Tag Archives: Race

VOD: 6 Lessons Kanye West Can Teach Us About High Self-Esteem

These days when you see Kanye West‘s name in the headlines you automatically expect a story about him throwing a temper tantrum at paparazzi, saying something politically incorrect in an interview or tabloid gossip about his girlfriend/reality star Kim Khardashian. It’s true that Kanye West’s antics often detract from the power of the things he is saying, but rest assured he’s saying something you should listen to.

This week he stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about their “Twitter beef.” Kanye began to explain why his emotions get the best of him and the mission he is on to change the world. Kanye’s ambition often gets confused for a lack of gratitude for the opportunities he’s been given, but during the interview he dropped some serious knowledge and advice about what it takes to succeed in today’s world. Regardless of your personal opinion of Kanye, these six lessons are important to take note of for any artist, minority, or person trying to overcome the odds and make a difference.

  1. Don’t sell yourself short – “If I didn’t call myself a genius, I’d be lying to all of you and myself,” Kanye says in an earlier part of the interview. At first listen that is possibly the most arrogant statement, but it proves that Kanye has the utmost faith himself. Take note. If you know you have an ability or a gift to offer the world, don’t wait for someone else to acknowledge it before you embrace it for yourself. You don’t have that kind of time. Embrace your gift and work at it. “I spent 10,000 hours at this, I’ve been working at it my whole life,” Kanye explains. When you put that much effort into something, you don’t have to be humble about it. When you take notice of yourself, everyone else takes notice too.
  2. Don’t limit yourself to one label or category – As human beings we naturally contain multitudes of passions and talents. Don’t force yourself into one small labeled box. If you love art and music, don’t think that you only have to pursue one – that your ideas only can come from one place. Kanye’s battle comes from his frustration of trying to break into couture fashion but not getting the respect he wants as a designer because he became famous as a rapper. His message here is clear: people are going to try and tell you that you can’t do something simply because you come from a different world. They’re wrong. If the passion and the work is there, your ideas are valid no matter what your primary “occupation” or “title” is. Don’t be afraid to go after everything if that’s what you want.
  3. Protect your dreams – The world is full of naysayers, unfortunately. We are not advocating that you attack those naysayers with curse words and violence as Kanye has been known to do, but we do advocate not allowing someone to make you shelve something you believe in. You have to build a wall around those dreams, around your heart that protects it from people saying you can’t do something. Don’t believe people who tell you that your idea is stupid or you should do something else. Use your voice and speak up, even if everyone around you is telling you to be quiet. That’s how you are heard.
  4. Don’t try to fit the mold – This is similar to the last lesson but Kanye nails it a few minutes in when he says, “I refuse to follow those rules where society is set up to control people with low self-esteem – through improper information, with branding and marketing.” We are bombarded by images every day that tell us the “right” way to look and to act and we compare ourselves to these mainstream images. We get conned into thinking that if we don’t fit into that mold that we are doing something wrong, and by allowing ourselves to feel low we are allowing the projectors of those images to climb higher on our backs. Stop the cycle. Get the right information you need to empower yourself. You don’t have to stay down there – there’s enough sun for everyone. You just have to be bold enough to stand up and see for yourself.
  5. Have heroes to aspire to  – Kanye quotes Steve Jobs, Michaelangelo and Jesus as a few of his heroes. He honestly, deep in his bones, believes he has the power to make the same impact as these legends. You should too. Find people who inspire you to be better. Look up to them and make a conscious effort to climb to their level, otherwise what’s the point? We may not reach the level of the pedestal we put them on but Heroes inspire us to reach and push farther than we could on our own.
  6. Set the expectation for mutual respect – Once you’ve convinced yourself that you are a person with a voice and something worth saying, then you have to convince everyone else as well. You do that through respect – you set the expectation that as a person of value (ie, a person period) you deserve a certain level of respect. This means you stand up for yourself when someone falls below that line of respect, but it also means that you treat others with the level of respect you expect them to give you (admittedly, Kanye has some work to do on this last part, at least in public).

