Monday, August 15, 2016

#LOVE4GABBYUSA

If you're anything like me, you know the Olympics mean one thing: GYMNASTICS.

Watching the women's team (because let's be real, I did not care about the men) compete, then running to the biggest space to practice my cartwheels just in case I had to step in for my country, filled my Olympic summers with excitement and fun as a kid.

This year is slightly different, celebrating the Final Five while eating brownies and other sweets is what it has boiled down to people and I am NOT ashamed.

BUT TRUST. I can still do a cartwheel though, try me.

While watching, I was so excited to see Gabby and Aly competing again. Nothing like seeing your old friends... even if technically, they don't know you.

However, in my support of my girls, I've come to realize critiques of the Olympics have become less about performance and dedication, and more about hair.

Whose hair are we talking about exactly?


GABBY'S, OR COURSE.  Because the hair of a black woman seems to be the world's issue.

I recently came across my girl, Leslie's Jones' (and other celebrity) tweets supporting Gabby. As I read about her recent interviews regarding criticism she's received, it broke my heart.

Gabby, in tears, during interviews over her hair. HER HAIR.

She's a 3-times gold medal OLYMPIAN, and she's, through tears, answering questions about her hair.

I'm beside myself with the disgust I'm experiencing.

Mainly because I know where the criticism is coming from.

The same ones who cry out for representation.
The same ones who support #blacklivesmatter
The same one who posses the same beautiful melanin Gabby has.

Her own people. Black women and men.

Don't get me wrong, I know there are other ethnicities talking about her hair. But ya'll know you'd be hard pressed to find anyone talking about someone's edges, that is not a black person.

I'm not going sit here and act like I've never noticed, and critiqued, another black person's hair. Half the time it's me talking about myself too, because I believe in keeping it real with yourself. To be honest, I believe we're programmed that way. We're so worried about our hair, it causes us to notice others.

But I will say this, Gabby's hair, which looked COMPLETELY FINE, has not a single thing to do with her as a person, Olympian, or a black woman.

That's her hair, LET HER LIVE.

We cry out for representation, then berate those who represent us.

Hair is such a big part of our community as black women. And that unfortunately is part of the reason Gabby's hair is getting this attention. But we need to realize, hair is hair. It does not define who we are as a women, no matter what society tries to tell us.

I could shave every inch of my hair off, leaving only a tiny patch at the top, and I would still be the same woman I am now.

Gabby could have her hair anyway she wants to, and she'd still be the same Gabby.

Because my hair doesn't define me, nor does Gabby's define her, or yours, you.

Do not shame her for her texture. Do not shame her for her length. Don't shame her, period.

This year alone I've been told (in regards to my hair) that I look like Harriet Tubman and Whoopi Goldberg.

And you know what I did?  Continued to rock my hair in the same styles because not a single one of my critics could do or manage my beautiful hair. Therefore, their opinions are invalid. Besides, both Harriet and Whoopi are BOSS AF, so thank you, critic.

So, to you Ms. Gabby. You owe not a single person an apology or a tear. You are beautiful. It's been so fun to see you grow from a teenager to a woman. Thank you for representing America and black women so well, and I'm so honored to have cheered you on these past few years. You are an Olympic Queen. And lastly, next time you feel tears coming on, take those beautiful gold medals of yours, walk up to the rude people and bust them upside the head with said medals. Then do all them fancy flips right back home.



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

CALM DOWN!

Those two words.  Ever since I was child, I was told to, "Calm Down!"

Naturally most children are told to calm down. They're adventurous, curious, full of energy, talkative, etc.

I just happened to be that, TIMES TEN.

To give you an accurate picture of the type of child I was, think along the lines of Dennis the Menace, Angelica Pickles, and Junie B. Jones with the sass and leadership of Susie Carmichael.
  • When I was about 3/4, there was a Shamu float at the Martin Luther King Parade. Naturally, baby Asia needed to touch Shamu (who I thought was Free Willy). I snatched from my mother and ran into the parade of vehicle operated floats. 
  •  In first grade, we took a field trip to the San Diego Zoo. While riding the top level of a double-decker bus, young Asia felt the need stand on her seat and reach for the low hanging branches and take a swing... while the bus is in motion.
  • In sixth grade, I had learned some new "words" thanks to my new middle school friends, and MTV. While in class, the substitute had the nerve to tell me to stop talking with my friends. After one too many warnings from him, I decided to share my thoughts, and new words:
         "You know what Mr.____, I'm tired of your bullshit!"

...Shout out to Mrs. Padilla for showing mercy and not telling my mom, who would have literally killed me... and still might.

