How Are You Spending Your Time…in a Global Pandemic?

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Written By Aspen, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

This week many of us are wrapping up our ninth week of social and physical distancing and as several states reopen to jumpstart their economies, Miss Rona has made it clear that her world tour is still in full swing. For me, this week has been rather enlightening as I think about how to respond to the many uncertainties of life moving forward as medical professionals tell us one thing and then our state and federal government officials tell us something completely different. Zoom happy hours have lost their allure and drinking isn’t even fun anymore. I miss sitting on the couch geeking out about Twitter posts and outlandish Facebook videos but with my friends because it’s a completely different experience with other people compared to when I am alone. As I scroll through social media with this in mind, I constantly see “Roc Nation Brunch Twitter” telling me that if I am not starting a business right now I am not utilizing my time appropriately. This is coupled with my Instagram Explore page being filled with HIIT workouts that can be done with the aid of my couch in order to avoid the “Quarantine 15”.

Now to say that something about this doesn’t sit quite right with me doesn’t mean that I lack ambition or don’t care about my health. But I think it speaks the larger pervasive question of people constantly asking one another how they are spending their time. More importantly, they are judging others for not participating in these things when there are people dying in the world because we are literally in a pandemic. Now I don’t know about you all but this is certainly the first time I’ve ever experienced in my life so I really just set a personal standard of taking it day by day because who knows what tomorrow will bring. So to clarify, I applaud those of you with a more futuristic thinking pattern than me and I think now more than ever we need to celebrate the diversity in responses and be understanding rather than placing judgment on one another. 

At the same time, I think we need to be realistic with one another. There are 168 hours in any given week: before COVID-19, during, and although I’m not Raven Baxter I think this will also stand after we get a vaccine. Much like before, we are currently managing our time in a way that best works for our individual situations. For me, this looks like spending 40ish hours of my week working my 9-5 job because I clearly enjoy a world of chaos that includes crossing one thing off of my to-do list just to add two more (JK—in all seriousness I really enjoy my job so I don’t mind taking on extra responsibilities even if it means spending a little extra time here and there). So that leaves me with just under 120 hours. Well, a girl needs her rest so knock off 70 of those hours, and then we are working with 50 hours. 

I’ve found myself rather unmotivated during these past few weeks, perhaps because my workspace and my comfort zone (my apartment) have become one. Or maybe because the many students and coworkers that keep me laughing and energized I have not seen for over two months now and with them left my inspiration to write or craft (Facetime and Zoom just aren’t the same as in-person interactions and this is coming from an introvert). I find myself taking walks on this big, beautiful yet empty campus and engaging in yoga/stretching in order to move my body. Admittedly, the idea of “the Quarantine 15” did eat away at my brain for a hot a second at the beginning of this all but then I had to remember who I truly am (y’all really had me in the first half smh). I wasn’t doing intensive workouts before and I am not going to start for the sole reason that I am afraid of my body changing in response to a completely new experience. So I’ve found ways to continue to move my body but in a way that I enjoy and that relieves more stress for me than it causes such as if I’m worried I’m not doing an exercise right and then becoming hyper-aware on my shortcomings and/or get frustrated and give up. I’ve also found myself finding time to catch up on television and Oscar-winning movies that I have yet to see (I highly recommend watching Parasite if you have not yet – it’s available on Hulu right now!) and rediscovered the joy in cooking and the experiments that come with it. 

So, I guess that I say all of this to re-center myself and anyone reading this as we continue on in this uncertain hellscape. Even if things do start to reopen we do not actually know the outcome of a re-ignited economy with a deadly virus on the loose simultaneously (spoiler alert: it’s not looking good y’all). So as we are bored in the house and in the house bored, I remind you all to stay true to who you are. If you have talents that you want to sell then, by all means, do that (start and OnlyFans or Etsy shop!) but if you lack the energy or creativity needed to do that right now then that is ok too. If you are missing the gym and want to move your body in ways that you previously did by finding modified home versions then please explore those opportunities. But don’t feel like you need to start these habits now based on a fear of gaining weight (which speaks to a larger issue of fatphobia and the structural negative attitude and even violence towards large bodies — but I’ll save that conversation for a later date) if that is not something you felt compelled to do before all of this. In summary: Just be you and be great at that! 

P.S. I promise my next post won’t be about this pandemic y’all!

Aspen, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Am I a Witch?

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Written By Cash, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Do you know what I was thinking about the other day? I’m 30 years old – single, no kids, happy and personally successful and 300 years ago I would have been called a witch.

