My Body Story

Before continuing, I want to say that by writing this I am not trying to inspire anyone. I am not trying to convince you to love your body even though you should. I am not making a plea to society to accept me the way I am. I am writing how I feel about the bones, the muscles, and the fat that I have been blessed with for over 20 years. This is my body story.

There’s this half-serious joke in my head where I attribute the shape of my body to a summer I call “the summer of bagels.” In my memory, there was a summer where my mom worked every day and left me and my older sister Kassidy home alone with a dozen bagels a week for the whole summer. We have talked about this and recognized that there is basically no way this could have happened because I have two other siblings and at the time a dad who should have all been home during these days. But in my memory, it was me and Kassidy every day until my mom came home from work around 3:30. We would get up, make bagels with butter, Kraft singles, and garlic salt; take all the cushions off the couches, build a fort, and watch the Lion King. Every day.

I bring up this summer, because in my head this must have been the summer I got fat. That’s what makes sense. Bagels make you fat, and it was after that summer that I started to see myself as such. It was around second or third grade, and I started to realize that the other girls I was friends with didn’t have to pull their pants up to cover their belly buttons. I started to think about dieting. I started thinking “next summer I’m going to run every day and be thin.” I’ve had that thought every summer since then, and have never gone through with it.

First it was the juniors section. I started wearing “juniors” clothes in 4th grade, which I thought was really cool because I felt like a teenager even though I was only 10. I didn’t fully realize that it kind of meant I was bigger than most girls my age, but I didn’t care then because the Juniors section was way cooler than the “Girls” section. But 4th grade brought the challenge of a new school with a lot more kids. In my town, there are 4 elementary schools that are Kindergarten to 3rd Grade, then everyone goes to the Intermediate School for 4th-6th Grade then Middle and High School. In 4th grade I realized I was no longer a big fish in a small pond. I was a fat fish in a skinny pond. On the first day of school a popular boy told me to “go back to the zoo,” and I realized I had become an outsider overnight.

By 6th grade, I had befriended all these popular kids, and become somewhat popular myself. The only thing I was missing was the clothes the popular kids were wearing: Hollister, Abercrombie, Aeropostale. One reason was my family was just kind of against spending so much money on such cheap clothes, but the other reason was the clothes weren’t made for girls my size. One time at the mall, Kassidy and I wandered into a Hollister and before the cologne could hit our lungs, my dad pulled us out by our necks saying We don’t shop here.”

Middle school wasn’t hard for me. I thrived in middle school. I tell everyone I know that I was really popular in middle school as if that’s something to be proud of. No one ever called me fat, and if they did it was because I had called them something much worse.

High school was where things got really tricky. I had a really hard time adjusting to private school. And I gained weight to show for it. Softball season came and I tried on my uniform and sobbed. The pants didn’t fit. I had to buy my own pants and felt like I was sticking out like a sore thumb.

At the end of a season of warming the bench, my coach broke the news to me. She needed me to lose some weight this summer.

I had and still do have a lot of respect for her. And I accepted what she told me as correct. I needed to lose weight in order to get better at softball. She handed a workout plan to follow that summer. My sister was also getting married at the end of the summer and as the biggest bridesmaid, I wanted to fit into my dress a little better, so I started the plan. I stopped the plan maybe a week into it. But I started dancing instead. Not “real” dancing, but playing Just Dance on the Wii in my basement. It’s a killer workout. I played religiously. At the final fitting for my sister’s wedding, I had gone down a size, and the seamstress congratulated me.

I returned to school with a newfound confidence. Not because I had lost a ton of weight (I didn’t, really) or changed my size ever so slightly. Sophomore year was the year I started to love myself. I started to learn not what clothes looked good on me, but what clothes I liked to wear (and that looked good on me, but that’s not the point). It was around this time that body positivity started to be this radical new trend. Seventeen Magazine started their Body Peace Treaty, teaming with celebrities to make a pact to love their bodies no matter what they looked like. I can’t say that that is what I needed. I didn’t need Demi Lovato saying “I love my body so should you,” for me to love myself. Or maybe I did.

