I decided to take last week off to reflect so I will be publishing two posts this week.
As a white woman wanting to make my impact on the world, I’ve been a bit absorbed in my country’s news cycle, especially when it comes to the 2020 Civil Rights Movement. I have noticed that my friends in marginalized ground are always asking for the same thing: to be seen, supported, respected, and heard. I honestly don’t think this is too much to ask. I wanted to figure out a way to show that kind of support this year on Juneteenth.
I decided one of the easiest and best ways I could do this is by being an ally through empowerment. I know it seems like everything is dying down in regards to the George Floyd protests, but the only way to keep the momentum going is by continuing to lift each other up– to amplify the voices of those that feel unseen and unheard.
So, I decided to do what I do best– research and write. Through this research, I found five boss black women that love to do the same things I do: write, eat and make great food, travel, and inform. For my International Update, I’m giving them the spotlight and showcasing the awesome content they are creating.
If you would like to read some news updates this week, go to my tried-and-true favorite source, The Skimm.
The images used in this blog post are from the featured bloggers’ Instagram accounts and do not belong to me. I have credited their accounts in the captions below each image. Check them out!
Here’s the Gist: Oneika is a traveling powerhouse. Not only does she write her award-winning blog, Oneika the Traveller — she is also the host of Travel Channel’s One Bag and You’re Out, Big City, Little Budget, and is a travel and lifestyle correspondent for NBC New York and CTV Canada.
Her blog focuses on anything from what to pack for a long weekend away to traveling while black. She even wrote a post about traveling based on your DNA (aka my favorite thing to do) and I think it’s a pretty great read. Check it out here.
Here’s the Gist: Angela Davis, aka The Kitchenista, is living the dream. Davis started documenting her journey from accountant to culinary entrepreneur in 2012. Since then, she has been featured in over 50 publications outside of her blog and has published three digital cookbooks which you can purchased individually (prices vary) or in a bundle pack for $9.99 on her site.
Peaches are by far my favorite fruit (especially in cobbler form) so when I hopped onto Kitchenista Diaries and the first image was Angela’s skillet peach cobbler, I knew I was in a magical place. Here’s a link to the delicious recipe.
Here’s the Gist: Ashlee Tuck, the founder of Will Drink for Travel is a Baltimore native living in Washington DC. Will Drink for Travel takes a love of exploring new places and good cocktails and combines them into a wonderful lifestyle blog that is all things food, drinks, travel, and fun.
My boyfriend is originally from Baltimore, and we hope to go there together someday, so I was instantly drawn to Will Drink For Travel’s list of Black-Owned restaurants in Baltimore. Check out the post here.
Here’s the Gist: Alicia’s goal is to help her readers make the most of everything they do. From your clothes to your vacations, she wants to make all of your wishes attainable through saving and investing. Her fashion, lifestyle, and travel writing has been featured in publications like Essence, Refinery 29, Teen Vogue, and The Washington Post.
As someone that loves find little unexpected gems while she travels, Alicia’s post about four trip pit stops in the Mid-Atlantic caught my attention. Check it out here.
Here’s the Gist: Chef Resha has a love for food that is rivaled by few and it shows through her blog. Her recipes range from Keto to decadent and are said to get you lucky- both in life and in love. She has worked alongside publications like Huffington Post, Essence, Ebony, America’s Test Kitchen and BuzzFeed.
While the sour cream donuts pictured above look to-die-for, one of my favorite things to eat is a day-after Thanksgiving sandwich. This burger recipe from Carnal Dish turns the nostalgic tastes of Thanksgiving into a burger you can eat any day of the year.
History seems to be Netflix-binging its greatest hits this year: pandemics, locus swarms, and now civil rights movements. While some may think this is a bad thing, I’ve come to realize it’s not. These last two weeks in the United States have been overwhelming, but absolutely necessary.
If you do not know what I’m talking about, you definitely have not been paying attention, but I’ll give you a brief overview:
A gentleman named George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis on May 25th. The video of George’s death triggered a tidal wave throughout the United States during our current coronavirus quarantine.
It was the breaking point for millions of Americans when it comes to police brutality towards Black Americans. Protests started on May 26 in Minneapolis and quickly spread through the United States. Due to a portion of the protests resulting in looting and rioting (far less than some will tell you), curfews were put into place in 12 major cities around the country on May 30 — Chicago was one of them.