What do you think of Kanye’s interview? Is there anything you can take from it? Tell us in the comments below! 

Introducing Your New Intent Team!

Hello Intent Community!

It’s Megan Vick and MeLissa Gavarrette here – your new day-to-day Intent and Intent Blog team! Megan is taking over as managing editor of Intent Blog and MeLissa will be marketing coordinator – handling social media and managing new initiatives on Intent.com.

MeganMeLissaIntroBlog

 About Megan

Megan has been working with the Chopra family for over a year now, starting with The Chopra Well YouTube project and transitioned to Intent earlier this summer.  She majored in music industry in college and is in Los Angeles as an aspiring screenwriter so to say she loves pop culture and entertainment is an understatement. She has previously written for Billboard Magazine, Rolling Stone and IFC.com. Her writing on Intent Blog will mostly focus on how we can use entertainment mediums to create a better world – and the disastrous results when we don’t. Humor and comedy are very important to Megan so you can expect to see a lighter tone in many of her pieces and hopefully you get a laugh!

Her intents for the year is to make Intent Blog the number one wellness and conscious conversation destination on the web, to  finish her first screenplay and go to the gym regularly. She’s really excited to move from social media to the blog where she can write more and get to know the rest of you!

What She Plans for Intent Blog 

While we love the heartfelt and personal stories we post here on Intent Blog (and will continue to do so), we want the blog to expand. In the coming weeks we will start tackling more current events, popular culture and global issues and adding the Intent voice to the discussion. Many of our current Intent voices have their specialties – from addiction to sex and relationships to organic gardening and cooking. We want our bloggers to use those specialties, passions and points of view to add deeper context to the stories everyone is already talking about.

If that sounds like you, or something that excites you, please pitch your ideas for articles or columns to editor@intent.com

About MeLissa

MeLissa comes to Los Angeles from Florida by way of Nashville, TN. She loves comedy, writing, wise words and breakfast burritos. She’s done everything from working at a gym, to teaching kids to conquer their fears at summer camp, to traveling with a BMX team across the country. Now she’s excited to be settled in Southern California working with the Intent family to empower it’s community to live the lives they’ve always wanted.

Her intent for the year is becoming an invested part of that community. It is a community of movers and shakers who are intent on making the world a better, healthier place– who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

What She Plans for Intent.com

MeLissa is focused on continuing to make Intent a community built by it’s members for it’s members. What does that even mean? It means finding ways to increase interaction between users. It means further expanding resources for both men and women on the website and blog. It means taking new steps to encourage users to see their intents fulfilled. MeLissa has ideas for all these things and looks forward to hearing yours.

For any issues or concerns with your Intents send them to support@intent.com 

What do you want to see in the upcoming months on Intent Blog and Intent.com? Share with us in the comments below! 

President Obama Reflects on the 50 Year Anniversary of MLK Jr’s Legendary Speech

Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech that would reverberate in our memories for decades to come. Today, President Obama and other leaders convene in Washington to pay tribute to the remarkable man and his timeless message:

Why Everyone is Talking About Miley Cyrus Today

Miley-Cyrus-2224429Did you watch the Video Music Awards last night? If so, did anything stand out to you?

In the company of acts like Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West, none caused as much of a stir as Miley Cyrus, the Disney-star-turned-sexpot-turned…cultural commentator?

That last descriptor might be overly generous, but it refers to the somewhat misplaced commentary on race, sexuality, and liberal politics Miley apparently seems to be dishing out with her latest performance and musical offerings.

Before we address her VMA performance, it’s first necessary to go back several months to the release of her music video for “We Can’t Stop.” A dance/party anthem reminiscent of her earlier “Party in the USA,” this video strips Miley of any semblance of sweetness or innocence and dresses her instead in a costume of unrestrained, “deviant” sexuality and, what many are calling, caricatured “cultural appropriation.”