Now I know what you’re thinking – what? Girl, you are silly! Indubitably! You are correct. Yet, what’s also silly is the fact that so many different societies, cultures, and people I know personally would think that a woman, and depending on who you talk to especially a black woman, who is 30 years old without children, a spouse or significant other, couldn’t truly be happy just as she is right now and would be striving for “more”. And I don’t mean spots of happiness, I mean moment-to-moment comfort and contentment with just living as she is. I mean, seriously, less than 100 years ago it’s a high possibility that I would have been deemed insane and might have been convicted to a hospital for hysteria. All jokes! But, let me break this down.

I’ll start by saying this: I honor motherhood SO DEEPLY. I am always in awe of the strength, capacity, love, respect, and space that mothers create. I think they are the definition of what a true goddess looks like. Motherhood is sacred and I’d be honored to hold that title one day if by some divine reason it came to be. And in that same breath, I can absolutely see myself living a full life without being one. I don’t feel a yearning or a pulling toward being a mother. Right now at 30 years old, I also don’t see myself wanting to open that door in my journey anytime soon…maybe ever. It’s not about being selfish or a want to continue traveling the world aimlessly. It’s literally because I don’t want to. Period. But when trying to explain that I actually don’t need an explanation for just saying “no thank you” to this part of life, I am met with the most awkward conversations and confusing looks. Many people don’t really understand how I couldn’t have any drive to want to procreate, especially at this stage in my life. It baffles them. They can see how some circumstances would have prevented it up until this point, but in the long run, you HAVE to want kids, right? And that brings me to my next point…

Now, I have friends that feel as if they don’t want to have children at this point in their lives because they are waiting on a spouse or life-partner. A lot of close friends have either waited or want to wait to have children until after they feel settled with another individual. This again, I honor so deeply. I believe in love and I do really feel that there are people out there who make really compatible, strong, foundational matches. But, hear me out…what if that never happens to me either? Would it be crazy to tell you that I’m okay with that? I’m really fine right where I am. I’m happy waking up in the exact spot that I’ve made it to in my journey and pushing to make it to the next. There is no heavy longing in me for companionship on that level either and being single actually suites me quite nicely. What if this was it? Is that so odd? Such a thing so far out of the norm that people would believe that there’s something wrong with me?

I’m saying all of this, out loud, on this blog, because I wonder how many other women out there might feel similar or the same and haven’t said this out loud themselves yet. How many women feel totally secure, happy, healthy, living their best lives, might not want a partner, might not want children, but have been told by everything they watch, hear, and see that they should feel another way? Seriously – Is it at all possible that someone else out there who said this to themselves 30 years ago is now 60 and sitting on the porch of their wooded cabin, wine in hand, sitting with their two dogs at the lake reminiscing on how wonderful of a life they’ve lived? I mean, really, is it that insane to think about?

I don’t know what the future holds for me. I have no idea whether a year from now I would have found my life-partner and changed my mind about having children. I don’t know what the next step in my journey holds. But, I do know that for now there is power in verbalizing happiness with where you are today. There is authenticity in being okay with being okay – you don’t need anything else. There is bravery in saying “no, I don’t think I will conform to that societal ideal”. There is growth in looking back at your upbringing and home environment and noticing patterns that might not actually fit your way of life. And, there’s peace in changing your mind down the road! We don’t have to be one thing to be happy. We can be all of those things or nothing. We can be a mother and a wife, and we can be a life partner to ourselves only. Both are perfect, fulfilling lives. 

So, if you are reading this and there is any of it that resonated with you here is my charge: Sit with your life. Look at yourself.

I mean really look at yourself. Are you happy? GOOD

The real glow up is when you stop waiting to turn into some perfect version of yourself & consciously enjoy being who you are in the present – Anonymous

Cash, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Fear of Success

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Written By Mesha, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

I struggled with what I wanted to write about this month.  I recently turned 30, it’s a freaking pandemic, and what we know as life has been flipped upside down. Before all of this, I created a vision of how I wanted my life to be and of all the things I wanted to do. And my heart kept pushing me to write about my bi-polar relationship with success.   I drafted (let’s say a) memo to myself over a year ago. The memo pushed me on the days I wanted to keep on going, but the fear that usually leads me to jump into something headfirst became fear that left me unmoved and paralyzed. I wanted to share it with you all today as we can all take pieces of my self-motivation talk. 

Admittedly, parts of our fear now aren’t about success necessarily, and it may be more about survival during the times that we are living in.  I still find value in what I told myself a year ago… maybe we shouldn’t book that flight quite yet, but we should always find value in our lives and shape our narratives as best as we can.  We are LIVING at home.  If anything, social distancing has taught me is the world doesn’t want to stop, so we must continue to evolve. We must continue to remember ourselves.  We must keep going. I hope you all enjoy the message below!