I had oral surgery on the 28th and honestly did not realize the true national impact until the curfew went into place. Both of my roommates were out of town, so I was home alone in my city apartment for a week to watch everything unfold. I do not live in a central area of the city, so most of my experience was from afar.
As a White American, I can honestly say I will never truly understand the pain and anguish felt by my fellow Americans who are Black, but something I do know is that this is not a new issue. I also know that I have not always played my part in fighting this issue, not intentionally but simply by not paying attention– which honestly might be worse.
Knowing this about myself, I will not apologize for feeling growing pains during this time and will not ask for forgiveness. I am the only person responsible for the way I feel, and as a person that is still learning how to be an ally for marginalized communities in the United States, I should not expect my marginalized friends to make me feel better. They are going through so much more in this current environment than I am.
If you are like me and you are still learning, it’s okay to be embarrassed, ashamed, uncomfortable, confused, or even angry. These emotions are signs of experiencing change, so please don’t ignore them. Instead, listen to them; let them change you. Being uncomfortable leads to growth if you let it.
To my fellow white Americans, do these protests make you uneasy? Good! That’s the point. Civil unrest is uncomfortable because it highlights the fact that our society is not functioning like it should and it needs to be fixed. If you feel like this is something new, it’s not. Most importantly, civil unrest does not occur unless prompted.
Let’s look at a pivotal protest that occurred in the beginning of United States history: The Boston Tea Party. We’ve all heard the story, American colonists were angered by the British imposing taxation without representation, so they dumped 342 chests of tea into Griffin’s Wharf harbor. The Boston Tea Party was a turning point in American history because of Britain’s mistreatment of their American colonies–Americans were being treated as less; they were being oppressed; so they acted. They looted. They destroyed property. To this day, we applaud them for it in history books. Now tell me, how can we tell an oppressed community how to react when our oppressed ancestors reacted in an almost identical way?
When it comes to wanting to see the good in the police and wanting more respect for them, I need to be straight with you: if you are so infuriated by the minority of protesters that have started riots and looting, you need to be equally or even more infuriated by the minority of police that are brutally attacking and murdering Black Americans. They are one in the same. They are two groups causing havoc in our society and they both need to be stopped.
Police are simply people, but we do not treat them like people– we treat them like gods. We hold them above the law and not accountable for their actions– that’s messed up. And, yes, I respect the police, but this is because I’m lucky enough to be a part of a majority that the police equally respect– again, pretty messed up.
A cop’s job is stressful and hard and downright scary, I don’t want to take away from that. But it is their job. They decided to take it on knowing full well what they were getting themselves into. They were trained to serve and protect EVERYONE, not just the people they decide to serve and protect.
We need to rework how cops are trained and hold them at a higher standard. A way this could be done is by making law enforcement a licensed profession.
For the city of Chicago, there’s a physical exam, a formal application, a medical exam, police academy training, and 13 months of field training. That’s roughly four to five years of training if you get an undergraduate degree beforehand, but after that, wham you’re a cop.
Now, lets compare this amount of train to that of a cosmetologist– a licensed profession. The initial process of becoming a cosmetologist takes four to five years: two years for an associates degree then two or more years of completing an internship in your preferred area (hair stylist, makeup artist, massage therapist, etc.), and only after that can you take the licensing exam to work in a professional salon. All 50 states require cosmetologists to be licensed. In the state of Illinois, a cosmetologist has to complete 14 hours of training every two years to maintain it.
I could never do what my hairdresser does, she works magic every time I see her, but that is because she is constantly learning and growing. Why do we not expect the same amount of consistent growth from the men and women that serve and protect us on a daily basis?
Cops need a constant refresher on how to control their anxieties and fears so that they can think and process situations before reacting. Psychological evaluations (like the one that occurs before someone becomes a cop during the medical exam) should be done every two years as well. Instead of holding a cop above the law, we need to hold them to it because– for lack of a better term– with great power comes great responsibility.
For my family and friends that have not reacted at all, please understand that complacency is as much of a stance as rebellion. Consider checking out my last post about anti-racism to learn more about ways you can be more proactive.
If your anger is fueled by racism, I have no words for you. There are many things I can overlook when being someone’s friend, but a complete hatred and disrespect for a community based on their skin color is not, and will never be, one of them.
