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A Summer Wave, Hello!
Hi everyone! It has been quite a while since I last posted and I have missed the feeling of typing up a blog post dearly. The summer is when schedules go out the window for me since school is no longer in session, and there is generally much more flexibility. Unfortunately, these last few Mondays have done just that, slipping by me like the sweat on my forehead during the (rare) hot days in New York. While I have not been doing a ton of writing for this blog, I have published a few articles elsewhere! To start on an extremely high note, I won week one of the New York Time's Summer Reading Contest! Over 528 entries from students were submitted, but my piece premiered live on the Times' website. I wrote about the new trend of "unconventional" baby names and how it brings me immense joy to see unique names like my own pop up more frequently. From names like Amethyst to Danger, I am glad society is finally uplifitng indviduality and diveristy for generations to come. I am still amazed that my work is featured in the New York Times, I blush every time I scroll to the Learning Network’s page and see my name! But I know I have done my hard work as a writer and to see how far I have come is so rewarding. It is even more rewarding to hear from you all, my dedicated blog readers, family and friends, on how you have seen my work grown as well. Then as usual, as a staff writer for Unpublished Magazine, I pump out articles every month. I recently wrote “Making Your Room Totally You” and “One Direction To My Heart.” Additionaly, as a writer for Antifragile Zine, I wrote an essay called “Deep Condtion” and a piece titled “I Heart The New York City Tourist Shops!” I started this blog a year and a half ago and have loved every moment of it. Being my own boss on this blog and carving out ideas however I please offers a creative freedom that helps me in all endevors of life. Even as I grow up and mature my craft, I will never forget where I started — with you all on Sanai's Slice of Life. But enough with the sappy stuff! I hope that did not sound like a goodbye message, because once August winds down, I am going back to my regularly scheduled blog posts every Monday ;) For now, I will get back to reading my Summer reads (there will 100% be a blog post on that), taking photos with my film camera, going to the beach (fingers crossed it doesn't rain), and enjoying the last weeks of summer. Make sure you are too!
A Six Month Update On My New Year's Resolutions
On January 4, I posted an article titled 5 Tips To Help You Achieve Your New Year's Resolutions. As promised, I offered five pieces of advice to make your 2021 goals come to fruition. I, too, listed my ten New Year's Resolutions at the end of the post. For a quick reminder, they were: Read 40 new books Watch (and finish) five new television series Get in touch with my soul and spirituality Drink 32 oz of water every day Fine-tune and establish my writing persona Strengthen my poetry skills by examining different poets Finish 100 movies list! Invest in self-care products Listen to 20 new music albums Collage and journal more often Since we are only a couple of weeks from the official half-point of the year (July 2, 2021), I thought it would be the perfect time to update you on my progress (or lack thereof) on each resolution! Let's say that I even needed to re-read my tips to motivate me to complete my goals. #1 Read 40 new books At the beginning of the year, I was like a WARRIOR when it came to reading books. I downloaded this excellent app called Bookly to help me track my reads. I was going to Barnes and Noble every two weeks with my mom and saved book recommendations from Tik Tok left and right. In January, I read six books alone! Then mid-February came, and I officially entered a book slump. The last book I read before my slump was Beautiful Boy by David Sheff (10/10 would recommend), but after that, nothing stuck! I went to Barnes and Noble and got five new books, but none of them could capture my interest long enough. Besides my required readings for school, I let books drift out of my hands and out of my mind. That is until last week! My parents got me many new books for my birthday, and I took this as a sign to start reading again. I read Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay last weekend, and it was so lovely to read a collection of personal essays. Then I went to Barnes and Noble on Wednesday and got four new books. I devoured This is How You Lose Her by Junor Diaz in two days, and finished Black Girl Call Home by Jasmine Mans in one night. I feel inspired to keep this momentum up throughout the summer because, oh how I have missed books. So far, I have read 11 books. I might not reach 40 novels by December 31, but I will never forget the stories I read along the way. #2 Watch (and finish) five new television series I started the year off by watching Arrested Development on Netflix. It is one of the best shows I have ever watched. The writing is genius. The comedic timing is impeccable. The cast is the definition of chemistry. I watched all three seasons (there are technically two more, but most fans don’t even consider it a part of the show) with glee. I tried watching Bojack Horseman, but that bored me. I couldn’t muster up the strength to finish Gossip Girl. New Girl was heartwarming as always but didn’t have the right punch. However, recently I started watching Jane the Virgin, and it is SO good. I am only ten episodes in, but I love the storytelling! I’m obviously #Team Michael (for now.) I honestly don’t know why I wrote this resolution since I am not a big television fan. What happens, happens. #3 Get in touch with my soul and spirituality I’ve done well with this resolution! These last few months have been an excellent time for learning about all aspects of “the self” and the different sectors of spirituality you can use to enhance your life. I’ve gotten into crystals and astrology a lot. I always loved astrology as a kid, and now I’m always asking everyone what time they were born so I can figure out their birth chart. To get me more familiar with crystals, my grandfather, Baba, gave me a book called The Crystal Bible: A Definitive Guide to Crystals, a fantastic resource. I would recommend it to anyone trying to get into the crystal world! Now, I want to learn more about the seven chakras of the body, the proper uses of manifestation, and yoga again. I’m also going to spend time learning about other religions such as Buddhism! Even if you don’t practice a religion, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn from their teachings. 🔮🔮🔮 #4 Drink 32 oz of water every day I do drink a decent amount of water every day, though I’ve given up on counting how many ounces. As the summer goes on, I know I’ll be drinking plenty of water. I need to start filling up my 32 oz Hydroflask every morning like I used to do for school. That will certainly keep me on track. #5 Fine-tune and establish my writing persona Read my most recent work on Unpublished Zine here! I did not listen to #1 of my five tips, which was, "Create Specific Goals!" This resolution is very vague, but I know my writing has gotten better since the year began. I've learned to be more assertive with my writing, and because of that, each of my pieces — whether it's a blog post, opinion piece, personal essay, etc. have a unique splash of Sanai in them. Since I write so often, I often experiment with known styles and have gotten comfortable preaching my ideas. In the future, I want to write articles on topics I typically shy away from and get into writing short stories again :) #5 Strengthen my poetry skills by examining different poets The last book I read was a collection of poetry, so I am on the right track! I do read a lot of poetry nowadays, and that inspires me to get writing too. I’ll be honest. I always feel insecure about my poetry in general. Poetry is just so personal and raw. I wish I did not care about how people received my poems, but I do because you have to as a poet. If not, you might as well write in your diary where you are the only judge. I am proud of myself for submitting my poetry to new places (check out two of my poems on Girlhood Mag!) and experimenting with new layouts, but I have a long way to go. #7 Finish 100 movies list! I haven't looked at my 100 movies bucket list in months. I only have 20 movies left to watch before I finish the entire poster, but they all seem so meh. But this summer, I am committed to view them all. I must, or it will always haunt me. #8 Invest in self-care products I did start seeing a new dermatologist in February and got new products for my