Monthly Archives: September 2011

Words to live by:

“It’s crucial to take a sense of humility into the world. By the time you make it to a top graduate school, almost all your learning has come from people who are smarter and more experienced than you: parents, teachers, bosses. But once you’ve finished at Harvard Business School or any other top academic institution, the vast majority of people you’ll interact with on a day-to-day basis may not be smarter than you. And if your attitude is that only smarter people have something to teach you, your learning opportunities will be very limited. But if you have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your learning opportunities will be unlimited. Generally, you can be humble only if you feel really good about yourself—and you want to help those around you feel really good about themselves, too.”– Clayton M. Christensen, liberette Magazine


Brother West at #OccupyWallSt

I had class with this man on my very first day at Princeton. I went to class half an hour early on Mondays and Wednesdays so that I could sit in the front row and be near to him. I’m fairly positive I’ve gone to every speaking engagement he’s been at in my time here, and though I’ve only taken that one class with him, his influence on my intellectual mindset has been incredible. No other professor has ever matched his ability to make me literally stumble out of lecture, trying to reorient myself as a physical being within the new way I view the world because of what he just said. I don’t always agree with his viewpoints, but that is one of the most powerful orators I’ve ever met. (Dr. Michael Eric Dyson rivals him.) My journey from being an American who happened to be black to being a Black American was critically influenced by this man, who calls me Sister Reid whenever we see each other, and I’m not sure I’ll ever have the opportunity to truly thank him for that.

Anyway, enough of my gushing. I will leave you with an image, because it says more than I’ll ever be able to:


My stomach is in KNOTS right now

because I just scheduled my Senior Portrait appointment for less than a week from now. 4pm next Wednesday. My SENIOR. PORTRAITS. Because I’m a senior and my life as I know it is racing to an end. My appointment was confirmed by an email that began, “Congratulations on your upcoming graduation.” 

If that wasn’t enough to stress me out (guess what? It is.), I don’t like that we’re given a “drape” there. Can’t we all just wear a black shirt or something? How will I coordinate jewelry, makeup, and hair to go with my outfit if I don’t know what I’m wearing in the picture? 

And hair. This sitting involves pictures in my cap and gown. A) I don’t want to THINK about a cap and gown, let alone be photographed in one. B) FROS AND CAPS DON’T MIX. At all. And I could put all sorts of effort into restraining at least the top part of my hair with clips and pins so that the cap could fit over it, but then my hair would be restrained and down in my cap-less pictures too, and as a woman who wears a huge kinky-curly fro every day, I want to look like myself in my graduation pictures! My hair isn’t manipulable enough when it’s dry to take the cap-less pictures in full fro first and then pin it back and put it haphazardly under the cap somehow for the capped pics. But I feel like my mother will kill me if I don’t have a picture with my cap on. 

I’m getting a zit right between my eyebrows as we speak. I really hope it’ll be gone by next week. My skin has generally been freaking out since I’ve been back on campus, and I’m scared that if I double my efforts to clear it up this week, it will just retaliate by breaking out even further.

I have a really bad history with school pictures. And I don’t mean just like, ah we were all so awkward in middle school bad history. I mean like, my mother wouldn’t even buy any of my high school senior portraits because they were that bad. Portraits make me nervous. I have this tendency to smile really wide when I’m nervous. And when I smile really wide, a few unfortunate things happen. These are arranged in order from least to most problematic: 1) The gap between my two front teeth, which I find endearing most (but not all) of the time, is showcased. 2) My cheeks scrunch up like a chubby little baby’s, and sometimes my dimples even appear. 3) Depending upon the angle of the photograph, I appear to have a double chin. These three things occasionally all happen at once, which evidently creates a face even my mother can’t love.

Long story short: this next week is going to be an exercise in seeing how acne-and-stray-hair-free I can make my face. It will perhaps involve practicing manipulating my dry hair into some sort of pulled back form that would allow for the placing of a cap on my head. It will undoubtedly be quite stressful for me, which is going to work directly against the acne-freeing-goal.

I really want to have a senior portrait. When I go to friends’ houses and see theirs from high school, I sometimes get really sad and jealous. If these go well, my family will blow ridiculous amounts of money ordering lots of prints, and this will find its way into practically every living room of a person who is related to me. If they don’t go well, it will just be one more in a long line of photographic disappointments I have brought my family. My last portrait, for my eating club’s faceboard last year, went so well that I spent my own money to buy copies for my family; I’m hoping to repeat that stroke of good luck with this, but the chances seem slim. I’m so worried already. This matters. And that means my body will probably work against me to mess it up.        

Few things have ever made me feel like a "bad" child.

