The original Bad Girl…Miss Piggy. Enjoy!
Danielle Brooks created the role of Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on Orange Is the New Black to thunderous critical acclaim in 2013. But the 25-year-old Julliard graduate from Greenville, South Carolina, (who also was the first black actress to play a starring role on HBO’s Girls) noticed a disappointing reality once she made it in Hollywood. In this exclusive essay for Glamour, Brooks shares a very personal lifelong struggle to self-acceptance and love.
Being a teenager can be one of the hardest phases of a person’s life. For me, I struggled every day tricking myself into appearing confident. After reading over old journal entries, I realized some days were less successful than others. I came across one that took me aback. In this entry, I had written about how insecure I was about my weight. I wasn’t able to wear the flared jeans and cute tops the other girls wore—they didn’t come in my size. On top of that, I was dark-skinned and had natural hair. By the standard definition of beauty I had absorbed from the world around me, I had three strikes against me: I was too dark, too curly, and too fat.
Because of this insecurity, I was desperately unhappy. I was even having suicidal thoughts. But you wouldn’t have known it. The world saw a young teenage girl who was happy in her skin, laughed a lot, and didn’t care what anyone thought about her. The truth of the matter was I wasn’t happy in my skin; I laughed to hide my pain, and cared deeply what my peers thought of my appearance—to the point that I even was having suicidal thoughts. But you wouldn’t have known it.
Even now, I still find ways to make light of the sadness I was in back then. When I was interviewed for a magazine recently, I joked that when my mother would ask me to go for a walk around the neighborhood, I would hide behind the house because I was lazy. But the real reason I hid was because I didn’t want the boys in the neighborhood to laugh at the fat girl walking around the cul-de-sac.
I didn’t always feel so self-conscious. As a young girl, I was always a healthy kid but never a skinny kid. I didn’t know that there was anything “wrong” with my body until I was in middle school and a woman from church felt the spirit move her to tell me. As I walked home from Bible study one Wednesday night, she stopped me and exclaimed, “Danielle you’ve got stretch marks on your arms!” and proceeded to take her pointer finger and identify the four or five tiny lines that were starting to form. She continued, “You’re too young to be getting stretch marks,” though she was covered in them herself. And that’s when the cycle of judging myself began.
From that moment on, it was a long road to learning to love myself again. I dreamed of being an actor, but when I looked for reflections of myself on the screen, I found few. Still, I found inspiration in the words of Sharon Flake and the music of India Arie. I took acting classes, where I felt free and accepted. Free to let out the biggest screams, to roll around the floor like a cat, and to cry sloppy tears without being judged. Accepted by this tribe of fellow performers, unique individuals who valued me for my talent and my boldness and not for what I looked like (or didn’t look like). In acting I found my confidence, my joy, my safe place.
Ironically, achieving a measure of success in this field that gave me confidence threatened to shake the very foundation of that hard-earned self-worth. Being in the public eye magnifies my “imperfection” to an insane degree. Attending the Golden Globes for the first time, I was aware that the majority of the other actresses in the audience didn’t look like me. But you see, the average woman is a size 12 to 14. Those actresses don’t look like most women. I’m not saying those actresses should gain 30 pounds, but I am posing the question, that if art is supposed to reflect life then why don’t the red carpets and magazines reflect reality?
Ideally, I want to see all beauties, all shapes, all sizes, all skin tones, all backgrounds represented in my profession. Now that I am blessed to be that reflection I was once looking for, I’m making a promise to speak out for that little girl that I used to be. I might not have the power to change what media puts out there, or to single-handedly convince young girls like me that they should love themselves. But what I can do is start with me: living each day, embracing who I am. Embracing who I am by refusing to hide my legs or cover my arms because they make someone else feel uncomfortable. By realizing that every stretch mark on my body is kissed by the sun, and no longer wishing them away. By no longer operating out of a place of fear. So if you see me on a carpet with my arms and legs out glistening, or my midriff exposed, it’s a reminder to myself and the world that I know I’m beautiful.
“As we shine our light, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence liberates others.” —Marianne Williamson
Photos: Caitlin Mitchell
I wasn’t sure whether or not to write about this. I generally prefer not to write about my son, out of respect for his privacy, and I don’t want to put myself in a legally questionable situation by writing about what happened. But it’s been several days since the incident and I’ve still got a crazy cocktail of rage, panic, and sadness churning inside my chest and I don’t know how else to get it out.
Here’s the short version: A mother called the police after my son and her daughter collided in a playground accident. That really happened. He’s 3.
The longer version is this: I was sitting on a bench, in a spot where I could see the entire circular track the kids scoot and ride their bikes around. When my son didn’t complete his lap in a timely manner, I stood up to look for him and saw him standing with a family including several children. He’s extremely social and often stops to talk and make friends, so I assumed he was just chatting with them.
A minute or so later I heard him yelling “Mommy, Mommy.” I ran over to find two children sobbing hysterically, a little girl and my son.
A woman sitting nearby volunteered, “I saw the whole thing! They ran into each other. They’re both just scared.” I gathered my son into my arms and comforted him, telling him it was OK, that it was an accident.
“I didn’t mean to knock her over,” he sobbed. He then repeatedly tried to apologize to the little girl and her mother, who ignored him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he sputtered over and over.
“Is she OK?” I asked the little girl’s mother. She told me her tooth was wiggly and bleeding. My son was still hysterical, so I picked him up and started to move to another corner to continue calming him down.
The other mother motioned to me not to leave.
“What do you want from me?” I asked her. “It was an accident.”
I didn’t mean it in a sarcastic way at all — I wasn’t sure if she wanted money, or my contact info, or in what way she expected me to help. I was (probably stupidly) prepared to do what she asked for. The last thing I expected was what she said next.
“I called the police.”
“YOU CALLED THE POLICE?” This is the point at which I have been mentally punching this woman for days now.
“Your son hit my daughter,” she said. “I called the police.”
At that moment, my internal Mama Bear rose up to her hind legs and bared her claws. “He’s 3 YEARS OLD. It was an accident,” I snarl/yelled. I have never in my life felt a sense of assertiveness so strong for my own self, but when it came to my kid, I felt an unprecedented sense of agency and strength. I knew I would stand up for my child in absolutely any way needed to protect him.
“She’s crazy,” shouted the witness. “I saw the whole thing. They ran into each other. It was a total accident.”
I asked the witness if she would stay until the police arrived, then scooped up my hysterical 3-year-old and marched to the other end of the playground, where I stewed as he asked questions like “Why did she call the police? Am I going to jail? Is the little girl OK? Is SHE going to jail?”
When the police car rolled up outside the gate of the playground area, I let the woman tell her side of the story before walking over to talk to them.
“It’s my son,” I volunteered. “He’s sitting right there, in the green helmet.”
“Look,” the police officer tried to explain to the other mother, “I can see him crying from here. It was an accident. It’s not like he did it on purpose.”
The mother, who had a shaky command of English, then leaned down to her daughter and asked her to translate to the police that “the mother” (me) hadn’t shown up for 10 or 20 minutes after the accident, which was a complete lie. I’d actually been running my stopwatch as my son went around the track so I know it hadn’t been more than 2-and-a-half minutes since he’d set out.
Again, the police explained that it was an accident and there was nothing they could do about it.
“It’s a park,” said the officer from before.”Kids are running around all over the place here.”
They offered to call an ambulance for the injured little girl, which the mother accepted. I stayed back while they loaded her in and finished their interactions.
From my vantage point I could see another family member or friend who had been with them telling her version of the story to a large crowd that had collected. From her broad “wooshing” hand gestures, I could see that she was intimating that my son was some sort of reckless danger to society on a 3-wheeler scooter. I somehow managed to not stomp over there and ask her to stop regaling the park with stories about my 3-year-old son at least until he had stopped sobbing.
When the family was on their way, I asked the police officers if they needed my information or anything. They said no. “She wanted to press charges,” he told me. I’m not sure if he meant against me or my pre-schooler.
“I can see the woman over there telling everyone the story…” I began.
“Yeah, he’s a maniac, right?” the police officer said winkingly, before he and his partner headed on their way.