acne. I haven't seen that much of a difference, but we'll see. Besides that, I haven't bought that many new skincare products, but you will see me in the self-care aisle at Target during the back-to-school season. #9 Listen to 20 new music albums I’ve listened to 18 new music albums this year! When I say “new,” I don’t necessarily mean albums that came out in 2021, just albums I’ve never listened to before. So far (in no particular order), these are my top five new albums I’ve heard this year: Harry Styles - Harry Styles Punisher - Phoebe Bridgers MOTM 3 - Kid Cudi MOMTM - Kid Kudi Up All Night - One Direction I’ve listened to music so much more than I did in 2020. That Apple Replay at the end of last year gave me a wake-up call that I need to listen to some new artists! I know the next seven months of the year will be filled with even greater tunes. #10 Collage and journal more often I have been journaling every single night! My blue journal is my baby. It is so refreshing to get all of your thoughts out on paper and decompress about everything in the world. I have not been collaging as much in my typical art journal — but for my best friend’s birthday, I made her this giant collage book of all our memories, so I would still say my collage skills are good to go! Over the summer, I plan to use the dozens of New Yorker magazines I have to make some dope artwork. Overall, I’m thrilled with the progress I’ve made on every one of these goals! Sometimes you forget the hard work you do throughout life. It’s always nice to be reminded of it :)
Birthday weekend 🍰🎈
Hi friends! I hope you enjoyed the poem I posted in honor of my birthday ;) May is over, and a new month has begun. But before I get back to my regularly scheduled programming for June, I needed to do one more diary post in honor of my birthday weekend. While the festivities may have begun on Wednesday, I was sure to celebrate up until Memorial Day. Even though the weather in New York was rather crappy last weekend, I made the best of it, and my family and friends were the extra cherries on top of my sweet sixteen sundae. Birthdays always remind me that I am alive and a living, breathing human who so many people know. I am so grateful to be here and can’t wait for the glories this year will bring. Without further ado, here is what I was up to this bday weekend <3 May 26th Birthday! May 27th Chill time May 29th Charcuterie, roller skating and dinner with friends And many more 🎈🎈🎈
Sanai's Sixteen Birthday Poem <3
🍰💛 May 26th written in the stars by Sanai Rashid I once had a dream of a grand party with balloons, feminine chiffon dresses and three-layered buttercream cake. Because as a girl you are taught to dream for the stars and leap for the moon. But no matter how hard mommy and daddy hold your hand, and feed you with a silver spoon reality will get the better of you at sixteen. You start to realize that the stars aren’t as sparkly as they once were. Dull to your brown eyes, their twinkle forever enveloped in a world of blackness. Still, before bed each night you peek out of your window to wish upon a star. Then you learn that only 12 people have walked on the moon. And most of them were just white dudes who look nothing like you. So instead of looking at that gleaming dumpling in the sky, you start drawing a waxing gibbous on the New York concrete. Sidewalk scuffs as your craters. Because so much of life is wishing for a grand banquet, until you realize you’ve had a Thanksgiving meal in your lap all along. With each passing birthday, when they say You can’t have your cake and eat it too I shake my silly little head and smile. I learned how to savor each crumb, icing nib, and sprinkle a long time ago. Yes, you can have two good things at the same time. And I don’t care if my wishes upon those stars never come true, and I never get to cradle the moon between my cocoa butter palms. Because before you fly you have to let go of all that shit weighing you down. There are still a lot of things I need to address on Earth before I hop galaxies, destinies, and lands. If fifteen has taught me anything, it is that quinceaneras only last a year. You last a lifetime. Maybe sixteen is just another number. But if you don’t mark some moments of life as remarkably, extraordinarily special — you’ll blink and miss those extra shiny stars, the even brighter smiles, and the little things that separates today from the everyday. Godbless May 26th for squeezing me out of her pages and letting me write this poem to you because I love having you in my life never get that confused. And I thank the Earth, the moon, mars and those damn bright stars for the tree of life that extends unto me and unto you.
May Diary <3
Hi everyone!! I have missed you all so very much. The last time I posted was literally a month ago, and I promise that was not intentional. Life got the better of me, but now I am back. This month is my birthday month for those of you who didn’t know! I turn sixteen this Wednesday on May 26th. Stay tuned for a surprise too that day ;) So in celebration of my birthday month, I am doing my first photo dump/diary on this page. May has always been a special month for me because not only is it my birthday month, but it signifies the shift from spring into summer. The weather is getting nicer, school is almost over, and new things lie ahead. I hope this week brings you nothing but joy, and here is a peek of what my life has been like these past few weeks ;) <3 That is it so far for May! I'll see you on my birthdayyyy. XOXO, Sanai
"The Father"Review: A Volatile Mind
Memories. Sitting here on this Thursday morning, if I asked you about one time in your life you were happy, hopefully, many memories flash to mind. Maybe it's when you went on a picnic with your friends last summer. The week you traveled to a new country. The day you binged Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with lemonade on your side. Like a slideshow, when we think back to delightful times, pictures and stills of life fly by — you can only hope to devour it all. But what happens when you can't remember these memories? The events that made you, you? First, it's forgetting where you put your watch, then losing track of what day it is, up until the point that you can't remember your mother's name or even your name. They say you don't know what you got til' it's gone, but what if you can't recall what you lost in the first place? "The Father," asks these questions, painting possible answers through the disintegrating protagonist, Anthony, played by the wonderful Anthony Hopkins. The first feature from French novelist and playwright Florian Zeller unravels the familiar tale of a parent's deteriorating health and the loved ones who grapple in taking care of them while also persevering themselves. At once, viewers experience a scolding and melancholy presence creeping upon their shoulders. Anthony also shares a burning sense of perplexity at the height of the film and the depressing knowledge that his life will never be the same. When we first meet Anthony, a seemingly healthy octogenarian, he prances around an upscale London flat, classical music rummaging through the air. As Anthony's middle-aged daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman), arrives, she tells her father she is moving to Paris to pursue a new relationship. His initial reaction is one of bafflement, but quickly the long-term of Anne's plans settles in. "You're abandoning me," he replies as his face droops. Hopkins demonstrates this sheer vulnerability and the bravado exterior he tries and ultimately fails to uphold from the first ten minutes of the film. Anne is worried about her father. Nothing she seems to do is helping him get any better. Anthony recently spooked off his last caregiver after accusing her of theft, and the search for a new one doesn't seem promising. After Anne leaves, he hears a noise in the apartment and sees an unfamiliar man (Mark Gatiss) reading a newspaper. The man says he is Anne's husband, Paul, but isn't Anne divorced? And why is the man saying Anthony is their guest? Confused and agitated by this unwelcome presence, Anthony is relieved to hear Anne return. But now she is played by Olivia Williams. Anthony nor the audience recognize her. What is going on? Later, Rufus Sewell appears as different, vexed Paul. His irritability eventually causes the movie's tone to overflow and spill into a dark and murky path. In an hour and thirty-seven minutes, "The Father" majestically places the audience in the middle of a falling mind. Wrapped in Anthony's perception of the world, we feel like we are running across an old bridge to get to the other side. And the planks falling rapidly behind our footsteps