America Got Trumped!

About a week ago, the American population elected Donald Trump as their 45th President.

Let that sink in.

I’d like to believe that we have now come to the last stage of grief: Acceptance.

You are probably thinking “why would some girl in Dakar, Senegal worry about the presidential elections of the United States?” I will tell you why: Because when someone like Donald Trump wins an election in one of the biggest economic power-houses in the world, it affects all of us.

Over the past several days, I have been following the aftermath of this year’s elections and it has been ugly. With all the protests and the rapid rise of expressed racism, those of us sitting thousands of miles away, feel like America might be on its way to a new civil war. That is how bad it looks.

Now fortunately, being someone who is aware of how the media can twist stories, I am sure that the airports are not flooded with people leaving the country and I am sure that next to none of my African-American comrades are packing their bags and heading to the motherland. Although, if they decide to do so, we will welcome them with open arms.

Being the dark-skinned African Muslim woman that I am, it should be no surprise that I did not support Donald Trump. So through all of this, the only question that I have had is: How did this happen? How did an openly racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, underqualified 70 year old man get elected to run one of the most powerful countries in the world? How bad do you have to be to lose to a man like Donald Trump?

Well, I have some ideas.

It has nothing to do with the candidate and everything to do with what that candidate represents. What has happened in America for the past two decades is that the country has been stuck in the same political system. Each President has tried to tweak some of the legislature as much as they can, and to the best of their ability, but the core foundation is still the same. Ask any normal Trump supporter why they voted for Trump (emphasis on NORMAL) and they will most likely tell you that they wanted change. This is why, as much as it pains me to say it, Hilary Clinton may not have been the right candidate for the Democratic Party this year. Don’t get me wrong, I am with her. The problem is, Hilary is the system. She was in the White House as first lady, she’s been in the Senate, and she has been the Secretary of State. She has basically served her entire life in American politics. You can go to any major corporation or foundation and you will most likely find her footprints there. This is exactly what made voters run away. How can someone who basically lives for the system be expected to change it? People were afraid that putting her into office would basically mean four more years of nothing (or worse).

This is how Trump won. A successful billionaire from a non-political background who speaks his mind and wants to “make America great again.” Believe it or not, not all Trump supporters are racist, sexist, or a “basket of deplorables.” A lot of them are just people who are sick and tired of the system. They are people who fear globalization and immigration, and who disagree with liberals when it comes to topics such as abortion or same-sex marriage. But they have had to be silent and that is the problem. America, “land of the free”, has become “land of the agree-with-me-or-you-will-be-ostracized.” People who fear black people, who feel like Latinos have taken their jobs, who only view Muslims as terrorists; they don’t have a voice in America. Then, in comes trump! He came in and said out loud what people were already thinking in their heads. He gave them a voice. He fed the fire. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with these people. However, we shouldn’t think of their thoughts and fears as less valid because their feelings are real for them.

Trump supporters couldn’t have an open discussion or debate without feeling like they were putting their lives and reputations on the line. It is not fair to say that, just because someone disagrees with you or has a different view point that doesn’t happen to be “liberal,” that they are uneducated or uncivilized. There are people who have Masters Degrees and yet still hold prejudices against “the other.” There are people who live and/or serve in black communities and yet are still racist. There are people who have lost their employment because of jobs being outsourced to other countries. The problem is that no one has taken the time to talk to them and understand why they are having these feelings and explain to them why their negative energy and hate is being put in the wrong place.

When I was younger, I was taught that if someone doesn’t agree with you, you have a discussion about it and try to understand and find some common ground. That is what was lacking in this election. The Left didn’t try to understand the worries of the Right, and the Right, having been fueled by Trump, no longer was willing to listen to what liberals had to say. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very closed-minded and nasty people who support Trumps policies. Being an open-minded and tolerant person myself, I don’t accept things like racism and xenophobia. However, it doesn’t stop me from trying to understand people who hold these beliefs and try to recognize where their feelings and their fears come from. Politicians underestimated the power of open communication and common understanding in this election.