It’s been a few days since this happened, and my son seems to be fine. He got a scare, but he’s back on his scooter and hasn’t mentioned the incident again. He’s always been very conscientious about watching out for pedestrians while on his scooter, but it can’t hurt for him to be even more so. We haven’t yet been back to the area of the park where the collision happened, but I think that’s more because of my fear than his.
Because while he’s fine, I’m not. I’m furious. And I’m scared. My black son just had his first police interaction at age 3.
I have tried to be understanding of the panic the other mother probably felt when her daughter was hurt. My son knocked his teeth back into his gums in a fight with a slide and had to be held down in the ER while he got stitches where he bit through his own tongue. I know how it feels to be scared for your injured child. I feel terrible, as did my son, for the little girl who was hurt.
It’s still hard for me to understand how a fellow mother could call the police on a sobbing 3-year-old. But I want to believe that she simply didn’t know what to do, and called the police out of fear and confusion. I even want to believe that she was trying to lay the groundwork to sue me, that she wanted money. I want to believe those things more than some things I could believe.
I’m glad the police were reasonable and straightened things out. Perhaps in this instance, it was best they were there to handle what was obviously a touchy situation. In this instance. This time.
But to be the mother of a black son is to be scared for them, constantly. Black mothers know this better than me, have known it for a long time. I am not the person to tell that story.
I don’t know if there was a racial component to what happened this time, but I can’t help but flash forward to someday when someone may wrongfully point their finger at my son again, someday when he’s not an adorable 3-year-old, someday when I’m not there to speak for him.
And I think that’s why my guts are still roiling days later, why I am still feeling emotional about an incident that everyone seems to agree was crazy, but over now. That I shouldn’t let it get to me. It got to me. I’m not over it. I wish I was.
But if nothing else, I am glad I felt that Mama Bear rise up inside me. I am glad that I knew, in that moment, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would and will always do anything, ANYTHING to protect my son. Because, unfortunately, he lives in a world where he needs a little extra protection.
I am not religious, in fact one of the reasons that I left the Catholic Church was because of its constant message of hate and hypocrisy. But this Pastor makes a lot of sense.
Just Because – Enjoy!!!
Just Cause. Enjoy!
Originally posted on TIME:
The American Ballet Theater has promoted Misty Copeland to principal ballerina, making her the first black female principal ballerina in the company’s 75-year history.
Copeland, who has been with the company for 14 years and danced as a soloist for 8, is one of the most widely visible ballerinas dancing today, with fame spreading far beyond the ballet world. She has written two books (Firebird, a children’s book, and Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, a memoir,) presented at the Tony’s, made an ad for Under Armour that got over 8 million views, and was honored this year as one of the TIME 100. Last week, she became the first African-American ballerina to dance Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House.
“Something that my mother instilled in me, as a biracial woman herself, and me being biracial, was that the world was going to view me as a black…
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WASHINGTON — Interviewing a source can be an eye-opening and harrowing experience, especially when speaking to someone who has been victimized — or someone who feels her people have been wronged.
The Huffington Post published a story last week giving an account of the now-famous McKinney, Texas, pool party police debacle, based in part on an interview with one of the partygoers who had a gun pulled on him. But the real shock came when a resident who wasn’t even at the party emailed me to say that I had it all wrong.
“The story you just posted where you interviewed [the partygoer] is ridiculously inaccurate. I live in the community and know people that witnessed the incident first hand. I am also on a neighborhood Facebook group and was getting information before anything even escalated,” the woman, who called herself Jen, said. “If you’d like to talk to one of the adults in the video who was a first hand witness to the whole situation, and not responsible for trespassing, I can put you in contact.”
Jen rescinded the offer when asked about contact info for two women who can be seen attacking 19-year-old Tatiana Rhodes in a video. McKinney police were called sometime after the altercation. Rhodes, one of the party hosts, said the women were hurling racial slurs at the black teens — Rhodes herself was allegedly called a “black fucker” — and telling them to go back to their “Section 8 homes.”
Instead, Jen replied with a lengthy screed that gave insight into how some people can defend McKinney police officer Eric Casebolt’s handling of the situation. Her email hinted at the deep-seated mindset among white Americans who dismiss black humanity in order to preserve an unwavering deference to authority — so I called her.
As the phone rang, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from our conversation. But our chat turned out to be meaningful and worth dissecting. It illustrated how white fear and misperceptions can be used to justify actions that traumatize or sometimes even end black lives. It showed the troubling ease with which some people can explain away this trauma as an inevitable — and, worse, acceptable — outcome of black behavior.
Before ending our chat, Jen, whose last name I’m withholding, told me she didn’t want to be quoted — and I let her know that requests to talk off the record need to be made prior to an interview with a reporter, not after.
She required him to use force. Had he grabbed her arm and had she followed him willfully, it wouldn’t have looked the way it looked. But she required the force.
Jen’s take on the majority of the day’s events differ from testimonies given by teenswho were actually at the party, though everyone agrees the chaos began with an end-of-the-school-year cookout. Jen said that teens were trading off a key to get into a pool area and that when the security guard started denying them access, the situation began to escalate. She accused the teens of rebelling — she said they started “taking over,” “jumping the fence” and “being aggressively sexually active.”
Her analysis of what happened says something about why this incident sparked a national conversation that has further exposed racial divides. Jen didn’t see this as an incident involving implicit racial biases. (Based on her Gmail account photo, I guessed that she is white, and I also assumed she knew I’m black based on my Gmail account photo.) She refused to consider Casebolt’s actions — particularly his treatment of 15-year-old Dajerria Becton — as part of a widespread practice of police brutalizing black people. She didn’t seem to see any problem with the way he acted.
The emphasis in the following block quotes was added by HuffPost.
So basically once the cops were called, nobody would leave. Nobody would listen to authority. Nobody was doing what they were supposed to be doing. … The cop? Was he out of line? That’s for the police department to decide. It sure seems like he was kind of a loose cannon. But at the same time, when it came down to arresting this girl, he asked her multiple times, “Get away, get away, get away, get away.” She kept coming back. She kept coming back, yelling racial slurs. Finally, he had enough with her. And here’s the deal, if you’re trying to maintain control in like a mob-like situation — because that’s what it felt like. It felt like a mob. I had moms posting on Facebook “What’s going on,” leaving the pool because they didn’t feel safe. And not because the kids were black. It had nothing to do with that. It had to do with the energy of the situation.
While Jen tried to discount the role that race played in her description, the racial undertones can’t be ignored. Black people are regularly associated with “mobs.” It’s a common media theme — whether we’re protesting or just turning up at a party — primarily because blackness is associated with unruliness, violence and trouble. A group of black folks, or even rowdy kids, can’t just be hanging out. We have to be doing, ya know, “mob” stuff. Or, as Jen put it, displaying a “blatant” disregard for authority and order — pretty much asking to be kept in check.
As Casebolt ordered the black kids to the ground, white teens were walking around freely, including 15-year-old Brandon Brooks, who filmed the incident. Brandon offered a poignant perspective to BuzzFeed:
“Everyone who was getting put on the ground was black, Mexican, Arabic,” he said. “[The cop] didn’t even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible.”
In her remarks to me, Jen disregarded this aspect of the situation and, instead, placed most of the onus for what went wrong on those kids. I wish I could say I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
And I don’t know if that’s how they’re raised. I don’t know if there’s maybe — it was just a general sense of entitlement that they didn’t have to follow the rules.
Jen sounded so caught up in the vision of black rambunctiousness that the age of these kids — some as young as 14 — didn’t seem to matter. And perhaps it didn’t. Black children, especially boys, are often seen as older and less innocent than their white peers.
Jen also sounded relieved to get her sentiments off her chest. I’m not sure if she was just frustrated that the prevailing narrative was different than the one she believed or if she had been harboring these thoughts for too long. But something was coloring her perspective:
As far as the little girl goes, that was brutally taken down, it appeared that way. It absolutely appeared that way. See, that’s exactly what she wanted you to think. She was running her mouth, running her mouth. It’s cancerous in a situation like that. In like a mob mentality like that, people like her are cancer. And it spreads. So all of a sudden she gets control, guess what’s gonna happen. Everybody else is, “Oh, well, she gets to do this, she gets to do this.” And it spreads. The officer, I believe — and this is just my opinion, I cannot speak to what he was thinking — I feel like she was threatening the situation. He asked several times; still she wouldn’t leave. [He asked her] several times; still she wouldn’t leave. She kept running her mouth … like she was calling him racial slurs. It was just ugly and nasty. So finally, he decided to detain her.