The George Floyd protests have reached over 18 other countries, making this the largest civil rights movement in world history. That’s right, this is monumental on a global scale and I hope you all realize that we are living through a massive moment in time. Here’s the proof: last night, the city of Minneapolis officially decided to defund its police department and replace it with community efforts. Change is inevitable and now it’s here, so instead of resisting it why not grow with it?
I’m not one to write much about the U.S. when it comes to my International Updates. I like to be a source for those interested in learning about stories and happenings around the world that we as U.S. citizens know very little about. And, because this is national news that so many citizens seem to know very little about, this is a very long post.
It has been made very clear to me in the last week or so that a majority of the U.S. population – White Americans – need to be educated on one subject in particular: anti-racism.
The pain and frustration I have seen bubbling over in the last few days– from friends of color and through the protests erupting all over the country — has motivated me to learn. I am not an expert on anti-racism by any means. I’m probably a mere step up above a novice on the subject to be completely honest. With that brutal truth out in the open, something I have seen repeated over and over in the last few days is that the best thing for me to do to fix this problem is to listen, learn, and share. With that, I want to share five sources I think will help my fellow White Americans be better.
It is our responsibility to stop accepting our society the way it is just because some twist of fate allowed us to be more comfortable in it. Every American – no matter what color their skin – should have the same comforts White Americans have on a day-to-day basis, but they still don’t and that needs to change.
I hope that this post helps anyone that reads it understand why this week has been a breaking point in the Black American community and the simple ways White Americans can start to make a change in our country when it comes to racism.
If you are interested in daily news updates, and not just bi-monthly ones, please check out The Skimm. It’s well-written and powered by women. What more could you want?
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.
What “The Big Deal” is, Explained
Title: George Floyd, the Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery, & Amy Cooper
Source: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (found on Trevor Noah’s Facebook page)
Here’s the gist: Trevor Noah is a true icon of mine. If you have not read his autobiography, Born a Crime I suggest you go buy the book now to see how credible this man is on the subject of anti-racism. His book changed the way I see the divides between skin color in a humorous and digestible way.
This particular video of his is not funny. It’s extremely serious and matter-a-fact, because this subject is very serious and matter-a-fact. With that said, he explains what is happening around our country in the best way I’ve seen yet.
Seriously, watch every second of this video. It’s the length of a sitcom episode. If you say you don’t have time for that, let me reference the activity on your Netflix and Hulu accounts for the last three months.
Still not willing to sit through the entire video? No worries, I transcribed the entire thing and pulled out the bites of prime rib Trevor Noah created. For the mashed potatoes, gravy, and creme brulee, watch the video:
Society is a contract and, with most contracts, the contract is only as strong as the people who are abiding by it.
But if you think of being a black person in America who is living in Minneapolis or Minnesota or any place where they’re not having a good time, ask yourself this question when you watch these people: What vested interested do they have in maintaining the contract?
There are so many people that are starving out there. There are so many people that don’t have. Think about how many people who don’t have – the have-nots- saying, “You know what, I’m still going to play by the rules even though I have nothing because I still wish for the society to work and exist.” And then some members of that society, namely black American people, watch time and time again how the contract that they have signed with society is not being honored by the society that has forced them to sign it with them.
When you see George Floyd on the ground and you see a man losing his life in a way that no person should ever have to lose their life – at the hands of someone who is supposed to enforce the law – what part of the contract is that?
And a lot of people say, “What good does this do?” “What good does it do to loot Target?” “How does it help you to loot Target?” Well, how does it help you to not loot Target? Answer that question: Because the only reason you didn’t loot Target before is because you were upholding society’s contract.
There is no contract if law and people in power don’t uphold their end of it. We need people at the top to be the most accountable because they are the ones who are basically setting the tone and the tenor for everything we do in society.
It’s the same way we tell parents to set an example for their kids. It’s the same way we tell captains or coaches to set an example for their players; the same way you tell teachers to set an example for their students. We understand in society that if you lead by example there is a good chance that people follow the example you have set. Why should the citizens of that society adhere to the laws when in fact the law enforcers themselves don’t?
I think sometimes the thing we need to remember, and it’s something I haven’t remembered my whole life, is that when you are a “have” and you are a “have-not” you see the world in very different ways. And a lot of the time people say to the “have-nots”, “This is not the right way to handle things.”
When Martin Luther King had children as part of his protest in Birmingham, Alabama, people said, “Having children at your protest is not the right way to do things.” When he marched in Selma, “People said this is not the right way to do things.” When people marched through the streets in South Africa during apartheid, they said, “This is not the right way to do things.” When people burn things, they say it’s not the right way.