From there, I only got better. I grew into my body and just started to figure it all out. The end of high school and beginning of college continued to teach me about this vessel I inhibit. College softball taught me about the incredible feats I can put my body through, and my body will still thank me. A love of fashion and growth of the plus size industry has taught me that style literally does come in every size. I still get frustrated sometimes because mainstream retailers are still hesitant to diversify their sizes, but I find ones that aren’t afraid of big girls, and I give them my money instead.

This turned into a longer story than I intended, so I’m a little sorry for that mainly because I haven’t said what I’ve wanted to say yet and I’m still figuring it out. I just want people to know that I don’t need sympathy or special attention. I’m not afraid to be fat. Fat has this awful connotation that too many people in this society seems to be afraid of, but I’m not. I used to pray every night that God would let me wake up a size 3, and every morning I would rage against him, but not anymore. Some days I pray I can wear shorts without fear of chafing, but you know, it’s a part of life.

I was told kind of my whole life that I have to fit a certain mold or do things a certain way because of my size. When skinny jeans first got popular, my whole family mocked me for even thinking I could find a pair in my size. But I haven’t worn anything else since my freshman year of high school.

What I hate is when I make a comment about my body like having fat thighs and people rush to my defense. I appreciate the thought, but I don’t need it. Contrary to popular belief, “fat” is an adjective not a death sentence. I hate when skinny girls complain about being fat becuase it makes me think, “If you think that’s what fat looks like and it’s so ugly to you, what do you think of me?” Not that I need everyone to think that I’m so beautiful, but when it’s your friends, it makes you wonder.

I’ve been thinking about this post for such a long time, and I’m kicking myself for not writing it sooner because now I’m afraid I haven’t done it justice. I’m just so tired of people trying to stand up for other fat people. I think there is a lot of fat shame in society like there is a lot of racism and homophobia and other prejudice that we can’t seem to eradicate. I don’t have to defend myself to anyone, but I am going to love myself unconditionally and unapologetically.

I’m healthy. I’m very active—not that those things matter to anyone except me. What I really want to say is I don’t think I needed all the outside inspiration and I don’t think I can inspire anyone to love their bodies the way I do mine—they have to figure it out on their own. I know people look at me and wish they had this confidence and I want to tell them: you do. You just have to find it inside of yourself. Mine was here all along I just had to tune out a lot of negativity. I hope you’ll do the same.

I’ll end with a few lines from my favorite poem, “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

xoxo,

Kam

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Age of Nonsense

Since I was a child, I have never felt like I’ve been the right age. Part of that may be attributed to the fact that I have three older siblings, but I’ve also just always felt a bit like a misfit in my age bracket.

When I turned 14 I was eager to get my first job. In New Jersey, you can’t legally work before then, so I had previously stuck to babysitting. Everywhere I tried to apply seemed to tell me the same thing: they only hire at 16. When I was 16 I went around again with two more years of babysitting under my belt, some volunteer work, and everyone told me the same thing: they only hire at 18. Then I turned 18 and everywhere I wanted to work wanted me to have 1-2 years of experience.

Now I’m at the ripe age of 20. I’ve had a few jobs at school and when I’ve been home in the summers. I have a resume I am constantly updating and distributing. Yet I still have this nagging feeling that I’m not where I’m supposed to be. Nay, I know I’m not where I want to be.

I spent the first half of my life wondering when I was going to be old enough and now here I am wondering if I’ve earned my admittance into the twenty-something club. Maybe I’m a victim of my own generation. We have this obsession with infantilizing ourselves by calling everyday tasks “adulting” and accepting defeat as these millennial babies that no one wants near their workplace. I know I’m not a part of that. I’ve been doing my own laundry since before I could remember. I am confident that if I had a full-time job I could support and take care of myself.

The problem is I’m in the weird limbo that is college and I can’t figure out exactly what that means for me on this societal timeline. I’m supposed to have job prospects. But I’m also supposed to still be learning. I’m supposed to be getting my life together, but it’s also apparently cool to be letting it fall apart.

