donate online or text SURVIVE to 20222 to donate $10 (Standard message rates apply). Legal


Oxfam America

Also, if you want to evaluate the effectiveness of the charity you donate to, Charity Navigator is a great resource. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ma, am I still oppressed?

I got it.
I have a vag, am black, first generation American, dark skinned, nappy headed etc. I'm oppressed. Aight. Check, check, check.

But Im really, really into my social categories and am proud to be what and who I am. With that said, I'm tired of reading how fucking oppressed I am. That i will never find fairytale, ever lasting, can't believe it's not butter, zale commercial love. Or that my babies will be messed up no matter what. It makes me feel crazy! Can anyone else relate?

I think the constant negative media attention black women receive is yet another force/expression of our structural oppression. The CNN articles, the MTV shows, fucking BET! All of it is just a psychological game to make us see ourselves as less than what we are. Because if we feel that we are less, we demand less, want less, and take shit! And it's not just black women who deal with this, it is every non normative being (fat, colored, gay, foreign etc.) out there who experiences this double consciousness.

If I stuck to the mainstream media I'd feel like a piece of dookie. I feel invisible because rarely do I see representations of nerdy, slightly socially awkward, non bitchy, black chicks, I'm so happy that Issa rae is around and creating the awkward black girl series! Finally someone who looks like me, whose experiences I can relate to. Images of happy black women, of quiet and sometimes shy black chicks. Images of, dare I say it.... Black nerds.

Do you all know of an artist who is producing material that you want to see? Someone whose work is inspiring? Well tell me about them and spread the word. We have to support the change we want to see!

In Defense of Soul Food

Up until about two months ago, I was a vegetarian for almost four years. My decision to return to a diet including meat was caused my increased boredom with vegetarian food and the inconvenience it was to adhere to such a diet when living with two big meat eaters. I live at home with my two lovely parents and am responsible for much of the cooking, especially in light of my father's recent sickness. My mother is from Harlem and my dad hails from a modest farm in McKinney, Virginia and for them, food's purpose goes beyond providing nutrition. For black people in America soul food is arguably the best preserved of our many traditions. Soul food is the story of black people's resilience against the attempt to erode our ancestral history while lacking adequate access to one of life's basic necessities, food.

Our cuisine has become an integral part of our culture, but it has also led us to become vulnerable to diet-related illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. So despite its deliciousness, soul food is often the subject to criticism regarding its unhealthiness. However, many people incorrectly criticize the nature of soul food and not the true sources of our poor health issues.

Top 5 thing to do when you move to a new city

(shout out to bjork's awesome video for wanderlust I first saw it when I was in Amsterdam... Quite trippy)

Plan on moving to a new city? Awesome!

Already moved? Even better!

I have been known to have the travel bug and I will definitely say that I got it from my mama! When she was a bit older than me she went on a tour of western, eastern, and central Africa with one of her girlfriends for a few months. Also, due to the nature of her job, she has been able to travel quite a bit. In fact, my whole family travels zooms around and country hops for work and pleasure. Point is--- I love to travel and my fam does too. it's in my blood.

For people who feel nervous going away, for 2 weeks or even a few months, here are 5 tips to relieve some of our anxieties about going to a new place.

1. Find an ex-pat blogger
I did this before I went to Prague because I thought, damn will I be the only black girl there?.( The answer turned out to be no!) I found another black woman from my city who had permanently moved to Prague. After some email back and forth we agreed to meet up on a sunny afternoon shorty after I arrived. Even though her and I hit it off and still keeping in touch some years later, it was grew to meet up or even contact her to hear about her experiences being black, female, and in central Europe.

2. Continue your hobbies
Whatever shit you like to do a home, you will probably still like those things when you're abroad. For example, I enjoy watching independent films, so I found an independent film theater with Eng. subtitles. Continuing your hobbies when you're away from home can make you feel more comfortable. Plus it's the perfect way to make new friends since you already have a interest.

3. Find other ex pats

Now this one is tricky. Being the die hard anthropologist that I am, nothing thrills me more than meeting new people. Of course, everyone is different but... ,eg. I don't go abroad to meet other Americans. If it happens that's cool, but it's not my focus. However, expats are awesome to have around when you are homesick and need to find peanut butter! Also, many expat websites have listservs with meet up information, so if you're feel it you could always go and chill with a group of them.

4. Figure out your barrio
This one appears obvious but I'll explain just what I mean. Yea, you should figure out where the police, nearest metro stop, grocery and liquor stores are.... But you should also check out the flyers for parties etc. In your local cafe. This will you give you and idea of what type of people go where and which scenes and subcultures are happening in your area. You never know!

5. Date. Date. Date.
A lot of people sleep around when they are abroad. Can't blame them, you can create the perfect no strings attached situation because the chances are that you will move a thousand miles away and not see the person again. Another option is to date as much as possible. In either scenario, just stay safe and protected < no really, shits real. Anyway, dating, even when super casual, is a great way to see the city from a local's eyes.

Fellow wanderlusters, is there something major that I'm forgetting? What are the first things you do when you move to a new city?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Found Lovin'

I know it is mad bootleg for me to be posting this week's Throwback! late into Tuesday evening and for that I apologize. To make it up to y'all, I brought my A-game with this week's edition:

The Fatback Band is often slept on, in my opinion. More known for their hits "Do The Bus Stop" "Let's Do it Again" "Spanish Hustle" and "Backstrokin," they made a lot of good quality funk and disco jams in the 70's. The Fatback Band is also credited recording the first rap song entitled"King Tim III" on the B side of "You're My Candy Sweet" in the spring of 1979. (Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" came out later that summer.)

"I Found Lovin" was one of their later singles, topping the charts in 1984. It's my favorite song by them. I like the swing and the obvious influence of the funk style of the 80's. While most of Fatback's hits came in the previous decade, they proved their talents by beautifully molding into the sound of the 80's but also still staying true to their funk and disco blend. For those of you hosting a BBQ this weekend, you better remember to include this jam on your playlist.
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