If these kinds of open discussions had taken place more freely and without negative repercussions, maybe Trump supporters would have learned that Islam is against abortion as well. Or that the immigrants that they fear are actually making their lives more comfortable without them even realizing it. Or even that liberals want change as much as they do. Because they were shut out, they waited until they got into that voting booth and they let their voices be heard.

So now what? The damage is already done, right? Yes, Trump will be your next President but he will not run your daily life. Sometimes, God puts us in a tough place to wake us up and make us better. So don’t wait for the country to crash and burn. Be the change that you want to see in America. Do volunteer work, get involved in your local neighborhood and local politics, do something! Don’t just sit and wait for others to do it and then complain if things don’t go your way. Look at the elections? No one, including the media, thought that Donald Trump was going to win. Everyone was so sure that Hilary was going to win that literally millions of people didn’t vote. So don’t be afraid to debate and protest peacefully. Take yourself out of your “bubble” of likeminded people and test yourself by meeting and discussing with people who think differently from you. Be open to different viewpoints but, most importantly, respect one another as human beings.

Beat Trump at his own game and make America great again.

**picture from zdnet.fr

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Be a Proud african

My fellow African,

Do you know how amazing you are?

We as Africans don’t get a lot of words of encouragement. We are just not used to it. That needs to change. Now.

The past several weeks, I have really tried to listen to the comments I hear around me about Senegal (and the African continent in general) from both Africans and non-Africans. What I hear saddens me. I hear criticism that isn’t constructive, refusal to believe in development, and inability to break free from the mental bondages of colonialism.

When I asked my Senegalese compadres why they had such negative comments about our beloved country and continent they simply replied “Daara dokhoul” (meaning nothing is going right) or “Senegal dou dem” (meaning Senegal isn’t going to go anywhere). The latter is something that many Senegalese say and unfortunately they do not realize how dangerous this statement can be.

Let’s say you wake up every day and tell yourself “You are never going to amount to anything.” If you keep that mindset, do you really think you will be able to accomplish your goals? I highly doubt it. The same thing goes for us Africans. If we keep telling ourselves that our countries suck, that we will never have a bright future, and that we will never develop our country then we never will get anywhere. You have to believe to achieve. You can’t just expect things to occur magically. You have to put in hard work to get where you want.

But I understand how we have become this way. Let’s face it, we have had some hard blows. Colonialism has really left its mark. Sadly, we still argue about skin color, hair texture, tribes and social status. When we should be focusing on economics, education, self-sufficiency, and diminishing poverty.

So how about we change our mindset. Let’s be proud Africans. This doesn’t mean saying “We are perfect” or “We are the best” (although if you want to, by all means). This means loving ourselves, loving our continent, accepting our faults, identifying our issues, being unapologetically African, and believing that we can get better. We know that we are not perfect and there is major room for improvement. But we shouldn’t let this stop us from being champions. We need to stop looking at our problems as obstacles and start seeing them as opportunities.

I wanted to do my part so I started a facebook page called “#SenegalDeyDem” (meaning “Senegal WILL go somewhere”) to counter the ever-so-popular “Senegal dou dem”. I know that it is a small act but sometimes it’s the small things that grow into huge movements. Someone else can see this page and want to start something similar and the movement can keep growing.

I believe in the future of our continent. I know that I am just one person. I also know that there are thousands of other Africans who are trying to do amazing things for their countries but who also think that they are just “one person.” Together, we can be a pretty strong group. I can already see a new generation of entrepreneurs and leaders rising. Let us encourage and help each other because, in the end, this beautiful land is ours and we are all in this together.

Feature: Begging for Personal Space

Today, AfroMinded is proud to feature Madmaks! A young Senegalese leader.