I’ve written before about how I don’t really believe in this concept of “wasting time,” yet here I am feeling like I’ve wasted so many years. People younger than me have incredible internships and are starting their careers and I feel like I missed my window of opportunity. Is it possible that in the blink of an eye I went from waiting to be old enough to wishing I had more time?

 

Time

First and foremost, let us all take a deep breath and remember that time is a man-made concept.

I’ve been thinking about the future and life in general lately, and it’s insane. That’s the best way I can describe it. Life is insane. You’re born, you do some stuff, then you die. And whether or not that matters does not matter. Whether you believe each life is equally meaningful or completely meaningless does not matter because they mean the same thing. Stay with me.

If you want to believe my life as a contribution to this earth means equally as much as Mother Teresa’s great. But that belief, I think, means the same thing as the belief that every life is meaningless. Because if we all mean something, we cancel each other out. You need me, and I need the next person, so it’s a random cycle of meaning that doesn’t mean anything.

What does that have to do with time? Well, I think our culture revolves around this idea that we’re running out of time. “Life is short.” “If you’re not living you’re dying.” “Time is money.” Everyone is at least a little obsessed with this hourglass inside of us because we’re afraid that time is going to run out before we get to accomplish great and amazing things.

I once read this thing probably on tumblr or whatever that said “I wish people would stop saying life is short. It is literally the longest thing you will ever do.” That’s a fact. The longest thing I, Kamaron, will ever do is my life however long that may be. So what is the rush? I’m not saying slow down and live every moment like it’s your last–that’s a whole other thing I don’t really subscribe to–I just think we should stop overthinking the time thing. Think outside of yourself. Sure, you could die at any second, but you know what? The world could stop spinning at any second. Who knows?

I think it’s really important for young people to wrap their heads around this. We get so caught up in what other people are doing faster than us that we lose sight of what we want. Goals become should-have-dones, and life is just a race to the graveyard. Yes, some things are time sensitive. But there isn’t going to be a time when your days move faster than days before them. Sure there are times you feel like all this time has passed, but that’s all in your head.

I don’t think it’s really possible to “waste time.” You gain something out of every moment. Whether it’s a lesson learned in time management or a moment when you just unwind, you got something. I told a professor last semester I needed to prioritize my time better and not just watch Netflix and she said, “Yeah, but if Netflix is what you need to do to relax and rejuvenate, then you need to do it sometimes.” No, this whole idealistic stream of consciousness wasn’t an excuse for me to keep watching Netflix, but she was so right. There are times when you have to buckle down and work towards a goal, and there are times when you need to take a break and give yourself the space to feel at ease.

 

xoxo,

Kam

 

 

That’s What Happened With Cat

My lack of posts recently can be directly attributed to a major case of writer’s block. Therefore, I have decided to try something different and share an essay with you readers that I wrote for my nonfiction workshop this past semester. I hope you enjoy.

Pyewacket was a member of the family before I was even a thought. I grew up right behind her as if she was my third older sister. As she watched me grow from infancy through adolescence, I watched her grow from a spry young feline into a decrepit bag of bones.

When I was young, I wanted to align my opinions closest with my older brother Zack. As the only male child, he assumed dominance among the siblings, even over our oldest sister, so I imitated him the most. He didn’t like peas, so I didn’t like peas. He preferred vanilla, so I avoided chocolate. He always wanted a dog, so I affected a distaste toward our cat. As I grew older, while the rest of my opinions formed independently, I kept my apathy for Pyewacket.

Domestic house cats are typically expected to live up to 15 years. So when Pyewacket reached 17, then 18, we knew it couldn’t be much longer. First she started slowing down. Like any creature past its prime, Pyewacket slowly stopped doing normal cat things. She used scratching post less and less. She only went outside to cry to be let back in. She started sleeping all the time. Not that cats are usually playful and overly energetic, but there was a distinction between her youthful sleeping habits and those as she entered her final years.