Selfish, yeah sometimes. Occasionally even ungrateful. Stubborn. I told little lies from tiem to time. But there is generally an understanding within my household that I am “the good child.” 95% of the time, I was a straight-A student. Doing my homework was always top priority, even if my friends and I would get distracted as we struggled through calculus together on the phone. I maintained a job during the school year and bought my own school clothes, supplies, lunch, etc. and paid for all my own fun. I didn’t even kiss a boy until I was 18, and waited until the unheard of age of 21 to let go of my virginity. [I don’t like the phrase “lose;” it was a conscious decision.] My friends used to tease me about how innocent I was, and were shocked that I never talked back to my mother and was concerned about being dishonest. I was a good kid.

The only time I’ve ever really felt “bad” was during the two months I snuck around with my first boyfriend, whom my entire family disapproved of (for very good reason–I myself disapprove of him in retrospect). It’s probably slightly problematic that he was my first experience with physical/sexual pleasure at hands that were not my own, so being bad was (temporarily?) conflated with feeling oh so incredibly good. I intentionally misled my mother about where I was to engage in actions she would not have approved of in any manner, but dammit I was 18, had just graduated high school, my whole life was changing, and it was nice to rebel a little! 

I’m getting off topic here. Basically, the point here is that I have always thought I was a good kid. 

And then I found out yesterday that a very close friend of mine didn’t start to masturbate until high school. And I was FLOORED. And I know you all of the internet are going to think I’m joking, but this person would not front with me about this. We don’t play that. This person even told me hir [haha third-gender pronoun; I’m not giving away any hints] best friend doesn’t know this. Part of hir explanation was having been “such a good child.” And I was still like Sebastian in The Little Mermaid with his jaw on the ground.

Because I’m almost positive I started to experiment with self-pleasure around the age of 8. I might have been 9, but I’m positive it was in the house that we lived in when I was in 2nd and 3rd grade, which means first half of being 9 at the absolute oldest. When my cousin and I played Barbies, our Barbies had sex. I discovered porn accidentally in the 6th grade, with that same cousin, but we were both intrigued rather than disgusted, and made a ritual out of sneaking down to the living room to see what was on HBO and Cinemax late at night when she slept over.

Does having a sexual appetite (and having had one from an early age) make me a “bad” child? I know that there are some people, even some people I’m very good friends with, who have never masturbated, either for religious reasons or because our patriarchal misogynistic society has socialized them into believing that women are not sexual beings and that our bodies are disgusting and should not be touched/probed unnecessarily. I am sad for these people. I am also sad for my friend. But maybe I should be sad for me? 

[On second thought, fuck that. Who equated “sheltered” with “good,” and why do they deserve my time/attention? I turned out just fine, if I do say so myself.]  

Sometimes them crazy-ass Republicans make me wanna be a crazy-ass liberal…

So, to protest affirmative action (because that’s obviously still cute, right), the Campus Republicans at UCBerkeley had a bake sale yesterday, where a baked good cost a White man $2.00, an Asian man $1.50, a Latino man $1.00, a Black man $0.75, and a Native American man $0.25. Women received 25 cents off of whatever price for the men of their respective race had to pay. 

^Note that, according to this formula, Native American women are worthless.

All this, to somehow say that it’s a bad, crazy, terrible, unfair idea for the admissions officers at UC schools to be able to take into consideration whether race has unfairly disadvantaged applicants in terms of resources they had available to them [like, oh I don’t know, having textbooks in their classrooms, teachers who care, Honors and/or AP classes being offered at their schools, guidance counselors who are trained in the college admissions process, you know, a decent education…]. Obviously racial segregation that begets concentrated areas of poverty play no role in any of this. Or at least, not a role that anyone should give a shit about. Because those people obviously don’t want to be educated. They could go to libraries if they wanted books. They could use this nifty thing called the internet. Oh wait, they can’t afford transportation or computers either? Well, that’s their own fault, they should be pulling themselves up by their bootstraps instead of holding their hands out to the government. Oh, they can’t afford boots? Well…

[end sarcasm]

I very much want to propose that we (we being racial/ethnic groups on campus, the College Democrats, random feminists, Sustained Dialogue, the Women’s Center, and social scientists galore) hold a counter-bake sale. [What a ridiculously entertaining notion, the bake sale as a political tool.] I wouldn’t really even be changing much; I would probably keep almost the exact same pricing structure, with a few minor tweaks here and there. The only difference is, we would say ours is to demonstrate the differences in pay grade between members of each group. Based on the wages we give members of each race-and-gender-based-group, we’ve adjusted the price to reflect what, respectively, they can each afford to pay. When we start valuing people equally for the work they do, everyone can pay the same price. 

This has been an Oh so you think you’re cute rant.

Interesting points raised by my friends when I posted this on Facebook:

What do they do for people of mixed racial backgrounds? [To this I add transgendered individuals or others who don’t fit neatly into the gender binary.] And the rationale for making Asians less highly ranked than Whites (on either their pay scale or my hypothetical one) is shaky at best.