At that point, you’re detained, sweetie. You have to follow the rules. Whether or not you think you should be detained or not, he’s made that choice because that’s what he feels he needs to do to maintain control. What did she do? She slithered up. Yeah, she pulled. She’s fighting him. She required him to use force. Had he grabbed her arm and had she followed him willfully, it wouldn’t have looked the way it looked.
I thanked Jen for sharing her perspective. Then I asked if she felt as though Casebolt could have handled the situation better — especially considering how small Dajerria is — but she still couldn’t bring herself to place any blame on the officer. She repeatedly said she didn’t know how cops are trained and emphasized what the teenage girl could have done better, saying she “was absolutely out of control.” Jen was firm in her stance that when an officer “arrives to do his job, you do what he tells you to do.”
White Americans as a whole tend to trust their local police more than black Americans do — 67 percent compared to 36 percent, according to a recent HuffPost/YouGov survey. Jen did admit that Casebolt’s handling of the situation didn’t look good a few times during our conversation. She also continuously pulled away from that observation and returned to the idea that the true culprits were the black kids — and that Casebolt was only responding appropriately to their threats:
She absolutely was breaking the law. By simply resisting what he was telling her to do, that’s breaking the law. And when you’re a criminal, you get treated like a criminal. Do I think he could have handled it better? I really don’t know. I don’t know what his training is. … Do I feel like she deserved to be taken down? Yes. In my opinion, she was obstructing justice. She absolutely deserved what she got. But what that looks like — I mean getting down to the details, do I think it could have been better? I honestly don’t know. It looks very cringy. … She’s not doing what she’s told. She’s absolutely interfering with [Casebolt’s efforts]. That’s a threat. And I know that they are trained to deal with those threats. Whether or not he did as he was trained, I don’t know. I don’t know what that looks like because I haven’t been trained. I don’t what that looks like. You want to look at it and say, “Oh, she should never be thrown to the ground.” But at the same time, what other choice did he have?
Casebolt could have acted like other officers on the scene, opting for a softer, more patient approach to the so-called mayhem. He didn’t have to yank Dajerria by her arm, push her head into the ground, pull her by her hair and complete his abuse with a knee in the back. He could have not let his emotions take over. He could have been a “guardian” instead of a “warrior.” This was a pool party.
Essentially, Casebolt could have done his damn job. After I spoke with Jen, Casebolt resigned from the force following the McKinney Police Department’s decision to launch an investigation into his questionable conduct.
Anyway, yeah, it looks brutal. It makes your gut reaction — your initial reaction is to just “Get off that baby girl.” That was my reaction, too. Hearing those wails, your momma bear instinct comes out. … And as far as drawing his gun, if you watch the video slow, and I think it’s at 3 minutes 13 seconds, you can see a kid coming up on his left with his hands near his pockets like he’s gonna pull something. Did the cop feel threatened that he felt like he needed to pull his gun? Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe not. Your gut reaction is to say, “Oh, you don’t pull a gun on teens.” But I don’t know. I have no idea.
I was shocked that she tried to justify Casebolt pulling his gun on two people at a pool party, but then it hit me: Jen is a victim of a larger systemic issue. Racism ruins everything it touches, even those privileged by the power dynamic. It probably hasn’t even crossed some folks’ minds that their views are hurtful and damaging.
This one woman’s comments on Dajerria and the other black kids struck a nerve with me. They reminded me of the first time I was called a “nigger” by a white guy who saw no value in me. They reminded me of when my great-grandmother explained to an 8-year-old me that I was black and that meant I was different. I couldn’t be a kid. I didn’t have any wiggle room to make average, youthful mistakes and grow from them, because blunders can get black people killed. Perceived defiance, like Dajerria’s, has been the catalyst for other controversial police shootings. Who’s to say things couldn’t have escalated this time?
The reality is that black people are all too quickly seen as criminals, aren’t afforded the benefit of doubt and are held to incredibly high standards of personal responsibility that we’ll never attain because as long as our skin is black, we will never meet white standards. We’re expected to be a reflection of them, yet flawed white perception is never assuaged. Instead, black behavior is endlessly attacked.
It was a painful conversation. I took a break after getting off the phone with Jen because the rage that consumed me was too much. See, I encounter racism frequently, but Jen’s obliviousness to how her racially biased opinion would make me feel caught me off guard. It was almost like she expected me to understand where she was coming from — like this was how everyone, including black people, feels about black people. It was so nonchalant and normal for her.
Like I said, Jen is a victim. But what differentiates us is that she’s primarily a victim of her own ignorance. She can defeat her prejudice through education, greater awareness and stepping outside of her white comfort. Black people, on the other hand, can’t directly control or change the ignorance that fuels these systems of racial oppression.
Dajerria, the other black teens at the party and black folks in general are in a Catch-22 — and I don’t know if there’s a way out.
Strawberry Limeade Cake is a complete delight to the senses. A wonderful choice for a summer birthday.
For the Cake:
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 stick salted butter
- 2 tablespoons lime zest
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 2-4 drops green food coloring
For the Frosting:
- 3/4 cup salted butter, (12 tablespoons)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup frozen sweetened strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
- 5-6 cups powdered sugar
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 2 (8 inch) round cake pans and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine cake flour and baking powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium speed for two minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating and scraping the sides of the bowl after each. Add lime juice and mix until smooth.
- Add flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture alternately, starting and ending with flour. Stir in a few drops of green food coloring. Give the batter a good stir from the bottom, then pour evenly into prepared pans.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched in the center.
- Remove from oven and let cool in pans for about 7 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
For the Frosting:
- In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.
- Add pureed strawberry mixture, beating on low until smooth.
- Add 5 cups powdered sugar and continue beating on low until JUST mixed.
- Increase mixer speed to high and beat for one minute. If frosting is too thin, add additional cup of powdered sugar.
Assemble the Cake:
- Carefully level cooled cakes with a serrated knife, then frost and assemble. Keep uneaten cake stored in the refrigerator.
As many people in their 50s have discovered, making friends as an adult is difficult. Without the social bonds that connect us to others as parents, many of us feel isolated — or even a little lonely.
The truth is that it is possible to have an active social life at any age — but, first, we need to accept the fact that making friends after 50 is an active process. We can no longer afford to wait for other people to come to us. We need to take action.
This is the main reason that I decided to build Boomerly. I wanted to create a place where older adults could go to meet like-minded people. Along the way, I had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of people about their experiences making friends as an adult. Through these conversations, I learned that the people who succeed in building meaningful friendships as an adult are the ones that follow these four steps.
Step 1: Start by Getting to Know Yourself
When you ask people how to make friends as an adult, they usually give you suggestions like, “just get out there,” “join a dance class,” or, “try speed dating.” On the surface, these are fine suggestions. After all, making friends does require us to get out into the world and take a few emotional risks.
Most of the time, however, we are not lacking for ideas on where to meet people. We are missing the motivation, confidence and self-esteem to get started. For this reason, most people find that reconnecting with themselves is a prerequisite to reconnecting with others.
Think back over the last five decades. Have you spent most of your life looking after other people? Have you left your own passions on the back-burner? Have you let your physical appearance go as you focused on raising your family? Do you feel a bit emotionally bruised by the disappointments that you have faced over the years? Do you have regrets that are holding you back?
Dealing with these issues won’t happen overnight. Be gentle with yourself. If you don’t feel like “getting out there” right away, don’t force yourself. Instead, identify the issues that you can control in your life and focus on those.
Step 2: Develop Your Physical and Emotional Resources
If you feel tired, out of shape, or sad, most of the time, making friends is going to be extremely difficult. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple things that you can do to increase your physical and emotional resources.
Most people don’t realize just how disconnected from their bodies they have become until it is too late. Fitness after 50 is not about looking a certain way for other people. It is about having the energy and confidence to explore the world and make friends on your own terms.