Next came the howling. We understand that she may have gone deaf or, at least, hard of hearing so to compensate, her meows became howls. This would be fine for a normal healthy cat, but Pyewacket became a finicky old bitch. My bedroom was situated closest to Pyewacket’s food bowl, so I spent most of my high school years being woken up by these howls. If she was hungry, which was around her 6 am, she let me know. She would situate herself right outside my door and cry for an hour before I could motivate myself to get out of bed and feed her. MROW! MROW! MRRRROWWWW!!! became my alarm clock. I never wanted the job of caring for the cat, but she decided it would be my job for those years until the food itself wasn’t enough.

A curious thing about this aging cat was finding teeth throughout the house. I’d run my hand along the back of the couch where she habitually napped, and find a fang or two among the cushions. Soon it was hard to believe she had any teeth left, and apparently she had lost too many to continue to manage hard food. We noticed her food bowl went untouched for days before, I assume, she would endure gumming her food to avoid starvation. My mom ultimately decided to start buying wet food, and Pyewacket ate right up.

Then there was the peeing. In the beginning of her decline, Pyewacket started peeing on soft things. If a blanket or pillow were left on the floor, she would pee on it. She still used her litter box sometimes, but if you left any kind of fabric on the floor, you could expect it to smell like ammonia the next day. Whether she conditioned us to stop leaving things on the floor or she just stopped caring about where she was peeing, she eventually started peeing everywhere. The carpet, the linoleum, sometimes her litter box, but anywhere else was fair game. This was when my anger and hatred grew for her. She would look me square in the eye and pee on the carpet as if to say, “F*** your youth.” I eagerly awaited her death. Every time I found her sleeping especially static, I would check for a pulse only to be disappointed by the sudden up/down of her frail body taking a breath.

The summer before I left for college, I spent most of my time around the house. One day my sister, Kassidy, and I were home, doing nothing and expecting nothing. The landline rang and neither one of us answered. A woman’s voice echoed through the house leaving a voicemail, “Hello this is animal control. We found your kitty on the side of the road…” Kassidy and I met in the living room, realizing the situation. We glanced out the window and saw the animal control truck across the street. I bit my lip trying not to smile.

We approached the truck, and found the woman who had been trying to contact us.

“Hi, you were just leaving a message on our machine?” I asked.

“Hi! Yeah, your number was on her collar. I’m so sorry.” The woman opened the side of the truck.

“Ohhh no,” Kassidy feigned a sad face.

The woman brought a black garbage bag out of the truck and asked if there was some place we wanted it.

“Oh. We have to take it?” I asked, confused as to what would have happened if we hadn’t come outside.

“Yes..” The woman seemed appalled at my willingness to part with this animal.

“I guess you can leave her here on the porch, and we’ll wait for my mom to come home.” The woman gently laid the bagged cadaver on my front porch and left us with her condolences. I called my mom and delivered the bad news. I was shocked when she said she’d leave work on her lunch hour. The cat was still going to be dead when she got home at 4.

My mom pulled in the driveway with a wet face. I had hoped there wouldn’t be any crying. I showed her where the cat laid, baking in the sun. “What happened?” she cried.

“They’re not really sure. I guess she was on the grass across the street, and one of the neighbors called animal control. They didn’t think she got hit by a car. She didn’t look all bloody or anything.” We decided it would be best to put her in a better container until we could give her a proper burial later, so I brought out an empty litter container, in which she should not have fit, but she folded right in it. My mom returned to work.

That afternoon, my brother-in-law Alfredo came over to help us bury Pyewacket. She loved him the most, honestly. He dug a hole, and I brought out a paper bag to contain her more ecologically than the garbage bag. My mom scoffed at the inappropriateness of the Olive Garden bag in which we buried her, and I counter the fact that we could pay for an honorable pet funeral, and she quieted.

“Well, I don’t really believe that pets go to heaven,” my mom delivered a eulogy. “But if they do, I sure hope Alvin is rubbing your back with his foot [My father would do this all the time before he parted]. And I hope you weren’t in any pain. You were a good cat.” She wiped her face, and we took a moment of silence.

