Twenty years from now, we will all think back to the day that Hillary Clinton’s campaign tanked, and Trump’s rose.
I haven’t commented in-depth about the police shootings in African American communities on this blog. However, for today’s post I don’t think I can “escape” from that world, as I thought about the footage from Oklahoma’s and North Carolina’s shootings.
I did a post a few months ago about some questions I get asked as an American living abroad, and one of the things that British, Europeans, and Africans do not understand is our gun culture and hence, gun violence. They see the two as explicitly linked (available guns = mass shootings), and while I have given some rationale for our gun culture, I cannot find a positive rationale for police shootings of unarmed victims. This is when the discussion goes beyond the topic of gun culture into State-sanctioned violence.
There is wide use for this terminology, however I am specifically speaking of the legacy of police-community relations in African American neighborhoods. The relationship between law enforcement and Blacks has always been tense, so what we are witnessing in 2016 stretches to at least a century ago. The same White Supremacists (Ku Klux Klan members) who would burn crosses on front lawns or perform other acts of terror in Black neighborhoods at night, would dress up in law enforcement uniforms or suits in the day, to work at the police station, city hall, attorney’s office, or at the court. In other words, the same people who swore on a bible or in front of the flag to protect the citizenry and uphold the law, were the same ones who would commit these acts under the cover of darkness. This reality is less than one generation ago.
Today, the movement of #AllLivesMatter claim that this construct has been abolished and that specifically pointing out that “Black lives matter,” is racist. Just to be clear, the entire statement is “Black lives matter (too)”; as it is not about elevating the life of a Black person above anyone else, but raising awareness to a very critical issue that the people who are sworn to protect us, are killing us. Who can we trust? And yes, this system of “terrorizing and policing” Black communities that was historically constructed, is still in place. The tactics are more subtle, but the rhetoric of the “infinitely dangerous or threatening Black man” is used as a justification for lethal force.
So why do I use this term “State-sanctioned violence” ? Other than having race, class, gender, and manner of death in common; after the shooting, the victims also did not receive life-saving first aid. Huffington Post wrote a great article and this is why the phrase “Black lives matter” is important and should be shouted from the rooftops of every house. It is terribly unbelievable to think that a terrorist, who placed many bombs all over New York City and New Jersey last weekend, was shot but received life saving treatment, and will live to stand trial to defend himself. However in direct contrast, a Black man whose car was stranded on the side of the road, or the other Black man who was pulled over for a traffic ticket, or the 12 year old Black boy playing with a toy gun in the park never made it home. Not just because of a gun-shot wound, but because the officer, and surrounding officers, did not administer first aid or call for an ambulance immediately.
Thus, what is the rationale that an “armed and dangerous” ISIS-inspired terrorist gets to live, see his family, and do all the things that a law-abiding father of four will never get to do? For the record, I am glad that Ahmad Rahami received treatment and was treated with dignity as each human deserves. But why weren’t any of these men too?
This is the key link to why we can see this historical legacy perpetuating itself. Even after the victims were shot, many were denied immediate first aid after the “threat or danger” ceased. However, mainstream society and the main discussion of police-involved shootings, have not addressed this phenomenon. The Black community has suffered disproportionately from social ills (high unemployment, under-housed, health disparities etc…) and thus as a group has faced marginalization. Police shootings are a part of this larger scope. Thus, the “lack of caring or concern” to provide humane medical treatment is a product of decades of State-sanctioned violence, where power relations constructed in this realm has made violence against African Americans plausible. In other words, there is no “outrage” when violence of this nature happens, because in a way, we expect it to; nor do we expect the first responders (usually other officers) on the scene to help neither.
The phrase #BlackLivesMatter, which raises awareness of unfair policing practices, speaks to the dehumanizing of a Black life. No individual would say that one life is less valuable than another; however as a society, we collectively stopped seeing Black “suspects” or “perpetrators” as human beings. We have dismissively rationalized the deaths of Eric Gardner, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, or Walter Scott as “guilty thugs”, rather than critique the system that wields so much power over us behind a badge. A system that is flawed and insular, and has rarely been challenged by mass society to change, innovate, and respond to the dynamic needs of the public.