I've got plenty more stories where that came from, but I digress.

As you can see, "Calm down" is one of many things I deserved to hear growing up. However it came at different times too.

Getting really excited about anything that made me happy, "CALM DOWN."
The energy I get from being around people because I'm 97% extrovert, "CALM DOWN."
My dramatic tendencies, "CALM DOWN."

"CALM DOWN" soon stopped being good advice and became anonymous with "You're too much."

It's something I struggled with for a long time. I tried to repackage myself to be quiet, shy, reserved, just to avoid hearing the phrase and seeing the annoyance on people's face.

I remember thinking, "Why can't I be like Emon (my sister), no one gets annoyed with her!"

Obviously that didn't work, but in the trying, pride and a need to control set in.

If I made everyone see me as the "clown", that would be my shtick. I'd do theater so my behavior was expected. I'd become the fun, crazy leader in youth, so  I'd have a place to behave this way and still be accepted. I'd verbally express interests in things that would explain my behavior, so that when when people think I'm too much or crazy, it would be because of what I surrounded myself with, not because I'm actually crazy and wild.

And if someone still said I was annoying or needed to calm down, I'd masked my hurt with aggressiveness. In college, a kid told me to "calm down", and I literally did not speak to him for months. He probably didn't even notice, but I really showed him, ha.

It's a mess guys, I know. 

It wasn't until I was older that I realized how stupid this was. And it became my mission to never feel that way again, or let anyone I come in contact feel that way.  

And I didn't... for everyone but myself.

Although I am far more comfortable in who I am, and unapologetically so, I still struggle with control and letting my guard down.

Because I was "the clown" for so long, it's hard to be other parts of me. The parts of me that get so emotional about anything relating to children or "coming-of age" moments. The parts of me that are actually interested in adventurous things like skydiving but avoid because I don't have control of the situation. The parts that subconsciously push away an type of mentor for fear that I'll be "too much" for them.

It's crazy that I'm almost 26 and still dealing with this.

Even recently, I had a friend tell me sometimes when I talk to him, he stops listening. Now, I'm mature enough to know that's just a guy/girl thing, but it still triggered that, "Ugh, you're being too much again Asia" and found myself trying to say less.

You're probably thinking, "What does this have to do with anything? Why are you sharing this?"

and to that I say, "BECAUSE I CAN. LET ME LIVE, DANG."

But in all seriousness, I share it because I'm at the point where I have to rid myself of the control and actual let myself live. 

Also because,openly sharing all this makes it harder to hide and avoid growing. And because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that someone else is struggling with the same things and will be comforted to know they're not alone.

Most people see me as this self aware, no-nonsense, attention loving, confident girl, who empowers people to be their true selves, and completely believes in herself.

All of that which I am, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't carry that same old baggage with me.

I've recently been attending a new church, and over the last few weeks God has been relentless in His  pursuit of taking me to another level and chapter of my life.

So, instead of being stubborn in my comfort, I've decided to explore and go with Him.

So if I'm a literal mess for the next couple of weeks, bare with me ya'll, I'm trying to get my life in order.


And if you're dealing with same things, know that regardless if you feel like you're too much, you're not. You're perfect, and whole, and good. If anyone tries to make you feel inferior, slap them. Kidding. Maybe not, I don't care, live your life. I may not know you, but I will always root for the person being 100% themselves,and I root for you. Fully and without conditions.

Less control, more freedom. 
Less tame, more wild.






Monday, June 13, 2016

ORLANDO.

The events that occurred at Pulse are beyond heartbreaking. It saddens me, angers me, causes me to question, "Why?"

Why would someone do this?
Why don't I find myself shocked or scared?
Why are we focusing on guns?
Why are we letting this divide us?

Why would someone do this?
 I've been angry with people in my life. Extremely angry to the point where physically harming someone seemed like a reasonable idea. Obviously not killing, maybe like a punch or two.

But I didn't.

However, regarding the murderer from Sunday, I have a hard time softening my heart toward. Although the shooter's ties with ISIS is not necessarily confirmed, my gut reaction was for America to stop being so passive and take out every single confirmed ISIS member. Let's be real, we have the means to do so, we just won't because it is not "the right thing to do." But why should we do the right thing? They didn't. They didn't care about a single person in that club. They don't care about the 100+ they either harmed or killed.

This was victory to them, and a devastation to us.

I completely understand why someone would do this. They hate us.

Yet as much as my rage burns with malevolence, I could never do or celebrate such a thing. I could never take the life of someone.

