“Giving Thanks Day…”

  When I was younger, I thought the holidays were the most annoying part of the year. I dreaded Thanksgiving and Christmas like I dreaded a fast approaching bed time (even though I’m pretty sure my mother was speeding up the hour hand). When I was in an elementary school, Thanksgiving was all about making turkeys & pilgrim hats out of construction paper, and singing cheesy off cue songs about being friendly to our “fellow man.” I continuously heard ridiculous stories about  Native Americans being called “Indians”,  the Pilgrims  trying to teach the “Indians” how to be “civilized”, and that the “Indians” felt sorry for the Pilgrims because they didn’t know about agriculture and gardening. I was humiliated through Nativity plays where I disgraced the Native American population with paint markings on my face, a feather in my hair, and speaking as if the Native Americas never developed any motor skills. OMG! It was BEYOND AWFUL!  I thought Squanto was the poster child for the whole “Indian” race. I don’t even want to reveal how I thought he got his name…(did I mention that I was 8?) When someone asked me “Imani, what are you thankful for?”, I would usually reply that I was thankful for all my toys, my television, my friends, and getting to stay up later to watch all the holiday t.v. specials that came on Friday and Saturday nights. I thought Thanksgiving was about getting my family together to eventually stuff our faces, and actually talk about other family member in a negative light. Not quite the stories I had heard sitting on that “magical carpet” just last Friday.

  

 When I think of Thanksgiving now, I think the name should be changed to “Giving Thanks Day.” If I didn’t know Thanksgiving was a holiday, I would think someone was talking too quickly and just jumbled their words together. While the holiday presents a blurred image of what really happened on that auspicious day, the message is still clear: coming together and being thankful for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon our path. “Giving Thanks Day” should be a day of servicing a community, helping a homeless shelter, visiting a senior citizen home, and of course having a dinner with close loved ones and friends. While the activities mentioned should be done not just on “Giving Thanks Day” or any other holiday, it should advertised and promoted on t.v. and in the schools. On “Giving Thanks Day,” I’m thankful for the strong health of my relatives young and old, my friends who stand by me through thick and thin, for my career, and most of all, my spiritual healing. My spiritual growth in finding out my purpose on this earth. I’m thankful that I never try to miss an opportunity to make someone laugh, or smile, just have a good time. I think history is an essential party of any holiday. Here I some facts and myths about Thanksgiving (if you still want to call it that) that I think are imperative for growth and persepctive of how we see and interact with new cultures and races. Hope the truth isn’t too eye opening, and do have a VERY HAPPY GIVING THANKS DAY!

MYTH: Thanksgiving started when the Pilgrims and Native Ameircans, actually called the Wompanog tribe, ate together in 1621.

FACT: It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

MYTH: The pilgrims were kind, open, and helpful people that welcomed the Indians.

FACT: The pilgrims were an orthodox religious group who left England to practice their own beliefs. They were judgemental, critical, overbearing, and cautious of the Indians, if not ready to shoot first and ask questions later. 

 Fact or Fiction: Turkey contains an amino acid that makes you sleepy.

Fact. Turkey does contain the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is a natural sedative, but so do a lot of other foods, including chicken, beef, pork, beans and cheese. Though many people believe turkey’s tryptophan content is what makes many people feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal, it is more likely the combination of fats and carbohydrates most people eat with the turkey, as well as the large amount of food (not to mention alcohol, in some cases) consumed, that makes most people feel like following their meal up with a nap.

Sleep, where are thou? A Satire Love story

Dear Sleep,

I have a bone to pick with you. I have recently noticed that you have left my side these last couple of weeks, with no note saying where you went and when you will be coming back. Did I do something to upset you? Are you angry with me? I remember that particular day when we got into that heated argument. You wanted me to go to bed, I had work that had to be done, you told me that I barely see you. You told me that I’m always working and that you were sick of my excuses. I told you that the work wasn’t going to get done by itself, and then we made up and went to bed. I thought everything was fine, but I get the sneaking suspicion that you deceived me. You only let me think everything was fine by getting those minimal hours with you, but in actuality, you were planning your revenge.