The training standards of law enforcement has to become universal across the country, there are multiple DOJ investigations into these shootings; however, the reports that came out on Ferguson and Baltimore policing practices, reveal that while the ideology of White supremacy is dying, officers still “police” differently in Black neighborhoods than White areas. Rookie officers are trained to view encounters in Black communities differently and the insular nature of some police districts prevent fellow officers from coming forward when his/her colleague breaks the law. Officers are also first responders. This means anyone that needs medical help (including the person that was shot by the officer) should receive immediate first aid and a 911-call for an ambulance. However, the problem again is training, not every police force is trained to perform first aid and protocols for officer-involved shooting varies.
The federal government has a role in this; a task force was set up to review police standards and provide meaningful solutions. However, these recommendations are up to individual police units to decide if and how these recommendations would be implemented. Thus, there is no enforcement or universal mandate for local officers to wear body cameras or use conflict diffusion measures. Americans of all race, class, gender, orientation, and background also have a role in this, because this isn’t just a “Black problem”– it affects everyone. Every community deserves safer policing practices, stronger law enforcement-community relationships, and officers that are accountable to the public that they serve, not “police”.
The only thing deadlier is silence.
Where you live can play a big role in your dating life. While some cities seem to have a dormant social scene, others offers singles a lively locale — much of which is dictated by the surrounding area and the activities those areas hold. If you’re in the market for a new place to call home, as well as a great place to meet someone special, consider these cities.
If you enjoy the nightlife scene, Atlanta could be the place for you. For instance, Victory Sandwich Bar in Inman Park offers kung-fu movies, cheap cocktails and some stiff ping-pong competition. The Porter Beer Bar, on the other hand, offers over 700 bottled beers and a total of 44 taps, making it a hip place for beer drinkers. The population of this city is nearly 70 percent single, which makes the pool you pick from extensive. While costs are on the rise in Atlanta due to its younger crowd and general hipness, you won’t see your bank broken for a modest apartment or studio.
From miles of beaches to the nightclubs that thump with life seven days a week, Miami offers a scene for both relaxed and active singles. Cycle groups can be found throughout the city, bookstores like Books & Books hosts author readings as well as novel discussions and book clubs, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Miami is a desirable place for singles, which drives up prices as well as the scarcity of apartments. If Miami seems like the place for you, keep an eye on apartments until you find the one that fits your budget.
Austin is a college town known for its music scene and barbecue. However, these aren’t its only credentials for a wonderful city for dating. For those who enjoy fine wines, the Dripping Springs Wine Trail offers eight wineries to visit that are just a short drive from downtown Austin. Instead of going out to dinner, take a cooking class with your date. You can find classes that are hands-on or ones that offer a more laid-back approach (i.e., sit back and watch the professionals cook right in front of you). If you’re wanting to flex your creative muscles, Painting with a Twist provides the tools and instruction for you to create of masterpiece. Bonus: It’s BYOB.
There simply aren’t many places where you can kayak and climb a mountain in the same day. The Puget Sound area has many islands you can explore by bike or car, a thriving night life and some of the best coffee in the world (and that doesn’t mean Starbucks). On Capital Hill you’ll find entrepreneurs on computers hard at work on the next big thing and a night life that features the clown bar Unicorn, Korean karaoke bar Rock Box and much more. It’s no surprise that this tech-savvy city has more online daters than any other, and with a coffee shop on every corner there’s no lack of places to meet people. While Seattle has a lot that makes it desirable, the over all cost of the city is already high and continues to rise. You’ll likely need some deep pockets if you plan to take advantage of all this city has on offer.
That’s my quick list of cities for singles’ dating. Did I miss a place, or perhaps for my international readers, is there a city that you think should be highlighted? Tweet it to me @ReporterandGirl or post it on my Facebook wall.
As the creep into September begins (already began!), we are transitioned out of summer and into a new season of orange and brown, or plums and greys if you’re fashion savvy. The bathing suit that arrived the day after the 90F heatwave, and now hangs in my closet regrettably waiting for “one more day” because the leaves go.