I look to the murderer's story. He's not a victim, nor someone who deserves grace, but I see him. Somewhere along the road, someone told him this behavior was okay, acceptable. They told him it is okay to hurt Americans. It is okay to kill for your beliefs. Everything is permissible.

It's hard to do the "right thing" when your "right" is viewed as wrong. That's the thing with culture, when we don't understand it, we label it as wrong... deviant. Being as loud and powerful as we are as Americans, most of the time what we as a nation deem wrong, is seen that way by the masses. How troubling it must be to live in a world who tells you that you're wrong in everyday. It would be enough to snap.

All that being said, I don't remotely feel bad for this killer, but I understand his "why" a bit more.


Why don't I find myself shocked or scared?
When I was in 4th grade, Columbine happened. In 5th grade, Santana High shooting happened. In middle school, a student brought a gun to school to shoot a teacher. In high school, during a riot, it was rumored a gun was shot and we had to go on a several hour lock down. I've attended a funeral of loved ones who were shot. When I was 22, Sandy Hook happened. And just a few weeks ago, A Trump rally caused my college campus to go on lock down because of rioting and possible gun play.

I was an RA on campus this past year. During the lock down, a man knocked on my quad door. I did not recognize him as our campus police. Although our campus shares a parking lot with the police department, he was not in uniform. For the first time in my life, I was actually scared that I would be the victim of a shooting. Out of fear, I almost didn't open to the door, but figured if this man was going to hurt someone, I'd be willing to be the one sacrificed if it meant my floor, or others weren't.

I share that, not to toot my own horn, there's no way in hell I wanted to get shot. I share it because that was the first time I actually felt scared of a gun hurting me.

Up until that moment, I had not known how desensitized I'd become to guns and mass shootings. When students were freaking out during the lock down, I was annoyed by their fear. For some reason my mind was in a "This happens all the time." How have we gone from "I can't believe this happened" to "There was another shooting," as you talk over breakfast and go about your day.

Instead of being shocked and sad, I feel like I have to be on the defense and proactive. Readers, I'll admit to you, I've stereotyped people as looking like a "school shooter" and made sure to have familiarity with them. One, because, if my friendship could stop them from heading down that road, then so be it. But also because, if a shooting happened, maybe I'd survive because I was nice to them.

It's incredibly sad that I, and other students think this way.

This should not be the norm.


Why are we focusing on guns?
This is the question I keep hearing. "WHY ARE WE FOCUSING ON GUN CONTROL?"

The same reason parents blame the teacher for their children not doing well in school.

The same reason girls are told to change because their clothing is distracting.

The same reason people say "All Live Matter" whenever they hear "Black Lives Matter".

The same reason a female victim of rape is asked about the level of her intoxication while on trial against her attacker.

Because it's easy. Because it looks like we're addressing the issue. Because dealing with our demons is uncomfortable.

Guns did not kill and harm 100+ people, the shooter did. Gun control definitely needs to be addressed, but it shouldn't be our main focus.Our LGBT brothers and sisters were attacked and taken from us, BY ONE OF US.

We suffered an attack from within and we're focused on the weapon. Pathetic.

Why are we letting this divide us?
Somehow, the killing of our brothers and sisters has turned into a sexuality/religion debate.

Muslims are being verbally attacked because the shooter was of Middle Eastern decent.
LGBT are being told they deserved this because of their sexuality.
Christians are being attacked because of a few loud idiots that identify with us.

I could care less about any religion, sexual preference, or nationality. Innocent people were killed. How dare you say someone deserved this. How dare you say blame an entire group for a portion of it's followers. How dare you make this about you.

When Pulse was attacked, we were attacked.

The best way to take down an enemy is to cause division and make them turn on themselves.

Whoever, or whatever caused Saturday night's shooting will continue to win the longer we turn on each other.

Guys, we have to come together and stop. There seemed to be more unity and concern in the country over the loss of Harambe, a gorilla, than the lives of innocent people.

We literally have it so backwards.





Blacks in the streets.
Children in the schools.
Christians in the churches.
Gays in the gay clubs.
Women in clinics.

If you think for a second that these people groups and locations are coincidence, you need to wake up. We have to do better. Remove our labels, stereotypes, biases, judgements, and love. Love like it was your family or friends in any of those locations. Love like you'd want to receive love.

And I'm not talking about about just throwing money at the situation. We have to change culture.

Culture that says, "I can treat you differently, because you are different."

I don't know what that looks like yet, but we have to do it.


Obviously, me ranting won't change a things. I just needed to get it off my chest. But I'm serious guys, we need a change, and we need it soon.
 
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