BIO:

Madmaks considers himself a global citizen. He yearns to soak in all cultures and ultimately grow from it. He looks at culture and societal edicts with a critical eye in order to get to the core of every matter he finds himself or his people involved in. His writings are based on personal experiences and he uses them as an outlet for all the uncomfortable questions he constantly ponders on.

Without further ado, here’s what Madmaks has to say:

“I have always had that feeling that something was off with me. Well, people around me never missed an opportunity to make the remark. For instance, I could be all friendly and outgoing for a moment but the next day, I would seem far off, pissed, arrogant, soof* .  At some point I tried (one never succeeds in something they are not), but it was even worse as I had to force myself to socialize and conform in ways that seemed tocut off a part of my soul. I ended up damaged.

Luckily I am now able to put a word on my blessing. Yes, I am blessed to be an INTROVERT. After a few psychology classes,  several years of soul searching and a few months in a place where “me time ” was allowed, nay encouraged, I have reached a point in my life when I  can fully embrace that part my personality.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean that I hate being around people. It just means that I need some time to be alone, time to put together pieces of information, emotions and lingering issues that might be a source of turmoil if not properly dealt with.

The mind of an introvert cannot process ongoing events. It works like a machine that loads raw information in order to process it on resting mode. If it loads a lot of information without processing it, a sort of mental clog sets in, causing discomfort and bitterness.

Self-knowledge is crucial in the development of an individual. It gives us the tools to anticipate an eventual difficult situation, deal with it and learn from it.

My personal me times involve writing, reading, listening to music or just lying in my bed and staring at the ceiling. I usually keep a straight face, which makes people around me assume that I am pissed or bored.

To all the introverts out there, I feel you. It is a tough time for us, especially in this era when technology makes it even harder to isolate from all this mess. I am still struggling with these endless group chats, Facebook notifications that are more distracting than productive.

I have read that «being alone is not the same as being lonely”.

So this is to more moments of self-affirmation in our hideaways, may they be physical ormental. These fortresses of solitude really constitute our cocoons, from which we can burst out stronger and ready to deal with all the bullshit out there.”

*soof= antipathetic

Deciding To Be Great

“There comes a time in life where you have to decide to either be good or be great. Do you want to be ordinary or extraordinary?”

This has been on my mind for months now and I can’t shake it.

I just didn’t understand why this kept coming up? As someone who does her best no matter the task, it bothered me that I kept having these thoughts because it made me feel like I wasn’t trying hard enough. My brain hit the replay button and wouldn’t stop. So, I actually had to sit and think about it.

Unfortunately, I came to realise that I am not trying hard enough. I am not pushing myself. I am settling for “good” and “comfortable” instead of “great” and “risky.” I looked at the people around me; my family, my friends, and my colleagues. I noticed that a lot of people were just settling for “good” and not really trying to do more. They work the same job, get some money, and that is enough. Don’t get me wrong, if this is what they want then there is nothing wrong with it. If “good” satisfies them then who am I to say otherwise? Let’s face it, life would be a lot easier if I could do the same. But I can’t.

Upon a lot of reflection, I accepted the fact that I am someone who needs challenges and needs to push themself. Deep down, I know that I can do better and aim for higher goals. But with that thought comes a lot of fear. Fear of failure. When you are used to being one of the best, the thought of being one of the worst is terrifying. But there is no success without failure.

So I made the decision to aim higher. And if you have had the same thoughts that I have had, then give yourself a chance and do the same. There is nothing wrong with trying and failing; as long as you can say that you tried your best and you gave it a shot. I don’t want to be an old woman with a bunch of regrets. I want to look back at my life and say “I have no regrets. I did my best.” Whether it be in your professional life, love life, religious life, or anything else. Give yourself a chance to be great.

● AfroMinded●

Writer’s Block Hit Me

Yeah, that’s right. I got hit. Bad

Never have I ever had so many ideas and yet so little inspiration to write.