reminded us of our increasing mortality. The world can betray us all, but what happens when our mind does? Zeller's persistent approach in placing viewers smack dab into Anthony's distorted livelihood leaves us all to question the people, places, and things that mold our humanity. As the film progresses, Anthony insistently becomes possessive of his watch. This item seems like the only thing he can depend on, even though he misplaces it frequently. Perhaps the watch, an object to tell time, is Anthony's way of clinging onto the little time he has left. The arrival of Imogen Poots as a potential candidate to look after Anthony provides some sunshine in the dreary clouds that surround Anthony's home and his mind. He is jubilant, charming, and flirtatious with the young woman, toting out lies about past explorations and aspirations. She also reminds him of his second daughter, who was an artist, but conversation ceases when someone mentions her name. Film writer, Jeannette Catsoulis, points out, "Whether as Lear or Lecter, Hopkins has never been an especially physical actor — most of the magic happens above the neck — but here he pushes his capacity for small, telling gestures and stillness to distressing limits." The subtleties in each character's movements, expressions, and tone, pounce at our expectations of normalcy, backspacing our perceived notion of reality. Different tiles on the kitchen backsplash; rearranged bedroom assortment; or a white grocery bag instead of a blue one holding the chicken to roast that night is production designer Peter Francis's vivid touch in crafting various versions of the same confined setting. "The Father" largely blooms into fruition in only one space — the family's flat. Yet, viewers never get bored or feel enclosed at any point. Coleman and Hopkin's virtuous performances make us feel free. The world around us keeps moving, but we stay still in the same bodies, have the same brain. Whether you feel comfortable or trapped in hearing this fact is up to you. Anne's love for her father never dwindles as Anthony becomes paranoid, manipulative, and even downright cruel. Yet, caring about someone and caring for someone are two drastically different things. "Do you intend to go on ruining your daughter's life?" Sewell's Paul hisses to Anthony at one point. His resentment hangs like an overripe fruit, forcing Anthony's ignorance, guilt, or both, to stop in its tracks. In the final shots of the film, we see Anthony in a senior-care facility. He seems to have been there for some time now, but he wakes up startled and confused. This isn't his home. A nurse walks in and explains why he is here. Then, viewers hear what the film has been leading up to. "Who exactly am I?," Anthony asks. Words of comfort fail to meet the nurse's lips. "I feel as if I'm losing all my leaves," Anthony continues. "The branches and the wind and the rain. I don't know what's happening anymore. Do you know what's happening?," he asks. The hopelessness the audience feels at this moment reaches its pique. A glum realization dawns upon us, any emotional distance we've tried to have between ourselves and Anthony is long gone, yet there is nothing we can do to help. "I want my mommy," purses from the old man's lips. And what can we do but cry? When reporter Kyle Buchanan sat down for an interview with Hopkins for the New York Times, he asked him if the tragic depths of "The Father" prompted him to think back on his own life or to mull how the past commingling with the present can take your breath away? Sort of, he replied. "I know I'm getting old," Hopkins said. "I take care of myself, I'm fit and strong. But there are no guarantees." Yet, Hopkins looks forward to the future, the momentum of being alive and appreciating everything that comes your way. "I look back on it, and I think, 'It's all a dream, anyway," he calmly remarks. "Of that I am convinced. To me, it's an illusion, that's all." When Buchanan asked Hopkins what more he hopes to accomplish in his 80s, the seasoned actor smiled. "To go on for another 20 years," he said. Above all, "The Father" reminds us that even as the leaves fall, we can choose to go with the wind and keep moving on. “The Father” is nominated in the Best Picture category for the upcoming 2021 Oscars and in five other categories; Hopkins and Coleman gaining recognition for their performances. Available on iTunes now.
Justice for George Floyd
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. A Minnesota jury found former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of all three charges in the murder of George Floyd. Second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Justice has been served. But this justice is laced with bitterness. A bitterness Black Americans first taste on their tongue when a little white kid on the playground tells them their skin looks weird. The harsh taste seeps into our skin when all eyes look our way as the sixth-grade history teacher goes over the slavery unit. Then the first time a police officer spews their chilling blue gaze in our direction, the freedom we achieved less than 200 years ago melts off our faces. To live as a Black American is hearing the ringing reminder that everyone else sees you as a shadow of a human. A walking target. A shell of a person. On May 25, 2020, that is precisely what Mr. Chauvin saw George Floyd as. A disposable human being. To get to this day: April 20, 2021, where a white police officer was finally held accountable for his actions, too many other people had to die. Black parents have to tell their kids, don't go to the convenience store for skittles (Trayvon Martin). Don't jog (Ahmaud Arbery). Don't play in the park (Tamir Rice). Don't listen to the radio (Jordan Davis). Don't dance (Elijah McClain). Don't play video games (Atatiana Jefferson). Don't have an air freshener in the rearview mirror (Daunte Wright). Don't sleep (Breonna Taylor). Don't breathe (George Floyd). America doesn't want us to live. After the judge announced the verdict, the news panned to civilians outside of Cup Foods — the last store Mr. Floyd would ever enter. A Black man in what looked like a Black Lives Matter T-shirt heaved tears of joy. Chest turned to the sky, his cries reverberated through the air and into my heart. As tears of my own flowed down my face, I felt a jolt. The ancestors. At this moment, I was reminded of the collective struggle every single chain of my African family tree had to overcome for me to get to this moment. Mr. Floyd had a family. Brown bodies clouded up his family tree. It isn't only unfair or unjust that Mr. Floyd's tree of life stopped at 46 years of living. It is horrendous. Mr. Chauvin will hopefully serve up to 40 years in jail, but this case is so much more than him. It is more than Minneapolis, America, and it is more than the whole world. As my mom said, there aren't a few rotten apples in the police department. There are rotten trees. Billie Holiday sang in 1954, "Southern trees bear a strange fruit/ Blood on the leaves and blood at the root/ Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze/ Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees." Until we fix the rotten trees in white America, I fear what Ms. Holiday sang will never end. Black people might not get lynched anymore, but our bodies are even more vulnerable. Instead of trees and nooses, cellphones and videos capture the vulnerability of Black bodies in America. Knees on the neck, skin on skin, gun to heart. I think about the 17-year old girl who recorded the now infamous video of Mr. Chauvin holding his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck for nine minutes. How she wakes up at night in terror, asking herself, "Could I have done more?" I look back on the friendly neighborhood gentleman who was one of the first people to the scene when police arrested Mr. Floyd. The chills which run throughout his body when he realizes he was one of the last voices Mr. Floyd ever heard. Then George Floyd's family. His daughter who is the same age as my little sister, and will never see her daddy again. In his last moments of life, George Floyd yelled out for his mother. "Mama, mama, mama," he yells, fighting for breath. His mother, known as "Miss Cissy," died two years prior. But even then, Mr. Floyd knew the only help he could get was from the earth above. Today I hope Mr. Floyd and his mother are both smiling down as his murder alas goes to jail. My grandfather, Baba, often says, "We come from greatness and we are greatness." Being Black in America is difficult, but today I am reminded that the flowers which go through the most end up blooming into the brightest. The world can never dimmer the shine of Black people.