Hypothetically, we all want to make it, right? Whatever that means to us, we all want to either make a lot of money or enough to be comfortable, be happy, and have some purpose in life.

So, to make it, we chase our dreams and strategically make moves in life that align with our goals to get us where we want to be. I feel that there are times where we know that we can be successful, and we choose not to be out of fear.

Fear of success is real. The fear of actually making it is real. Because once you make it, expectations that you have for yourself changes in addition to the expectations that others have of you. You essentially leveled up, and you KNOW it would be a detriment to go backward in life, and sometimes, you can’t go back to that comfortable place.

The fear of success is worse than the fear of failure because with the fear of success, you know you can do it. But the change of it all is terrifying because it consists of a path you haven’t walked yet.

 One of my friends and I had a series of conversations back to back about our goals. My goals were geared toward my business plans. I wish to execute one day, and hers was about the possibility of a job change. At the core of what both of us vented to another was the fear of it working. Knowing that what’s comfortable would be shifted, all the “what-if’s” occurred. A legit concern that I had that makes absolutely no sense as I type it is, “what if it becomes too much and I can’t have my side hustle and my job?” The goal is to work for yourself! Or at least mine is at some point in my life.

We scare and intimidate ourselves with doubt of accomplishing our goals and miss out on incredible opportunities to make our dreams come true. The fear of success can be paralyzing. 

Taking life by the horns and going for it can be scary, but it is all worth it. So apply for that job, start that business, go to the gym, eat something you always wanted but haven’t tried, book that flight, sis! Whatever your heart desires, …do not paralyze your future with fears.

COVID may have us paralyzed now, the fires in our bellies must not die.  For those of you like me with business dreams, HP, General Motors, Burger King, Microsoft, CNN, EA Games, Uber, Venmo, Groupon, and Airbnb were all birthed out of recessions.  Again, I get it… right now is a little bit different, but if I relied on this inspiration a lot during our social distancing, so I figured it could inspire others too.  Whatever you decide to do, whether that starts a revolution, a business, a book, or cutting a person out of your life, I get that it can all be scary, but making the first step is all worth it.

Mesha, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Carpe Diem @ Home

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Written By Vica, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Let me first start by saying that everyone’s quarantine experience is different. Some are at home alone, with a partner, with children, or with friends. Different environments cause for different approaches. This blog will be written from my own personal experience with self-isolation.

It’s okay to just chill.

Please don’t think that you have to achieve a said amount of goals every day of every week that we’re stuck at home. This mentality is unrealistic and can harm one’s mental health. Understand that it’s okay to have days when you just lay in bed binge-watching your favorite show or on Insta or TikTok. These days are just as important as the days spent “doing things”.

Set a schedule.

As much as I love laying in bed, we can’t succumb to that desire every single day. Nothing will get done! Start by listing your goals for the week and then proceed to plan out each day. I love a good color-coded planner. I like to do this the night before with ambient music playing. It’s the perfect way for me to relax! 

Adhere to it.

Making sure you’re being responsible and achieving the tasks you’ve listed is key to thriving in this era of self-isolation. Set your alarms, get up on time, and get your day started. I would be lying if I said I do this without fail. But trying is half the battle!

Reward yourself for a day/week well spent.

As humans living in Western society, statistics prove that we seek praise. If we accomplish a task and don’t receive any recognition, it’s unlikely we’ll go out of our way to achieve anything. That’s not to say we must rely on accolades as that’s a problem in and of itself. All I’m saying is if you take the time to acknowledge and appreciate your hard work, you’ll be more inclined to keep up the good work!

A Little Work a Little Play.

Balance is everything. We can’t have one thing without the other. Too much work leads to stress. Too many FaceTime calls take away time spent on quality work. Allot time for both so you can get done what you need to get done and still have time for socialization. Humans need interaction so make sure to say hello to your friends!

Make a new friend.

This one can be a bit tricky especially since we’re not at liberty to roam around outside. The beauty of the technological age we live in is that we can connect with someone on the other side of the world in a matter of seconds. Personally, I found a pen pal! I first stumbled across her Instagram a few weeks ago as her page caught my interest. She lives in the English Countryside with her family and travels all across Europe giving travel tours. One day in her story she put up a poll asking her followers if they would be interested in a pen pal program. Naturally, I said yes and we’ve already exchanged letters (via email cause I’m not about to risk contamination lol)! 

