Things You Can Buy With $600 Right Now

  1. Lunch

Make it good too because lunch can run you ~$20 per day, meaning you can afford to eat for ONE month. You wanting to eat breakfast and dinner (or any meal after 30 days) is your own business.

2. A Bribe Gift For Your Landlord

Maybe convince them to not evict you and your kids after you’ve missed rent for the third month in a row.

3. Lingerie and Condoms

In case number two isn’t enough.

4. Not Drugs

Because of all the times in recent history to want to escape or try something new, this is NOT it. *coughs*

5. Candles

You can use these after BGE cuts your lights off.

6. A Plane Ticket

To a warmer climate after you get tossed on the street. It’s got to be more comfortable in Miami than in Milwaukee. Either that or a good coat at least.

Whatever you buy, I hope it provides you some comfort. If you can afford to invest it, do. If you choose to buy the new Jordan XI’s, do.

Who cares? The government doesn’t, so why bother.

19 Years and 3 days Later: A Reflection of 9/11

The Tuesday of September 11, 2001 created a national day of remembrance in addition to a shift in the movement of American (and global) culture.

I was six years old when the buildings crumbled. I remember an aunt coming to pick me up from school early. Her words, “We have to go. They bombin’ buildins.” At the time, I was extremely terrified and didn’t really understand what was happening. What I did understand was the global outrage and fear that fell upon the nation. I watched the crumble of buildings, the explosion of rubble, and frantic people running on the television screen. This played on a continuous loop for almost two days. There was general panic in my household. Talk of the apocalypse was reoccurring. “This is it,” my grandmother said repeatedly, “Our last days. He comin’ back like a thief in the night. We livin’ in our last days. This done kicked it off.” As a kid, with the continuous loop and the constant mention of “he comin’ back,” I too grew weary and anxious. There was an eerie silence accompanied by heightened sense of doom. The doom, however, was not the foreshadowing of future attacks on major cities but the attack of major communities/populations in the country (and out of the country).

courtesy of allthingsclipart

Aside from the news and the feelings that followed 9/11, I remember the culture of revenge and anger that grew, especially toward people perceived as “middle eastern”. Even the phrase, “Never Forget,” sends a wave of distress to my mind. Of course, we should not forget the lives lost and honor them. But we should not use their deaths and injuries as a ploy for patriotism, war, and national racism. Nationally, we bought into the idea of a sorrowful, destroyed, and wounded country. Although the country was wounded and sullen, we didn’t use this opportunity to create cohesion and true appreciation for our citizens. Instead, the nation drafted “The War on Terrorism.” (The idea and language which was arguably borrowed from ‘The War on Drugs’ ). We bought into hypocritical ideology created by white supremacy that encouraged domestic terrorism on South Asian, Arab, and Muslims communities. All this under the guise of patriotism.

Not even Black communities were immune to the virus of patriotic rhetoric being spread through out the media. I remember teachers and adults in my community repeatedly using the words terrorists in connection with specific people. They would joke about not going to 7/11 because terrorists worked there and even grew cautious around people they perceived as people “looking like terrorists.” This caution coincided with prejudice. And so it had begun, the revenge culture. The shunning culture. The Xenophobic culture. The Islamophobic culture. The anti-Immigrant culture.

We devoured the idea of “one nation, under God,” so much so that war propaganda was able to be pushed into the forefront of our minds. Encouraging people to go to war, destroy foreign countries, and be proud because this would make you an American hero. The tragedy and loss of life was being used (and is still used) as a reason to be extremely racist and unwelcoming to immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries.

After 9/11, the federal government changed the way in which the country moved- ignoring domestic terrorist and hate crimes – especially within travel and immigration. For example, The USA Patriot Act, National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, and Special Registration program are initiatives aimed at “stopping terrorism” but really have affected large South Asian, Arab, and Muslim communities. These government policies leaned on creating hysteria surrounding “The War on Terrorism.” The constraints of these policies included things like men above a certain age registering with the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) from specific countries to somehow weed out terrorists.

In tandem with these policies and the rhetoric were hate crimes. Alongside people being attacked on the streets, mosques were burned, Islamic schools received death threats, personal property vandalized, and businesses were burned. Incidents liked these are still happening in this decade.