I just want to say, I love you sleep. I need you in my life. I’m a wreck without you. I think about you night and day, with no comfort knowing you’re not near. I miss how you used to put my mind at ease, make me feel relaxed, and how I would wake up feeling refreshed and energized. I honestly don’t know how I make it through my days. Getting up takes so much effort! I have to have a serious mental powow with myself, just to convince my legs to swing from underneath the covers. I turn on every single light in my room, blast the music, and try to get dressed with all my clothes facing forward. I try to pay attention in class, but your running through my thoughts. Sometimes I want to lay down somewhere, anywhere. Maybe you will be there. I tried to call you, but you never pick up or return my calls. I can’t believe how childish your being. We’ve been together for 24 years now, and even though you left my side during those crucial years in college, I forgave you. I let you come back with open arms, and this is the thanks I get?

Sometimes I think you’re trying to make me jealous. I watch commercials seeing you with other people. Yeah, you think I’m not watching, well I am! You used to be that way with me. If you don’t want to be with me, why can’t you just say so. You don’t have to get all famous and stuck up like you weren’t with me FIRST! I know right around the holidays, you’ll come back. Yeah I said it, they always come back, you included!

Sincerely, not bitter, or tired, or paranoid

Imani

Limitations: Mind tricks for Mental Conditioning

Did you ever have a moment when you thought your life would never be the same? Okay, I know what you’re thinking, but stay with me. I didn’t get struck by lightning, or have a near death experience, or even witness something of the paranormal. I witnessed the power of human being overcoming  challenges I take for granted every day. To be honest, every hour. When I look at all the physical activity I do in one day…I’m like an athlete in training.  Does anyone ever really take an account how hard it is to get up the stairs? Not to mention if it’s more than one flight, or one without a railing. You say there’s  an elevator, but if there’s a fire, the stairs are your best bet. What about our hands? I remember doing those elementary hand finger paintings and thinking “why I’m painting with my hands? Is this just another way that I can guilt my parents to put my ridiculous art work on the refrigerator? “ Probably, but I digress. The point is, I never really took an account what it means to have two hands (ten fingers) or two legs (feet 2, with the ten toes of course). I never thought that buy a simple flick of the wrist…I could open doors, write, shake hands, type, do sports, anything. Practically, no boundaries, at least, no physical ones….

The only people that I’ve witnessed who were physically challenged were in a wheelchair, or in a chair where they needed a remote for motor skills. They were paralyzed from the neck down. Seeing someone completely dependent on a machine or a person….I start to wonder….the cards that were dealt…if they had any clue what the “dealer” would throw at them….and now..how do you make a losing hand, a winning one? Ok, forgive the metaphors…but I love a vivid picture.

 I’ve never met anyone with no hands or legs. Wow..I wonder how ignorant or just plain sad that sounds…but all true I assure you. I wish I was exposed to more people who were born different than me, or face physical challenges, or even have a different perspective than myself. Well, I met Brett Eastburn, so I guess that’s a start on my wish list.

Brett Eastburn came to CCBC Essex for a lecture on being different. I always try to approach anything I hear with an open mind….or at least try to clean out all the necessary crap in my mind. Funny enough, I met Brett before I even knew who he was. I was coming in through the door, and this guy looked like he was having some trouble. He didn’t have any arms or legs, but I didn’t really notice at the time. It’s strange…we notice what we want to. I didn’t even look to see how he was going to open the door, but it didn’t really matter. I was going to go open it, but he said he “had it” like it was an everyday, no big deal.  I knew that I was hosting a program for Disabilities…but I thought the speaker had no disabilities…but was going to inform us about them. Genius I know. Come to find out, Brett was the speaker who would open my mind to limitless possibilities.

Handicap. That’s the one word Brett spoke about that resonated more than anything else. I see the signs every time I enter a bathroom, or when I enter a parking spot. Handicap- physical or mental disability making participation in certain of the usual activities of daily living more difficult. That’s what Brett asked people when we saw him. He asked the audience their definition of “handicap.” Then, he said something, I wasn’t quite ready for…he wasn’t handicap. He participated in all sports. Basketball and wrestling, and he was quite well at both. He demonstrated how to throw a football, and even a basketball. My jaw dropped! It dropped more, because I kind of “throw like a girl” big time.  This guy has no hands, or arms and threw it close to an NFL player. This time, I’m not exaggerating at all! You honestly had to be there to believe it!