The whole situation was bittersweet on my end. I was not sad to see the cat go. I might even say I was glad to be done with her. I was however, disconcerted by the noises that continued throughout my house at night that I had previously attributed to Pyewacket. A thud here, a creak there. Now there was no comforting explanation as to what went bump in the night.

Talking ‘Bout My Generation

In my post about The University of Missouri, I mentioned that I agree to some extent that my generation is overly sensitive or “too coddled,” as many are saying. I wrote then, and stand by my word, that this does not apply to what happened at Mizzou and what continues to happen with racial injustice across campuses and cities around the country. However, I do want to share my thoughts on when it does apply and why I think this is happening.

I guess my first point is the fine line between raging against a longstanding system and being too sensitive. The reason I don’t think Mizzou had to do with sensitivity is because racism has and continues to be a system on which our country operates. That is a fact. It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. When students say, “Hey I’m not going to be a pawn in this system anymore,” they are choosing to stop complying with the mechanics of this system and trying to make a change. When a student says, “This is offensive I don’t want to hear it,” they are being too sensitive. I mean this especially in the case of education. Like if a student says, “I’m not reading Huckleberry Finn because it uses the N-word,” I would say that’s being overly sensitive. That is inhibiting their own education because certain things were more acceptable in that time period. Do you see the difference?

People now are just looking for someone to blame. A lot of fingers are pointing at me and my generation for just being too sensitive and overly coddled. This is funny because last I checked we didn’t raise ourselves. Not to say that parents are to blame either. But we have to look at the timeline of my generation.

We are the participation trophy generation. Since I started t-ball at age 5, I was showed that if I showed up, I would get a trophy. Our coaches (who were often our parents) told us that everyone was good enough no matter how much better or worse you did than the other kids. There was still a prize at the end of the season.

We are the “No Child Left Behind” generation. I had my first standardized test in 3rd grade. As a ten-year-old, I was responsible for determining the funding my school received. Maybe it wasn’t that extreme, but I’m pretty sure I’m not far off. From then on, I was a test score before I was a student.

We are the selfie generation. Yes. Social media has doomed us all. Myspace came out when I was 7. Facebook the year after. So by the time I was old enough to join, I could already have 100 people be my “friend” and pay attention to whatever I wanted to say. In a way, social media is a lot like a participation trophy. Anyone can join, and at least one other person will likely give you a thumbs up just for typing the words, “I farted.”

It’s no wonder we’re soo messed up. We are the first generation that has hardly lived in a time where we couldn’t send a message to millions of people in an instant. We have become dependent on that ability to gain attention without working towards acclamation.

This is not to say my generation is a generation of underachievers. I think we will end up being a generation of amazing overachievers, but we’re not quite there yet. We need to figure out how to use all this power for good. I think we’re starting to do that, every time we post something and say, “Why is no one talking about this?” Every time we use our smartphones to help our parents and grand parents, we’re using that power for good. Every time we post meaningful things online we’re using that power for good.

I think the misuse of that power is a big source of that oversensitivity. If we’re not being praised for insignificant action, we play the victim because it’s an easy way to gain that attention back. I think it’s stupid. I think it’s childish. And too often, it’s not just annoying to other people, it’s inhibiting our own growth. We use these catchphrases we learn online like “politically correct” and “triggering” to describe situations that have nothing to do with such adjectives, and suddenly we’re putting ourselves in a corner because the world is “too offensive.”

Look, friends, it’s easy for me to say it because I have always been tough-skinned (I’m the youngest of 4, I had to be), but grow up. If you feel attacked, don’t cry about it, do something about it. If you feel opposed, form an argument. If you feel like someone doesn’t understand you, try to understand them. We have all our priorities messed up, and this idealistic society we think we’re creating is not going to work. There’s always going to be a hater, but crying in the corner isn’t going to get rid of them.

xoxo,

Kam

 

In Light of Tragedy

Since the news broke yesterday about the attacks on Paris and every post since then, I have been trying to assemble my thoughts into something appropriate to say.