Dr. Doom sheds a tear. (pulled from Vox)

Even our pop culture took part in the conversation on terrorism. There was valiance displayed as well as “poking fun at ‘terrorism’. ” This really means poking fun at people we think are terrorist under the guise of patriotism but it really is racism or Islamophobia. Jeff Dunham and his puppet come to mind especially. I will not include a clip or name the puppet, however, the character was a dead suicide bomber with a terrible accident. Before that, of course South Park created an episode depicting Osama Bin Laden as a bumbling idiot and planting an American flag in foreign soil. Even a Marvel comic depicted a national tragedy that brought heroes and villains together. In the comic, the characters are so moved by the tragedy that even Dr. Doom cries. Pop Culture didn’t really show many positive or realistic images of people who weren’t white before 9/11. After 9/11, it seemed to maneuver in an odd way either vilifying, exploiting the national melancholy, or creating a heroic American image. Unfortunately, with every hero comes a villain. 9/11 created villains and an “enemy.” Not only heroes, angry Americans, and “the enemy;” we created scarred veterans and severed global relationships.

The second Tuesday of September 2001 created a national tragedy that spiraled into a culture of anger and revenge. The country was able to manipulate its entire population. Looking back, of course we would have wanted to prevent people dying and people being injured. We would have wanted to prevent sending more citizens to war. As a country, our biggest regret should be swallowing and consuming propaganda that promoted hate and pushed xenophobia and Islamophobia.

With more research, awareness, and the realization of the error of our ways, I hope we can create a better society moving forward.

There took some research to craft this piece. I will list some of the links below:

Southern Poverty Law Center

Business Insider

Hoover

ACLU

Humanity in Action

Vox

You’ve Got a Fast Car… And a Slow Car: A Look at The Band, Fast Car Slow Car

Fast Car Slow Car in action. Listen to those vibes.

On a brisk November night, a friend texted me, asking me to attend a concert. I was taken aback because usually concerts require ticket money and vast preparation for a concert outfit. I was skeptical until she said, “It’s low key and a folky kind of band.” Instantly, I was intrigued.

It was a short walk to a tiny record store in Station North. The venue, intimate, was crowded yet clear enough to see a full view of Fast Car Slow Car. The lead singer- a twin, who is also in the band- is the definition of a carefree Black boy. His voice is husky. His husky voice paired with the light euphoric playing of the keys creates another world for the listener. In other words, some songs make you feel like you’re floating to another planet. Some songs make you want to just close your eyes and be absorbed by the sound. It’s a good time listening to the guys. The sound is a fusion of folk and electro- a pleasant fusion. The band is an eclectic mix of styles, personalities, and talents. The sound is soothing yet mystical to listen to and the live experience was amazing.

When watching the band live, I forgot I was in a small record store. I forgot I wasn’t in a large venue or that I was surrounded by vinyl and retro 70s funk records. The band has big energy, big talent, and a big sense of humor. Fortunately, they are humble, sensible humans that were easy to talk to.

After the show, I had the pleasure of kicking back with the band in a pool hall/bar. Here is where I kind of forgot that they were musicians and just down to earth guys. We chatted about music, flawed school systems, and traveling across state lines to pursue music.

Read our Q&A with Fast Car Slow Car below:

Tell us about the band. Who are you guys? What are your names?

Hello, we’re a new band called Fast Car Slow Car from Philadelphia. Prolly played our first show full band about 5 months ago. And as for members we got Alex Held on keys, Breshon Martzall on vocals, Gabe Rosen on drums, John DiCocco on Guitar, Keondre Martzall on keys and percussion and for the show y’all caught we had our friend Shawn Fitzgerald filling in on bass. 

What does artistry and music mean to you all?

Honestly, it’s hard to know what it means to everyone in the band but at this point makin/playin music is the only thing we know lol. Hopefully that doesn’t ruin the magic. We’ve all been doin music so long.

Where does the name of your band come from?

The name of the band comes from a Tracy Chapman song.

How did you guys meet? 

Good ol’ Philadelphia. Breshon and Dre are twins so that might go back a bit further.

What inspires your sound? 

Movies? Skateboarding? Love? Other music less than you’d think.

What inspires you to do music and create a band?

I think we’re all chasing a check. Time to take it to the bank.

What do you want people to get from your music?

 It’d be cool if our music made other people want to make music. Then we can all play producers on those records when we’re washed up. 

Describe your tour experience. How long have you been touring? What was your favorite city?

Our tours are great, we’re all real good friends who like to party and skate. So it’s usually a pretty good time. We’ve only done about a week with this band but hopefully we do a longer one soon. Chicago and Baltimore are tight!