Writing has always come so easily to me. When I was in middle school and high school, I could spit out poems and short stories like it was nothing. But the past few months, I haven’t even been able to write a simple paragraph! I’ve only heard the term ”writer’s block” but I’ve never experienced it. If it came at a time when I didn’t have as many projects, it wouldn’t be a problem. But then it wouldn’t be as much fun, would it?

So, you are probably wondering, what did I learn from it? Right? I mean, I can’t just come on hear and tell you that I had writer’s block and then log off? What kind of blogger would I be?

I am a somewhat normal human being and sometimes, we need a break. I always say, if you don’t take a break, life will take a break for you. This doesn’t mean that you should stop chasing after you dreams or stop working hard. Absolutely not. This means that we are only humans. We are programmed to stop every once in a while and breathe. When I look back a couple of months, I see that I tried to cram too much into too little time. Something that I do often but usually manage to pull through. This time, however, there was a fault in the system. And you know what? That is OK. If everything worked all the time, there would be no need for updates and nothing would ever improve. However, nothing get’s fixed by simply laying around. You may find yourself in a situation that you haven’t planned on and that has completely taken you by surprise. But just TRY. The quicker you decide to try to change that situation, the quicker you will find the solution. I wish answers could fall out of the sky but, since life is no fairytale Disney movie, that’s most likely not going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the power of prayer just as much as the next person. However, God gave us free will for a reason.

Things happen, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take an active roll to try to change it. So at 22:11 (10:11 PM) on the 05th of December 2015, I, Afrominded, sat on my computer at work, opened a blank Word document, and broke my writer’s block.

Stay tunes for the result!

An AfroMinded Voyage

**pic provided by teresay.com

AfroMinded is back!

The reason for my absence? Traveling!

I like traveling. I love visiting new places and enriching myself in different cultures. HOWEVER, traveling can be a real pain in the wrong place. Especially when you think about all the procedures you have to go through.

Take packing, for instance. Packing is officially an enemy. I usually get in everything I need with little to no issues. But this time around, everything went haywire. Packing for a week is childsplay. Packing for a few months is pure torture. I went through days of putting things in my suitcase, changing my mind, taking things out of my suitcase, and changing my mind again. I wanted nothing more than to kill my suitcase. But I realized that I was having difficulties because I was trying to take every bit of home with me. I wanted to take everything that reminded me of Senegal or Africa and put it in my suitcase. But I am Africa. I am a living, breathing, walking, talking piece of Africa. No need to prove it to anyone. With that in mind, things became a lot easier.

Then there is the airport. I don’t think there are enough words to describe the airport experience. No matter who you are or what you do, when you travel, you are not just a passenger but you are also a suspect. All the security checks, the “random” selections, and the scanning is to keep YOU and I in check. Unfortunately, this goes even further if you look anything like an Arab or a Muslim, if you wear a turban, if you are African, if you wear a hijab, or even traditional and cultural clothing. This was my first time traveling as a hijabi and I have heard so many horror stories about “hijab when flying” that I didn’t know if I was going to be able to handle certain situations. I tried my best to dress colorful and even wore a nice turban. I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t randomly selected! However, I did get questioned for about 15 minutes. You can’t win them all.

This plane trip really got me thinking: We humans really are spoiled. We expect a box with wings to take us from one place, fly us up in the sky, through the clouds, provide us a nice meal, glide through turbulence, and land safely in another place thousands of miles away. Stop and think for a second: How amazing is it that God gave humans the knowledge to be able to create something like an airplane and to have it function? When you are on that plane, there are no stop lights, no breaks, no “pulling over”. If that plane stops, start saying your prayers. I personally believe that every time I have gotten on a plane, it is God who has gotten me through it. He flew it and He landed it. But I have such a huge respect for pilots because it takes courage to voluntarily put yourself at risk, put hundreds of peoples lives in your hands, and fly for hours in the open sky. I would like thank every single pilot who has ever flown a plane of any kind because what you do takes skill and precision.

