#MorningPageByDomo 12.7.16

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If you are reading this, please note that this is a brain dump. Well, now I am thinking out loud, most of this blog started as a brain dump. A place to collect inspiration and leave some disorganized thoughts as I try to know self and the world around me.

I have been spending quite a bit of time lately thinking about connecting the dots. I have not been blogging, not writing and not collecting my thoughts in a significant way. I have however, been creating. In connecting the dots I made a note that I have always been fascinated with migration. I believe this fascination comes from my father, but he is fascinated about a lot of things. How did you and I arrive at this point at this time? I believe in the power of the universe to connect souls in perfect timing for maximum impact.

I believe we can learn a lot when we study patterns and the histories of beings. I’ve tried to get out of my head and comfort zone. I will admit, this challenge is great. As a stubborn millennials who feels as though I am finally finding my bubble to challenge everything I know is difficult. What if everything we were taught was wrong? What if what we assumed was good for us, really was not? I grew up in a country that built a public education system that reaffirmed that our country was the greatest country on earth, yet people who shared my skin color were somehow less than, but I should be grateful because I grew up in this country. Oh yeah, and this has been happening for centuries and still does.

That being said I do not overlook the importance and willingness of my people to survive and innovate. It is because of this, I strive to innovate. Grateful for the perserverance of folks of color in the midst of doubt, the perserverance of  my family tree and the situation I was placed in and my own personal privileges and guidence. For this reason, it is not enough for me to reach back and assist those who follow in my footsteps, however I believe it is important to continue to break down barriers and innovate.

I work on projects that connect community in ways that allow folks to build. That being said the more I work the more I begin to understand that as much as I am about building and innovating, often times folks need time and space to heal. Nevertheless, the work must go on. I am not dismissing the notion that healing  must happen somewhere, sonme how and some way, but many communities do not have the luxury of spending time trying to close damaging wounds. These scars remind me that nothing was easy, nor was it given. Many have sacrificed their lives literally and figuratively, mentally and physically for me to have a seat at the table. Much to be grateful for, much to fight for, and so much work to be done.

Even as I understand all of this, I still understand there is so much more to learn.

-Domo

Writing inspired by the above photo credit to Inye Wokoma

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What’s In A Name?

First of all happy new year everyone! What a year 2013 was and here’s to making 2014 even better. After returning from my celebration I looked myself in the mirror and the first thing that came to mind was my name. As I started to think about names in general of other people and places, I pondered, what’s in a name? How much does a name say about our identity about who we are?

My name is Domonique. Commonly, the second “o” is usually spelled with an “i” or it’s spelled like Dominic(k) etc. My parents, named me after the Hall of Fame Atlanta Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins. They decided to use two o’s because I was born in Japan and Domo was short for Domo Arigato, a gesture meant for the doctors whom took great care of me in my 6 month stay. Today, my name connects me Japan and Japanese cultures which I credit with making me a global citizen. Although the jokes of domino’s pizza, the constant misspelling and mispronouncing got very old at a young age, I love my name and wouldn’t change it for the world.

AmbassadorNique, my brand, my remix, my alter ego. The AmbassadorNique Productions brand revolves around the thought that everyone is a global citizen. We cannot and will not divide ourselves based on skin color, social-economic background, location, sexual orientation, body type or ability. First we are human beings. We are global ambassador’s and sky is not the limit. We strive to provide resources and opportunities to help connect our thoughts and dreams with reality. Without the proper resources our goals become impossible obstacles. We are all Ambassador’s.

My name is Domonique Meeks and I am a global Ambassador.

Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNique Productions
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www.AmbassadorNique.com

‘Why I Don’t Want to Talk About Race’

This article made my earth shake! Please read as I do my best to digest… 

‘Why I Don’t Want to Talk About Race’

Thoughts After Reading “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?” By Touré (Written by AmbassadorNique)

This book was recommended to me a couple of weeks ago, and I am glad I picked it up. I’d seen Touré on television on numerous occasions but had no idea of his written work. In the book he was able to reflect on his own experiences and those of other influential blacks. I thought the book stayed very relevant to the times, while discussing the harsh realities of growing up black in the 60s and 70s while not slighting the struggles of today’s black youth and young men and women. Yes there are many resources and opportunities available today that our elders could have never dreamt of, however; obstacles and barriers still exist. When speaking of today’s institutional racism he stated “the death of your self-esteem by 1000 cuts can still lead to the murder of your soul.” This to say the most racist thing to ever happen to you won’t be blatant, and you probably will have no idea of its existence (i.e. you don’t get the promotion because of your race etc.).