As Dodai Stewart writes for Jezebel:

It’s important to understand that Miley is very privileged to be able to play dress up and adorn herself with the trappings of an oppressed/minority culture. She can play at blackness without being burdened by the reality of it.

Click here if you’d like to watch the music video and judge for yourself.

If the grills, the fake nails, and the gold chains aren’t enough to make you cringe at their blatant cultural essentializing of what Miley seems to view as “hip hop culture” and urban couture, then her VMA performance will probably do the trick. Miley struts across the stage in a leotard, with dancers all around her carrying gigantic stuff bears, and she proceeds to hump the air, stick a foam finger between her legs, and “twerk” up close and personal for Robin Thicke.

It’s hard to know exactly what the 20-year-old’s politics and values really are. If her “We Can’t Stop” video and VMA performance are trying to inspire some discourse on race and sexuality, then she seems to be going about it in a roundabout fashion. Does caricaturing minority culture actually encourage enfranchisement, or does it just perpetuate racism? Does trying on and playing with sexuality actually show respect to the LGBT community, or does it just over-sexualize homosexuality – lesbian relationships, in particular?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

 

Photo credit: Reuters

Is Obama Avoiding Race in this Trayvon Martin Statement?

Florida jury finds George Zimmerman not gulityTo a public that is largely angry and dissatisfied over the Florida court’s ruling in the Trayvon Martin trial, Obama’s press statement might be unsatisfactory. Protestors around the country have been calling for justice all week, urging Obama to step up and address race and racial profiling head on. But the President notes that, in addiction to race, this is a case of states’ rights and independent court systems. “Traditionally,” he says, “these are issues of state and local government – the criminal code. And law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.” It’s his way of saying, “We can’t do anything.”

He spends most of the statement discussing potential adjustments that could be made in law enforcement and training – all productive ideas, but still not addressing the real issues of racism, discrimination, and profiling that still goes on in this country. But take a look for yourself and let us know what you think:

By contrast, Obama gave a very powerful statement directly after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, in which he states, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Breaking News: Kids Are Way Less Racist Than Adults

In May, Cheerios released a commercial depicting an interracial couple and their daughter. It was cute, light-hearted, and apparently extremely controversial. The video itself is entirely inoffensive, but it seems the fact of the parents’ mixed race relationship was enough to spark the strongest of reactionary feelings among many who viewed the commercial.

Is this really the world we live in? Still? Here is the harmless and adorable Cheerios commercial, whose YouTube comments had to be disabled after so many racist and hateful messages were left:

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 8.4% of all current marriages in the U.S. are interracial, compared to 3.2% in 1980. In western states, 1 in 5 couples marry out of their race. Granted, “race” is still a dubious category, describing ethnic, regional, and cultural nuances that have no actual bearing on biology. But even as a cultural signifier, race has been used as a powerful tool for segregation – and it is heartening to see the gaps steadily closing.

For children growing up today, especially in progressive corners of the world, racism might seem like a thing of the past (if not altogether an unknown concept.) For their series “Kids React,” The Fine Bros decided to interview 12 kids, aged 7 to 13, on their reactions to the Cheerios commercial. When asked why they thought the commercial would be considered so controversial, not a single one of them could come up with an answer. This launches them into a frank, emotional discussion on racism, discrimination, and why everyone has the right to love whomever they want. Watch it here:

We don’t know where these kids come from, what their parents are like, or what kinds of beliefs they’ve grown up surrounded by. Regardless, their responses are heartfelt and unrehearsed, and it just goes to show much the adult world could stand to learn from kids like this.

At the bottom of their video, The Fine Bros link to the following resources for race equality, which we encourage you to check out:

http://www.adl.org/
http://www.hrw.org/
http://www.racialequitytools.org/intr…
http://itstopswithme.humanrights.gov.au/
http://www.standagainstracism.org/ind…
http://www.unitedagainstracism.org/

What do you think of the Cheerios commercial and of the kids’ reactions? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Lessons From Trayvon: Raising Mixed Race Boys in the Face of Racism, Fear, and Inequality

Mariana_19 years old
Me at age 19

By Mariana Oldenburg

I have been reflecting on the Trayvon Martin case a lot. The fact that Zimmerman got away with murder angers and worries me because I am the mother of two ethnically diverse male children living on this planet.