Last but not least, try your hardest not to give in to impulse purchases! I know it’s difficult because it’s like “What else can we do!?” But trust me, you and your pockets will thank you in the long run! Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”

 

Vica, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Insecure S4, Ep. 1: Friendships and Plus Sized Men

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*Spoilers ahead, language, and my first time writing about sex – which shouldn’t even be a thing to be nervous about but hey…*

After two lonngggggg years, Issa Rae’s hit HBO show, Insecure, is finally back. And this season, Issa blessed us with 10 episodes. I. AM. READY. Do you hear me? What a perfect time for it to be back during the quarantine none of us were expecting.

I was ready for the bomb fashion each character possesses, the beautiful way the camera captures every character’s shade of Black skin, THE SOUNDTRACK, and the laughs and emotions that the show always brings me. I relate to many of the characters on the show. I see the Issa, Molly, Kelly, Tiffany, Chad, and Lawrence in me on very different occasions. I told my best friend a couple weeks ago that Insecure is the only show on TV (it used to be Insecure and Power until Power wrapped up) that is truly for the culture. It is so unapologetically, millennial Black…probably the reason I like it so much. Many of the scenarios that play out on the show are adaptations of some of our real lives. The show highlights friendships, career, emotional and sexual relationships, and if you watch with a close eye, it’s also political in some ways. 

The season 4 premiere this past Sunday night covered a plethora of topics. I had to rewatch it to really set the basis for this blog post. Many of the topics intrigued me but I see it best to talk about two of them in this post and how they connect with me or others. 

Friendships:

As a semi-thriving, 30-year-old woman, I value the deep connections I have with each of my best friends and my extended friends (extended friends – my real friends outside of my best friends). Friendship is what sustains me daily and what has gotten me through a number of good and bad times in my life. So, of course, the friendship stories in Insecure are ones that resonate with me the most [the second is the character’s relationships with men].  But, yes, as I was saying, if there’s one thing Insecure does well, it’s the friendship storyline among all of the main female identifying characters. 

In every season, we’ve seen conflict and overtly petty things happen between each of the women characters. Season one, we saw just how deep into the “petty bitch” abyss each character could go. For example, Molly told Issa about her experiences with men and sex. Issa goes to an open mic at a bar and sings “Broken Pussy” in honor of Molly, humiliating her in the middle of the bar.  AND someone recorded Issa and put it on the internet. Let’s not forget about the hot tub scene when Issa, Molly, Tiffany, and Kelly all go on a weekend getaway and all four of the women threw all the shade they were born with at each other. It was wild as hell. 

From then on we would see small jabs they all would throw at each other. 

[My favorite one was during the coachella episode when Issa was talking about how something didn’t make sense. Mind you, Issa didn’t have a job at the time. And Kelly says to Issa “You know what else don’t make sense (cents)?….or dollars?…..You”. ]

I say all that to say that we’ve seen many instances where these women should probably stop hanging around each other or they need to just not be friends anymore. They’re lowkey kind of toxic. Molly and Issa are absolutely toxic for each other. When one of them goes low, the other one can cut even lower. We saw no different in this last season. Before season 3 ended, Molly and Issa got into it after Issa’s “situationship” with Nathan came to a halt after he ghosted her. He showed up on Issa’s 30th birthday and Molly stopped him from going to see Issa. When Issa got mad, she started saying some hurtful things to Molly which made Molly fire right back. 

The season 4 premiere opened with Issa on the phone with someone. Issa said to the person “I just don’t fuck with Molly no more” but then the show moves on to I think a few months prior to that. It shows Molly going to Issa’s apartment for Yoga. They were seemingly back to their old selves after the blow up on the season 3 finale. but you could see a bit of the awkwardness when they were in the clothing store together. After Molly found out that Issa was going to try to stay friends/work with Condola after finding out Condola was dating Lawrence, Molly immediately told Issa that her life “don’t have to be this messy” and that she’s “beginning to think she likes that shit”. Molly has a way of taking her frustrations out [in a negative way] on Issa when she is upset about something going on with her. Before this conversation, Molly just found out that guy she was dating, was dating other people. 

I think that Molly and Issa need to call it quits. I think their friendship is at a good enough stopping point to where they won’t have any ill feelings towards the other because they mutually know they need to let each other go. I tried to think about how my friends would have communicated their disappointment in me. I know for sure they would never approach me the way Molly and Issa approach each other. My friends don’t sugar coat their feedback but they know how to deliver it in a way that doesn’t cut you down as a person. Molly and Issa seem to continue to cut into each other all of the time. I’m rooting for their Black woman friendship, but I also know when it’s time to let a friend go. I’ve had to let many friends go over the years. Most of it was due to the fact that we were on completely different life paths. Maybe Molly and Issa need to go down that “Road Not Taken” (shout out to Robert Frost for this poem) and see what else is out there outside of their friendship.