While it seems like the rest of the world is all “back to school” and “back from vacation” (and well technically, I am too) when September creeps in, I am reminded of me. It always catches me off-guard when people start wishing me a happy birthday, days before its arrival. I don’t usually remember or even plan for it, but it still comes around. This year is a little special because I am saying goodbye to my 20’s. When I started the blog, I was at the peak of this fabulous decade, and blissfully lived in denial that I would never reach this moment.
In fact, you may remember from my past birthday posts, how I wrote about all my upcoming hopes, dreams, and goals for the year, etc…whereas for this post I am ill-prepared to do so. In fact for this decade, I am lacking ideas in the goals, hopes, and planning department.
When I was young, I had expectations about how my life would be and all the things I would accomplish: finish college, buying a home, travel to every continent in the world, executive-level career, etc…the problem is, I imagined that I would do all these things in my roaring 20’s. In hindsight, I know that is highly unlikely to reach such goals at a young age, not to mention that some of my goals have changed. I have to admit, even my move to Europe was part of an effort to live a dream that I had for many years, and wanted to do it while still “young”, “vibrant”, “creative”, and “free”. Though, I had plenty of days where I did not feel like that, and looking back at this eclipsed decade, there are some things I wish I did differently, but I’ve taken the time to learn from those mistakes and make improvements. Hopefully, that wisdom will show in this next stage.
So what are the thirties going to look like? Well, if history tells us anything, it was a time of economic depression, rising nationalism, and ended with the outbreak of violent conflict. Yep, just the way I see the next ten years: flat broke, kicked out of the U.K, and a bloody end to it all in a pub. However, I can look forward to a new career path, more stamps on my passport, and experiencing good wine; all of which will bring new experiences.
And while I do have a few immediate goals, like finishing this postgraduate degree, and squeezing in a trip to southern Europe before it gets too cold to test out the new swimsuit, I have largely dismissed and ignored societal pressures to conform or reach certain “life-changing indicators”. Depending on your perspective, you can interpret that any way you want, either I’ve matured enough and feel confident of who I am as a person or I have completely devolved in character and given up on life. But I’m keeping the glass half-full tonight.
It is a good and “bleh” feeling to be back in London after a whirlwind week in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have to say, if there is another city that I fell in love with, and could see myself living in, it is København!
It is an amazing city, with lots to see and do, especially around the capital area, where I took day trips to Roskilde and Helsingør as well as to the nearby country of Sweden, to a little town called Malmö (pronounced mal-mer). I even started speaking the language, which is English, by the way. Many Danes and Swedes speak English with a near flawless American-like accent.
Back in action in the U.K, I have moved the logistics part of my research project further and now its back-to-school time for me, this included enrollment (and vaccines!), and setting my hours for my job on campus. However, the beautiful and scorching sun of London made it a bit hard to concentrate on political theory this week, instead I’ve been daydreaming of my new beach-read while breaking in a new swimsuit in the sands of Brighton.
Nonetheless, as I reflect on my trips to Europe and this year in general, I seem to find something out about myself everyday. For example, I love to travel (always knew that) but I didn’t realize how spontaneous or flexible I could be. I was so busy, up until the night before I left, I didn’t have time to plan what I wanted to see or do in Denmark. Heck, I barely had enough time to pack and am lucky that I remembered to bring enough underwear (#1 rule in packing folks, bring one day’s extra). So I spent my first night talking with a few locals, and that is how I found out going to Sweden, and continued to talk to folks on the street about where to find the best places for food and a drink. Each day, I had a new plan on where to go, what to see, and how to do it.
I also learned some basic pronunciations for those weird letters that are not in the English alphabet (ø, æ, å…), so I can at least pronounce street names and train stations in a more coherent way when asking for directions. But don’t let that scare you if you decide to visit, it’s really easy to get around even with the conventional tourist map, and downtown is so small, that if you do get lost, keep walking you’ll get there!
On a sad note, I also learned that Disney’s little mermaid is a lie! Well, yes, I know it is a fictional story, but the version by Hans Christian Andersen is so different…I almost cried after reading the summary at his museum.
So, I guess answering the headline of this post, did I finally “find me”? No. I’m still lost. I didn’t find anyone else either. But it did change my feelings about London, in that I no longer feel so new or foreign in London.