The book was filled with interviews from successful black people that spoke candidly about identity. While speaking about the inequities of our society Chris Rock added, “The black man’s gotta fly to get to somewhere the white man can walk too.” While Paul Mooney noted that “We complain about racism but we don’t wish to change costumes.” This quote was interesting to me for a few different reasons. One, because I agree, secondly; because while recently in Los Angeles visiting the Fung Brothers we had a long conversation about race when David came to the same conclusion. Black-American’s and Asian-American’s have many things to complain about, but neither side would want to trade places with any other race on this planet. I suppose the pride that comes with the culture is deeper than the struggle. While I feel we all wish to end most of the struggles, we never lose sight of the pride that comes with history and culture.

It is my thought that we must look at the story of what it means to be black from a different angle. Reverend Al Sharpton stated, “We are not victims we’re victors.” From the depths of slavery and oppression, which were key elements marked in American history, black folks were brought together and created community. It takes community and unity to survive through trials and tribulations. Black movements for equality ere deemed radical for being more blunt and direct regarding their feelings about the system and what they wanted, while other movements focused on peace and non-violence. This is not to say one way was better than another, but personally I believe both were necessary. In a way it shows how different we are as people. Everyone views the world through different lenses.

These two pages were probably my favorite in the book. Ironically in the same conversation with the Fung Brothers, David asked me if I thought the notion of black men always feeling the need to “keep it real” or be “authentic” was holding us back from achieving economic success. While, my first thought was YES among other things, when answering questions that require me to speak to my identity based on race I have to think about the answer and what other things may be implied in the question. Eventually I agreed, however I pointed out that there is probably a laundry list of items that can be added to this list. Furthermore, that being Chinese-American male’s whom often speak about their racial identity they had to understand why black men may fear being emasculated. Especially living in a country where Asian males in general have been emasculated by the American media. I believe somewhere in the middle is where we should be, between wanting to keep our identity, but also being able to turn DOWN enough to gain success without sacrificing whom we are. While we should not stop wearing hooded sweatshirts, we should also be aware of the harsh consequences. There are consequences to losing your identity and comfort, however, there are also consequences for not caring and/or not knowing.  Admittedly those are hard realities and hard sentences to write because do we embrace the hooded sweatshirt and tell people to embrace identity, or do we tell them to dress differently to make others around them comfortable and success will come. What if success doesn’t come? What if instead of being uncomfortable about your hooded sweatshirt your skin color makes them uncomfortable? THIS cannot easily be changed. Nevertheless I do not have the answer, but one must find their own.

Furthermore the 2 pages really touch on the fact that race is socially constructed, our true identities should not be. We can be whoever we want to be, and should never let something like race stop us. Society tells us we can be black or we can be successful, but we can’t be both. Because although we can act like we don’t know what the term “acting black” is, we all really do. When did acting black become being ignorant? That’s a whole other can of worms. The fact that in order to be authentically black one has to be in poverty, or in close proximity to the ghetto is ridiculous. Before I place blame or point a finger at anyone I will look in the mirror and fix myself. For me that’s where it starts, and educating the people around us about how unrealistic these standards can be.

In a society that’s still in the beginning stages of this digital age keeping it real and being authentic won’t get anyone too far for too long. We now have easier access to take advantage of free resources and opportunities. While we encourage each other to be ourselves remember the internet is a footprint that cannot be erased permanently.

In closing President Barack Obama spoke to young black men in his recent commencement speech at Morehouse College. “Don’t take a vow of poverty, but it’s poverty of ambition to think only of the goods you can buy versus the good you can do.” As black men continue to do great things and open doors everyday as they have always done, there will be those who complain about the resources and opportunities we do not have, and there will be those who take advantage of the ones that we do to create the unimaginable. At the end of my conversation with the Fung Bro’s we all anticipate what President Barack Obama will do after office. We are more than confident that he will continue uplift the black community, which will in turn inspire the world. We must all continue to do our part, stay educated, stay focused and keep looking up!

