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Bad Stuff That's Happened to You = Expensive Lessons You've Already Paid For

Most people start feeling bad for themselves when something goes wrong in their life. The way I see it, something going wrong is an expensive lesson I already paid for - might as well take it.

A few years ago, I was doing squats in the gym with bad form and a fairly large amount of weight. I had two plates on each side and the bar... that's 4x45 + 35 lbs if I remember correctly = 205 lbs. That was fine, I had legs like tree trunks back then. But I had slightly bad form - when you do squats, you're supposed to push your ass backwards, not bend your knees forwards. Slight difference, but it wears on the cartilage.

One day my right leg started to buckle. I was in a power rack, and what you're supposed to do is drop the weight. But y'know, you don't necessarily think about that when your leg starts to buckle. So I threw all the weight onto my other leg and pushed up hard to re-rack the bar. Ripped some of the cartilage in my knee. Rehab, massive amounts of anti-inflammatories, and I have to stretch 5-10 minutes each day or my leg starts to hurt. Doctor said knees never fully heal, so it'll cause problems on and off forever. Ouch, kind of a bad thing to have happen in your 20's.

Last year, I was doing some Krav Maga. We were doing dry run drills of where you'd aim if you were hitting the other guy. These were common, but my shadow sparring partner was a little bit too macho and going really hard and fast and pretty close to me. Whish A fast elbow uppercut, almost connecting. Whish. Close again. But I didn't want to speak up, y'know, we're training martial arts here, not being soft.

Whis- cr-CRRACK!

Traveling While Black

On Imported Blog

I grew up in the Southern region of the United States. Contrary to popular perception, race was not a pervasive part of my Southern childhood. In fact, I never really thought much about it until I left for college. I attended Louisiana State University, a predominantly white institution in Baton Rouge, where I was often the only black face in the classroom. It never bothered me, in fact, I liked it. I’ve always hated being one of many or following the crowd, and being the sole representative for black people gave me a unique voice and perspective no one could deny, and that they certainly found interesting. But the “sole black face” phenomenon became exponentially obvious when I began traveling overseas to places where people had never even seen a black person in real life.

Besides the fact that I'm black with natural hair (often worn in braids, twists, or a big "Foxy Brown" 'fro), I'm also 6'2", taller than the average woman in almost any country, including my own. This combination of physical features puts me squarely in the sights of most locals, particularly in Asia. I've had people point and stare, then elbow their family or friends sharply so they could point and stare, too. I've had people follow me into stores, dogging my every step to get a closer look, all but tripping and falling over themselves when I mischievously and quickly turned around as if to physically say "Gotcha!" I've had people come up and talk to me, openly curious and anxious to practice their limited English with a native American, but shocked and pleased when I was at least able to say "Hello" or "Thank You" or "Good-Bye" to them in their own language.

I've had people directly ask to take my photo, and caught many a person indirectly taking it when they thought I wasn't looking or paying attention. Once engaged with me, I've had people extend an arm and compare their skin color to my skin color, or extend a leg to compare my longer, thicker, "meatier" legs to their often shorter, skinnier ones. I've had people point at my hair and reach out to touch a wisp of it, wildly curious about its design and texture. I've had young teen-age girls titter and giggle with nervous excitement as they asked me questions about my hair, and my background, and my life, then we all giggled together as they massacred my American name, and I annihilated their Chinese ones. I've had people hug me, kiss me, try to interest me in a clandestine affair, and even try to set me up on a date with their son. And once I've engaged with one person, the flood gates literally open as others see I'm receptive to a photo opportunity or in-depth conversation.

And through all the engagements and interactions around the world, rarely have I ever been bothered or annoyed by any of it. Logically speaking, if the locals have never seen a black person in real life before, then obviously they will be quite curious...and looking for ways to address their curiosities -- a perfect scenario for a friendly and sociable person such as myself, who can strike up a conversation with anyone and who makes friends everywhere. The part I love most about these connections? Helping the locals see that while we may have different skin colors, hair textures, and other physical differences, deep down inside (where it counts), we're more alike than we are different.

Because you see, to me, racism, prejudices, and stereotypes have a strong root in perception, in beliefs that are largely perpetuated by the media, but typically have no basis in fact. And these beliefs will maintain their stronghold...until presented with physical evidence to the contrary. For example, a local may believe the stereotype that all black people are violent or just interested in what they can get or take...until faced with a tall, friendly, smiling black woman with wild hair who is interested in nothing more than making a connection, and then that stereotype must be reassessed in light of this new knowledge.

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