One Life Gone, One Still At Stake and The Twelve Jurors Who Decide it All
In my final year of middle school, the theater department chose 12 Angry Men as their winter play. Written by Reginald Rose in 1954, the story takes place in a jury room as a dozen men deliberate, with a guilty verdict meaning death for the accused, the fate of a city teen. I got the role of Juror 4 — an intelligent, wealthy, and cautious woman. Even though the play was fictional and my fellow thirteen-year-old castmates and I were not weighing the life of a “criminal” in our hands, those six months of rehearsals, blocking, and eventual performances gave birth to my fascination with the jury system. In a society where our race, religion, and nationality color our view of the world, the jury room forces those involved to color outside the lines they’ve lived in. Now, twelve Twin City jurors face this same responsibility as they will decide the fate of former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin. On May 25th of last year, George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died after being arrested and pinned to the ground under the knee of Derek Chauvin, a white officer, for more than nine minutes. Mr. Chauvin and several other Minnesota police officers arrived at the scene after a store clerk reported that Mr. Floyd had paid for cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. After police handcuffed Mr. Floyd, the situation quickly escalated. Outrage would soon lash across the country after a bystander released a video of officer Chauvin holding his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck as he yelled out “I can’t breathe” and yearned for breath. Months of protests occurred after the video went viral, and over 150 cities saw civilians come out to the streets in support of Black Lives Matter. Defendant Chauvin was fired a day after Mr. Floyd’s death and has since pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted, he could face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree unintentional murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. The charges are individual from one another so that Mr. Chauvin can be convicted of none, some, or all of these counts. The three other former officers involved — Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao — are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They will stand trial this summer. Defendant Chauvin’s trial began last Monday and will continue for the next few weeks. Since then, emotional witness testimonies and statements from paramedics, firefighters, Mr. Chauvin’s supervisor, and more have filled in the gaps on what happened on that life-changing Memorial Day. The prosecution argues that the defendant’s restraint of Mr. Floyd occurred for an overly extended time, which was the “substantial” cause of his loss of consciousness and ultimate death in police custody. In contrast, the defense attorneys for the former officer ask jurors to consider mountains of evidence outside the bystander and body camera videos. Eric Nelson, the lawyer for defendant Chauvin, said there are more than 50,000 items in evidence and told jurors the case “is clearly more than about 9 minutes and 29 seconds.” Mr. Floyd's exact cause of death will be looked at in-depth this week, shaping up to be one of the most crucial points of this trial. The New York Times reports that the county medical examiner ruled his death a homicide caused by a combination of the officer's use of force, the presence of fentanyl and methamphetamine in Mr. Floyd's system, and his underlying health conditions. The jury has three Black men, one Black woman, and two women who identified themselves as multiracial. There are two white men and four white women. Both alternates are white women. The jury's racial makeup is surprisingly diverse — even more so than the city of Minneapolis, which has a Black population of 20% percent. All of the jurors come from Hennepin County, which is demographically about 74% white and 14% Black, according to census data. Some of the jurors deciding one of the highest-profile trials in the last decade include a Black grandmother who expressed favorable views of the Black Lives Matter movement, saying: "I am Black. My life matters." An immigrant who has lived in Minnesota for about 20 years and wants to hear more of defendant Chauvin's side before making a judgment. A woman whose uncle is a cop and was "super excited" to get summoned to such a famous case. A Black man who saw the video of Floyd's death; afterward, he told his wife: "It could have been me." Back in December, months before these potential jurors were sworn into court and questioned one-by-one in a process known as voir dire; the jury pool received an extensive 14-page questionnaire in the mail. Prospective jurors were asked about their thoughts on the criminal justice system, if they believe Minnesota police use unequal amounts of force on Black suspects than whites and what knowledge they have of the case from media reports. Some questions aimed to uncover the individual's range of viewpoints like "What podcasts do you regularly listen to?" In contrast, others attempted to understand their knowledge of technical circumstances, such as "Do you have any martial arts training or experience?" "Unless you're living under a rock, there's no one in Minneapolis, and probably no one in the United States, who's not familiar with George Floyd's death," Daniel S. Medwed, a law professor at Northeastern University, told The Washington Post. "You want people who have heard of the case but are willing to put aside any preexisting biases or any initial opinions about guilt or innocence." The questionnaire helped weed out hundreds of people, and on March 9th, voir dire began. It took about two weeks to carve a pool of more than 300 potential jurors down to 12 with two alternates. For the defense, Nelson, Chauvin's lawyer, questioned potential jurors, while Steve Schleicher questioned them for the prosecution. Under court order, limited information about the jurors has been made public, besides their race, gender, age range, and audio clips of their interviews during jury selection. But from the audio I've heard, Juror 76 stands out. When Nelson asked the Black man in his 30s or 40s why he wants to serve on this jury, he says, "[George Floyd] is a Black man. You see a lot of Black people get killed, and no one is held accountable for it. And you wonder why or what was the decisions. And so with this, maybe I'll be in the room to know why." He lived in the area where Mr. Floyd was killed in and remembered police often riding through the neighborhood after someone had been shot. "It was known for, like, the police to ride through the neighborhood with "Another One Bites The Dust," he states. "And, you know - and it's like they just - like, they antagonized us." The defense eventually dismissed this juror. Prosecutors and defense attorneys can dismiss prospective jurors without cause, which is known as a peremptory challenge. Mr. Chauvin's team was allowed 18 of these challenges and used 14. The prosecution was allowed ten and used eight. The defense generally struck people who expressed a negative view of police and favorable opinions of Black Lives Matter, while the prosecution dismissed those who expressed positive views of police behavior. Both sides also considered the juror's race, which has long been thought to indicate how someone will vote in a trial. Due to unfair generalizations, Black jurors are continuously struck at higher rates than other jurors. Though there are no comprehensive statistics on how often prosecutors strike potential jurors because of their race, looking at American legal systems, especially in the South — it isn't hard to see attorneys upholding such discriminatory practices. In a 2010 report by the Equal Justice Initiative, they found that over half of all juries that delivered death sentences in Houston County, Alabama, between 2005 and 2009 were all white; and the other half had only a single Black juror. This fact is especially unsettling because as of 2014, 42% of individuals on Death Row in the United States were Black. A review by the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center found that in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, prosecutors dismissed 48 percent of qualified Black jurors between 1997 and 2009 and only fourteen percent of potential white jurors. The Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to strike potential jurors because of their race in the 1986 landmark case, Batson v. Kentucky. But, even then, Justice Thurgood Marshall had a feeling Baston was a faulty band-aid on the oozing scab of race-based jury selection. His skepticism was quickly proven true. As soon as Batson was decided, prosecutors came up with methods to avoid it. In a 1996 opinion, an Illinois appellate judge discussed some