Why it’s a good idea for Seattle’s students to talk about racial preferences

Reading this article was very biter sweet. While I had parents who told me to sit down, don’t cause trouble, and do your work I understand that not everyone’s parents tell them that. No matter how we slice it or dice it these facts are real. Being a person of color in America is already hard alone, but now with schools treating students still unfairly based on the color of their skin in 2013 makes life even harder. Furthermore the potential consequences lead to more prison sentences. 

Why it’s a good idea for Seattle’s students to talk about racial preferences

Just My Thoughts: Discussing Oppression in African American Identity (Written By AmbassadorNique)

I had a great conversation about identity with a Nigerian graduate student today. The conversation started because she had mentioned that the church she attends here in Seattle had been talking identity, and the significance and the importance of community. I told her that recently I had been thinking about my role in my community. How I am currently struggling to find a community to attach myself to as a young African American recent college graduate now living in Seattle. There is always the excuse of time, but nevertheless it’s personally something I am working on.

I told her that I had been reading Ronald Takaki’s: A Different Mirror lately and learning about the history of migration to America. Her next question to me was one that caught me off guard. Her question was, why are you reading this? And why do you think African Americans feel the need to always hold on and personalize past oppressions? She said she meant no disrespect by the question, but she had gotten in disagreements with friends when she asked them what good could come from it and why they could not just move forward. She felt like it was hurting African Americans more than it was helping them. Ironically I had discussed a similar conversation recently. I’ve been told that holding on to such oppression is a “slave mentality” and that thinking this way just proves furthermore that shackles have been placed on the brains of African Americans without us knowing it.  

I am far from an expert in this subject and I can only speak from my opinions, my thoughts, my experiences, and my assumptions. I told her personally I was reading the book to learn more about the country I live in. Everything that I have read thus far have been events that I felt like I should have learned back in middle school. Yet truth is we were only taught surface level facts and white lies.

In my opinion African Americans as a race have been stripped of their connection and importance to this country and to the world through slavery. Slavery may have happened a little over a century ago but I explained to her for African American’s many of our families cannot trace our roots back further than the South.

Psychologically I feel as though this affects us in many different ways. There is a feeling from recent generations that they would rather be considered “black” and not “African” American because they do not consider themselves to actually be from Africa. While I am not one of the people who agrees with this sentiment, I am beginning to understand it. Stories of slavery were rarely passed down to African American families, furthermore the forced migration processes that took place from most of our ancestors was not discussed either. While we all know as a culture this was our contribution to America, most of us do not have specific details or know where our people migrated from before ending up in the south. Therefore, there is no direct connection. For many cultures who migrated to America, while there is still a loyalty to America as home; there is a since of cultural pride when it comes to their country of origin. African American’s are expected to be prideful to a continent they have no family connection too.

I hope I haven’t lost you, Digging even deeper into the subject we discussed travel and location. Things that many of us take for granted like thinking globally. What effect does having a family connection to an area outside of the United States have on a persons mindset. The urge to learn about these area’s, the urge to travel to these areas? Without this connection the bridge has been broken. Not every person has this urge, but I feel like as we get older and start to learn more about identity and discover, the information is a lot harder to come by for African Americans.

On a simpler note, how about the infatuation with “blocks” or hoods or geographical locations. While there is so much that plays into this, could this be a cry of wanting to feel a deeper belonging. Wanting to feel as though they are a part of something? Nevertheless this is their community.  While there are China Towns, and Little Italy’s, and Little Japan’s or some sort of the same all around the United States that cultures take pride in, African American communities never get the credit deserved. They have been too often been reduced impoverished neighborhoods through illegal housing practices, corrupt business practices, and a drug infested communities. That’s a whole other conversation.

My conversation with this young lady was abruptly ended by an interruption. My last opinion was this, even as we strive everyday to be successful, for many African Americans it becomes a stressful journey when you look around and realize that the higher you climb up the latter in this country the less African Americans you see. That internalized oppression can be scary when you are treated like the exception to your race.

In writing this I have more questions than ever. Maybe looking to deeply into oppression is a bad thing. It can easily consume who you are as a person. Personally, I guess I am still in search of truth, and history. I feel a since of social responsibility to know things, and to be educated and speak from factual opinions. I don’t know everything there is to know about anything, but as long as there is information, and books readily available I feel that we have the opportunity to learn and educate ourselves. 