It’s never the right way because there’s never a right way to protest, and I’ve said this before, there is no right way to protest because that’s what protest is. It cannot be right because you are protesting against a thing that is stopping you. Think to yourselves – or maybe it would help you if you think about that unease you felt watching that Target being looted – try to imagine how it must feel for black Americans when they watch themselves being looted every single day. Because that’s fundamentally what’s happening in America.
Police in America are looting black bodies. And I know someone might think that’s an extreme phrase, but it’s not. George Floyd died. That is part of the reason the story became so big is because he died. But how many George Floyds are there that don’t die? How many men are having knees put on their necks? How many Sandra Blands are out there being tossed around? It doesn’t make the news because it’s not grim enough. It doesn’t even get us enough anymore. It’s only the deaths – the gruesome deaths – that stick out.
Imagine to yourself if you grew up in a community where every day someone had their knee on your neck, where every day, someone was out there oppressing you – Every. Single. Day. You tell me what that does to you as a society, as a community, as a group of people. And when you know this is happening because of the color of your skin – not because the people are saying it’s happening because of the color of your skin – but rather because it is only happening to you and you’re the only people who have that skin color.
I know there’s people who will say, “Yeah, but like, how come black people don’t care when black people kill?” It’s one of the dumbest arguments ever. Of course they care. If you’ve ever been to a hood anywhere in the world you’d know just how much people care about that. If you know anything about under-policing and over-policing you would understand how that comes to be. The police show black people how valuable their lives are considered by the society. Because best believe, if you kill a white person – especially in America – there’s a whole lot more justice that is coming your way than when you killed some black body in a black neighborhood somewhere.
Don’t ask yourself if it’s right or wrong to loot. Don’t ask yourself what does looting help. Ask yourself why it got you that much more watching these people loot: Because they were destroying the contract that you thought they had signed with your society. Imagine if you were them, watching that contract being ripped up every single day. Ask yourself how you’d feel.
How We Can Be Stronger Allies
Title: For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies
Here’s the Gist: This article by Courtney Ariel is filled with six wonderful tips for White Americans wanting to be stronger allies for any marginalized group. I’ve summed up Ariel’s six tips below, but I wholeheartedly suggest you read this thoroughly thoughtful piece. It can be found here.
Listen more; talk less.
Don’t “whitesplain” : for 1 of every 3 opinions/insights shared by a person of color in your life, resist responding with a better or different opinion as it relates to their opinion. No one likes being one-upped.
Do not act shocked and outraged at the existence of racism in America. We all know it has been around for centuries and acting like it hasn’t shows indifference.
Do not expect marginalized/disenfranchised people to educate you. Educate yourself and respectfully ask questions when you are with friends you feel safe with.
Stop pretending colorblindness is a thing. It’s not. We are a nation with a past filled with racism, bigotry, exclusion, and violence towards almost every minority group. It’s time to own up to it.
Ways to be a Sympathetic Ally on Social Media Platforms
Title: What should we do with videos of police brutality?
Here’s the Gist: This opinion piece, written by Black journalist Kemi Alemoru, is a raw and well-researched article that gives insight on what it is like being a Black American during a time where footage of black deaths due to racism and police brutality have become a gruesome form of viral media.
I highly suggest reading this article, which can be found here, to learn more about how videos like George Floyd’s death and Christian Cooper’s documentation of racist treatment impact the mental health of Black Americans. The most harrowing quote from this piece that struck me the most was this,
If a black person who already feels the claustrophobic weight of oppression sees it, the video seemingly affirms that they don’t matter, that they are disposable or worthless, that it could happen to you too and nothing will be done.
Alemoru came up with three easy steps social media users can follow to share these videos and images with sensitivity and compassion. I’ve summed them up below:
Think about the way the platform you are posting the video or image onto works. For example, due to Twitter’s autoplay function, people scrolling down their timeline will see the video without them realizing what they are going to see, which can be traumatizing.
Clearly label what the video you are sharing shows so you’re followers know before clicking on it. Trigger warnings are completely justifiable and appreciated with this kind of footage.
Edit, pixelate, or blur certain elements of the video or image before publishing it to minimize the risk of traumatizing your audience.