Start small. Use the 1-minute technique to gradually increase your commitment to exercise. Get out into nature. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up every hour to stretch. Try gentle yoga.
Then, as your confidence and stamina improve, increase your level of commitment. Join a local gym or see if your community center has fitness equipment that you can use. Find a sport that you love. Whatever you do, do something.
While you build up your body, don’t forget to nourish your mind. Write down one thing every day that you are grateful for. Spend a few minutes every day in meditation or prayer. Learn to become your own best friend.
Step 3: Chase Your Passions, Not People
When people tell you to “get out there and make friends,” they are telling you to chase people. There are several problems with this approach. First, it puts other people on a pedestal. They are the prize to be won. Second, chasing other people simply doesn’t work. By this point in our lives, we know that the best way to push someone away is to follow them.
The alternative is to approach relationship building from a position of strength. Instead of chasing people, we need to chase our passions. This is the only way to meet people on an equal footing.
What have you always been passionate about? Are there any activities, sports, hobbies or skills that you sacrificed to give your family more attention? What fascinates you? What are you curious about? What gets you excited? These are the questions that you need to answer to make friends after 50.
Step 4: Be Proactive and Invite People Into Your Life
By the time you reach this step, you will be in great shape. You will have a better understanding of who you are and the kinds of people you want to attract. Perhaps most importantly, you will have recommitted yourself to exploring your passions and getting the most from life after 50. Now it’s time to invite people into your life.
As you explore the world, you will meet hundreds of people who share your interests. Don’t settle for acquaintances. Look for opportunities to bring people deeper into your life. Organize movie nights. Invite small groups over to your house for cocktails. Propose hiking trips. The specifics aren’t important. Just don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. They usually won’t.
Making friends as an adult is possible, but, it requires a new approach. Instead of relying on our social circumstances to bring people into our lives, we need to take the initiative. We need to learn to understand ourselves. We must build our confidence. We need to pursue our passions, not people. Then, when the time comes, we need to reach out and invite people into our lives.
What do you think are the secrets to making friends as an adult? Do you agree that the first step to improving our relationships with others is to learn to understand ourselves? Why or why not? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the discussion going.
When it comes to avoiding that hangry feeling, the best defense is a good offense. And a good offense consists mostly of snacks.
That means planning ahead and stocking up on healthy options you’ll actually keep in your kitchen/purse/office fridge/pockets/whatever.
Because when you have zero time in your day and need to grab something fast, you’ll go for the peanut butter cup every damn time. BUT if you already have something satisfying and better for you on hand: snack win!
HOWEVER, if you hear one more person call a handful of almonds a snack, you can rightfully throw it in their face.
Here are 23 better, more interesting options that will awaken your starving soul.
They’ve all been made (and devoured) by real, seriously healthy people who say things like “satiety” and “fuel your body.” Steal their snackspiration so you’ll never have to go head-to-head with the vending machine again.
1. Open-Faced PB & Blueberries
“This is one of my favorite snacks. Almond butter is a great way to start the day with some awesome protein. And blueberries are my favorite fruit because they’re super low in sugar. When I eat bread it’s ONLY Ezekiel, which is a sprouted grain bread that has no yeast.” —Gabrielle Bernstein, author of Miracles Now
2. Egg and Apple Combo
“Eating should stimulate all of our senses, and a perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg is about as good as it gets for me. Paired with a green apple, this is the perfect snack to satisfy any hunger and please your palate as well.” —Aaron Flores, RDN, California-based nutritionist specializing in intuitive eating and Healthy at Every Size (HAES)
3. Spiced Apple Chips
“The recipe is incredibly simple — only very thinly sliced apples sprinkled with a little apple pie spice and popped in the oven on a low temperature for a couple hours. The outcome is nutritious and delicious and a great substitute for fried chips. My husband and I brought a bunch of them hiking with us — they make a great portable snack.” —Anne Mauney, MPH, RD, founder of fANNEtasticfood.com
4. Avocado Toast
“My favorite way to eat avocados is smashed onto toast with a sprinkle of salt and a few red pepper flakes. If I’m really hungry I add a fried egg. The healthy fat from avocado plus carbohydrates from bread makes it ultra-satisfying and always delicious.” —Amelia Winslow, MS, MPH, nutritionist and founder of Eating Made Easy
5. Spicy And Sweet Roasted Chickpeas
“I like this as a snack for when I’m craving something savory. The crunchy bite size peas are also loaded with protein and fiber, so a little goes a long way.” —Nita Sharda, RD, owner of Carrots and Cake Balanced Nutrition Consulting (See the full recipe here.)
6. Banana Nut Toast
“This is a slice of sprouted wheat bread with ½ tablespoon almond butter, ½ tablespoon peanut butter, ¼ sliced banana and 1 teaspoon chopped walnuts on top — with an optional sprinkle of cinnamon and drizzle of honey. This delicious snack packs a protein and fiber punch guaranteed to keep you full in between meals.” —Anjali Shah, board certified health coach and founder of The Picky Eater
7. A Makeshift Pudding Cup
“Greek yogurt mixed with some chocolate protein powder and raspberries makes for a perfect high-protein snack under 200 calories. You’re getting a good source of probiotics from the Greek yogurt, antioxidants and fiber from the raspberries, and an extra boost of protein from half a scoop of whey protein.” —Katie Yip, New York City-based Pilates teacher
8. Miso Zoodle Soup
“I love noodle soup, but most are just carb bombs in a bowl. I used my new spiralizer to make zucchini noodles, then whipped up miso broth, which contains probiotics that boost gut health by supporting digestion, and then tossed in some carrots, mushrooms, ginger, and spinach.” —Michele Promaulayko, editor-in-chief of Yahoo Health and author of the new book 20 Pounds Younger
9. Blueberry Coconut Balls
“These no-bake snack balls are made with antioxidant-rich frozen wild blueberries. If you eat them right away they are super cold and refreshing, but if you let them thaw a bit they are melt-in-your-mouth delicious!” (See the full recipe here.) —Danielle Omar, MS, RD
10. A Picturesque Cheese Plate
“This is a simple, on-the-fly appetizer made up of stuff I had in the fridge — olives, grape tomatoes, caper berries. Anchoring the plate is a hunk of feta cheese that I dressed up with some chopped oregano from the garden and red onion.” —Monica Reinagel, licensed nutritionist and host of the Nutrition Diva podcast
11. Fruit Pizza
“This watermelon ‘pizza’ is a perfect low-calorie treat that satisfies the sweet tooth, replenishes your muscles, and hydrates your body. Ideal for a hot summer day, a party snack, or post-workout, since it will help replenish glycogen stores in your muscles and aid recovery. Both the watermelon and banana also help with bloating! ” —Idalis Velazquez, NASM-CPT, founder of IV Fitness
12. A Loaded Sweet Potato
“My favorite mid-morning snack is a leftover roasted sweet potato, split open and stuffed with a couple dollops of plain Greek yogurt. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll sprinkle it with furikake, a super-flavorful Japanese seasoning mix with toasted nori and sesame seeds. With all the protein, healthy carbs, and fiber, it’s a snack that keeps me satisfied for hours.” —Anjali Prasertong, contributing editor at The Kitchn and graduate student studying to become a registered dietitian
13. A Fruit Smoothie That Only Looks Like a Daiquiri
“California Sunshine Smoothie! Yummy — 139 calories and 7 grams of fiber. Try it! All organic: 10 strawberries, 1 orange, ½ a medium banana, 1 cup of ice, and water!” —Jeanette Jenkins, president of The Hollywood Trainer
14. Cheese, Crackers, Tomatoes, and Veggies
“This great combination keeps you full and promotes satiety. Protein comes from the delicious mozzarella cheese (a low-fat selection), the fiber comes from the high-fiber crackers (one with 5 grams of fiber or more), and vegetables!” —Shelly Marie Redmond, RD, author of Eat Well and Be Fabulous
15. Homemade Sweet Potato Chips
16. Apple Peanut Butter Toasts
“A good, satisfying, filling snack and the tasty health benefits of cinnamon and SunButter — a healthy option for anyone with nut allergies. It also has more unsaturated fat, magnesium, iron, zinc, and vitamin E than peanut butter.” —David Kirsch, celebrity trainer and founder of David Kirsch Wellness
17. Cheddar Kale Chips
