Tuesday: Top 6 Better Ideas Than Paying Attention To Celebrity Activists

I so rarely build one post off of another, but today I’m treating you (and myself) to some ideas that have been weighing on me recently. I’ve never been one for celebrity activism as it has never quite seemed genuine to me. I didn’t grow up engaging with a lot of media in my early years so I didn’t form these early bonds and emotional attachments. I love Rihanna’s work for example but if someone wanted to cuss out Rihanna ‘til next Tuesday in front of me, I would remain completely unbothered and emotionally unaffected. So when I see celebrities who are detached from working class and middle class communities claiming to have all the answers, I feel rubbed the wrong way in particular.

In the Caribbean, going abroad for a year or two can tarnish you enough that any ideas you have for social equity are immediately branded as detached and “foreign ideas”. Yet celebrities who may have spent decades hoarding more wealth than most people will ever have in their entire lives feel completely qualified to pick random communities of people and tell them exactly what they should do.

The concept of a “Black community” in the United States strikes me as a little odd because from my experiences, Black communities in California and New York differ from Black communities in Atlanta or Washington D.C. There isn’t a monolithic solution for every Black community and while racial unity and unity of goals can be powerful — for example the “Black Lives Matter” movement — there’s a reason why that particular group of activists is diffused in terms of leadership and specific goals within different cities.

Grassroots activists recognize that there isn’t a one size fits all solution for the “Black community” in America. Celebrity activists on the other hand talk down to communities and preach at them. This has been happening since Bill Cosby preached to Black men about how sagging their pants was a direct cause of racism and it’s happening now with Jay-Z’s comments about “moving past kneeling”. Rather than expend my limited energy writing why these celebrities are wrong, let’s have a little think about what we can do instead to better our communities:

1) Spread awareness about local activist groups

In Saint Lucia, few people are aware of some of the most effective activist groups in our country. United & Strong, an organization for LGBT rights, and Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia, are two groups that many average people have not heard of even if they do great work directed at the appropriate level. These are examples from my environment, but every city and country has their own groups like this one. Take some time to research and then spread awareness by sharing posts, fundraisers, talking to your friends and family members about how different groups are helping your community.

2) Talk to people in need within your life/your community

Often times, we project what other people need based off of our own assumptions and beliefs. If we meet someone who can’t pay their rent, we assume they need a financial literacy app when in reality, they may tell us what they need: a job that pays better. Rather than making assumptions, we can have non-judgmental conversations with people we meet and discover what they feel their needs are.

3) Read news bulletins by community organizations to educate yourself on their needs

Community organizations often put out news bulletins discussing their ongoing projects, their future projects, and their financial needs for the future. You can also find out what organizations need from volunteers or donors. If you read news bulletins, tweets or public posts, you can come across valuable information about what different organizations actually need. Do they need coats for the homeless? Do they need period related hygiene products? Do they need volunteer hours? Doing this also builds the habit of not making assumptions that we know better than those we are trying to help. Privilege does not actually mean you are superior.

4) Study successful activists and community leaders of the past

Studying successful activists and community leaders from our present and past can also inspire ideas for how we can help our communities. I enjoy reading about the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast programs in the United States as well as reading biographies of various activists and community leaders. Rather than giving our attention to celebrities, we can direct our attention to folks who dedicated their lives and time to improving our communities. This doesn’t mean to never listen to music or watch movies, but when it comes to politics, let’s focus on those who made a real difference every day!

5) Create your own solutions to problems in your community

This point relates to my previous one. When you learn from the past, you shouldn’t just be content to memorize facts. Think about how you can apply these lessons to your lives. I know many Christian activists for example who participate in food drives and clothing drives for the homeless and impoverished in society. Every community can use some help and every person is capable of offering something according to their own needs and capabilities. Coming up with solutions to problems in your community and even in your household can be beneficial. For example, if you are producing a lot of food waste, you could start a compost heap. Ideas can be THAT simple. You don’t have to start a revolution to make a difference in your life or the lives of those around you.

6) Donate money or time to organizations that help people in your community

When in doubt for what to do, you can always donate your money or your time to organizations in your community. In Saint Lucia, the National Trust always needs help with beach clean ups. Typically grassroots organizations need money and they determine how best to put it to use. Every little bit that you do will count for something!

One of the troubling things about celebrity “activism” is that we hold two false beliefs. First, we assume that celebrities are superior to regular working class people and they’re blessed with some kind of special insight that we don’t have. Second, we believe that doing ‘more’ is about how much money someone gives specifically. Neither of these beliefs are true. Celebrities are not specially gifted with knowledge of communities where they don’t live. More money isn’t necessarily better if that money isn’t put to effective use. These ideas are designed to strip us of the realization of our individual power and give credence to the notion that more capital creates superior individuals. You can have so much more power in your community than you realize and make a real difference if you direct your energy in the right way. We may not have the power of wealth, but we have power in numbers, and that means a hell of a lot.

Tuesday: Vacation Flux

If I didn’t write this blog post, I’m not sure that I would even recognize this was a Tuesday. My holiday has been going well, but I have fallen off the wagon with so many different daily habits that it’s hard not to feel generally demoralized and demotivated, despite the knowledge that the best thing that I could possibly do would be to get back on the horse and keep going with the habits I want to maintain. Here are some of the things I’ve been missing on my vacation:

  • daily meditation

  • dedicated time to read daily

  • writing every day

  • blogging daily

  • regular and intense exercise

While I’ve been enjoying other activities on my vacation including long walks, sight-seeing in Central New York, and general relaxation, I’ve been feeling a huge weight from a sense that I’m being “unproductive” or somehow setting myself behind in my goals. It doesn’t help that I also have to face some pretty infuriating differences between home and New York, like less space and time to myself, different responsibilities and in some realms, even greater responsibilities than what I would usually like.