How We Can Support Our Asian American Friends during COVID-19
Title: Asian People Are Being Targeted By Racist Attacks. Here’s How You Can Be An Ally.
Source: Huffington Post
Here’s the Gist: Xenophobic acts towards Asian Americans have also been on the rise since the start of the spread of COVID-19, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. This article, written by Josephine Harvey tells you what you can do if you are a bystander to a racial attack in public. Find the full article here.
Here are the ways you can help:
Simply standing next to a victim of a hate incident, especially a verbal one, gives the victim comfort and a sense of protection. Having more than one person stand next to them shows solidarity and helps defuse the situation. Words do not even have to be exchanged with the attacker.
If you choose, verbally standing up to an abuser and labeling an act as racist can be a powerful show of support. It may even show the attacker their behavior is unacceptable.
If the hate incident you witness is violent or you are unable to do anything else, consider contacting law enforcement.
When it comes to racist comments, memes, or posts on social media, report the messages to the platform and ask others to do so as well.
How We Can Teach Our Kids to be Race-Conscious
Title: 100 Race-Conscious Things You Can Say to Your Child to Advance Racial Justice
Source: Raising Race-Conscious Children
Here’s the Gist: This article contains 100 different phrases parents can use to teach their children to be more racially conscious individuals. It is never too early to teach kids to be better humans and the sooner we teach our kids to be better, the quicker our country will become better. For the full list, go here.
Here are the ten quotes/sayings I feel are extremely applicable right now or are just quality things to tell your kids. Each saying is linked to its own article, so I have included their number from the original list in parenthesis. If you are interested in reading more about a particular one, go to the main article and march up the original numbers:
“A racist is someone who is mean to another person based on the color of their skin. See your skin? People call that White skin. Other people have different color skin.” (#26)
“You and your sister are Asian and White…This is very special, but other people are different and special too, and that’s a good thing. Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?” (#38)
“If you are White and you commit a crime, like stealing something, the police might say ‘that was wrong, don’t do that again,’ and that’s all…but if you are Black and commit the same crime, they might arrest you and you might go to prison. And that isn’t fair.” (#53)
“…we are going to be with people tonight who are sad…because 9 Black people died…were killed by a mean White man…you see how all these people have brown skin? The man who killed them didn’t like brown skin. He had White skin like us.” (#57)
“Some schools and neighborhoods are mostly White, and others are mostly Black, Latino, or new Asian immigrants. The White schools usually have more money and the children get more support there…It’s not fair, is it? Our job is to make things more fair, what do you think we should do?” (#61)
“An activist is someone who sees something that is unfair and decides to do something to make it more fair. For example, people who are Black are treated differently than people who are White. And women are treated differently than men…women don’t make as much money as men, for example, and that’s not fair…So people speak up and say ‘that’s not fair, we want justice.'” (#63)
“Did you know that before you were born, most of the people who lived in our neighborhood were Black? And now, more and more White people live in our neighborhood…When more and more White people move in to a neighborhood, it often gets more expensive to live there…and that can mean that the Black people who lived in that neighborhood before, can no longer afford to live there. This is called gentrification.” (#82)
“I don’t like when I hear other children ask questions about what language we are speaking in a negative way. It’s an incredible thing to speak two languages. And we know a lot of people who speak two languages.” (#86)
“I think that sometimes what we say about others has more to do with something going on inside of us. Like when people have been treated badly or gotten hurt because of who they are, sometimes they will treat others the same way to deal with the experience…they got hurt by racism and that’s their way of showing it.” (#94)
“…I really like places like schools and neighborhoods to be diverse– but it’s also really important that people have spaces where they can share experiences with people who share their same experiences.” (#97)
Why We Should Care
I will not be closing with my typical “Why We Should Care” segment because, if you’ve clicked on this link, I think you already get it.
You cannot force someone to care about a subject if they don’t already. It’s an unfortunate truth about humans. I do hope that what is going on in the United States has moved other people like it has moved me and has inspired them to do better, be better, act better, and treat their fellow humans better. This can’t be done simply by posting something on social media and hoping someone reads it. It takes action. It takes change.
With the world on pause for the last few months, it can easily feel like adventure is no longer out there. I promise you, that is not the case. The easiest way to have an adventure without leaving your home is by ordering takeout or delivery from a new restaurant.
My boyfriend and I have used this strategy the last couple of weekends and it’s a great way to help support local businesses that are feeling the impact of the economic shutdown while trying new food.