Injustice, inequality, sexism, and racism are not just USA problems; they are global problems. I myself was harassed by the police in Europe when I was a traveling teenager. I was racially profiled because of my brown skin and wild curly hair. One of the police officers asked for my passport and after confirming that I was a 19-year-old tourist with a proper visa, he said “It’s just that we have a lot of undocumented Brazilian prostitutes arriving here.” And that was supposed to make me feel better? Thanks for the Brazilian part, but I did take offense to the disrespectful noun.

Just walking down the streets in Italy, men would yell “hey, Marroquina” (woman from Morocco). My Italian girlfriend explained to me that many of these women were immigrant sex workers and the men were wondering if I was available. At the airport in Spain, security officers picked me out of the line and scanned my creeper shoes because they thought I might be sneaking drugs in the soles of my shoes. All of these accusations were purely based on my ethnicity, gender, and appearance. As a female teenager I felt angry, impotent, and vulnerable, and even though I wanted kick them in the face with those very shoes, I knew I had to handle myself with dignity and keep it together, so that I could get on the plane back to the USA where I had been living since I was 15 years old. (And might I add that I am grateful to live in this diverse country.)

I may not be an African-American male, but I am Afro-Latina woman and I have experienced racism in Panama, Europe, and in the USA, repeatedly. I know how it feels to be denied good job opportunities based on where I come from, my age, what I look like, and because I am a woman. I have experienced racism walking down the streets in progressive San Francisco for holding hands with my husband. He was called a white pig and I was called the N word. Scott and I have had racist encounters with both white and black men because we are an interracial couple and those people felt we should not be together. If we changed our behavior to accommodate others’ ideas of who we should love, our children would not exist.

I have experienced racism from white people because they don’t know exactly what I am and that makes them uncomfortable. Then when they find out I am from Central America, and they hear me speak, they tell me “Wow, you speak English really well!” What did they expect? Why should I not have excellent command of the English language? This often happens to me. It happened to me just three months ago at a client’s office here in New Orleans. Back when I worked in corporate America in the Bay Area, I was the token minority woman who was fortunate to be able to reach senior level positions. At my last corporate job, HR even pointed out that they were happy to hire me because they believe in equal opportunity – yet in an office building of 250 + employees, only two of us were Latina.

I have experienced racism from black people who don’t like me because I am Latina or because my skin is not dark enough. I have experienced racism from Latinos who don’t like my skin because it’s not light enough. I have heard a couple of my white friends use the N word in the context of fear and anger. I have heard some of my Latino friends speak quite negatively about black people. I’ve heard some of my black friends speak with deep anger towards white people. I have had my black female neighbor call me a racist because I speak Spanish and I am married to a white male even though my father is a black Jamaican. (Hence my Afro roots that I am very proud of.) I myself have had to unlearn a lot of the colonialist brain washing that was impressed upon us in our Panamanian culture. In Panama, people of color were not allowed to go to a university until general Omar Torrijos changed that law in the early 70s.

Who is right? Who is wrong? What should I believe? Who should I be? The whole thing is very confusing, and back when I was younger, all these complexities of race and culture were extremely hard to navigate and comprehend. I continue to listen and learn, and I continue to be friends with all of my friends. I continue to learn about their history, their thoughts, their feelings, their beliefs, their cultures, their religions, and their truths, and I often engage in heated debates with them because dialogue is exactly what we need, even if we agree to disagree.

The part that troubles me the most about the Martin/Zimmerman case is that the failing justice system can be fashioned and manipulated to the point that it becomes a strategic game of knowledge and power, and of course, the power of money. I feel that every single human life is equally important and worthy of respect and happiness and should have a chance to reach their full potential – even if they annoy the hell out of me.