This trip has also taught me that life without internet is completely okay! I went weeks without any wifi (because we didn’t have a router at the house yet) and no mobile connection (because I had no sim card). And guess what, I made it. In fact life was so much easier. When you put the phone down and look around you , you enjoy things so much more. Sitting and eating with people while enjoying a good discussion instead of having your nose on a screen. Going out into the city and visiting places without hearing facebook notifications and viber messages all the time. That’s the life.

Stay tuned for this months PicWeek!

AfroMinded

To My Bullies: Thank You

Dear bullies,

You probably don’t remember me. But I remember you.

Let me refresh your memory.

I was that skinny dark-skinned girl from West Africa. You know, the one who would sit in the back of the class to avoid getting looked at? The one who always wore sweatshirts and baggy pants? You would call me “darky”, “ugly”, and “little Africa.” Remember now?

Well, I remember how you made 6th grade a living hell. I was a fun-loving, active, and energetic girl before I met you. I loved going to school and I loved learning. But that year, you took that love away from me. You somehow managed to drain the life out of me little by little everyday.

You made me angry, very angry. I could have easily fought with you, but my mother raised me better than that. So consider yourselves lucky that I never laid my hands on you.

A lot of years have passed and I have kept fairly quiet. But today, I am finally letting it out. I have things to say to each and everyone of you. Don’t worry, I am not going to put any of you on blast. Unlike you, I have more class than that. Besides, maybe, just maybe, some of you have grown up into respectful adults. I mean, one can only hope.

To Little Miss Popular,

You started out as a friend. We knew each other for a long time and I actually liked you. But little did I know you were a two-faced, conniving little witch. You stabbed me in the back and laughed at my face. I wasted my tears on you and you enjoyed it. I wonder, was popularity really worth sacrificing your friends? The worst part is that, after all that happened, you still had the audacity to ask for my help with your school work. You knew I wasn’t having that! If you had spent half of your time studying instead of chasing boys, you probably would have gotten better grades. But I would like to thank you. Thank you for teaching my that not everyone who smiles at you is your friend.

PS: The boys liked you because you were easy. (At least, that’s what your ex says).

To Mister Cool Guy,

Just because you thought that you were sooooo popular and had sooooo many friends, you thought you could say anything you wanted to anyone. You thought that you were so good looking and that all the girls liked you. But you knew that I didn’t like you and that killed your ego. So you decided to take it out on me. You and your friends treated me like dirt and made me dread walking down the hallways. Even when we were in class, you threw things at the back of my head. But I want to thank you too. Thank you for constantly saying that I dressed “like a boy” because I covered by body. You taught me that little boys don’t deserve real women. Because real men love real women who respect themselves and their bodies. My body is a temple and it is not for the likes of you.

PS:  You were only mad that I was a foot taller than you

To Little Miss You-Stole-My-Socks,

Yes, you too. You were the “ghetto princess” as you would call yourself. I would prefer “rachet princess” but hey, who am I to judge? You and your entire posy used to love picking on me every single day. . .EVERY single day. You always had something to comment on. Whether it was the way I dressed, the way I ran, my skin color, my country, whatever! But the tip of the iceberg was that one day when you accused me of stealing your socks after gym class. Over 12 girls in that locker room, and yet the excuse you gave was that you walked in and saw me putting socks on which somehow, in your head, meant that they were yours. . .giiiirrrrlll! I remember wanting to slap your face off, but I didn’t. Instead I let you make a fool of yourself which brought me great joy! But I am going to thank you for showing me that violence is not the answer. Sometimes, you should just sit back and let people dig their own holes. Besides, you only picked on me because you didn’t love yourself enough.

PS: No one needed your stanck-alicious dirty socks. Don’t flatter yourself.
PS PS: Last I heard, you went to juvie. . .sooooooooo

To Miss Pick-a-fight,

You were the new girl in school and I knew how difficult that could be. So, I just wanted to help you out and let you know that you had someone you could talk to. But you felt like, in order to be cool, you had to be fast (no, I’m not talking about your pace). You were always “extra friendly” with the boys in the back of the bus. You started to pick fights with people. Trying to build up your street cred maybe? Then, you started to pick fights with me. But, because I knew better and had more self-control than you did, I didn’t humor you much. My mother always told me to never fight back because you’ll be just as worse as the person who started it. So thank you for showing me that having values and morals really is priceless.