“Dedicated to all the people who are over ridiculously priced kale chips. These savory chips make for the perfect snack, and won’t hurt your pockets.” (See the full recipe here.) —Wendy Lopez, nutritionist, and Jessica Jones, MS, RD, co-hosts of Food Heaven Made Easy
18. A Cookie You Can Make IN A PAN
“Cookies have been a great tool for me when I train really hard in the gym and need a carbohydrate or sugar boost to refuel my muscle and liver glycogen. Often store-bought cookies are too high in fat to be a good post-workout tool. Therefore, I get creative in my kitchen and got obsessed with a cookie that gets cooked in a pan. I dreamed of something that was part pancake, part gooey and crunchy cookie! This is ¼ cup quick-cooking oats, 1 tablespoon coconut flour, 1 tablespoon agave nectar, 1 whole egg, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, Stevia-sweetened chocolate chips, and a dash of salt. Stir it up and add a splash of milk if needed for consistency. Cook in a nonstick pan sprayed with coconut oil. Cook on low and flip when it starts to bubble — just like when cooking pancakes. It’s only 330 calories!” —Holly Perkins, CSCS, author of the upcoming Lift to Get Lean
19. Crudités For One
“This is what I typically eat as a mid-morning snack. It is carrot sticks, celery sticks, half an avocado, beetroot, and spinach, accompanied with almond butter and cottage cheese. This gives the perfect balance of protein and veggies to keep me satisfied and full until the next meal.” —Aina Hussain, registered nutritionist and founder of The Fruitful Foodie
20. Cauliflower Fries
From her Instagram: “I just made French fries out of cauliflower and @questnutrition protein powder. Hey! Don’t say ew until you try it. It’s seriously amazing!” (See the full recipe here.) —Cassey Ho, creator of POP Pilates
21. This Bright and Cheery Deliciousness
“I love because it I looove fresh fruit and veggies — and goat cheese and avocado call my name regularly! It’s a perfect mini meal or snack, because it’s packed with nutrients including antioxidants and fiber to help keep you full. Plus the healthy fat in avocado provides satiety, and who doesn’t love the sweetness of mango and taste of goat cheese? The combo may seem funny, but it is a real food combo that is a winning gem. Promise!” —Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, author of The New You and Improved Diet
22. Kale Guacamole Wraps
“Just wilt kale or any other leafy green by soaking in warm water for a few minutes, then stuff with whatever you want and enjoy!” (See the full recipe here.) —Wendy Lopez, nutritionist, and Jessica Jones, MS, RD, co-hosts of Food Heaven Made Easy
23. A Smoothie In A Bowl
“One of my favorite snacks is a smoothie made with oats served in a bowl. This one is a cup of frozen berries, half a banana, a cup of milk, and a quarter cup of oats thrown in a blender, then topped with toasted buckwheat and nut butter. The oats give the smoothie a nice doughy taste, plus they amp up the nutrition with extra fiber and energy! And enjoying it as a ‘soup’ means I savor every last bite.” —Kath Younger, RD, founder of Kath Eats Real Food
“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” –Gwendolyn Brooks
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” –Audre Lorde
I know a few things about depression. After Thanksgiving, I checked myself into the hospital because repression was no longer enough. There was limited access to anyone beyond the narrow hallway, art and dining room in the hospital’s psychiatric unit, so I wrote and read often. What sustained me were the words I remembered from poems, like Lucille Clifton’s “won’t you celebrate with me,” Rickey Laurentiis’ “You Are Not Christ,” and Audre Lorde’s “A Litany for Survival.”
When I got tired of walking up and down the hall reciting those poems to myself, I would re-read the African American Women and Depression Fact Sheet. What stays with me is that only 12% of Black women ever get help or treatment for their depression. Economic access, of course, plays a huge role in that, but how many of us never stop to acknowledge that we are hurting? How many of us actually can afford to stop at all to feel anything?
Audre Lorde tells us that we were never meant to survive, but to speak anyhow. I spoke with 11 queer and trans Black women artists, creators, and activists about their specific practices of self-care. May their insight be useful to you and their art inspire you to continue to dream, build, imagine, love, cry, laugh, dance, and live.
Location: Richmond, VA
Title: Web Developer
Where to find her: Tumblr
“Being the introvert that I am, I spend a lot of time alone. Taking time to myself allows me to recharge while doing the things I enjoy most. I respect my own limits and know when it’s necessary to step back, which often requires saying, ‘no.’ Surrounding myself with good, positive people is essential as well as minimizing my exposure to negativity. I practice mindfulness, live simply, and just always remember to breathe.”
Location: Syracuse, New York
Title: Scholar, Feminist, Student
Where to find her: SoundCloud
“I practice self-love by creating with the intent to be present and non-judgemental. I create with the intent to honor Black (queer) ancestors and honor my own creativity. To honor my creativity, I let myself create whatever it is I may want to in the moment, whether that’s a beat from a sampled record, painting, collaging or writing. I also move and breathe. I love to walk and practice yoga. Self-care is also about community. I enjoy being in community celebrating life, talking shit (or just being) with other Black queer people.”
“Self-care to me is about hanging stuff up until I’m absolutely ready to carry the burden again. If that means ignoring phone calls, texts messages, emails, and even resting as opposed to studying for that exam, then I will do so.
Sometimes, no matter what the circumstance, you need to just clear your mind and at least pretend you’re all good and can’t a thing hold you down or stand in your way. Pretend that you have all the time in the world and allow your body and mind to reset before you pick back up where you left off.”
4. Stasia Mehschel
“The first step for me was self-love. I love my body, my mind, and my spirit. I want to preserve it in the finest and most luxurious ways that I can within my means. I take vitamins. I make sure to work hard and play equally as hard. I try my best to keep bad energy and vibes away, ridding myself of toxic relationships. A bath with scented oils and a fresh haircut can also do wonders for your confidence.”
5. Denise Maurice
“How do I practice self-care? In a world designed to break me, I keep myself healthy by first understanding that it is my strength that is being discriminated against, not my weakness. These Black woman hips bear the weight of the world with style and grace. This melanin in my skin can withstand the harshest of sun rays and some days…I feel as if I am the Sun herself. I would be jealous if I wasn’t blessed to be who I am. How dare I step outside of gender norms and express myself when given strict commands to fit into a mold so that everyone else can understand me? How dare I not care about the opinions of people I will never even meet? Because I know who I am and am aware of my own strength and beauty. I practice self-care by creating spaces that allow not only myself but other gender nonconforming and artistically expressive individuals to flourish without having to twist and bend themselves into the form that society deems acceptable and employable…I am a firm believer that we are all born with specific gifts and if we become passionate enough about those gifts we can create our own means of survival. I practice self-care by refusing to believe the lie that I am not good enough. Spread Love!”
6. Monica Roberts
Location: Houston, TX
Title: Writer, activist
Where to find her: transgriot.blogspot.com
“When I’m not writing on TransGriot, I have to take a moment to step back and actually do stuff for myself. There are times that I like to write poetry, and I do have a couple of fiction manuscripts and novels that I’m working on. There are times when I just sit back and just chill and go to a ball game or something, just to get away from always being in 24/7 serious activist mode.”
7. Diamond Sharp
Location: DC-based; Chicago native
Title: Poet and writer
Where to find her: Twitter
“I take time to myself. I say ‘no’ often. I don’t feel bad for putting myself first.”
Location: Washington, DC
Title: Advocate for Masculine Women of Color
Where to find her: Tumblr
“Self-care…is something I recently learned how to do. In the past I never had time to take care of myself. That neglect made me very grumpy and stressed. Now I make it a point to look out for my own well-being and mental health no matter what’s going on. Kind of like ‘Pay yourself first’ in regards to finances.
I write frequently and spend a lot of time at the gym. Working out and exercising is not only good for my physical health, but mental health as well.
I take care of my soul by writing on my blog and continuing to reach out, be there for and mentor masculine women of color in regards to sexuality, self esteem, gender identity and a myriad of other issues that aren’t always addressed in our under represented community. Female masculinity is very much misunderstood and misused and we need to continue having discussions about how we move in the world as masculine women and the micro aggressions that come with that.