His speech had an amazing message, and also a simple one. We’re all going to face obstacles and challenges in this life. Some will be born with them, others will find them on the path to success or clarity. The point is, no one is really “handicap”. It’s all in OUR MIND! Let our mind be the motivating force to break through limitations. Let them make us strong mentally and hopefully physcially. Limitations are like “bullies” who just need to be shown who’s boss. Let our minds learn to be conditioned to face hard times, and I take courage in the strength that obstacles are actually good for us.

Sweet,Sour, and Bitter: The Fair Trade Truth

The SWEET:   

I love chocolate. When I was younger, I was promised I could get a whole candy bar to myself if I finished my dinner. I can see eyebrows give me the skeptical look when I said “whole” but I was usually only allowed a four pices. I know, what a travesty! A whole candy bar to myself was comparable to a longer bed time, watching a show with a PG -13 rating, or even a spontaneous sleep over from a classmate.  My parents were forward thinkers in making the candy bar last all week. All I could see was the chocolatey sweet ambrosia coming into a mouth of uber joy.  Hershey’s (dark chocolate, milk chocolate), Reese’s (peanut butter), M&M’s (peanut butter, nuts) Nestle’s, Kit Kat’s and variety of other chocolate bars were household names to me. I knew how these savory treats were sweet to me, but I never at what cost. On Tuesday October 12th, in the barn on the Catonsville campus, I learned that the familiar brand that kept my chocolate safe for eating was came from  orphaned children, cruel slave masters, unlawful child labor.

The SOUR:

No school, no parents, no friends, no money, only cocoa. Seven days a week, from dusk till dawn, young boys (between the ages of 6-13) in remote parts of the Ivory Coast (Cote D’voire),  are climbing trees with machetes, and chopping off cocoa beans.  Child workers labor for long, punishing hours,  facing frequent exposure to dangerous pesticides as they travel great distances in the grueling heat. Some have been taken from the family, others have been sold by their parents into the cocoa trade to make money that never makes it back home.  A stranger chaperones the children throughout the day. They rarely get fed, suffer frequent beatings and other cruel treatment. Cote d’Ivoire’s child laborers are robbed not only of their freedom but of the right to a basic education. In a country where more than half the population is illiterate, basic education takes on an even more critical significance for Cote d’Ivoire’s future. “I used to go to school,” said Marc Yao Kwame, who works with his brother Fabrice on a remote farm. “But my father has no-one to work on the farm, so he took me out of school.” In 2001, under pressure from the US Congress, the chocolate manufacturers promised to start eradicating forced child labour. They failed to meet an initial deadline of 2005, were given until 2008.

The BITTER

                        

I’ve never heard of Fair Trade products until that day at the barn on the Catonsville campus. Never even knew there was a system actually called “Fair Trade” that worked in the equality of its workers and safety of young children. I think its ridiculous how all the companies that are out to promite well being, profits for under privledged countries are barely on the radar. I vaguely remember seeing Fair Trade products at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or some other speciality market. If you shop thee and buy Fair Trade, kudos, honestly.  This Halloween, before you go out to your nearest Walmart or pharmacy for name brand candy and chocolate that has been around for years, take a second and think about what if it was your young brother or sister, son or daughter, working through their childhood all for a piece of candy. A piece of candy that doesn’t last more than 5 min, which it took at least 3-5 hours to get ready for processing.

Fair Trade means an equitable and fair partnership between global marketers and producers in Asia, Africa, Latin America and other parts of the world. A fair trade partnership works to provide low-income artisans and farmers with a living wage for their work.

Why Fair Trade?

Our consumer spending choices affect people’s lives around the world. The products we enjoy are often made in conditions that harm workers, communities and the environment. But increasingly consumers are demanding more humane, more environmentally sensitive products.

In today’s world economy, where profits rule and small-scale producers are left out of the bargaining process, farmers, craft producers, and other workers are often left without resources or hope for their future. Fair Trade helps exploited producers escape from this cycle and gives them a way to maintain their traditional lifestyles with dignity.

What Fair Trade Products are Available?

Fair Trade encompasses a range of goods, from agricultural products from the global South like coffee, chocolate, tea, and bananas, to handcrafts like clothing, household items, and decorative arts.

For more information, please visit these websites: http://www.globalexchangestore.org/Articles.asp?ID=135

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6517695.stm

or watch these INFORMATIVE VIDEOS:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwHJFvvlC5U

I’m not Dr. Phil….