Another point I’d like to make is that it is absolutely okay for you to be friends with your exes new boo in certain situations. For Issa and Condola, they had a prior relationship with each other before Lawrence came into Condola’s life. I think they both made it awkward by letting the situation be awkward. Clearly Issa and Lawrence are done. I don’t see Issa trying to get back with Lawrence either. There are healthy friendships and relationships out there. If everyone has a mutual understanding and can conduct themselves as adults, I think it’s fine. Condola was a huge part of Issa’s new success and it would suck it see it fully wither away because Molly doesn’t think they should be friends or because both Issa and Condola aren’t mature enough to not let Lawrence get in between them.

Plus Sized Men:

“Welcome to a full sized nigga”. – TSA agent on Insecure (I feel bad for forgetting his name).

As I mentioned earlier, the writers of Insecure perfectly shape the relationships between the men and the women on the show be it sexually, romantically, or friendly. Last season, Issa was distraught that the connection between her and Nathan had suddenly stopped when he ghosted her for over a month. When he returned, he told Issa about his mental health issues. At the start of season 4, Nathan is nowhere to be found. 

We do, however, see a scene where Issa is having sex with a plus sized man, who we later find out is a TSA agent. Now, I haven’t seen many shows that truly showcase a sex scene of that capacity with a plus sized man. I’m sure there are some out there but what I’m saying is, I haven’t seen many. The one I recall is the movie Notorious. And again, Notorious is a movie, not a show. Anyway, the scene begins with Issa and Mr. TSA having sex from the back and Issa is clearly not enjoying herself. She expresses her displeasure and they try something else. She again expressed her displeasure and they then moved to the missionary position where Issa was no longer experiencing displeasure. The scene changes to TSA getting dressed and he and Issa were having a very funny exchange. 

I bring up the man’s body size for a few reasons. The first, as I mentioned before, we don’t see many bigger men in mainstream media be centered in that way. Society has a way of feeding us images of men and women who are seemingly “in shape” and it gets ingrained into our subconscious. Once we see those images over and over, anything outside of that is kinda like wtf? Not going to lie, when I saw Issa and him, I definitely said “wtf” for a quick second and then I checked my bias and said “I’m glad Insecure is being body inclusive”. The diversity advocate in me was rooting for the representation. We need to start normalizing all body types in these types of sex scenes because plus sized people also have sex and enjoy having sex. And there’s people out there who enjoy sex with them. Our society desexualizes (is this a word?) plus sized people too much.

The second reason why I mentioned his body size is because Issa absolutely looked very uncomfortable while they were having sex. I’ve had conversations with women who prefer bigger men and women who do not and their thought processes are on two different ends of the spectrum. Issa didn’t seem to enjoy it until he was on top of her. I thought about the times I was uncomfortable during sex with a plus sized man. My one of my exes is plus sized and my other ex gained a lot of weight while we were together. I remembered how sometimes I felt uncomfortable during sex from the sweat, or the other restrictions that came up, and their unwillingness to try to eat right or workout. It got to the point where towards the end of one of those relationships, I wasn’t sexually attracted to him anymore and we weren’t really having sex (probably why he cheated lol). But, how do you express that nicely? Especially because I used to be way bigger than I am now so I know what it’s like to not be seen as desirable. But I also saw my health at risk and needed to do something about it. So, while I am all about representation and ensuring all people have a right to feel loved and beautiful, I also recognize people have preferences and that’s okay.

Next, Issa and TSA guy seem to have a mutual understanding that their relationship is strictly based on sex. However, when Issa had him working the door at her block party, I started to question if Issa was using him. It’s one thing to just have someone slide over for a quick little razzle dazzle, but then to have him working the door at your event…and then did not ask him to come into the event and mingle. A little shady to me, Issa. But go off! If he was Nathan or someone else, I’m sure he would not have been working the door. Don’t try to hide the fact that you are sleeping with a plus sized person. Don’t keep them in the dark on the back burner. It’s not right to do.

The last thing that doesn’t have to do with body size but I believe is relevant here, was Issa being able to express her displeasure. Often times, women are afraid to tell a man during sex that she isn’t feeling it. I’m one of those women. I’ve never told anyone I’ve been with that I wasn’t enjoying what we were doing. I never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings because the male ego is so fragile. So, when Issa was telling him she didn’t like it, I was sitting on the couch talking to the TV like, “Issa, I’m so proud of you for standing up for yourself”. Lol. Seriously, though. I’ve told a couple of my girls this before and they all told me “girl, you better say something”. It’s also like, I don’t think I’ve been with anyone actually interested in satisfying me or a woman in general. It’s always been about them. I’m to the point now that if I do have sex with someone, there has to be conversation beforehand and a mutual understanding that this just aint about you. 