My first night in Copenhagen, I had a few doubts about my landing in a strange country without any research or knowledge; it was the very first time that I missed London. Not New York, but London. It was a familiar chest-achy feeling of being away from home and all the people you love, hate, and miss. This brings me to a second revelation that I may love, hate, and miss people or things in the U.K…
Anyway, without hashing through all of that, my experience so far in Europe has been amazing to see how people live on the other side of the Atlantic. Not that Brits, Scandinavians, or the French have a drastically different quality of life or standard of living — we are pretty much the same. However, attitudes and perspectives about life, people, and humanity are different and eye-opening. As a generalization, the attitude is more “work to live” instead of “live to work” Brits eat way worse and drink way more than the Americans, but have more longevity (according to World Bank), so…it could be something in the water.
However, speaking of humanity, I can’t ignore the tragic incidences that took place in Europe and the United States this summer, it is a pause to see how folks around the world reacted. The same beaches that I visited in southern France wearing a sundress (I didn’t have my swimsuit) and reading a book in the sand for hours, are now being patrolled by policemen for (mainly) women dressed in attire that does not “respect the culture and secular nature” of France. And the wave of unarmed shootings in the United States in July that also reignited a national conversation and exposed some very ugly structures in the our country.
However, this is winding into another topic that I wanted to save for my birthday post next week, so I will leave it here for today. Enjoy this sunset picture of the Langelinie promenade in the Copenhagen. Tell me about your breath-taking experience, @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.
Apparently going to the pub is not always about getting hammered (or pissed). These commercial locals are also about building bonds and friendships, sharing memories, and generally are very community-oriented places, where members will loyally visit this establishment several times a week, and get to know other members too.
So here’s what happened to me
There is a pub that I like, as they have good drinks and food at a cheap price, as well as they serve food at the latest hour that I have seen so far in London (11pm). So on Wednesday night about two weeks ago, I came down before the kitchen closed to put in my order for food and a drink.
Now contrary to the definition of “pub life” that I gave above, I was not feeling social during this visit. Rather, I just wanted to take a break from the books, and get some food while mindlessly staring at the TV or people-watching. Now, I had sometimes felt that people would watch me too, but I always brushed it off. I only come once every couple weeks at most, so I don’t recognize anyone, and surely no one recognizes me.
As I went to the long table, I sat in someone’s seat, and an older gentleman next to it told me he was waiting for his friend to come back. I apologized, and then took the seat next to it. I made a joke to him about my mishap (I don’t remember what I said), but sure enough, his lady friend did return and I was invited into the conversation. This girl was piss-drunk, and introduced me to random people who so happened to walk by us.
I couldn’t help wonder why she seem to know so many people at the bar…but, this is my American bias speaking. However, when I’m figuring out how to go soon, another gentleman sits across from us, and inserts himself into our conversation. He’s polite, but remember, I’m not feeling especially sociable. He ends up asking for my number, and I settled by adding myself to his LinkedIn profile.
The pub life, outside of the pub
So, this brave gentleman– we will call him Paul, does end up taking me on a date a few days later. And you know what, it was a great date! What I thought would take 2 maybe 3 hours at the most, was like 6. Wine and conversation at a jazz bar, a ferry boat ride back to the original pub where we met, and then a late dinner where he spoon-fed me pieces of his steak. Then, the romantic text message the next day….and the next…and yeah.
But I’m not into him.
He wanted to meet again, but I gave a white lie about having my tournament all weekend (I was lined up to play, and so was the team, but it fell apart last minute). The following week, when I stepped into my pub local, people were definitely staring at me. Some even came up to say hi, and asked if I remembered being introduced to them. This week, I had a late night meal with an acquaintance who wanted to offer me freelance work, and we were at the pub. Paul happened to stop by and he came to us to invite me over to his table. I replied that I’m on my way out, and when I’m finished with my meeting, I will stop by briefly to say hi to him and his companions.
Later, as he walked me to my building, I explained that I’m not interested in seeing him romantically. He was a great guy and a great catch, but I’m not interested. I don’t know why, maybe I’m very preoccupied, but I really didn’t connect on this level. We finally ended with a hug and he asked to give it a chance, and I simply said no.