As those following my blog know, I was extremely prepared to make 2020 the blog year with my posting schedule ready to go before the year even started. I thought that all of these posts were out the window– but I stand corrected.
My review of Kuma’s Corner was originally planned for late March when a good friend of mine was coming through Chicago for a concert. When I lived in Saint Louis, she and I created BurgerQuest, an annual evening where we would eat a delicious burger together at a new restaurant each year (ironically this idea started in a McDonald’s park lot– but that’s another story).
Low and behold, her concert got cancelled on March 15th and those plans went out the window. Near the beginning of the stay-at-home order, I told my boyfriend this woeful tale and he reminded me the restaurant was in delivery distance. We went online to order our burgers and were thwarted again. Kuma’s had shutdown for the foreseeable future and our hearts were crushed.
Then, the unthinkable happened. On May 16th my boyfriend and I discovered Kuma’s had opened again. We jumped on the chance to get dinner from our proverbial white whale of a restaurant.
Kuma’s Corner opened in 2005 and has become an iconic Chicago burger joint over the years. Heavy metal pulses through the veins of this restaurant from the names of the burgers to the music blasting on the restaurant’s speakers.
I ordered the High on Fire, roasted red peppers, prosciutto, grilled pineapple, sweet chili paste, and sriracha. You have your choice of a beef burger done any way you want it, chicken breast, chicken tenders, the Impossible Burger, or a black bean burger for your burger’s lead singer (aka protein).
Since I’ve never been to Kuma’s Corner, it only felt right to go with beef– medium-well moo-filled goodness. My boyfriend got the Mastodon, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar, frizzled onions, and BBQ sauce– all on top of a classic beef patty as well. We each got our own sides (sweet potato fries for him and homemade potato chips for me) and ordered an extra order of frizzled onions to share. I’m a lover of all things onion rings so I was very on board with our mutual decision to do this.
The most you’ll spend on one of their meat-filled masterpieces is $16.00. If you’re a burger purist, Kuma’s does have a classic hamburger ($10.00) and cheeseburger ($12.00) available.
The sweet, salty, and spicy balance of my burger was killer. I’m also a sucker for a perfectly executed pretzel bun, which Kuma’s is known for, so my heart was happy. The burger was cooked to medium-well perfection, so kudos to Kuma’s for nailing that even with the food being delivered. Like everything COVID-19, there were highs and lows to this meal. Ordering fried items like chips, frizzled onions, and fries for delivery is always a hit or miss– and unfortunately, this evening it was a miss in my book.
The chips, fries, and frizzled onions arrived about twenty minutes passed their prime and were a bit disappointing, but, if anything, it simply made me want to go to Kuma’s for a meal in person once they are able to open their dining room up once again.
With that said, I saw the glimmers of greatness I know Kuma’s Corner has to have to be a 15-year-veteran establishment in Chicago. I look forward to eating there some day, yelling over the blaring tunes of Metallica and Led Zeppelin and enjoying a piping-hot plate of frizzled onions.
I’m a day late on getting this post up, but I’m honestly proud of myself for actually completing an international update that I don’t even care that I’m not on time. For those following my blog, you know writing about this news in the current global climate has not been going well for me.
I’ve been turning to fluff pieces– I don’t regret this decision in the slightest, but I also know that living in my fantasy world filled with internet kittens and spit-takes can’t last forever.
So, I bring you news about the gigantic elephant in the room, the coronavirus. The three articles I have chosen focus on how countries all over the world have started to reopen their economies.
If you are interested in more news on the daily, check out The Skimm. They are a neutral media source that is quick and easy to follow. When you read their daily updates, it feels like a friend is talking to you about current events. What more could you want?
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.
Europe Cautiously Moves Towards a New Normal
Title: Coronavirus: How lockdown is being lifted across Europe
Source: British Broadcasting Corporation
Here’s the gist: At least fourteen European countries are loosening their lockdown restrictions in the coming weeks. Here are some notable changes occurring on the continent:
Germany’s soccer league started playing matches, to empty stadiums, May 16th
Funerals are now allowed with a maximum of 15 people in Italy, preferably outdoors
French beaches have begun to reopen, starting in Brittany
Starting June 29, Irish citizens will be allowed to travel within a 20km radius of their homes
Markets, museums, and zoos in Belgium will open today. Markets are only allowed 50 stalls and museums and zoos must have one-way routes and time-specific tickets to combat crowding
In the Netherlands, contact sports, larger events, sex clubs, and saunas may open again in September
Socially distant outdoor sports like tennis and golf are allowed in Australia
Spanish schools are partially reopening May 26th so state exams can take place
Scientists in Greece are currently trying to figure out how to reopen the tourism industry for the country by this summer
For all of the countries and their loosened restrictions, go here.
