Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Thoughts.

I'm not actually sure where to put this, since I don't really use my blog anymore. But a few thoughts this holiday season:


I sit here on Thanksgiving happy to have the time to finally catch up on life, family, friends, and of course a little sleep. Yet, I can't help but be distracted.

After an unexpected conversation with a couple of classmates on our individual relationship with race over the years, I have been unable to get my mind off of the topic. Thanks Robbie​ + Eugene​ for that haha.

I sit here watching the news, and it's once again the same narrative which seems to forever be on repeat. And I suddenly realize why I hate watching the news.

It is such an infuriating thing to see the way in which racial minorities are often portrayed in the media. Not just in the US, but in most societies, minorities are portrayed as the disgruntled runts of society: lacking intelligence, lacking values, lacking integrity, lacking a moral compass.

Rarely given the benefit of the doubt; Often guilty until proven innocent.

But what is the solution? What does one do?

I characterize it as the Martin v. Malcolm dilemma. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't."

By making a scene, you are being hypersensitive to race. You are that volatile ticking time bomb that no one wants to be around.

Furthermore, if you act aggressively (Malcolm X) you are just reinforcing the stereotype, yet if you behave passively (MLK) then you are often dismissed or ignored. Ironically, I have to ask if either side of MLK v. Malcolm X would have achieved any progress without the other? (But, that is a debate for another time.)

For me, the solution has been to stay neutral and do nothing. I have taken on a persona of HYPO-sensitivity: racially ignorant, racially unaware. Often viewed as the exception to the norm. Often able to fly under the radar. Often able to assimilate into any group.

I find myself in a holding pattern. Waiting for the war to be over, such that I can avoid the battle unscathed. No one wants to be a martyr. At least, I personally do not want a life defined by martyrdom.

And that's where privilege truly has made a difference in my life; and where privilege truly makes a difference between a majority and underrepresented minority group.

I just want to live MY life. But, in order to do so, I constantly face a great amount of guilt and - at times - self-disgust in tolerating and often ignoring the issues which affect and bring down my loved ones on a daily basis.

Coming home for Thanksgiving, I received the usual set of disappointing updates. Recent incarcerations, recent unemployment, recent homelessness, it seems like these stories plagued even the most fortunate in my family and community.

A consequence of our race? Of course not exclusively. If that were the case, this would be my story as well. BUT, when I reflect on my own experience with growing up an African American male in this country and the role that race has played in every aspect of my life, it is clear that race has played a huge role in each of their lives as well - in a way that is perhaps more common.

My cards were dealt in a way that allowed me succeed.

My mom happens to be the toughest person in the world: a role model, a ruthless protector, an unfaltering enforcer, and a best friend for me at the times when I needed it most. Moreover, I have been able to take full advantage of the positive aspects of my race, leveraging both my learned and natural traits to get into good schools, get good jobs, and achieve many of the far-reaching goals set by my family growing up.

BUT should I pat myself on the back for this? Not at all. To be honest, I put myself in the shoes of my family members, friends, and others, and I could EASILY be in their shoes. If put between a rock and hard place, I could EASILY be one of the stories that you see on television. And this is what saddens and angers me most when people downplay or disregard grievances of minorities in this country. Or when I turn on the news and see certain minorities portrayed as conniving, deceiving, value-less, or inhuman - regardless of what they are doing. It's infuriating.

I may not be the type to protest or to make a scene about issues of race. I may not have been the president of my NSBE organization in undergrad, or even an active member of any Black Students organizations on campus. I may be guilty of taking advantage of or downplaying my own frustrations and issues with race in order to be seen as 'approachable' by my peers and those that I work with. But I do not view this as a positive, and I encourage my friends - minority and majority alike - to do the same. I would classify my choice as my own selfishness and cowardice deciding to not take a stand or be a martyr for issues which truly do impact me on a daily basis. In choosing to prioritize my own future life and career over that of others, I continue to ignore issues associated with race. I continue to shamefully disassociate myself from the issues faced by my relatives and friends. I continue to disappoint myself - time and time again.

And what saddens me most? The irony that my cowardice and selfishness with respect to my race has been at the core of my success, while those who are courageous continue to be martyrs for the cause - only to be publicly mocked and ridiculed, and even demonized by some.

It's a sad reality - not just about America, but about humanity in general. This isn't just seen with African Americans or Latinos in America. I see numerous parallels across many underrepresented groups of people forced to live as minorities within a majority - groups of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation around the would - forced to either act or assimilate.

Caught between a rock and a hard place.