Giving back keeps me close to the people that matter to me and makes me feel like I’m contributing to the solution instead of just complaining about the problem.”
9. JP Howard
“During the work week, I practice self-care when I seek out and find moments of ‘quiet introspective time.’ Like so many of us, my days are super busy as I’m in a relationship with my partner, we are raising our two sons and I also curate a NY-based literary salon, while working at a full-time, fairly demanding day job. When I can, I take long walks, usually by the water, during my lunch hour to regroup and focus on self. Those quiet moments are very precious to me. I also try to make a habit of traveling outside of New York to attend writing residencies or fellowships that let me pursue my own creative writing for an extended period of time either in a quiet setting and/or in an environment surrounded by fellow writers (for this full-time working mom even a week away from home is a true indulgent writer’s luxury!). While those residencies or fellowships may only happen a few times a year for me, they satisfy my self-care needs. I get so much writing done, I get a week away to solely focus on being a writer and while I miss my family during those trips, I think a necessary part of self-care is finding quality time to nurture ourselves, especially for those of us who are often busy nurturing others.”
Location: Down South
Title: Recovering Artist, Black Culture Junkie, Semi-Professional Big Mouth
Where to find her: Twitter
“This question kinda stopped me in my tracks because I’ve been doing such a poor job at it this year especially. [Laughs.] But more recently, I’ve been working on taking deeper breaths, being nicer to myself, and doing some yoga at home. It takes me being attentive to my body’s needs (which for me is also a form of self-care, not ignoring what my body and mind is trying to tell me), which takes some work, but I always end up feeling better for it. Also, binging out on my favorite TV shows and spending times with my friends always always always helps make life a little sweeter!”
11. Lourdes Ashley Hunter, MPA
Location: Washington, D.C.
Title: Black Trans Revolutionary
Where to find her: Twitter
“I love to cook and take walks in the park with my dog, Cashmere, but I also enjoy taking time to touch myself. There is healing in your own touch and I love all up on this body. Taking time to breathe because every breath a Black Trans Woman takes is an Act of Revolution. I practice self-care by becoming submerged in self-love. Allowing others to give love and allowing myself to receive love but also being particular with my love and with the love I allow in my life. For me, practicing self-care is an act of self-love.”
For more information about self-care, visit Black Girl + Mental Health or purchase I’Nasah Crockett’s zine Death Valley: Or, How to Not Kill Yourself in Less Than Ten Days.
L.G. Parker is a student and writer living in Northern Virginia. Connect with her on Twitter at @posttragic.
A North Carolina yogi is causing a sensation on social media by breaking down body stereotypes with her personal photos.
Jessamyn Stanley, 27, who lives in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, and posts to Instagram under the handle @mynameisjessamyn, has attracted more than 42,000 followers in the last two years sharing images of challenging forearm stands and intense back bends.
The difference between Stanley and the seemingly myriad talented yogis posting online? She is a self-described “fat femme” with ample curves where others are stick straight.
“People need to see diversity, to feel included,” Stanley told ABC News. “It’s really not that I look different, it’s that I look the same as everyone else.”
A lifelong North Carolinian, Stanley was first introduced to Bikram yoga as a teenager by an enthusiastic aunt. But at the time, she was put off by the high-temperature rooms and studio experience. Years later, in college, when a friend mentioned a Groupon discount for Bikram classes, Stanley decided to give the practice a second try and this time something clicked.
“I was going through a lot of transitions and personal changes at the time, I was depressed,” she said. “And being forced to stare at yourself in the mirror and challenge your body was very useful for self-reflection. It turned out to be the saving grace of my entire life.”
But after committing to a regular practice, Stanley eventually moved and didn’t immediately have the disposable income to attend studio classes in her new neighborhood. It was then that she began doing yoga at home and documenting the experience online.
“When you practice, it’s important to note your alignment and progress,” she said. “And it’s a great way to get positive feedback from people. In the studios, there is a lot of judgment. And where I live, it was predominately white, well-educated, upper class people who attended and it tints the student’s perspective. I would feel like, ‘oh, my body will never look like that.’ So, [sharing on] social media has become a great way of feeling normal about being different.”
The attention she’s since received does at times detract from the original intent of recording her postures. But, Stanley reasoned, it’s not a bad thing.
“Sometimes I do wish I would get more feedback that was along the lines of ‘let’s talk about how we can all strengthen our practices,’” she acknowledged. “But if people are more focused on my physique, and connecting with someone they can look to as a peer in this life struggle… if you feel like there’s someone who really gets where you’re coming from, that’s way more powerful.”
Stanley, who currently also teaches classes in Durham, N.C., will embark on a yoga tour in select cities this fall with a fellow “curvaceous teacher.” There are also plans for a full-figured retreat next year.
“My big thing now is trying to be as accessible as I can to as many people as possible,” said Stanley. “I’ve always felt the yoga community is badly cloistered and it’s really important to me to make it clear that it’s for everyone.”
Of all the so-called superfoods, the tiny chia seed just may be the mightiest of them all, and is certainly one of the most versatile. Once most associated with gag gifts (yep, chia seeds are what sprouted “hair” all over that Chia Pet you got in fifth grade), these nutritional powerhouses are packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants and are a great source of fiber—in fact, just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds fulfills almost half of your daily fiber requirement. They have more calcium than milk, more antioxidants than blueberries, and more potassium than bananas, and pound for pound are quite rich in protein, although you’d have to eat quite a lot to satisfy your protein requirements—and remember, they are positively full of fiber. On the plus side, chia seeds don’t need to be ground, as flaxseeds do, in order for your body to access their nutrients; you can sprinkle whole chia seeds directly on salads or cereal, or stir them into stews and baking batters for a nutritional boost.
Turbo-charge your morning meal with chia seeds! (Photo: Amy Neusinger)
When mixed with liquid the coating on chia seeds dissolves and forms a gel, a reason they are often used as an egg replacement in baking recipes. Soaking makes the seeds less crunchy but also makes it easier for the nutrients to be absorbed into your system. Commercially bottled chia beverages have become very popular, but you can easily make your own for a lot less. (For a refreshing and throat-soothing hot or cold drink, try swapping out the flaxseeds in the Flaxseed Lemonade, issue 20, for an equal quantity of chia seeds.)
My favorite way to eat chia seeds, though, is in this easy overnight pudding. It’s almost like magic; as the mixture sits in the fridge the texture becomes smooth and creamy, no cooking required. It couldn’t be easier and it’s the perfect neutral canvas for a few berries, nuts, or some crunchy granola. Make a big batch on the weekend and know you’ll be starting off your day with the fuel you need to set a personal best all week long!
Chia Seed Pudding
This is a real treat: a no-cook creamy pudding that’s good for you. Once plumped in almond milk and creamy yogurt, chia seeds remind me of tapioca—only they are high in omega-3s and fiber. Chia seeds can be found in some grocery stores these days as well as in natural foods stores. The great part, too, is that you make this pudding the night before. Come morning, you just pull it out of the fridge and top it with some almonds and fruit, and breakfast is ready. (From Giada’s Feel Good Food)
- 1 cup vanilla-flavored unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup plain low-fat (2%) Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (preferably grade B), plus 4 tablespoons for serving
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled and diced
- ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted (see Cook’s note)
Cook’s Note: To toast sliced almonds, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 350°F oven until lightly toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool completely before using.
A little over a year ago, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights began disclosing which colleges and universities were under Title IX investigations for potentially mishandling sexual violence cases. When the Education Department first released the list, it said it was an inventory of “possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.” However, the department did not publicly explain that the list it released didn’t include institutions being investigated for only sexual harassment complaints.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, The Huffington Post obtained a list of all of the schools under Title IX reviews due to concerns with how they handle sexual harassment. There are 162 cases involving either sexual harassment or sexual assault and harassment under investigation at 143 postsecondary institutions, as of May 13. However, the version of the list the department releases to reporters without an open records request shows there are 121 cases involving sexual assault under investigation at 111 colleges, as of the same date.
When the government doesn’t name colleges and universities solely under investigation for sexual harassment cases, these schools are able to essentially hide the scrutiny from the public. Virtually no college has come forward to state that they are under these Title IX reviews, absent probing by reporters, and even then they sometimes avoid the issue.