Insecure is my favorite show on TV at the moment and I am excited to see how the rest of this season plays out. I encourage you to watch closely to the characters and see how they relate to parts of your life. 

❤ Queen T

Preparing for a Very Different Future

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Written By Aspen, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

It’s the first full week of April and I’ve somehow successfully managed to avoid shopping in a store since March 13th. Today, I had to break my streak to grab a few grocery items and chose to go to Target because it was close and certainly serves as a one stop shop. Now, despite my time away from in-person store interactions, I was not naive to the long lines and the empty shelves. I came prepared with my homemade bandana mask (which wasn’t as successful as the Twitter videos made it seem) and my latex gloves ready to take on any crowds and hopefully any germs. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the way that everyone was reacting to one another.

There’s an omnipresent feeling of fear that filled the air throughout my Target experience starting as soon as I parked my car. The store opened at 8 am and I arrived at 8:05 am, hoping to get in and out quickly. Three other cars arrived at roughly the same time as me and we were each careful to park at least a space apart from one another even if it meant walking further (and I always usually look for the closest spot!). I took a deep breath, made a quick alteration to my DIY mask to better secure it, put on my gloves, and got out of the car. One of the other customers who also just arrived was several feet ahead of me. Given that we were going to the same place, I maintained a safe following distance yet he still kept turning around to look at me as if to measure and confirm that I was six or more feet away from him. In the store, it was a very similar dynamic as we avoided aisles until others have left them. A Target employee restocking the shelves even flinched when I reached to grab something on the other side of the aisle from them. In the comfort of my home (with the exception of nature walks), I am somewhat shielded from the one thing that is bringing us together in these times of physical distance, genuine fear for our lives.

Having gotten the items that I needed that were in stock, I quickly paid and returned to my car. Once there, I of course wiped everything down with Clorox wipes and then took a deep breath. If I’m being quite honest that breath scared me because I suddenly thought about all of the ways that I could have possibly contracted COVID-19 in that short public adventure. I then got sad as I thought about those Target employees and the thousands of other essential employees who are working hard to clean the self checkout machine and the carts for my convenience, despite the fact that they are constantly on the front line of exposure. My next thought was that I can’t wait for the day when this is all over and that really got me thinking. 

The truth of the matter is that things will have to be different after. Those of us who have the privilege to telework often joke about a better future where meetings can be emails and companies will be more understanding of a work from home option. But in my observations, the changes will be much more extensive. We hear on the news everyday about the impact that this has on our economy but there is no discussion surrounding the impact on the mental and physical health of those in our society. Our bodies and minds are riddled with fear and anxiety as we are constantly made aware of the rising number of cases, the increasing death toll, and the new state legislature that continues to get stricter and stricter in a much needed effort to save lives. But in 21 days I have grown somewhat afraid of the outside world. I can’t even imagine what will happen in 50 days or even 100. 

So, what do we do and where do we go from here? I don’t know. But now that I’m conscious of the fear that is constantly sitting at the forefront of this global catastrophe I’m hoping I can use that to get ahead. I’m hoping to use some of what seems like endless time at home to re-center myself in an attempt to lessen my emotional reaction in days to come and in the aftermath. This way, I can hopefully be there for those around me who perhaps weren’t given the chance to do that throughout all of this.

Aspen, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Dear World…

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Written By Cash., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Dear World…I don’t have the words…

 

Dear World,

I don’t have the words.

I don’t have the strength.

I don’t have the resources or the experience.

I am not equipped for this.

I am struggling.

Yet, I find myself struggling for a different reason than 

Most. I look into the world and I see 

Pain. Fear. Confusion.

And, my job is to hold all of that. All of it.

All of the time.

I am supposed to be the one who is all knowing.

Who sees, and hears, and feels, and fixes.

Yet I can not fix this and deep down, I know I don’t want to.

Today, I just want to be another human

Experiencing life and letting life take a hold of me.

Today, I just want to wake-up and know I don’t have 

Any control. And, with that knowledge to live,

Effortlessly. Today, I am begging for release from 

The need for me to be anything besides who I am.

I don’t want to watch the news, or hold a hand.

I don’t want to hear the silent screams of those who

Need to feel affirmed in their belief that everything 

Will fall apart. Today, I just want to sit. Today, I just want to be.

Because, today I don’t have the words, or the strength,

Or the resources. I just have my silence.

I have my own strength. 

I have the ability to just be. 

And, today that has to be enough. 