No one denies the horror of what happened in Paris. Some have questioned the media coverage: why aren’t we talking about Lebanon? They had a tragedy too! Why aren’t we talking about Mexico? They had an earthquake!

I just want to say, what happened in the world yesterday was horrible. It was a terrible day for humanity. I am sorry for those lives. I am sorry for those families.

To those of us blessed enough to not be directly affected, let us be silent for a moment. Leave your politics, leave your comparisons, leave your complaints, and be silent.

Media coverage does not ease the loss of life. Hashtags do not make problems go away. No tragedy is greater than another. Tragedy is tragedy. We mourn. We will recover. And I pray to God we can move towards peace.

xoxo

Kam

Is My Generation “Oversensitive” or Tired?

In light of the recent events at Mizzou and other mostly college-based incidents, many people have shared the opinion that my generation (mostly current students) have become overly sensitive and are being coddled with things like “trigger warnings” and the term “hate crimes.”

Now I have long been a defender of freedom of speech. As a writer, and one whose opinions are often somewhat inflammatory, I need the first amendment to support my rights. I would even go so far as to say I am on the fence when it comes to unlimited free speech, which is essentially the concept in question as Mizzou. However, historically the line that has been drawn between things protected by freedom of speech and things not protected has been found in the concept of “clear and present danger.”

Quick history lesson: essentially, your speech cannot be limited by government action unless it involves a clear and present danger, based on the Supreme Court Ruling in Schenck vs. United States in 1919. Basically, you can’t yell “fire” in a movie theatre, unless there is a fire.

What does that have to do with my generation? The argument some are making is that free speech is too limited now because my generation is overly sensitive to things like racial slurs, cultural appropriation, and anything else that “might” be seen as discriminatory. I would agree, in some cases it has gone too far, Mizzou is not one of them. There is a difference between someone claiming or even feeling “offended” and someone feeling threatened.

We get it. You’re tired of hearing about race issues. You’re tired of hearing that black lives matter. You’re tired of someone’s name becoming a hashtag every single week, but let me tell you: people of color ar tired of living in an oppressive society. They are tired of being told that their feelings are not valid because we’re a postmodern society that doesn’t see color. They’re tired of being told that racism ended when every week another name becomes a hashtag. Another group of white students thinks it’s funny to make fun of a people that has been enslaved, marginalized, and outright disrespected in this nation from the minute they were shoved onto a boat. It’s one thing if a white friend says the n-word in a playful way. It’s not okay, but it might not cause much uproar. It is another thing to use the n-word for its original intention- to dehumanize black people. That is what is happening at Mizzou, among other real threats.

We’ve all heard of the old question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Today, social media is the sound. Police brutality, racist fraternities, hate crimes are not new. They have been here forever, but no one was around to tweet about it. My generation seems “oversensitive” because we’re the first generation where every single one of us has a voice online. I don’t have to try to get my name on a newspaper or spoken in the news. I type #ConcernedStudent1950 and hundreds of people see what I’m saying. Issues like this feel so loud now because they’re all around us on every website.

To say that Mizzou students are “oversensitive” is offensive. By saying this, you are contributing to the systematic racism that started the whole thing. It’s your fault. Do not tell them that their feelings are invalid because they are finally saying something about them. If fear is an invalid feeling, let me remind you that George Zimmerman got away with murder based on his “fear.”

xoxo

Kam

The Race Thing

To answer the big question of “what am I?” I am mixed black and white. My father was black and my mother is white, and I am a beautiful caramel macchiato.

This has never really been a problem for me. When I was in first grade a girl asked me if I was adopted when she saw my mom, but that’s been pretty much the extent of my raced-based interactions. I struggle with my hair. People ask “What am I?” and sometimes men approach me with a reluctant, “Hola?” thinking I am Latina.

The quick answer and identity I used for college applications was and always has been black. Partially because I’ve always just kind of felt black, and partially because whatever I am, I am simply not white. However, I realized something this week. I am very white.

No, I wasn’t trying to prove my dance moves. I wasn’t complaining about the food being too spicy. I was actually in a classroom. My writing professor assigned a reading to us about “Black English,” and one teacher’s passion for teaching the cultural dialect as a written language. I could not have felt whiter.