of the "race-neutral" reasons judges accepted for striking jurors: too old, too young, living with a girlfriend, over-educated, lack of maturity; unemployed, employed as a barber; etc. "New prosecutors are given a manual, probably entitled, 'Handy Race-Neutral Explanations' or '20 Time-Tested Race-Neutral Explanations,'" he joked. But this joke was the reality in courts across America. In the 1990s, prosecutors received handouts listing reasons for striking jurors based on traits like body language. In 2004, a similar list was given to Texas prosecutors, including justifications like "Agreed with O. J. Simpson verdict" and "Watched gospel TV programs." Prosecutors assume Black people are more likely to be victims of the incarceration system, face violence under police's hands, and can comprehend the unequal treatment Black citizens endure in the criminal justice system compared to whites. Thus, they will not sympathize with a white defendant as much as they would with a Black defendant. In recent cases of white police officers committing violence against people of color, this same idea holds. So, one by one, jurors of color are plunged out of the jury pool. For example, in 1992, four Los Angeles policemen — three of them white — were acquitted of the horrendous beating of Rodney King, an African-American man. There were no Black individuals on the jury. Instead, nine white, one Latino, one biracial, and one Asian individual decided that those officers should walk away Scott free after beating a man with batons for fifteen minutes. In 2013, a jury of six women had to decide whether George Zimmerman acted in self-defense when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, during an altercation at a Florida townhouse community the year before. Nearly all of the jurors had children. None of them were Black. After three weeks of testimony, the jury acquitted him as well. Suppose six Black mothers made up the jury? Perhaps they would've been able to understand Sybrina Fulton's, Mr. Martin's mother, cries for her 17-year old son's spilled blood on the sidewalk. Ms. Fulton will never receive the closure that the killer of her son is behind bars. Instead, she watches him profit off her son's death. Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender for Minneapolis, watched the questioning of the potential juror for defendant Chauvin's trial, number 76. She expected him to be struck but hoped he wouldn't be. "We should start," she wrote in a column, "by recognizing that their lived experiences with racism are not justification to excuse them." The elimination of Black jurors in criminal trials is deliberate and has haunting effects. Not to mention, many police officers charged with abusing Black individuals don't even go to trial because their nearly all-white grand juries don't see it fit. More recently, Eric Gardner's killer and Breonna Taylor's murders not facing federal charges are perfect examples. As a North Carolina judge concluded, in 2012, "Race, not reservations about the death penalty, not connections to the criminal justice system, but race, drives prosecution decisions about which citizens may participate in one of the most important and visible aspects of democratic government." Many of us might feel a sliver of hope erupting in our hearts since the twelve jurors for defendant Chauvin's trial come from a variety of different backgrounds. Even if the whole world is watching, the ultimate verdict rests in 24 palms. "Having the jury be diverse will be really important in people's sense of the legitimacy of the process," Irene Oritseweyinmi Joe, a law professor at the University of California at Davis, told The Washington Post. "It's important to think through who the jurors are, what their beliefs are, what their experiences are and the degree to which they've excluded jurors who have seen or believe there is systemic racial bias in the system." Sympathy is the heart of the jury system. The jury on Mr. Chauvin's trial holds the potential to straighten one faulty bone in the body of Minnesota's police department. It is a shame that we will never know how many past juries could've done the same because diversity was seen as a threat. "It takes a great deal of courage to stand alone even if you believe in something very strongly," one juror says in 12 Angry Men. When the verdict for Derek Chauvin is revealed in the upcoming weeks, I'm sure we will know whether or not courage really did prevail in the deliberation room. ~ Watch Updates on Derek Chauvin's Trial Here Read The Full List of Jurors Here
The Toll Racism and Sexualization Takes on Asian-American Women
Daoyou Feng. Hyun Jung Grant. Suncha Kim. Paul Andre Michels. Soon Chung Park. Xiaojie Tan. Delaina Ashley Yaun. Yong Ae Yue. These are the eight victims of fatal shootings at three massage businesses in Atlanta and nearby Cherokee County on Tuesday. Six of the victims were of Asian descent, and two were white. Seven were women. The gunman in the shootings, Robert Aaron Long, said his actions were "not racially motivated," but caused by "sexual addiction." "He was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope. Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did," said Cherokee County Sheriff's Office Capt. Jay Baker. He made it clear that Long's motive for the shooting had to be either racial or misogynistic — not both. Since the arrival of the Coronavirus last spring, anti-Asian attacks have increased by nearly 150 percent. President Trump addressing the pandemic as the "Wuhan virus" and "China virus," only ignited a more substantial fire against Asian-Americans. Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, told the L.A. Times, "In a recent analysis, we found that a quarter of the incidents we tracked included a perpetrator using language similar to Trump's. Things like 'Wuhan virus,' 'China virus,' 'kung-flu' and 'go back to your country." Those who commit bias crimes tend to target men. Yet, Stop AAPI Hate, a group that collects reports of hate incidents against Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, saw in their recent analysis that out of almost 3,800 incidents recorded in 2020 and 2021, two-thirds of the reports came from women. "People on here literally debating if [the Atlanta shooting] was a misogynistic attack against women or a racist attack against Asians," Jenn Fang, the creator of Asian-American feminist blog, Reappropriate, wrote in a Twitter thread. "What if — wait for it — it was both." Racism and sexism have always been inextricably bonded for Asian-American women, and many agreed with Fang's statement. Unwanted sexual come-ons, racially provoked sexual abuse, and demeaning hypersexualization are regular experiences for Asian-American women. When Capt. Baker said the Atlanta gunman just had a "really bad day," this seemed like yet another excuse for violence against women. Those three words displayed how white men can get a pass for almost anything in America. Many Asian-American women were left wondering, "If Long shot six white women, how differently would this story be told?" United States policy has aided in the fetishization of Asian women and emasculation of Asian men. The Page Act of 1875 barred Chinese women from coming into the country since lawmakers thought they were all prostitutes up to no good. Other laws prohibited mixed-race marriages, leaving many Chinese men as wandering bachelors. Less than a decade later, the Chinese Exclusion Act was put into effect by President Chester A. Arthur, banning both new immigrants and existing residents from becoming U.S. citizens. "Yellow peril" was going around — American's fear of "Asian invasion" by Chinese individuals willing to provide cheap labor. After Pearl Harbor in 1941, though there was no evidence to prove this was the case, anyone of Japanese descent became a potential enemy threat. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, forcing over 100,000 people of Japanese descent into U.S. prison camps. Dr. Suess even created a cartoon where rows of Japanese Americans line together in California to collect a brick of TNT. "Waiting for the signal from home…" the caption says. Throughout the following decades of the 20th century, wars against several East Asian countries only heightened discrimination against Asian-Americans. As white heterosexual male presence increased in East Asia, particularly during the Philippine-American War, World War 1, and the Vietnam War, several harmful stereotypes about Asian women arose. Society painted them as "sexually submissive" and exotic "lotus blossoms" — the perfect accessory for white men in needing of spicing up their lives. Inexpensive sex to American service members became readily available when stationed in lands like Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. In 1990, an article called "Oriental Girls" was published in Gentleman's Quarterly (G.Q.). It described the Western male's fantasy of an Asian female as someone who doesn't "insist on being treated like a person, fret about career moves" and a break from "those angry feminist seas." On Thursday, Dale Minami, founder of the Asian Law Caucus and former professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, told NPR, "In the last three major wars, the United States fought war against Asian countries - Japan, Korea and Vietnam. And that leads not only to dehumanization of those people simply to justify, you know, psychologically the killing of the, quote, "enemy." And those images remain. The antipathy remains and survives." Western societies have long viewed Asian communities as less developed and advanced, so it is no surprise that soldiers also treated the women they slept in degrading ways. Japan also participated in this sexual imperialism during the 1930s and late 1940s, forcing Chinese, Filipino and Korean women into "comfort women"—a brothel that serviced Japanese soldiers. For the women who weren't impregnated or later ignored by U.S. soldiers, some were brought back to the United States as brides. Kyeyoung Park, a professor of anthropology and Asian-American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The New York Times that if these women later got separated or divorced from their husbands, they started massage parlors. This likely fostered the perception that all Asian-run spas were illicit and the ladies who worked in them were sex workers. The police in Georgia have not said if any of the three spas had ties to sex work. Few details are known of the Atlanta gunman's motive. Still, numerous hate crime tracking organizations notice misogyny paves a path for other types of extremist violence — typically by the hands of "incels" or involuntary celibates. Long grew up in a strict Southern evangelical community, and he seemed to have an extreme fixation on sexual temptation. Many religious men like him feel the guilt, shame, and despair of "failing" abstinence from sex and lust outside heterosexual marriage. Avoiding pornography and resisting inappropriate sexual desire is a significant theme in modern conservative evangelicalism. "So many men boil down how they're doing spiritually to how often they have looked at porn recently,"Samuel Perry, a sociologist at the University of Oklahoma, told the Times. "Not whether they'd grown in their love toward others, given generously of their time, or spent time connecting with God, but if they masturbated." Brad Onishi, who grew up in Southern California's evangelical community, also said this culture "teaches women to hate their bodies, as the source of temptation, and it teaches men to hate their minds, which lead them into lust and sexual immorality." Long's former roommate, Tyler Bayless, said that one time Long relapsed by visiting a spa parlor to have sex. When he got home, Long asked Bayless to take a knife from him so that he wouldn't hurt himself. It isn't hard to see how the Atlanta gunman came to believe that women are forever the "temptress of men," and those who do not try to maintain modesty are a sinister force to our world. The massage parlors were "a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate." Pop culture also plays a substantial role in the fetishization of Asian women. For example, in "Full Metal Jacket," a Vietnam War movie, two soldiers try to bargain down a sex worker's price. "Me so horny. Me love you long time," she replies. Now, these lines have become what Ellen Wu, author of "The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority," calls a "racially specific type of catcalling." "It's instantly putting you in the position of being a foreigner, an outsider and a sexual stereotype," said writer Margaret Cho on the phrase. "It's an all-in-one combo." You can also look at Broadway musical Miss Saigon for enforcing negative representations of Asian women. It tells the story of an American marine who has a one-night-stand with Kim, a Vietnamese sex worker. Kim becomes pregnant with his son, but the marine leaves Vietnam, and returns to America to marry a white woman. Kim tries to find the "strong G.I. to protect her," and years later, she and her son reunite with the marine and his wife in Thailand. When she realizes the marine has no intention of marrying her, she commits suicide, leaving her son, Tam, under the care of her distanced lover and his wife. The Asian woman risking it all for an American man — how sweet (rolls eyes.) No surprise two white men created the musical back in 1989. The story also subtly hints that perhaps Kim embodies an unfit mother while the marine's wife, a white woman, is better suited to raise her son. Asian women are frequently ridiculed by men of all races — including Asian men, for choosing non-Asian partners. There is no doubt Miss Saigon casts another unfavorable light onto them. Society's dehumanization of Asian-American women makes them frequent subjects to attacks on their culture and gender identity. They are not props for men to abuse, tropes in your next film, or mere objects to be thrown around. Even though I am a woman of color, it is clear that in different minority communities, the women who comprise them experience various pains. In a time of so much hurt, we all need to listen to the cries of those in danger. Hear the voices of Asian women who are so frequently silenced by the world. The victims of the Atlanta shooting didn't need to become victims. If America paid attention to the violence the Asian community has experienced not only in this year, but from the time Asian immigrants came to the "land of the free" in the 1800s, events like these wouldn't happen. In a country built off of the backs of people of color, it is exhausting to see our lives reduced down to headlines in the news and blood on the ground. Those of us who are not of Asian descent need to open our hearts to their stories, open our wallets to donate to AAPI organizations, and realize what affects one group of people can easily affect another. As Jiayang Fan of the New Yorker beautifully wrote, "One of [Long's] victims, Hyun Jung Grant, was a single parent who for years told her son that she worked at a "makeup parlor." Grant might even have sympathized with Long, who is only two years younger than her son. What's shameful is that Long could not bring himself to show any sympathy for her." ~ You can donate to the victim's families down below: Elcias Hernandez Ortiz Family of HyunJungKim Family of Paul Michels Delain Ashley Yaun More organizations you can follow to support Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders: Send Chinatown Love Asian Mental Health Collective Red Canary Song Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project (DVRP)
Nature's Cereal 🥥 🥄
My mom will be the first to tell you that I am not a breakfast person, and she isn’t wrong! I like Fruit Loops and french toast from time to time, but breakfast and I just don’t see eye to eye. I’ve been trying to get better at this because as we’ve all heard, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” So when I came across a Tik Tok about “nature’s cereal,” created by food lover @natures_food, I just had to try it. Even Lizzo made it, and she loved it! Nature’s cereal is supposed to help with digestion, relieve constipation issues and put your energy levels through the roof. You literally only need five ingredients, so let’s get to mixin’! Ingredients ½ cup blueberries ½ cup blackberries ½ cup pomegranate seeds ½ cup ice cubes ½ cup coconut water Directions Wash your produce! Add the fruits to a bowl, followed by the ice cubes. Pour in coconut water and give everything a quick mix. Enjoy! I really enjoyed this fruit combination. I’m not a massive fan of coconut water, but it worked pretty well here. Below is my Tik Tok of this new treat and you can scroll to see the final product 💘 Have a fantastic week and have fun eating this for breakfast ;) 🤩🤩🤩 💘yum💘
Songs on my "Winter-ish" Playlist