What is the best and worse thing about being in a band?

Best thing is making something your proud of! Worst thing is bein broke and hungry. 

What’s your craziest tour story?

Hmm we got booed for a whole set by a small biker gang, then we went to square up but they weren’t with it. I don’t think they took us very seriously, lol. But not too many crazy tour stories yet hopefully next time! 

How does being from Philly effect your music or your image? 

Everyday we struggle if we should sound like Hall and Oates of Meek Mill. But we can never decide so we meet in the middle with Lil Uzi.

Where do you see yourselves in 3 years?

In three years hopefully a headlining tour! That’d be really cool.

If you could solve any problems in the world what is would they be and why?

Oh man that question is loaded. I’d say if you could get a time machine and eradicate colonialism we’d have a lot less problems to fix. But that’s not possible so let’s start with bringing back the old butterfingers recipe. It tastes different I can tell.

What is something that music or artistry is lacking right now?

 More records on tape.

Anything else you want us to know about you guys?

We are all good friends who love each other. And Dre has a crush on the Wendy’s girl. 

Keep up with Fast Car Slow car via Instagram or hear their music on Bandcamp or Sound Cloud.

Black Pride is Same Gender Loving Pride …

Although It’s the end of August and the performative parade of appreciation of Pride has long ended, we need to talk about the intersection of Blackness and the LGBTQ+ community. We need to acknowledge boys, girls, non-binary, and trans people who love other girls, boys, non-binary, and trans people. More importantly, we need to realize much of the groundwork done in our communities has been done by Black LGBTQ+ people.

June is Pride month. In that month, we see a confetti like burst of “solidarity” for LGBTQ+/ same gender loving folks. When the rainbow confetti is swept away and the flag flooded with colors comes down, it leaves the question of “so now what?” Especially after the continued and senseless violence enacted upon transwomen and the erasure of transmen.

Before any of you decide to snub your nose at celebrating pride or LGBTQ people, ask yourself these questions:

“Do I love to watch Pose or RuPaul’s drag race?”

“Do I say shade, read, the gag?”

“Do I sympathize with civil or uncivil disobedience?”

“Do I say sickening? Do I say realness, fish, or serving?”

If you answered yes to any of those questions then welcome to the celebration because you owe all of those things to the community. Especially the Black LGBTQ community!

Black people are trendsetters. We are the backbone of this society and have worked to create a culture that is our own. In doing that, Black LGBTQ+ people created a culture because there was a divide created in our community. Black people have adopted patriarchy and other Eurocentric ideals that have damaged our relationships with each other. We have othered a group of people within our community. Eurocentrism promotes othering and having a lower group to enact power over. Eurocentrism also encourages heteronormative societies while establishing gender roles to be followed. When we have people who don’t fit that structure, othering happens.

“Disagreeing with their lifestyle,” is an invalid, ignorant statement. A lifestyle is a choice. A lifestyle is something you can change. It’s a way of “styling” your life. Health and fitness is a lifestyle. Being “outdoorsy” is a lifestyle. LGBTQ+ people don’t go through life as heterosexual, then randomly one day wake up and say, “… it’s Saturday. I think … I think I’m going to be gay today.” That’s not how it works. People usually know they aren’t heterosexual or cisgendered early in their lives. We usually ignore children or shame them into hiding their true selves. We must stop this. We are causing detriments in our culture and denying the importance of our people in history when we do. We can’t beat, pray, or force people to change who they are to make others comfortable and we shouldn’t want to.

They are several people that made contributions in our community that are Black and LGBTQ+ . We have:

•Bayard Rustin

•James Baldwin

•Ernestine Eckstein

•Alvin Ailey

•Audre Lorde

•Andrea Jenkins

•Willi Ninja

•Angela Davis

•Marsha P. Johnson

There are so many more people that we could and should acknowledge in our community that created space and opportunity for Black people. We need to stop othering and exile homophobia from our communities and our lives. We should not be asking Black people to choose between their identities because intersectionality exist. Stop asking, “Are you Black first or are you [insert orientation or gender identity] first?” Learn the difference between orientation and gender. Learn/ educate yourself on the topic of gender or the social construct that it is. Your opinions about a person’s preferred pronoun doesn’t matter. Call them by their preferred pronouns.

We have many issues plaguing our communities. It’s time to retire homophobia and transphobia.