Love, 

A Public Administration Worker

A Health Care Provider

A Service Industry Worker

A Counselor

A Practitioner

A Human

Cash, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

A New Normal

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Written By Vica., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

We must do what we can to protect the interest of public health. 

COVID-19, a virus that has sent the world into a frenzy and flipped everything upside down. Life as we know it will change forever, and I’m not even trying to over exaggerate. Gas prices are down to $1.96 a gallon, restaurants, bars, schools, hotels, and almost every other place where large numbers of people congregate have been shut down until further notice. Graduation has been canceled/postponed for High Schools and Universities all across the nation. For many seniors students, this means that they won’t have the much-anticipated celebration they’ve worked so hard for. Even though it’s a tough time for all of us, we must do what we can to protect the interest of public health. 

Still, we must all identify, address, and share our feelings to maintain our mental health as well. That’s the beauty of the era we live in now. Not even 20 years ago, if this would have happened, we wouldn’t have the hundreds of outlets to utilize to connect with one another. I count myself extremely fortunate to have access to online video chats, text messaging, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. I am able to connect with friends that live a few states away and family that lives across the equator.

Not to mention the other platforms for entertainment. I’m sure streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have seen a soar in profit due to everyone being at home. Personally, I’ve started 3 new shows already and it hasn’t even been a week since self-isolation has started! (I probably need to chill before I run out of programs to watch).

Apart from working remotely from home for my on-campus job (which I am so grateful for the option to continue to work), I find that I am returning to do the things that I used to before starting college. Growing up, my mother put me in a compendium of activities to give me not only to hone in my talents,  but also to provide me with many outlets to choose from when I needed to decompress. For example, the tactile arts. A few weeks ago, I dried some flowers and leaves but completely forgot about them because of all the schoolwork I had to do. Just last night, I used them to decorate my journal. I’ve also taken this time to rediscover my love for photography as well. One would be surprised at how many things in the home there are to get creative with. 

Being at home for an extended amount of time is a breeding ground for innovation. I implore everyone to try something new. Maybe read that book you’ve always wanted to but never had the time. Practice meditation, do at-home workouts, draw/ write your feelings, reconnect with your loved ones. Below is a list of other ways you can make this time a little less monotonous. 

* Side note, if you do choose to go out, make sure to support your local business! They are struggling without corporate funds. Tip a little extra (if you can), and treat others with the same amount of kindness and respect you would give to the person you love the most. 

How to Pass the Time

  • Deep clean your home
  • Reorganize/ change the setup of your home
  • Start to learn a new language (Mandarin and Spanish are some of the most commonly used in the international setting. German is also the business language of Europe.)
  • Connect (virtually) with a friend or a family member.
  • Journal; years from now it’ll be a way this time will be remembered.
  • Find new recipes and make them! 
  • Take a breath outside, if possible. Even though we must practice social distancing, it’s important to get your Vitamin D and fresh air!
  • Keep up with school/work (Even though our schedules have been extremely modified, don’t slack. It’s important to keep some kind of routine.)
  • Lastly, practice self-love. Whether that’s painting your nails, have a spa night, or watching your favorite movie, pay extra attention to yourself!

Vica, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

A Modern Love Story

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Written By Aspen., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

The time has finally come! Next week marks 10 months since I’ve moved back to my home state and started a new chapter in my life. It’s been almost a year since I pursued a romantic relationship and almost four years since I was in a serious long-term relationship. Over the years, I’ve had little interest in investing the time and energy that I felt would be required of me to be a good partner to someone else. Grad school served as a fantastic distraction as I was far too busy with work and class to even worry about dating. But now I’ve found myself with slightly more free time and a mild quarter life crisis since turning twenty-five that has left me curious about dipping my feet back into the dating world. 

Now, the last real relationship that I was in began in high school. I’ve quickly learned that it was far easier to meet people in both high school and college than it is as an adult. So, I’ve decided to join the wave of dating apps. Now, I’ve also been the type of girl to dream of a fairytale relationship. Perhaps we would meet on an airplane or run into each other on the sidewalk on the way to our respective jobs. The kind of scenario where they knock the hot tea out of my hand and the in the midst of an apology we lock eyes and from there history is made. As I get older and older, the chance of this seems less and less likely. Out of necessity, I’ve decided to get on board with the times and pursue an online love story instead. 