The goal of the piece was to highlight the issues with “Standard English,” and to speak to the injustice done to the black community by not accepting their syntax as “proper.” This did not sit well with me. I was raised to not say “ain’t,” not use double negatives, and to enunciate each word carefully. I’ve spent years drilling the rules of English grammar into my skull, and here this professor seemed to be undoing all my hard work.

I don’t want to address the question of prejudice here. I want to speak more about my own experience and identity that was brought to light from this lesson.

I found myself hating this piece because I was angry that someone was saying my precious rules for grammar were systematically oppressive. Then I was confused because in feeling this anger, was I coming from a place of internalized racism? This begged a larger question, and one I have kind of held in the back of my head since coming to college: am I black enough? There are things I know and things I am not sure about. I know that I stand against racism. I am not sure I am a victim of it.

I know, especially compared to too many other people of color, I have never experienced outright personal racism. But have I internalized it based on the fact that I can’t get down with “Black English?” I know some people would tell me yes. I only hate Black English because the white man has told me to hate Black English. But I think I actually, as a writer, as a rule follower, enjoy conforming to the rules of standard English. Yes, these rules came from a bunch of white men, but so did the Constitution and I do love my freedom of Speech.

I don’t know where my endgame here is. I guess, if you are someone who wants to speak and write in “Black English” I can’t and won’t try to stop you, but I’m not going to use it myself. And I don’t think that makes me any less black. I think it means I was raised differently or come from a different culture. I will respect that it does not make you less educated or less refined, as the piece pointed out, students who tried to switch from Standard English to Black English had trouble conforming to its rules. And even if it was “easy” it would not be invalid.

I guess my point is, don’t make me choose. I cannot choose which race I want to be every day. I don’t think any part of me is strictly based in one-half of my chromosomes. I just don’t want to feel like I’m betraying either one of my races in saying this, so I’m not going to. I’m mixed, and that’s not important because at the end of the day I’m Kamaron no matter what.

xoxo,

Kam

In Defense of the Student Athlete

This is going to get ranty, and it also is going to be somewhat specific to Sarah Lawrence, the college I attend.

For those of you who do not attend SLC, as of 2015, we are a member of the Skyline Conference of NCAA Division III. We currently have 15 men’s and women’s varsity athletic teams, and will be adding women’s basketball to that list next year. Sarah Lawrence is known for its quirkiness, in a nutshell. We were founded as a women’s college, we are now and have been co-ed since 1968, and our men to women ratio holds around 40:60.

Campus climate is changing. I don’t know when it started, as I’ve only been here a year and a half, almost, but very soon after I arrived I was made aware of these changes. There is a common belief that the administration wants to make Sarah Lawrence a more “normalized” college essentially by adding more males to campus. How do we do this? Add sports and science. Duh, because every male ever loves sports and science. I have heard the president herself say this is not true, and whether or not she is speaking in truth can remain in question. However, regardless of the reasons behind the “push” for athletics, the campus climate is very heavily enraged at athletes.

Whether it be due to the gender situation, or the “ideal Sarah Lawrence student” idea, the hatred towards athletes on this campus is clear and visible. I know. I am an athlete. I don’t go a single day without someone complaining about athletics.

I bring this up now because I am fed up. I just sat through a student senate meeting where other school issues were in discussion, and this idea kept popping up that some of these problems would go away if we didn’t become Division III or we stop “pouring money into athletics.” First of all, I cannot find anything on the world wide web that says it costs anything for a school to join the NCAA. So the idea that we spent all this money to join this jock club is at the moment, untrue.

Second of all, our school is broke. No one has money. We have such a small endowment that not a single department is functioning to its best ability. That is a fact. We can’t blame one department for this. You attackers of athletes are making us a scapegoat.

Third, there are no athletic scholarships. Period. The NCAA doesn’t allow it.