I know this post might be seen as random, but I sit here on Thanksgiving unable to enjoy my time off - yet also unable to be productive - as these thoughts continue to distract and bug me.

I doubt I'm the only one to feel this way; but if so, I encourage everyone to take a second to stop and think about their own relationship with the issues going on today - both in the US and around the world. The elephant in the room is tired of hiding; in fact, he's practically sitting right on top of the dining table crushing the potatoes and the turkey.

Friday, July 11, 2014

"Free" - Rudimental

I've noticed that as life becomes increasingly more exciting and many things start happening, I find it harder and harder to blog regularly. I can't really catch up at this point on everything that's happened over the past 7 months - but most importantly I continue to stay reminded of my goals as I exit "young adulthood" and become a full-fledged adult.

Forever continuing on a path towards a stronger Mind, Body, and Soul.

Embracing my blessings; Striving to create more.

Remembering the most important thing of all:


Ask me what I did with my life.
I spent it with you.

Life. Is. Beautiful.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Reborn: New Beginnings

So maybe you've noticed, but it's been 9 months since my last blog. Though this was half purposeful, half the result of being my usual level of busy.

I decided to really kick into gear for the months leading up to my "re-birth" of sorts. I like to think of my time spent in Boston as comparable to a caterpillar consuming and growing as much as possible until it's finally time to enter the cocoon and emerge as something even bigger, even better than before. 

And as the year comes to a close, I am happy to say that it was all a success. :D


"Be still my heart cause it's freaking out... it's freaking out... right now..."

I will do my usual recap of the year and announcement of 2014 goals in the coming days. But I am happy to be back to blogger! <3 p="">

Friday, March 29, 2013

Don't You Worry, Child.

So although my last post was a good read, I guess it didn't really count as a blog entry.

Although tests and such have been long over, life has remained fairly hectic in preparations for the next stages - which currently are kicking off with applying to grad schools this September.

This spring, I have decided to take it all on full force. One last 'hoorah'. I've been taking two online classes - a Statistics and Global Poverty class - as well as dancing for two teams, something I haven't done in ages. I have begin coordinating the volunteering I'd like to do at PaneraCares, as well as this local Homeless Youth Program. And finally, I have continued to pack on the weekend plans as if I have zero obligations; see: DC, NYC, two weeks in Asia, Miami for Ultra Music Festival [RIP.SHM] But I chose to wait for a reason. I'm going to take my time, and I'm going to do it right. It makes me pretty excited.

I do have to say that falling in love with my life all over again has seemed to have an affect on me - one which I cannot characterize as positive or negative, simply a change of demeanor.

But I must move forward.

Even though it's getting warmer out.

Even though all I want to do is chew a pack of gum, close my eyes, and bob my head to recordings of Ultra 2013.

It's my 25th birthday soon. (OMG) And I cannot let myself lose sight of the prize.

I cannot be distracted.

Don't you worry, don't you worry child...
See heaven's got a plan for you.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Learning to Love through Osmosis

The blog post below - from Though Catalog - was simply too applicable to not be shared:

"I used to drink coffee every morning, but now I drink tea. I feel I am very much a coffee person in spirit — in the same way that I am a dog person, maybe — but I have always been drawn to tea people. They have surrounded me in life and warmed me to the more nuanced, quiet pleasures of all the different teas there are to try. My best friend loves English Breakfast, my sister loves Earl Grey, my boyfriend loves Lapsang Souchong. Now, after years of turning up my nose and pouring myself another espresso, I love all of them. (Except Earl Grey, because bergamot tickles my throat.)

There is something beautiful about learning to love through osmosis. We fall in love with people throughout our lives and, by extension, learn to love what they love. Everything that they are interested in, everything they touch, is suddenly rendered fascinating and alluring in a way it had never been before. We learn entire languages, memorize whole recipe books, join a fandom of a show we’d never previously heard of — we become enamored with the things they have chosen to love in life.

We date someone who loves to dance. And they leave our life one day, but we dance for the rest of our lives. Was that not a gift — if not from them, then from the universe?

Everything is waiting to be discovered, to be fallen in love with. People we see day in, day out, for years on end are endlessly complex. There is so much about them we will never have time to learn, and so much they can give us just by gracing us with their presence. We are all privileged to see these bits and pieces of the rich inner lives we can never fully express, and to take something along with us and make it part of ourselves is akin to planting a seed and allowing it to grow in new, fertile soil. They taught me how to love tea, and one day, I will have tried a thousand kinds.