The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword: A Conversation with A Poet

Baltimore is a hub for artistry. We have musicians, painters, writers, and of course poets. One poet in particular has created a name for herself through words and select readings of her work. Her work is ” [a] getaway from the world ” and healing for the poet. 

Meet Ashley Elizabeth, the writer and teacher with a knack for storytelling through verse for over a decade. Ashley started writing fiction in elementary school, poems in seventh grade, and creative non-fiction in college. She creates glimpses into the world with her work. Her poetry as she described are ” more condensed version of that story that packs that story in a small, vibrant punch.” Ashley Elizabeth’s most recent work is her first published book titled, “you were supposed to be a friend.”

you-were-supposed-to-be-a-friend-glory

It is a collection of delicate yet tough realities about the brutalities of unrequited love. It’s vulnerable. It’s soft. It’s true. It’s definitely worth the read. Ashley gave us insight to what it’s like to be a teacher and poet.

What is your full name?
My name is Ashley Evans
Do you have a poet/author name?
My poet name is Ashley Elizabeth.
When did you start writing?
I started writing fiction in elementary school, poetry in middle school, and creative nonfiction in college.
How do you define writing? Poetry? How would you define your poetry?
I define writing as putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and telling a story in a way only you know how to tell. Poetry is a more condensed version of that story that packs that story in a small, vibrant punch. My poetry is a little of this a little of that. I write about different topics, such as blackness, womanhood, family, abuse, and more. It’s my getaway from the world when I cannot physically get away. It’s my release; it’s my healing.
How long have you been a poet?
I’ve been writing poetry since about 7th or 8th grade, so that’s around 12-13 years or so.
What inspires you (to write)?
My community inspires me to write, my pure existence as a black woman. The love I have for my partner. The hate I have for oppression. The secrets I have, the constant thoughts running through my head. My trauma is definitely up there on the list as well. Murky relationships between family and non-family members.
How did you start doing readings?
I started doing readings by simply responding to calls for writers and being lucky enough to be chosen. My very first reading was with Yellow Arrow Publishing in April 2018 after I responded to a call for writers who write about Baltimore. From a couple readings, I have been solicited to do other readings.
Tell us about Ashley, outside of writing.
Outside of writing, I am a teacher at a Montessori school in Baltimore. I am also a freelance writing consultant/editor/proofreader. I live in my partner in Baltimore County, and when I’m not writing, I’m looking for great spots to eat and experience life, reading, or playing video games.
When and why did you become a teacher?
Originally, I did not want to teach at all. I have a psychology degree, but an experience I had teaching in Jamaica, available through my university, changed my mind completely. The students were bright and eager. They wanted to learn, and I wanted to keep sharing my gifts and knowledge when I came back to the States. After I graduated, I landed a job teaching in Baltimore City, and I’ve been in education in some way ever since.
Does being a write help you as a teacher? Do you incorporate writing into your teaching style?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it makes me a better teacher, but it does make me a better processor in evaluating needs of my students. I have both creative writing and more academic work structured into my classroom routines as both are important for different reasons.
Who inspired you to teach?
My kids in Jamaica and all the amazing teachers I’ve had along the way, especially the late Ms. Nevel. I wish I just had one more day with her.
Who is your favorite writer?
That’s a tough question. I like the work of many people as everyone brings something new to the table, and I appreciate the variety greatly.
Do you have a favorite book? if so, what is it?
Not really, that’s like picking a favorite child, and that’s sacrilegious in my line of work. I just really love to read. The most current book I’ve read that had me feeling all the feels was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. That is definitely high on my list.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writer and teachers?
To aspiring writers: Keep writing no matter what. There will be times you want to give up and get rejections from submissions/residencies and be the bridesmaid but never the bride, but do not let that stop you. Keep writing and reading and working towards however you define success as a writer. It will come. Try to write everyday, but know that it is okay to put a piece down for a nap and come back to it later. For teachers: Teach the new generation to the best of your ability (obviously) but also listen to them. believe in them. Hug them when you can. All they need is love and support. Know that you may not be able to reach all of your students, but try your damnedest.
If you could anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Right now, I’d go back to Jamaica, but I would only stay in the home stay I stayed in the first time I went. There’s something about the summertime that makes this non-beach girl want to go to the beach, eat some amazing food, dance, and not have a care in the world. (Ask me this again later, and you might have a completely different answer.)
Ashley is actively writing, reading, and tweeting. Keep up with her updates via Instagram or Twitter.