Dating. Just hearing the word makes my head spin. There’s just no easy way to get around have feelings for someone, and wanting to spend the majority if not ALL of your time with that person. Whether its girl likes guy and vice versa, or girl likes girl, or boy likes boy, having feelings while attending an institution is difficult. It’s even more difficult when students are nosy, like to stare, and eventually gossip. Nobody wants their private life to be public news. I have personally been in about two long distance relationships and one local relationship while being enrolled in school.  The lessons that I’ve learned are priceless, and would like to share some of them. Since this is a blog, this is only my opinion. I claim no expertise in being a “relationship guru” or having all the answers for you’re dating/relationship woes.  I can only volunteer the knowledge I have acquired over the years (which is a lot if I do say so myself) and hope my lessons, advice, and tips are helpful. If there are any “blogees” who like to add to the list, you are more than welcome. Tips go for both girls and guys. It’s 2010!

DO meet new people. After class, if you can, linger around a little bit. Sit on a bench on campus and politely approach someone and ask them about classes.  Ask about what high school they attended and what’s there major. Tell them you’re new and just trying to get a feel for the school. If approaching people one-on-one isn’t your style, then join a club or organization you might be interested. Talk to some classmates and see what they like to do. Expand your address book.

Don’t exchange personal information right away.  People change. Sometimes for the better, or sometimes for the worse. For whatever reason that person does change you want to be able to end amicably with them. You both are attending the same school. Try to exchange e-mails or websites, but not numbers. Wait to you really get to know the person, and then decide if you want to hear from that person regularly.

Do attend events on campus with someone your interested in. Dates are expensive. Movies, popcorn, soda, not to mention the gas it takes to get there. If you’re already on campus, invite that person to come to an event with you. Most of the time, the event is free and that person is already on campus. Student Life has a plethora of events that constantly appear on numerous CCBC campuses. Check the home page, Student Life on Facebook, or even stop by the office to get a calendar.  A great way to bond with someone is to find a connection with them.  Switch up the events with each person can share their interests or hobby.

DO let a friend, roommate, or family member know where you are. Your young adolescents, which really means you’re almost adults, we get it, but your still students. NEVER go ANYWHERE with anybody without letting someone know. Of course no one is thinking you’re going out with a psycho (this goes for girls & guys) but you want to be prepared for the worst.  Try to keep the first couple of dates in the daytime in an open area.  If you happen to go out a night, let your roommate, friend, or family member know who you’re going out with and a possible time you might be home. I know it sounds immature to check in with someone, but people care about you. Your someone’s daughter, son, brother, sister, niece, or nephew. You belong to someone, so have some consideration that person is only looking out for your best interest.

DO let your friends meet who you always been sneaking out to see. I know your friends are loud, crude, and sometimes embarrassing, but there your friends. Underneath it all, they really do care, for the most part (just kidding). Again, it’s just a safety precaution that your friends know who you’re seeing. Friends can be an excellent judge of character. They will know if that person is good for you, or if they get an uneasy feeling. I’m not saying that you should completely ignore your own judgment about someone that you like, just take your friend’s advice into consideration. I read someone where that our friends are an extension of who you are, a say “extension” lightly.

Don’t let your relationship consume you. I know you two are in love and nobody understands. All you can think about is that person. When you’re going to see them, when you’re are going to be with them, what you two are finally going to say when that magical moment happens. I get it, but understand that you’re still at school to gain an education and receive a degree to be independent. Your homework, classes, tests/quizzes come first. There’s not a lot of job opportunities for people with no education. No education mostly means no careers or any availability for jobs. Be in love, date, but know that your school is your 1st and main priority. Schedule dates on the weekends. Leave your weekdays open for homework and studying. Don’t be afraid to say “NO” when it comes to neglecting your work. You should want to be with someone who wants you to do well.

Do understand that nobody is perfect. Dating really does come down to chance, luck, and maybe fate. You might find someone right for you, you may not. Try to keep an open mind and not stereotype guys or girls as being ALL ALIKE. Everyone is uniquely different in what they can bring to the table. Realize that if you get into an argument with someone you’re not dating, it’s not the END OF THE WORLD. It’s good to disagree with someone. Challenge that other person, but don’t assume that that person should see everything your way. Nobody is perfect.

Hope my tips were helpful.