The University of Notre Dame, for example, which is under investigation for sexual harassment cases but not sexual assault, declined to even acknowledge HuffPost’s request for comment about the federal probe last month.
Colleges are obligated to address both sexual assault and harassment under Title IX, and experts say the behaviors are inextricably linked.
Colby Bruno, senior legal counsel at the Victim Rights Law Center, said it’s important to address how colleges handle sexual harassment because perpetrators will often “test the waters” to see whether someone would make for a good target. “Perpetrators will not go straight in for the rape,” she explained. “They will hedge their bets at some point and see how far they can get with someone by doing inappropriate things, but not quite rape.”
Lisa Maatz, the top lobbyist for the American Association of University Women, referred to a “continuum of violence” that “starts with bullying and sexual harassment and moves up the scale.”
Another law dealing with sexual violence on campus, the Clery Act, requires colleges to track and disclose reports of rape, burglary and other crimes. Recent amendments also stipulate certain rights for students involved in sexual assault cases, like access to attorneys. Violating the Clery Act can result in a $35,000 penalty per error for a college, but right now, the Education Department will not confirm or deny when a school is being investigated for breaking this law.
At an April lunch with reporters in Chicago, Education Secretary Arne Duncan noted how “proud” he was that OCR was releasing the list of colleges under Title IX investigations. When asked why the department was not publicly naming the schools under certain Title IX investigations or under Clery reviews, Duncan deflected.
“We’re looking at that,” Duncan replied. “There’s a whole host of things we’re looking at where we can upgrade our transparency.”
Parents have a right to know if schools their children may attend are under investigation for such serious issues, Maatz said.
“We need to be talking harassment, we need to be talking about bullying, we need to be nipping this in the bud,” she said.
The list of colleges under sexual harassment investigations includes several technical and community colleges, a for-profit college, several state universities and one flagship.
Below are the colleges under Title IX investigations for only sexual harassment:
- Fortis College (Alabama)
- University of Pikeville (Kentucky)
- California State University-Bakersfield
- San Diego City College (California)
- Everest College (Colorado)
- American Medical Academy (Florida)
- Embry Riddel Aeronautical University (Florida)
- Florida A&M University
- Valencia College (Florida)
- Atlanta Technical College
- Columbus State University (Georgia)
- College of Coastal Georgia
- City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College
- Western Illinois University
- University of Notre Dame
- Loyola University New Orleans – School of Law
- Southeastern Louisiana University
- Maryland Institute College of Art
- University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
- Central Piedmont Community College (North Carolina)
- Coastal Carolina Community College (North Carolina)
- Middlesex County College (New Jersey)
- Hofstra University (New York)
- State University of New York – Binghamton
- State University of New York at Albany
- Youngstown State University (Ohio)
- Northeastern State University (Oklahoma)
- San Jacinto College-Central Campus (Texas)
- Texas Southern University
- University of North Texas
- Marquette University (Wisconsin)
- New River Community & Technical College (West Virginia)
And below is the latest tally of colleges under Title IX investigations for sexual assault and harassment:
(This article appeared previously on MarketWatch.)
Contrary to popular belief, retirement can be a very stressful time. According to a number of studies and surveys, retirees are not all living the dream. Here are 10 things they may neglect to tell you if you ask how things are going:
1. We’re Broke
(MORE: Secrets of Successful Retirees)
In a discussion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting this year, the researchers noted that loneliness can be twice as unhealthy for older people as obesity can, with health consequences that include disrupted sleep, elevated blood pressure, increases in the stress hormone cortisol, altered gene expression in immune cells, increased depression and lower overall well-being.
When asked “All in all, how would you say your health in retirement will be/is as compared to the five years before you retired?,” just 13 percent of pre-retirees said they expected their health would be worse in retirement, while nearly 40 percent of those who have actually retired said it was worse, according to the NPR/RWJF/Harvard study.
For the average woman 50 or older caring for an aging parent, the amount of lost wages due to leaving the labor force early or reducing work hours totals $142,693 over the duration of the caregiving; for men, that number is $89,107 — and that doesn’t include their lost Social Security benefits, which in both cases total over $130,000, according to a MetLife survey.
About 59 percent of older workers say they plan to travel more in retirement, according to the NPR/Harvard/RWJF survey. But only 31 percent actually do so. In contrast, 34 percent of retirees say they take fewer trips than they did in the five years before retiring.
Lowenthal notes that health issues, especially those that limit mobility or cause aches and pains, may make travel “less comfortable and more trouble than it’s worth,” while others, like incontinence, are embarrassing. She also notes that spending time with grandchildren, another goal for many retirees, often competes for time and money with more ambitious travel plans.
The MetLife study points out that elder financial abuse “increases rates of depression among elders.” Plus, it makes people feel shame, Lowenthal says: “They feel they ‘should have known better’ or ‘shouldn’t have trusted’ the person who victimized them.” Or as Lombardo put it, becoming a victim of a scam “puts you in the mind-set of ‘I am old, frail and a victim.’” And, in turn, “whatever the label we put on ourselves, we often act as if that is real.”
Catey Hill is a freelance personal finance writer, who has written for Next Avenue, The Wall Street Journal, SmartMoney, Worth, MarketWatch.com, Forbes.com and others.
7. Ron Mueck – Sculpture, mixed materials
Photo © Thomas Salva
Photo © Gautier Deblonde
16. Rafal Bujnowski – Black and white paint
“Bujnowski painted a photo-realistic self-portrait in black and white, had it photographed and enclosed the picture as his official photo in the U.S.A. visa application form. The consulate workers failed to notice the manipulation and, eventually, the artist received a passport with a replica of his own painting.”
“Melissa Williams,” Aja Monet reads, “Darnisha Harris.” Her voice is strong; it marches along, but it shakes a little, although not from nerves. She’s performing a poem that includes the forgotten names of girls and women who’ve been injured or killed by the police. She finishes forcefully, then pauses, exhales. “Can I do that again?” she asks. “It’s my first time reading it out loud, and … ” she trails off.
Monet had written the poem — a contribution to the #SayHerNamecampaign, a necessary continuation of the Black Lives Matter movement focusing on overlooked police violence against women — earlier that morning. That evening, she’d read it at a vigil. Now, she was practicing on camera, surprised by the power of her own words.
As a poet, Monet is prolific. She’s been performing both music and readings for some time — at 19, she was the youngest ever winner of New York City’s Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam — and her work has brought her to France, Bermuda and Cuba, from where her grandmother fled, and where she recently learned she still has extended family. Next month, she’ll return to visit them. But first, she wants to contribute to a campaign she believes in.
Though she’s disheartened that a hashtag is necessary to capture people’s attention — “I think #SayHerName is the surface level of the issues but beneath that there is the real question of, ‘Why?’” she says — Monet wields her art to achieve social and political justice. While discussing political poetry with a fellow artist in Palestine, he observed, “Art is more political than politics.” “I feel him,” she says. “I think he’s right.”
Can you explain #SayHerName in your own words?
It is us calling out the lack of attention on women of color also affected by state violence. We recognize the power of our voices and so we raise the spirits of our sisters by daring to utter their names.
A recent Washington Post write-up said it’s difficult to even quantify police brutality against black women. How will #SayHerName honor those whose stories are lost?
I can’t speak for what a hashtag will do in the actual hearts of people but I know that anything worth paying attention to these days in America has to be sold and marketed as if worth buying into. We recognize that the attention span of our generation is so short: How else do we make the issues we care about accessible and also relevant? This is what activism has come to. This is where we are at in the age of the Internet. We must be honest with ourselves about how human interaction is now only affirmed or confronted based on the projected world we live in through screens.
I think #SayHerName is the surface level of the issues, but beneath that there is the real question of “Why?” Why do I need to make saying her name a hashtag for you to pay attention? The goal is to use this as an opportunity to redirect the attention of people, to hopefully get folks researching the names and stories of all the women we’ve lost. To educate themselves so we are all more informed on how policing works. Black women’s bodies are the most policed bodies in this country.