Winter is melting away, and a misty spring season is on the way, but right now, we are in the in-between. Too hot for our puffer jackets but too cold for a zip-up. Our brain tells us it is a little early to start spring cleaning, but our heart feels a sense of change in the air. Those of us who go to the nail salon skip past the blues and purples, our eyes hungry for yellows and greens. Recently in my life, I have felt like a leaf blowing through the wind. Hesitant to fly towards the change bright spring air brings, yet I loathe going back to the same winter chills as before. Temperature changes can undoubtedly produce a new wave of emotions, and I've been feeling them more than ever. So I created a playlist titled "Winter-ish" — the season we are currently living in right now, at least in New York. These sixteen songs gallop from themes of confusion, instability, exploration, and acceptance. While I figure out the next steps I want to take in life; these songs have brought me an inner peace that seems out of reach some days. Whatever you're contemplating right now, I hope these songs bring you similar feelings of relief. "Garden (Say It Like Dat)" by SZA “Garden” is about the craving for reassurance in a relationship while questioning if you even deserve this type of love and attention. I used to hear these lyrics as a conversation between SZA and her lover, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is a conversation between SZA and herself. From inflation to deflation of self-worth, the vulnerability to exist as an imperfect being is daunting. But, as we morph into different versions of ourselves, we must remember that identity is a never-ending cycle fueled by all sorts of care. “Can you remind me of my gravity?/ Ground me when I'm tumblin', spiralin', plummetin' down to Earth/ You keep me down to Earth” - SZA "Bad Religion" by Frank Ocean On this sorrowful track, Ocean treats his taxi driver as “his shrink for the hour,” hoping — praying, albeit this stranger can provide clarity for all the issues swirling around his head. There is an unusual catharsis one experience’s when talking to a stranger. This refreshing level of sympathy and empathy tends to wash away when you know someone for too long. In the most hectic moments of our lives, a safe space where we can confide in someone who knows nothing about our past, soley our now, is an underappreciated beauty of the human race. “And on that evening when we grow older still we'll speak about these two young men as though they were two strangers we met on the train and whom we admire and want to help along. And we'll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.” - André Aciman “Your Best American Girl” by Mitski On Mitski’s 4th album, Puberty 2, this lead single encapsulates one turmoil of the pubescent age — figuring out who the hell you want to be while conforming to everyone else’s ideas of who you should be. Mitski sings about such joys of falling in love with “an all-American boy” while realizing that their cultures, thus livelihoods, are opposites. Even as she tries to bridge the gap between herself and the boy, this is a love that should probably never come to fruition. Yet, as the last line hints — this painful awakening allows Mitski to appreciate her background in a stronger sense. “You're the sun, you've never seen the night/ But you hear its song from the morning birds/ Well, I'm not the moon, I'm not even a star/ But awake at night I'll be singing to the birds” - Mitski “Something In the Way” by Nirvana As the twelfth and final song on Nirvana’s Nevermind, “Something In the Way” etches a feeling of despair and uncertainty. Much of lead singer, Kurt Cobain’s life remains a mystery. Today fans still argue whether this track is autobiographical, concerning a time of vagrancy in Cobain’s life. We might never know what the singer meant. Nevertheless, this idea that “something [is] in the way” between ourselves and happiness, wealth, love — whatever, leaves the lyrics up to interpretation forevermore. “The sad little, sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man.” - Kurt Cobain’s alleged suicide note “in my head” by Ariana Grande Sometimes the facade of what could be, distracts us from the reality of what is. On “in my head” Grande expresses similar feelings of betrayal as she realizes the picture she painted in her head, is not what her lover actually is. It is important to center ourselves and escape the cobwebs of anxiety and frustration that are bound to come when we let our imagination get the better of us. We can only live in the now, and try our best to see what is truly there. “I saw your potential without seein' credentials/ Maybe that's the issue” - Ariana Grande “Moon River” by Frank Ocean A "moon river" is the ghostly reflection of the moon upon a river, and surrounded by comfy vocals, Ocean notes that this "river" is also a symbolic gateway into the hearts of our lovers. Sometimes it seems impossible to balance our yearning to carelessly explore with the urge to settle down with someone we love. If we get into a relationship, there is this idea that self-exploration ends there. Society makes us feel that we can either be alone or together, never both. If you don't comprise your needs for your partner, you're selfish, but if you do, you're weak. Yet, no matter who we are surrounded by, life will only feel fulfilled when we are fulfilled with ourselves. “Two drifters off to see the world/There's such a crazy world to see" - Frank Ocean “Vienna” by Billy Joel As a teenager, our parents, teacher, and grandparents tell us to dream big but wisely. "Vienna" is sung from the perspective of Joel’s father, who preaches similarly, that ambition is lovely, but every goal comes with its risks. If you approach anything too fast, you might burn out halfway through. Instead, we must enjoy the early days of our lives. Not everything we want is going to fall into our laps by the age of 25. Appreciate the process because while tomorrow is only a day away — you still have to get through, well, today. “When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?” - Billy Joel "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by The Muppets Barbershop Quartet This cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana was sung in The Muppets, and parts of the song’s inappropriate lyrics were conveniently sung by Beaker, who can only say “meemee.” The original song was Kurt Cobain’s commentary on how un-meaningful teenage/party culture had become. Ironically, the anthem that was meant to poke fun at the popular kids became a hit record and “meatheads” started to crowd Nirvana's show. All jokes aside, the reason I smacked this song as the midpoint of the playlist is because even when the world seems crazy, little pockets of weirdness can make you smile. "My socks may not match, but my feet are always warm." - Maureen McCullough "Clay Pigeons" by Michael Cera Everyone’s favorite geeky white boy, Michael Cera, sings a modern-day lullaby about catching a train to leave all of his worries behind. In his solitude, he surrounds himself with strangers who he admires and envies. Thrusting yourself into somewhere new can offer a needed break from the sorrows your used to. While Cera doesn’t have much with him on this journey, he makes time to “feed the pigeons come clay.” Even when we might feel lost, there’s an ounce of aid inside us all. “I'm tired of runnin' 'round lookin' for answers to questions that I already know/ I could build me a castle of memories just to have somewhere to go” - Michael Cera "Gravity" (feat. Tyler, The Creator) by Brent Faiyaz & DJ Dahi Brent Faiyaz and Tyler, The Creator, reflect on how their hectic travel schedules strain the relationships they leave behind. Yet, like gravity, both artists find themselves pulled towards the people and memories they thought they were over with. It is easy to feel like we are holding someone back because of our rendezvous, but it is ok to let people into our lives. Not everything we do is a burden. Some things can never let go of each other, which may not be so bad. “No one is useless in the world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.” - Charles Dickens "Heart of a Lion (Kid Cudi Theme Song)" by Kid Cudi In an interview with Generations, Kid Cudi said he wanted this song to be the “millennium “Eye of the Tiger” because as soon as he heard the triumphant beat, he knew this could be his personal “theme song.” Every day, Cudi is fighting an evil bigger than himself, these inner demons destroying every ounce of confidence he has. But as the song goes on, the artist refuses to let the Devil attack his dreams and aspirations in life, grinding until the “25th hour” if he needs to. The bridge is Cudi’s internal monologue, with Cudi’s demons telling him “No” while he shouts out “Yeah!” We all have the heart of a lion. We just need to find it. “I told you, no I'm not a loser, I'll see you in Hell” - Kid Cudi "I’m Looking Through You" by The Beatles The only constant in life is change. Sometimes the person you thought you knew so well becomes unrecognizable — that person might even be yourself! Once you acknowledge that your feelings towards a specific subject have altered, new beginnings unfold from left and right. To let go is hard, but to become something new, we must try. “Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight.” - Paul McCartney "Through the Wire" by Kanye West On October 23, 2002, Kanye West got into a car crash that nearly took his life. But since he was wearing his seatbelt, the only thing that broke was his jaw. Two days after being released from the hospital from reconstructive jaw surgery, Mr. West delivered “Through the Wire.” There are so many great lessons weaved into this 4-minute track (and killer rhymes, hello ?!), but my biggest takeaway is: perseverance is critical. Kanye West rapping about this insane accident while still recovering illustrates how important it is to be in the moment. If West can rap while his mouth is wired shut, I can do anything. Sometimes we have to take a step back, look at ourselves in the third person and make a crappy situation into a platinum single. “The only thing this accident’s is saying is, “I am about to hand you the world, just know at any given time I can take it away from you.” - Kanye West "Hey Mama" by Kanye West My mom means the world to me. Whenever I’m having a hard time in life or cruising through teenage blue’s, she never fails to remind me that my purpose on this Earth is more extensive than I can even imagine. “Hey Mama” is Kanye West’s similar love letter to his mother, Donda West, and encapsulates how all children want to make their parents smile. Even if you don’t have a relationship with your mother or father, this song also represents how one person in your life can make a huge difference in how you see yourself. We all deserve to have someone out there that understands us like no one else. “I'm finna talk about my mama if y'all don't mind.” - Kanye West "Kyoto" by Phoebe Bridgers Kyoto is all about impostor syndrome, the feeling of finding it difficult to accept your accomplishments or whatever good comes to you. "I just always want to be where I'm not, which I think is pretty not special of a thought, but it is true," Phoebe Bridgers told Apple Music. This song's cheerful fanfare contrasts with the sorrowful lyrics, yet it captures the essence of exploration beautifully. Whether you're exploring yourself, a new town, a new school, or the people you around, sometimes it feels like we are living someone else's life, and everything around us will vanish in a second. But there is something to appreciate in every new land we frolic, no matter how temporary it might seem. “And you wrote me a letter/But I don't have to read it” - Phoebe Bridgers "It’s Not the Same Anymore" by Rex Orange County I could write an entire thesis on this song, and one day I will, but today is not that day. On this track, Rex Orange County sings about his strange affection for the past. Whether it's self-doubt or feelings of suppression and depression, Rex understands that now his life is different. Similarly, sometimes I look back on younger pictures of myself and feel like I've disappointed little Sanai. This couldn't be farther from the truth because I run a successful blog, I'm a staff writer on two magazines, I'm healthy, and my grades are excellent! But sometimes, I get so caught up in my head that the reality of life gets warped into something unrecognizable. As the final verse rolls on, I realize that “different” doesn't need to mean bad. “Different” offers a chance that things can get better even if they aren't the same as before. “It's not the same anymore/ It's better” - Rex Orange County
V-day Snacks and Movies Out Back
Tomorrow is the day of love, doves, and boxing gloves (you'll understand later)! Well, in other words, tomorrow is Valentine's Day! Whether or not you have a significant other, I hope you can spend tomorrow with someone you care for. Love comes in all shapes and sizes, colors, genders and makes life on Earth a little bit sweeter. As Hugh Grant said in Love Actually, "If you look for it, I got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around." Something that has a special place in my heart is movies! So tomorrow, whether you are cuddling up with your bae, dog, or avocado plushie, here are four romance films to watch and Valentine's Day snacks to eat while viewing love unfold on screen. The Photograph and Pretty Popcorn Mae has learned to love from a distance. Her mother, famous photographer Christina Eames, taught her the hard way. But when Christina dies unexpectedly, one photograph sends Mae down the never-ending tunnel of her mother's secrets. The investigation leads her to a romance with a journalist, Michael Block, and suddenly Mae lets her love spill closer than ever before. Michael and Mae are a sweet and salty mix. Finishing off each other's witty jokes and exhibiting a love so deep it hurts. This Pretty Popcorn recipe is perfect if you want a mix of sweetness and salty in your life. Pretty Popcorn Recipe Ingredients One bag of microwavable popcorn (Orville Redenbacher's is my favorite brand) 3/4 cup pink chocolate candy melts 1/2 cup white chocolate candy melts Valentines M&Ms (or regular ones!) Valentines sprinkles Directions Microwave popcorn according to the instructions on the bag. Set aside. Place the pink candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 40 seconds. Repeat for 20-second intervals until the candy is melted. Drizzle the melted pink candy over the popcorn and toss the mixture until it is coated evenly. Melt the white candy melts and drizzle it over the popcorn. Immediately add the sprinkles and M&Ms. Enjoy! Rocky and Gushing Cake Pops Rocky Balboa is an underdog fighter from lower-class Philadelphia, boxing the pain away with his trainer, Mickey Goldmill. After the opponent of reigning world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed gets injured, Rocky is suddenly chosen to fight this undefeated mastermind. But amid his training days, he falls for Adrain, the sister of his smart mouth meat packing pal. "Adriannnn" and Rocky are ride or dies until the end. Rocky gets beat up a lot, and in these times of crisis, no one makes him feel better than sweet, sweet Adrian. But these red velvet cake pops might just be the new hottie in town. Gushing Cake Pops Recipe Ingredients 1 box of red velvet cake mix 1 box of cream cheese frosting 2 cups of white chocolate chips 1 tbsp coconut oil Directions Make the cake and bake according to the box's directions. Crumble your cake into a large bowl and stir in the frosting until the mixture is like stiff cookie dough. Shape mixture into around 20 cake balls and place on a cookie sheet. Freeze the cake spheres for 15 minutes. Add white chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwavable safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds intervals until creamy. Stick a toothpick into each cake pop and dip them into the white chocolate covering completely. Allow excess to drip into the bowl. Add sprinkles if desired, and enjoy! Shrek and Heart Poppin' Punch Once Shrek's solitude in the swap is interrupted by annoying fairy tale characters, he learns that they were all banished from their homes by evil Lord Farquad. Eager to get them off his land, he cuts a deal with Farquad to rescue Princess Fiona so she can be his bride. Saving the princess is tough, but it is even more challenging for Fiona to hide her Love for Shrek and her life-altering secret. Shrek probably didn't come to your mind at first when I mentioned romance movies. But five year old me had taste because, because according to my mom, I watched Shrek obsessively at that time. What can I say? I'm a sucker for ogre romances. This Heart Poppin' Punch feels just like Shrek and Fiona's tricky love relationship. Heart Poppin' Punch Recipe Ingredients 8 oz of Cranberry Juice (I love Ocean Spray) 8 oz of Sprite 1 cup of strawberries Directions Pour cranberry juice and sprite in a lovely cup and mix! Pop in a few strawberries That's it! But I'm a Cheerleader and Cheery Mug Cake Megan is a cheerleader and considers herself a typical American teenage girl. She has a nice room, cool friends and a boyfriend, who she doesn't like kissing that much. So she is shocked when her parents say she's a lesbian and send her off to True Directions, a wacky boot camp painted in pastels, to alter her sexual orientation. While there, Megan meets Graham, a rebellious teen lesbian, and for the first time, love feels right. Until you meet the person you have a soft spot for, like Meg, try this awesome mug cake my friend Clementine introduced me to. (This is a modified recipe of Food Network's chocolate mug cake) Cheery Mug Cake Recipe Ingredients 3 tbsp all-purpose flour 3 tbsp sugar 2 tbsp cocoa powder ¼ tsp baking powder 3 tbsp milk 3 tbsp vegetable oil 3 tbsp chocolate chips A package of Valentine's Day-themed M&Ms Sprinkles Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream (optional) Directions Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda into a microwave-safe mug. Blend thoroughly with a fork. Add the milk and vegetable oil and blend until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips, M&Ms, and sprinkles Microwave on high for 90 seconds. Let it cool for 2-3 minutes before eating. Scoop vanilla ice cream on top of or beside the mug cake and enjoy! I hope you have an amazing day tomorrow and feel the best you’ve ever felt. I LOVE this blog, and you reading this right now ! 💖 You have a special place in my heart. Stay tuned for a Black History Month post on my Instagram @sanaissliceoflife and a surprise post later this week ;)