PS: I still remember when you got your butt kicked up and down the sidewalk by those girls after the school dance. Karma is a b**ch

Now, to all of you and those other people that hung out with you, I would like to say that I forgive you for ALMOST everything. Thanks to you, I have grown up to be a strong, proud, independent African woman who loves herself now more than ever. You have taught me lessons that I will never forget and for that, I am grateful. But there is one thing that I will never forgive you for. The fact that, for a period of time, you made me hate myself. You made me hate my body, my personality. . .my skin. The whole “words can never hurt me” thing is a load of bull. Words sting you badly and they stick with you for the rest of your life. I hope, however, that you have grown up and made better decisions in life. I hope that you have learned to love yourselves more and to find more inner strength. If ever you have kids, I hope you teach them to love themselves, to be strong, and to stand up to those who try to bring them down. Teach them to treat others with respect and kindness so that they don’t turn out to be bullies like you. Make the bullying stop. Raise a generation of kids who bring each other up, not knock each other down.

I found my peace. I hope you find yours.

Sincerely,

The African Girl

PS: You are in my prayers everyday

**Image provided by vividlife.me**

Senegalese Time : The Rant

I am a patient person. I do my best to keep cool, I don’t get into arguments, and I keep my word. But nothing pushes my buttons more than when someone disrespects my time. Let me explain:

Today, I wasted almost 8 hours waiting for one person to give me one thing. What this person was supposed to give me was very important for my career and I have a deadline so I really had no choice but to wait. The waiting would not have been a problem if he had just told me the right time. You see, he told me 2:00 PM (14h00). He kept saying “just 30 more minutes. . .” In my mind, he’s talking about normal time, but no! He’s was talking “Senegalese time.”

Confused yet?. . .

I’ve heard of “African time” but I can’t say exactly what it means because it’s different in each country. For us Senegalese, we have something called “Senegalese time” which I know all too well.

In most places around the world, when you tell someone “I’ll meet you at 1:00 AM (13h00)”, you really mean 1:00 AM. But in Senegal, when someone says 1 o’clock, they mean 2 o’clock. Heck, even 3! When they say that they’ll meet you in 30 minutes, they really mean in an hour or an hour and a half. When someone says “I’m leaving my house right now,” they are probably still in their pajamas.

The whole “time is money” mantra hasn’t really set into the Senegalese way of thinking yet. Here, time is something that you have and you do whatever you want with it. No stress! That’s the Senegalese way. This is why someone who is supposed to start working at 8 in the morning, will show up to work at 8:30, eat breakfast, and then start at 9. And they wonder why they get fired?. . .humm, I wonder why?

Time is a gift and with every gift comes a responsibility. Time is precious and every minute that I wait for someone is a minute of my life that I will never get back. Every minute wasted is a part of my existence thrown out the window. If you are doing your own things, that’s cool. Take your time because it’s yours. But when someone else is depending on you, it becomes your duty to try and respect that person’s time.

Take a look at the more developed countries around the world and you will find a pattern: time is crucial and respected. Trains and buses are scheduled and, for the most part, on time. People rush to get to work on time and coming to work five minutes late is unacceptable. If you are 30 minutes late to a meeting, that meeting is probably over (or cancelled).

In order to develop ourselves and our country, we need to respect each other and each other’s time. Things take too long to fix here. We are wasting precious time with unnecessary protocols. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the Senegalese mindset. I love that life here is less stressful and that people have a joie de vivre.That’s what makes this country so charming and lovable. Like I said, if you are flying solo, then do you boo. But sometimes, it’s better to just throw “Senegalese time” out the window.