To address this idea that Sarah Lawrence athletes are not really Sarah Lawrence students. It kills me that I am being told to prove my worth at this school because I am an athlete. I have not encountered a problem with faculty, but some of my classmates have. So it’s not just the students. I personally must address the students. To quote the Sarah Lawrence website,

“NCAA Division III is designed for small liberal arts colleges—Bard, Skidmore, Wellesley, and Vassar are all members. In Division III, as at Sarah Lawrence, athletes are students first. They’re encouraged to take part in other extracurricular activities, and there are no athletic scholarships or stadiums full of roaring crowds.”

We are students first. We are Sarah Lawrence students first. People are freaking out because now we can recruit athletes to come here. Listen, Sarah Lawrence will always be a self-selecting school. Recruiting is just a way to find Sarah Lawrence students that might also be really talented athletes. Here’s what happens: either a student falls in love with Sarah Lawrence and decides to come here. Cool bonus: they also play a sport and are able to continue playing that sport at SLC (this happened to me, among so many other people). OR: a student is sought out by a coach from Sarah Lawrence. The student is an incredible athlete, but Sarah Lawrence isn’t the fit for them, because, go figure, some people need a college experience outside of athletics. So they don’t come here. Or, they do come here, and they end up regretting their decision because Sarah Lawrence wasn’t the right place for them.

Part of being such a weird school means not everyone is going to like it here. BUT some people are going to like it here and they’re also going to like sports. It’s just how people work. Clearly, some people didn’t watch High School Musical, and learn that it’s okay to be a jock and like theatre or play the cello.

To students against student athletes: we got into the same school as you. We take the same classes as you. We pay the same tuition as you. We abide by the same rules you do AS WELL AS NCAA rules (which aren’t always fun, to be honest). Stop scapegoating. Stop blaming us. STOP HATING.

xoxo

Kam

In Retrospect…

I recently started binge-watching an iconic American tv show from the late 90’s, and I noticed something. First, there are no characters of color. Every once in a while one will pop up in some exoticized fashion, but will never stay for more than an episode. Second, there is only one recurring homosexual character, and he is so minor, he doesn’t even have a plotline. Finally, in one episode a group of transgender women are verbally harassed and called “trannies” and made a spectacle of. And I keep thinking, “How did they get away with this?”

Then I thought about the history class I’m taking this semester. We had a discussion about Christopher Columbus and the horrible genocide he committed and all the atrocities he brought to this land in the name of discovery. My class got into a bit of a heated discussion about whether or not Columbus knew what he was doing was wrong. Slavery was acceptable and normal in those days. And racism wasn’t even a term it was just the brown natives who weren’t really “people.” But we read an account of someone who saw what Columbus was doing and said it was horrific. So arguably, Columbus was capable of seeing his actions as what they were- horrible.

I compare the two events because I want to talk about hindsight. We look back at the past and say “Wow slavery was awful,” and “Man Columbus was a terrible man.” While both of these statements are true, very few people would have agreed with us in 1492. And now watching this 90’s TV show I think, “So whitewashed,” “Ugh so transphobic,” when in reality the creators likely didn’t know any better. The race thing, I mean, they did know better, but it wasn’t as big of a talked-about issue back then. Of course, that doesn’t make it okay, but to my knowledge Viola Davis wasn’t a household name back then.

Either way, my point is: change takes time. I have seen posts on tumblr and places about how terrible 90’s television was because it was homophobic and all white cast. And while I’ll agree it sucks Danny Tanner never made it out of the closet, it was a different time. We should have known better, but we didn’t. We do now. It’s getting better in some areas- TV casting at least a little bit.

Today’s society is changing every minute. It feels like every second there’s a new gender identity I have to recognize or a new social justice issue I have to be sensitive to. I’m not complaining, I just want the victims to know that I’m trying. I can’t speak for everyone because I know there are and always will be people who aren’t willing to change. But for those of us that are trying, give us a break, and help us to learn. I’m gonna make mistakes, I already have. But correct me, and help me learn from it and I’ll know better next time. Acceptance is a learning process, not a permanent engraving on the brain. For those of you not willing to change, try it out. You might like what you find.

xoxo,

Kam