Throughout this journey, I’ve enlisted the help of two of my best friends who are currently or were previously well-seasoned when it comes to dating apps. I’ve created accounts on Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble and the experience has been stressful to say the least. It certainly is fun to swipe left and right based on the people but in the back of my mind, I struggle with the idea that it’s all fake! I see the success stories but I constantly wonder if that could ever be me. As is usually the case for me, I’ve taken a lot of time to sit in my discomfort surrounding the dating app process and have determined that my most developed romantic relationships were heavily built on strong emotional connections fairly early on in our interactions. And that’s precisely what my dating app experience has been missing so far. But I’m not giving up just yet! 

My friends said that I just need to get to the next level. They brought up the good point that I need to put in the work to utilize these apps as a starting point for one day reaching these in-depth emotional conversations —- even if it means starting off with petty small talk. In an effort to challenge myself I’ve decided to give it a try. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity for me to get more comfortable with the idea of reaching out to people, being honest about what I want, and taking realistic steps to get it. 

In grad school, I made it my mission to do something every week that scares me. As I navigate this quarter-life crisis, I’m bringing this mindset back as a means of forced challenge and change in my life. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t work out there’s always casting for season 2 of Love Is Blind, right? My students are already setting up my future stan accounts.

Aspen ., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

“I’m so Ugly”: A Black Girl’s Nightmare

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“The most disrespected person in America, is the Black woman.” – Malcolm X.

A common theme of the blog posts I write, is my ability to share vulnerable and personal experiences that I’ve had in my life. Last time I wrote about being a dark skinned Black girl, it was a letter to myself addressing the trauma being dark skinned has caused me throughout my life (I posted it on an external blog and I can’t remember where it is at this time).

Reminiscing on that trauma happens often when I think about how my niece sees herself as a dark skinned girl. She goes out in the summertime in jeans and long sleeve shirts or talks about how she doesn’t want to be in the sun too long because she doesn’t want to get darker. But as a 30-year-old woman, I’ve accepted my dark skin as an integral part of my identity. I love the way my skin makes colors like yellow and lime green dance in the sunlight. Diving into communities of other Black folx in my transition into adulthood in college made me love being dark skinned even more. It made me see Blackness differently.

But last week, a viral video of a beautiful, little, dark skinned, Black girl getting her locs retwisted surfaced. In the video, the little girl, Ariyonna, calls herself ugly and her hair stylist immediately stops and tells her not to say things like that. The stylist immediately began to tell Ariyonna how beautiful she is. Ariyonna started to cry and as did I. I felt every inch of that pain and that emotional turmoil that I felt most of my life growing up. I, too, felt ugly as a Black girl. 

I hated going to school and the kids I went to school with, reminded me daily that I was ugly and undesirable. Some names I was called were so harsh that to this day, I still can’t bring myself to say out loud or type. That sense of humiliation finds a way to creep back up. 

While I cried for Ariyonna’s pain, my pain, and the pain of other dark skinned girls, I also cried out of anger. I was angry that in 2020, someone probably told little Ariyonna that she was ugly. I was angry that in 2020, we still don’t see ourselves represented in mainstream media. We have the Lupitas and the Viola Davises here and there but beauty is still being defined by a Kardashian/Jenner (who spend all their money to make themselves look Black) or a Black couple of T.V. that has a dark skinned man with a light skinned woman. Taking in all of these unconscious messages can tell our subconscious that we aren’t beautiful or can tell us that we are not deserving of love. Hell, I even had a Black man tell me one day that he “normally doesn’t entertain Black women” but for me, he would “make an exception”. Finally, I was angry that in 2020, I still felt the sting. I thought I healed from it all. I thought I forgave the people who said anything horrible about me in the past. But I still feel it. Reflecting on all this now, reminded me that I felt it months ago when folx on social media said Ari Lennox looked like a “dog”. 

Colorism and the experiences of being a Black woman in general have been part of our history since slavery. Societal standards of beauty and privilege go beyond the borders of America and extend into every facet of the human experience on every continent and in every country. We’ve been socialized to believe that white people and lighter skinned people are the superior beings and we must all look that way to be beautiful. As much as I try to debunk this ideology, it continues to be the norm in our culture. Social media has given internet thugs and shitty people access to be shitty people to others they don’t even know. Psychologically, it takes a toll on our mental well-being. We hear statements from Black men like “I want to have mixed babies…” “I prefer white women/Latinx women so my kids can have ‘good’ hair…” while beautiful Black women are pushed to the side and ignored.

But no more. Begin speaking LIFE into your Black women and young Black girls. We experience some of the most horrendous attacks on our looks and our character than anyone. No one can me that they’ve experienced worse situations than Black women. We are expected to accept that we aren’t beautiful as fact and we carry this with us internally. For me, it’s been a constant struggle but I recognize the beauty I possess. I see the beauty in my niece and other Ariyonnas around the world. Black girl. Black woman. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

❤ Queen T