“Nothing easy is ever memorable” (Written By AmbassadorNique)

Happy Monday everyone! What an eventful weekend filled with some test preparation, spending time having meaningful conversations with some college mentors and buddies, and of course the SUPERBOWL! What a game, right? I’ll leave it at that, great performances, an unexplained power outage, some decent and very awkward commercials, (I’m still a bit angry at the dodge “god created farmers” commercial). Nevertheless it was a fun game to watch.

Quick updates on my goals. My commitment to the gym is still going strong. It might be time to kick it up a notch and turn up! Also going well is my soda boycott and vow to cook. I haven’t been doing so well on implementing more fruits and veggies and just okay on the whole eating a salad everyday thing. My budgeting and money management is going well with a few minor surprises here and there. Nevertheless my three goals to stay healthy, stay educated and practice good money management are progressing.

 “Ultimately it was about letting all of you have that space to delve deeper into your souls and learn what is it that makes you tick and hopefully awaken some social responsibility. That is what the college experience is truly about.”

This is a quote from a conversation via text messaging I was having with one of my mentors from college. These thoughts stood out to me in my quest to move forward and continue my education. I am so thankful to have had the chance to get this out of my college experience. Since graduating I am able to speak to individuals and find out quickly who did and did not have this opportunity. There’s nothing wrong with still not understanding the social dynamics that make up our society, however it is unfortunate to see college educated individuals say and believe very stereotypical and socially ignorant comments. To me its not about always being politically correct as much as it is facts verse opinion. That is why I love the quote, “Misinformation is a weapon of mass distruction.”

From my experience I received an understanding of the importance of standing up for justice, speaking up for one’s self, demanding equality, and collaboration. These are things that seem easy but in the face of adversity in a setting where you may be close to the bottom of the totem pole, speaking out can be difficult. I am thankful to have been armed with knowledge, confidence and experiences to fall back on for guidance whenever I seem to get lost. In time I gained the confidence to speak up to discrimination, even if it was being done by people around me, co-workers, family, or my own friends. More importantly I’ve learned to check my own prejudice and accept and change my own ignorance. I am far from perfect and nobody will ever be. I am a work in progress, and a student of life.

While it is important to be able to take care of ourselves financially to me it is more important that we feed our minds. We learn as much as we can, network, speak and share with others, travel, taste and experience what this world has to offer.

“Nothing easy is ever memorable”

My goal is to climb Mt. Fuji this August and it will not be easy. I was told “nothing easy is ever memorable.” This was another quote from my conversation this weekend. After hearing it I thought  to myself, that was very simple, however; it made so much since. Those few words in a way, puts everything in perspective. Staying disciplined about my finances, my health, and my education are not easy tasks to commit too. Nevertheless I know for sure that the reward will be the greater than the sacrifice. 

When Jim Crow Drank Coke

This to me is definitely a public health issue! Lets face it, any company over 50 years old in this country probably dealt with racism, inequities or some form of prejudice. The company maybe still commits racist atrocities. Yes Coke has shelled out millions and so has Pepsi but can we start to get real about health in 2013. Sugar is the cause of so much bodily harm, tooth decay, health hazards ect. MY GOODNESS!! I’ve actually been soda free for over a month now and I LOVE it! I’ve been going to the gym Mondays and Wednesday mornings and bought some home workout equipment to increase cardio on my off days from the gym. I’m dedicated to good health, the power of knowledge and money management! I’m determined not to be left on Mt. Fuji this August! As much as I do not like Bloomburg telling Americans the size of soda’s they can and can’t drink until we admit that Obesity is a problem in this country nothing will be done about it! The change starts with the man in the mirror!
 
Never the less the article was a very good read and I really enjoyed the history.

When Jim Crow Drank Coke

‘Girls’ Through the Veil

“Invisibility is problematic, caricature is worse….”

This article is from last year but I really enjoyed the analysis of the portrayal of the black woman on television. The quote above made me pose the same question to myself not only about black women but about all people of color. To take it a step further all under-represented groups. At the same time the article was also inspiring in thinking about the importance of creating our own content and holding each other accountable for how we are representing cultures of color. Rightfully so, it is still important to hold larger establishments accountable for their violations. In the age of smart phones I am surprised at the level of ignorance that still exists about minorities. One would think with so much information at our fingertips we would no longer be so quick to assume things about the unknown. I suppose with so much bad content, it’s hard to know where to find the truth. Only time will tell I suppose. 

‘Girls’ Through the Veil