The moral of the story…
So pubs are very community-oriented, it was likely that the stares were not just my imagination. After telling my story to some folks, I was told that many local pubs have a strong loyal customer base, where the patrons usually recognize each other. Thus, it’s possible that as a newbie, I received some curious looks– especially after going on a date with Mr. Paul. Because of this close network, gossip and news also spread quite rapidly in pubs too; which may help explain why a few people had came up and asked if I was “the American”.
Also, saying, “No”, and I did it rather quickly. It has been some time since I dated, however, I do not feel pressured to date or be in a relationship with someone.
Being new to London can be lonely, my social life had not picked up this summer, even while joining sports clubs or all those folks who said they would call me to go to a beer garden. So it was very tempting to finally have someone that wanted to take me to eat and drink a few nights a week and have great conversations.
However, as much as I wanted that, it wouldn’t be fair knowing what his intentions and feelings were.
Guys, a little advice; a woman usually knows within 30 seconds of meeting you, if sex is a possibility. I knew when meeting Paul, and especially knew after our first date. “Giving it a go” just means lowering our expectations for any blossoming of feelings.
It’s weird, especially as I close in on my thirtieth, it does seem that more guys that I come across are willing to “try” and “give things a go” even when there was nothing to begin with. Like, trying to start a fire with damp wood.
Girls, always go with your gut instincts, don’t string him along. If you’re not into him — tell him up front. It’s hard, and I know it is, but its the right thing– especially after learning from past experience, it’s never good to revert to those habits. However, it doesn’t mean that good conversation can’t happen over lunch instead of dinner.
Oh, and what did I learn about pub life? Well, I’m just going to keep bouncing to a different pub and keep these Brits guessing, heck, I may show up as a Canadian next week, eh?
I have been a little off since coming back from my trip in southern France. It did not help that I experienced the national mourning after the Bastille Day attacks in Nice. However, I did enjoy my trip with my friend in Montpellier in the Mediterranean province.
The featured photo is a brief snapshot of my time there; I have also gone back to wine-drinking, as I rediscovered the sensation of good wine paired with good food and cheese!
I am in back in London and the problems that I was trying to avoid, I needed to face.
So, one at a time:
First, my old job contacted me to say that they overpaid me and needed their money back.
What in Sam Hill…!?
I have never heard of this, nor did I think it could happen. I sought advice from two different places and performed my own calculations. See, the thing about this company (and I had inquired about this before with HR) is that their payslips only included my name and address, plus the gross amount paid and any net deductions (taxes). My hourly rate was not shown, nor the amount of hours worked or even the pay period–so I didn’t even know for which two weeks I was being paid or what date the paycheck was issued (except for the obvious date it was deposited into my account).
I was also suspicious because I had worked some overtime hours, so I was told I would get an extra paycheck after I left. However, it turns out that I was overpaid but based on the schedule that the HR person sent me, they didn’t pay me a few days of overtime.
Great. Problem solved, problem created – I am broke. Oh well, I can’t afford wine now, but luckily beer is cheap in east London.
I can’t think straight
I am stuck in my project. I have had some minor “mental revelations” in the course of my studies and readings, but lately — I just don’t know how to process all the information yet. And it is a lot of information, close 200 articles and some books so far that I have read since January. There are so many directions I could go in, but I need to submit a research proposal very soon and in October the graduate school will review the proposal and a draft of the first chapter of my thesis, to see if I have a “viable” project to promote me to the next year.
I think I’ll just have another beer, or three.
I’m having technical problems
This is the most embarrassing problem to have! So a few nights ago, my jack rabbit malfunctioned in the middle of doing the bunny hop to the song, “turning Japanese”. And my other pet that I keep in storage for emergencies, did not work either.
If you do not understand the cultural references above, let me invite to you to move on and read this next sentence.
Have you picked up a copy of my very own novel, The Reporter and The Girl? Its available on Amazon today! Get it now, while it is still available!
Just kidding, it’s not going anywhere.
So, who has had a shitty week? Want to talk about it, I’m all ears.