Also, I didn’t read the Washington Post write-up, but it seems silly to me. Like, of course it’s difficult to quantify any brutality against human beings. It’s not more difficult when it comes to black women, I think it’s just easier for us to ignore them because if we acknowledge them then we must acknowledge all of the women affected by violence and brutality, not just by police but by an entire patriarchal, racist system. We keep scratching the surface of these issues and neglecting the root, which is this country never loved black people, and of course that meant black women. We who birth the men they also hate. We are an extension of each other.
What inspired this poem, and what inspires your poetry in general?
I was at an event where I read a poem in solidarity with my Palestinian brothers and sisters, and Eve Ensler was in the audience. We spoke briefly after and she admired the poem I read. I was honored and she gave me her email. I followed up immediately the next day and informed her that if she ever needed a poet at any point, I’d be there, no questions asked.
She responded with this vigil for #SayHerName and asked if I’d be willing to read a poem. I have been meditating on this issue of women of color affected by police brutality, but the poem hadn’t quite come to me yet. I started writing a piece for Rekia Boyd but it just isn’t ready to be done yet. So I woke early the morning of the vigil and forced myself to write this poem. I sat with all the names of the women and I asked them that I may find the words to do justice. They came to me hours before I had to meet with you all to record.
And maybe they’ll change, but the process of inspiration is a strange thing. For the most part I call on my ancestors. Not to be all, “I call on my ancestors,” but it’s true. I know I’m not the only one writing when I write. I also know that more times than not inspiration is subjective. You can find inspiration in anything if you pay attention. If you’re careful enough to notice how divine this world is and we are, to be here together, creating.
Obviously you appreciate overtly political art — why do you think political art can be powerful?
I met an artist in Palestine who said “art is more political than politics.” I feel him. I think he’s right.
I think being an artist, you are in the business of telling it like it is. You create of the world you live in, unapologetically. What that means is you aren’t catering to an eye or group or specific niche so much as your own truth as you see fit. Politicians, on the other hand, are constantly determining their worth and issue relevance based on approval ratings and polls. They are always campaigning, which becomes less about the issues we need to be dealing with and more about who can be bought to speak about what you want them to speak about. It’s an ugly game I want no business in.
Art that addresses the business of politics recognizes its power and influence. It unveils the mask of “politics” and gets to the people we are fighting for. It does the difficult work of reaching people’s hearts and minds. No great change takes place without art. It’s necessary.
Who are some fellow poets you currently admire?
Since we are in the spirit of saying her name, here’s a few names: Jayne Cortez, Wanda Coleman, Carolyn Rodgers, June Jordan, Audre Lorde and, of course, my sister, Phillis Wheatley.
Monet’s two books of poetry, Inner City Chants and Cyborg Ciphers and The Black Unicorn Sings are available online.
Love the idea of cooking with homegrown herbs and veggies, but aren’t a genius in the garden? Don’t worry: these 10 options are simple to grow even if you lack a green thumb. Most can be grown in containers as well as in the ground, and can be adapted to different planting zones, which range from 10 in the deep South to 3 up in the North. Check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to learn yours.
Chives in bloom. (Credit: Herbco.com)
Chives have a reputation for being the number-one easy-to-grow herb, with the ability to tolerate a variety of soil and light conditions. They do best in zones 3 to 9—everywhere except extreme desert or cold climates—and thrive in full sunlight, though they can handle partial shade. They like relatively well-draining soil, but otherwise aren’t too picky. Plant them in containers or in the ground. As a bonus, their pink-purple flowers are pretty.
Luscious, green, prolific mint. (Credit: HarvestToTable.com)
Mint is so easy to grow, it can even get a little out of hand. It’s an excellent choice for a container garden, since the pot keeps mint’s aggressive nature in check. Varieties include peppermint (best for zones 3 to 8), spearmint (best for zones 5 to 10), apple mint (best for zones 5 to 10) and lemon mint (best for zones 5 to 9. Peppermint is the most popular and versatile.
Plant mint after the last frost if you live in a zone that experiences winter. Otherwise, it’s fine to plant mint throughout the season. Morning sun, afternoon shade, and rich, well-draining soil are its favorite conditions, but it will grow relatively well even if you can’t give it a perfect environment.
Harvest mint sprigs before the plant begins to flower, and prolong the life of your harvest season by pinching off the flowers as soon as you see them.
A fresh crop of cilantro. (Credit: Sunset.com)
Not quite as foolproof as chives and mint, but still pretty simple—and a delicious addition to all kinds of dishes, especially Mexican. Cilantro likes soil with good drainage and full sun, and grows quickly in spring and fall, when the weather is cooler. In hot weather, cilantro can “bolt,” meaning it grows very tall very fast, and produces flowers while the leaves lose their taste. Bonnie Plants recommends giving cilantro “its own patch in the garden where you can harvest, then ignore, then harvest again.” The seeds that appear on cilantro stalks, by the way, are coriander. You should harvest them, too!
You can also plant cilantro in a pot: Sunset magazine recommends “a bowl-shaped container at least 18 inches wide and 8 to 10 inches deep.”
Bright green, pesto-ready basil. (Credit: OregonLive.com)
Basil is a crowd-pleaser, excellent for summer pastas and a tomato’s best friend. Plant basil in full sun, keep the soil moist and you’ll have an ample supply of leaves. It works in pots, and even indoors on a sunny windowsill. Pinch off the flowers when they appear to prolong your harvest.
Thyme, with flowers. (Credit: NeighborhoodNotes.com)
With its little lavender flowers and delicate leaves, thyme is lovely as well as fragrant. It’s an easy-going perennial—just put it in full sun and give it relatively dry soil. (As a Mediterranean herb, it prefers conditions on the warm and arid side.) Thyme thrives best in zones 5 to 9. To harvest, snip a few stems at a time. Even the flowers are edible when freshly bloomed.
Rosemary needles. (Credit: BlueHeronHerbary.com)
This evergreen is a good choice for containers, and if you live in a frost-free climate, you can plant and grow it any time of year. Or, if you place your rosemary in a small pot, you can simply bring it indoors for the winter. Like thyme, rosemary is a Mediterranean plant and prefers hot, dry conditions. It thrives best in six to eight hours of full sun, and in slightly sandy soil.
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A juicy bunch of tomatoes. (Credit: DavisGardenShow.com)
Plant them in containers or beds—either way, tomatoes are easy to grow and add bright color to your garden. They enjoy full sun and rich soil with lots of compost. Water them well—about 2 inches per week during the summer, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. With dozens of varieties from heirloom to cherry, tomatoes also offer tons of options, and can be adapted to virtually any growing zone. For an easy way to start your own tomato container garden, check out this tutorial, courtesy of ApartmentTherapy.com.
Salad in the making. (Credit: HarvesttoTable.com)
It’s hard to imagine a fresher salad than one that you snip directly from your garden. With its frilly leaves, lettuce is a beautiful plant, and good news: it’s one of the simpler veggies to grow. If you’re using beds, you can easily tuck lettuce among flowers, and it does well in container gardens, too. It prefers full sun, but—unlike most other vegetables—it doesn’t mind a little shade. Moist, rich soil with good drainage will help your lettuce thrive. It does best in temperatures on the cooler side, between 45 to 80 degrees, making spring and fall the most ideal times for planting.
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Radishes fresh from the ground. (Credit: AgricultureGuide.org)
Add some crunch to your salads and a colorful garnish to all kinds of plates. Radishes do well in gardens and containers alike, and can grow fast—in as little as three weeks. In fact, they’re so famous for their quick, easy growth that pro gardeners often recommend them as good first plants for kids. Six hours of sun per day is ideal, and you should water them in moderation. Radishes are available in numerous varieties—experiment with heirloom types for fun colors and shapes.
10. Summer Squash
Summer squash with blossoms. (Credit: LovelyMorning.com)
Zucchini squash, yellow squash, round squash, oval squash, tromboncino squash—all are types of summer squash, and all are easy-growing, productive plants. Summer squash are fans of good sun, good drainage and compost. Since they’re relatively large plants, they’re usually planted in beds, spaced widely (3 to 6 feet) apart, but certain varieties will work in containers, too. Make sure you don’t miss out on the tasty edible blossoms, which you should pick off when they’re still fresh. You’ll want to harvest the squash itself regularly once it appears, to keep the plant from getting weighed down.