PicWeek 2: Day 5

Love: Wear it wherever you go

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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**