When we say that we want love, we often forget just how much of it we have. A friend recently told me, 'I don’t know what I want to do with my life — I feel like everything is on full volume, and I can’t just listen to one song.' She is right. There is too much to do, too much to learn, too much to see. There are so many things left to love, so many things which are waiting to be discovered by our hand, things we will never reach out and touch. But it is important to think about all of the things we have today, all of the love which has already found us.

I will never learn how to skateboard, I don’t think. But if tomorrow I fell in love with someone who did — if a close friend or lover took me by the hand and showed me everything they know about it, because they are only too excited to share — I would try. And maybe I would grow to love skateboarding as if I had been born rolling down a hill.

We are looking for this, all of us. All the time. We want to find these things and for them to fill our lives with a fresh, new kind of joy. We want to feel that burst of life, that feeling of  'everything is possible and there is so much I have not yet seen.' We want the love that we create in life to reach out in a thousand directions, to touch a million things we have not yet considered. We want to learn to drink tea because someone showed us how wonderful it was, and how many varieties there are for you to try. Our time is limited, but the ability to share these things and show each other what makes life most worth living for us is infinite.

Not too long ago, I went to lunch with a friend who saw that I ordered tea instead of coffee. 'You getting old?' he asked. 'Yeah,' I said, 'but so are you.'"

Personally, I agree 100% with these sentiments.

(ps. real life update / post to come soon.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Resolution" - Nick Lachey

It's 2013.
"Mother Mary..."

What an ugly number; I've never been a fan of the number 13. Regardless, I hope this year will lead to even more positive changes in my life.

"I swear I wanna change."

Every year around the start of a new set of resolutions, I always somehow end up coming across a song that means a lot to me: "Resolution" by Nick Lachey. (No, it is not the song I am quoting in this post.) The song really gets at what drives my particular life goals and resolutions at any point; I am constantly in pursuit of some "best" version of myself that I know has the potential to exist theoretically, but with each day-to-day decision I make, I either bring myself closer to or farther away from this person I want to eventually be.

"Mr. Jesus, I'd love to be your King."

However, I made a ton of progress in the last quarter of 2012 - particularly with finishing both GMAT and GRE. Now to continue with this new-found motivation and continue down the path to grad school.

"Never thought this many people would even know my name."

Moving to another - yet somewhat related - topic, my mom is moving back to Vegas in July. I say this is related because I have been contemplating what to do once I do get into grad programs this Fall (knock on wood). I decided that if possible I would love to take a 6-9 month gap to travel, take risks, and potentially move back home for a bit. 0_o

"I'll be a star you keep directing me, lets make the best scene they've ever seen."

I think I am also getting closer to figuring out my true career passion. And coincidentally, I have Panera to thank. I have known for some time now that I was passionate about Health, Wellness, and Nutrition. Additionally, I know that I would like to work in a job that directly helps people of disadvantaged life situations - particularly children. Finally, I know that I would like to own my own business and be my own boss. Thus, one can imagine how excited I was when I read about Panera and its recent "Panera Cares" chain of restaurants. I love the idea, the mission, and the business model; But most of all, I love that it is the first time I have seen an example of someone doing something that combines all of my major passions from a career standpoint.

"Let's capture the moment, 'cause even forever ain't forever."

As a whole, I'm happy to finally be excited about something career related again. Now I have the rest of this year to make sure I have all the right cards in play to achieve my ambitious career goals.

Step 1: Get into a good MPH / MBA joint program.

"I swear by the moment, 'cause together ain't promised forever."

In other news, I learned how to snowboard over NYE in Whistler! Resulting in what I would characterize as a moderate addiction. Something about snowboarding makes me forget about everything else and get completely engulfed in my surroundings. Although, that could probably be how I managed to ignore the fact that I was frostbitten for almost a full day on the mountain. -_-

"Let's live in the moment, as long as we got each other."

Although I am excited for my travel plans in 2013 - e.g., Southeast Asia, Ultra, DC, Vegas, Burning Man - I have to say I think I'm more excited for the lame nights of staying home and planning out my life. I actually love those nights equally as much as some of my funnest nights out. And I have so much life now to plan! :) That's what I'm most excited to do in 2013.

"Die the moment."  

Aside from getting into grad school and continuing to learn to snowboard, I guess I do have a few other more typical resolutions. Of course the first of which being working out more often. I am also attempting to continue becoming more creative and confident in the kitchen. 

Fundamentally, I just want to continue living in the moment and trying new things - something I did well in 2012.

Move forward; 

Live for today... while planting seeds for tomorrow.

"I'm prepared to die in the moment..." 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Pursuit of Happiness

1.) Quit Early; Quit Often.
2.) Create Value
3.) Practice Empathy
4.) Maintain Humility
5.) Learn from All Experiences