In cases like this it’s important to not get too distracted by the ongoing argument of racism. I suggest that we focus on a solution to the flawed justice system because the system is not working. Let’s talk about these events with our children at the dinner table, lets discuss it within our communities, our spiritual circles, and peers, and most of all, let’s get involved by telling our political leaders what we want, until we see meaningful change. Folks like Zimmerman exist because they choose to live in fear, and they teach their children the same things their parents taught them, that is, to live in fear and to hate. Let’s stop demonizing the youth. Let’s stop tainting their spirit with heavy dogma, mental slavery, guilt, the burden of the pain from the past, and colonialist ideas that simply do not support them as the loving and creative human beings that we were born to be. Let’s teach our children how to think and not what to think.

Why should I live in fear? Why should my friends question whether they should bring children into this world? That’s not a privilege; that is their right. Should I stop holding hands with my husband? Should I tell my son Diego that he should live in fear and that he should not wear his hoodie while walking down the street because some paranoid delusional fool might shoot him? Should he too eventually carry a gun and forget about our family values of love and nonviolence? How do I carry on as a parent?

I say we talk with our children honestly about the elephant in the room. I say we make a conscious effort to get to know each other a little better so that we may understand or at least tolerate each other. As a triple minority living in the United States and as a parent, I refuse to be distracted, deterred, or defeated by racism, and much less by the intimidation of hatred and fear. It’s evident that when it comes to racism, we have a long way to go, but in regards to the Trayvon/Zimmerman case, we musts demand that the government does away with the Stand Your Ground law.

I stand the ground of not giving up hope for a better world for our children.

NYC Marches for Trayvon Martin – 10 Powerful Photos

On the rainy night of February 26, 2012 an altercation took place between 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and 28-year-old George Zimmerman that left the former dead and the latter bleeding from several wounds. There were no witnesses and no apparent cause for the dispute, and Zimmerman was shortly thereafter released on the basis of “self defense.”

But the story, and the pain and anger and debates, did not end there. Almost overnight there arose a pubic outcry over the event, calling for justice on what was largely seen as a racially-motivated event. Had Trayvon not been black would Zimmerman have perceived him as a threat? Would Zimmerman have been initially let go? And now, after this weekend’s verdict, would he have been acquitted of all charges? It’s a troubling line of reasoning to go down, but one that many can’t help consider.

Reactions to the verdict have been heart-wrenching, as many feel not only the tragedy of the teenager’s lost life but also anger toward a system that seems to value some lives more than others. New York City held one of the largest rallies on Sunday, with thousands convened in Times Square to protest the jury’s decision.

Here are 10 powerful photos from NYC’s protest, reminding the country that Trayvon Martin lives on in the hearts of many:

What are your thoughts on the Zimmerman verdict? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Love is Love: 4 Steps to Overcome Judgment

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 11.47.44 AMA soul is a soul is a soul. Love is love. You are not right, and neither am I. You aren’t wrong either. You are who you are, and I am who I am.

There is no such concept as absolute, right or wrong when it comes to who we choose to love or what color we were born as. We live in a dynamic time and have been gifted with being present to some big social inequality changes…Obama being elected President, DOMA having been nullified, women gaining more and more control over their own bodies. With each progression, there is a fire inside me that ignites. It is one that burns down one more barrier telling me I can’t be who I am. Even though I am not African-American and I am married to a man and if I were to accidentally get pregnant today I would not abort, it symbolizes one step further toward society allowing people to be themselves, to be who they were born to be, to be who their DNA dictates. We can change our character, our hair, our body…but we can’t change who we are at a soul level.

After the fire simmers down a little, melancholia sets in and takes me to a place of sadness that there even needs to be a fight about any of it. I cried today in tears of happiness for my same-sex couple friends, but also in pain for what they have to fight against. What is happening that we need to fight for love? Why can’t we as a developed society support our own families just as much as we support families that look different on the outside than ours but are the same inside? Why can’t we use our life to love our communities, the charities we dedicate to, people in need…instead of bash what we don’t agree with?