I’ve been trying to make the best of things and to accept that sometimes, we are in flux and not drawn to one thing or another in particular. Instead of feeling guilty due to a lack of productivity, I’m working to see down time as necessary and healthy for my development and my future plans. Instead of feeling lost and left behind, I want to focus on the restorative aspects of taking a break.

Things haven’t worked out perfectly when it comes to managing my anxiety, fears, and guilt, but for me the biggest step is to allow myself the space to figure things out and to not have everything “perfect”. When I’m back from my vacation, I know I can get into all these great habits again, and I won’t have to worry about things being “imperfect”. Maybe I can use this time to recognize that “perfection” is not a healthy goal at all anyway, and sometimes, it’s okay to simply exist without being dragged in one direction or another.

Tuesday: Top 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Professional Writer

I’m short on time today, so outside of some small expansion on my points, I’m going to keep this brief and give you a list of the Top 7 things I wish I knew before I became a professional writer. Phew! I’m sure this list could be much longer since I knew absolutely nothing before I went into self-publishing. If it weren’t for a couple of mentors, I might still be blissfully unaware of how self-publishing can be a lucrative way to support oneself. Here are the things I wish I knew before I got started

1) start earlier

I wish someone had told me to just START when I had the first inkling of what I wanted to do. I got started writing 2 years after my mentor tried to put me on to the whole thing and I missed an entire era of much easier money in self-publishing. The best time to start is now is DEFINITELY true of writing.

2) solve “writers block” early

The difference between a professional writer and an amateur can be found in their entire attitude towards writer’s block. Amateurs use “writer’s block” as an excuse. Professionals recognize that whether you have writer’s block or not, you have to find a way to push through it and write. Professionals realize that you can train yourself to be more creative and have more creative ideas. This is not a fixed skill! This is also something you should solve early on so you keep having good ideas.

3) network professionally

Online networking has made a lot of difference for me from keeping tabs on industry changes to getting helpful tips and reliable subcontractors. The sooner you can join a real professional network, the better.

4) you will get over bad reviews

Amateurs think negative reviews are the end of the world. Professionals realize that there will always be someone who has something negative to say about your writing. Even Harry Potter has some horrid reviews, scalping JK Rowling and dragging her name through the mud. It’s impossible to write without criticism whether it’s justified or not. You must get over it! And you will!

5) the naysayers are wrong (but not for the reason you think)

Most people who speak negatively about the money making potential of writing or self-publishing do not make money in writing or self-publishing. While some gatekeepers like to think it’s impossible for anyone new to break in, these folks are rare. Most professional writers who make money self publishing are aware that it is possible for anyone who puts their mind to it.

6) editing counts

I used to hate editing and do everything under the sun to avoid it. I learned that editing is actually just as important a process as writing. Even if you have to pay someone, exchange labor, or get a friend to help you, editing is crucial and counts for so much.

7) writing should be fun, even when it’s work

Usually when you’re writing fiction, if you’re bored that means the reader is bored. This is especially true in commercial fiction, which I write. Writing should be fun. Your stories should be fun. A good measure of whether you have a fun story will be whether or not you are having fun while writing it.

What do you think of these tips? Is there anything else you wonder about writing professionally or self-publishing?

Tuesday: Top 5 Quotes I Loved On Pinterest Last Week

Each week, I like to save some of my favorite quotes to Pinterest boards for motivation and inspiration. It’s easy to take in a lot of negative messages on social media, so I enjoy taking the time to internalize something positive.

These are my top quotes last week from Pinterest.

What do you think? Comment below which quote inspired you or touched you the most. 😋👇🏼

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Tuesday: Top 5 Trends That Will Be Embarrassing In Five Years

Remember low-rose pants? Apple bottom jeans? The courage of Uggs and the infuriatingly damp and stinky knock offs that ensued? Crackle nail polish? If you do remember, I bet you’re desperate to forget or at least cringing internally at all the clothes you wore that you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing today. That’s the problem with trendy style vs classic style… trends come and they go and they keep you chasing after an ideal intended to remain unattainable.

Here are my predictions for the top 5 trends we are going to loathe in a few years that are dangerously popular right now…

1) Overly sculpted eyebrows — my least favorite trend by far. I thought over plucked eyebrows were rough but these... Their days are numbered.

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2) The “ugly but cute” sneaker trend — I actually don’t always hate this trend, but I don’t think it’s going to last either. Most ugly sneakers are ugly and once the shiny glow of a new item wears off, I bet most get shoved to the back of the closet.

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3) T-shirts with “cute” phrases — your sense of humor isn’t as evergreen as you might think. While some shirts like this are tasteful, fun and you might get a lot of wear out of them, others are clearly not going to make it into 2021.

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4) Over-lined lips — this particular beauty mishap seems to only afflict a certain group of people but at some point overlining your lips looks foolish and everyone can tell. I’m not really in favor of anything that “alters” your natural features, especially when it does a piss poor job.

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5) Fanny packs/bum bags — give it a rest, they’re never coming back. I’ll never know why these made a comeback, but just like they went out of style before and looked totally dated, the same will happen again. The double G won’t make a difference. Not to mention they’re bulky, impractical and remind me of my father’s fashion sense. Hard pass.

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Do you agree with this list or do you think I’m totally out of line? What fashion trends do you want to see die a miserable death? Comment down below. 👇🏼