It is absolutely a choice whether we live in an angry state or a tolerant state about how other people live their lives. Anger will not change the world. Judgment will get us nowhere, except to grow old, tired and shut down. Holding onto bias-fueled resentment is hurting the person resenting more than anything. Imagine being free of that feeling. Imagine the space that could be created in life if that wasn’t there. The joy. What if you weren’t afraid anymore to let that junk go? What if you decided today was the day to pull back the curtain of insecurity and fear and step through to a life of love and freedom for you and everyone who crosses your path? In theory, it’s that easy.

I was not raised around discrimination of any kind, and it makes my stomach churn to know it is happening. That said, I have been through stages of my life where I judged, where I was stuck in small-mindedness and where I was hard on myself. Judgment is judgment, so here are my humble ideas to help as it really is all one in the same:

1. Look up. Look up to the sky, to the full moon or to the stars if you live somewhere you can see them clearly. Look up and be reminded of how this life is so much bigger than all of us. Look up and be reminded that the stars you are seeing have the same matter in them as lives in each of us. Be reminded of the very real fact that we are all infinitely connected, regardless of what the ego would like to think.

2. Hunt your trigger. We all get triggered by something in life, many things usually. Maybe for you, it is two women walking hand in lovely hand…or a bi-racial couple walks by smooching…or someone of a different race happens to make you mad but you find yourself getting more angry than you might at a person of your own race. Stop. Breathe. Instead of numbing out in your angry pain and going unconscious to it, notice the feeling. Track it, trace it, don’t let that lead get away. That trigger comes from somewhere in your past. The only way to heal is to find out the root and the connection to your life now. This trigger can be overcome if you want to be free of it bad enough.

3. Take your own power back. Usually discrimination comes from family. “I grew up this way,” is not an excuse. While it may be true that you did, it absolutely does not excuse it now. Say you grew up poor…most likely you didn’t want to perpetuate that economic state as you grew into adulthood. Most likely you don’t blame your adulthood financial troubles now on your economic state as a 10 year old. So why would you perpetuate this? Instead of picking and choosing what we blame our childhood on, let’s step into the light childhood can lend to this life, and see it for what it is. Let’s take it back to the now.

4. Be kind to yourself. I have been around enough to know that the people who are hardest on others, are hardest on themselves too. Love for the world starts with a deep, passionate love affair with ourselves. Get the help needed to heal old wounds. Not bandage them, but heal them for good. Life it too short to live in the past. See beauty now. No regrets at the end of this gorgeous life.

 

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

-HHDL

Will the Supreme Court’s Decision on the Voting Rights Act Undermine Civil Rights?

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 2.00.41 PMToday the Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 vote to eliminate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most important civil rights laws of the 1960s. The Act essentially delineated the parts of the country that must have their voting laws overseen by the federal government – an attempt to prevent the most racially-discriminatory states from instating voting regulations that would further disenfranchise minority populations.

The 5 votes that won the ruling argued that such singling-out of certain parts of the country was unconstitutional and unnecessary in a greatly changed United States. As reported by Huffington Post, Chief Justice John Roberts refers to “current conditions” as evidence of the now-obsolete nature of the Voting Rights Act:

Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions…

There is no doubt that these improvements are in large part because of the Voting Rights Act. The Act has proved immensely successful at redressing racial discrimination and integrating the voting process.

Thus in the same breath, Roberts calls the Act obsolete, but also admits to its effectiveness at changing policies and attitudes over the years. The question becomes, then, have we come far enough in the pursuit of racial equality that such measures are no longer necessary? Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights leader and former chairman of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), argues otherwise. In his opinion, the Supreme Court has “put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act” and undermined the efforts of civil rights activists who helped get it passed.

What are your thoughts on today’s Supreme Court ruling? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
Photo credit: Unknown
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