New Zealand’s Uncertain Reopening
Title: New Zealand edges back to normal after quashing coronavirus in 49 days
Source: The Washington Post
Here’s the gist: New Zealand’s cabinet debated on May 11th how to correctly reopen the country in a staggered and safe manner that was easy for the public to understand.
The cabinet decided to allow restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, and malls to reopen with very strict social distancing rules starting the 21st. Schools reopened today.
The country, currently well-known in coronavirus news as a country that controlled the illness in just 49 days, will delay the opening of drinking establishments (bars and nightclubs) to next week. Parties and social gatherings are limited to 10 people while funerals are limited to 50.
Contact tracing is a main source of success for New Zealand and they plan to continue using this strategy as things start to move towards normalcy once again. Every business in the country is tracking their customers– wether it’s through scanning a code once entering or signing in with pen and paper.
Title: At least 6 countries reimposed lockdown measures as new coronavirus cases flared up again. Here’s what they looked like.
Source: Business Insider
Here’s the gist: China, Germany, South Korea, Iran, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia have enforced partial to full lockdowns for the second time since coronavirus has stormed the world.
China, the country where the spread of coronavirus started, has taken a very shaky approach to reopening its country. For example, on March 23, the country reopened its movie theaters but shut them down again three days later. Full lockdowns have not been implemented again on any regions of China, but they are relying heavily on mass testing.
In Germany, restrictions have been reinstated emergency measures in sections of three districts that have seen flareups since the gradual reopening of the country. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, is keeping a watchful eye on the entire nation and has stated she will use emergency means again, if necessary.
After seeing a rise in cases in the Itaewon district, South Korea has shut down all bars and clubs once again and has delayed the opening of schools and some business.
I see a lot of contradicting thoughts everywhere I look and I’m confident they are arguments and frustrations heard round the world:
Our freedoms are being taken away from us! Let me go back to work. Our economy is at stake.
Our healthcare workers need our help. Stay home to keep our nurses and doctors safe so they can keep us safe!
We’re living in fear instead of the present. You only live once!
If you’re willing to break quarantine, do you really care about your community or your family?
I’m so bored of being stuck at home. How much longer is this going to last?
I find myself in a personal battle with what arguments I currently support. Reopening feels like dipping your toe into a pool before jumping in.
I want to keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed but I also want people in underpaying jobs that have likely lost their source of income in the last three months to have the money to pay rent.
I want to give the scientists and doctors currently researching vaccines the time they need to make safe and educated decisions for our communities but I want to see my family at Christmas and give my grandparents hugs without thinking about it.
I want to go on a weekend getaway with my boyfriend without having to question if we’ll have to quarantine ourselves for two weeks after we get back home.
Yes, I selfishly want life to get back to normal, but who the hell doesn’t want that?
I believe that underneath every argument I’ve seen– even the people shouting YOLO from the rooftops– people are scared. And it is ok to be scared!
These articles have proven to me that the world is also cautiously dipping its toe into the water of reopening. Global leaders are trying to find a balance of letting life creep along, slowly so we can monitor the virus, but fast enough so our world doesn’t collapse around us.
I do not think it is fair to shame anyone for how they decide to handle the biggest trauma of our generation as long as they do it smartly. If someone is coping by being with their loved ones, that’s their choice. If someone is coping by locking themselves away in their apartment by themselves, that’s their choice. If someone copes best by going back to the office a few times a week when their lockdown is lifted, let them.
The only people I do not take sympathy for are those spitting in the faces of nurses and doctors telling them that the coronavirus is fake or people illegally throwing massive house parties. They’re assholes.
Cautious optimism and patience will get us through this trying time the fastest. And if you ever have a moment where our lockdown is too much, remember this:
Anne Frank was stuck in an attic with her family and about six strangers for just over two years without leaving once. We’ve been in lockdown for three months and we’re still allowed to soak up some rays and go to the grocery store.
If a pubescent fourteen-year-old girl can stay in an attic for 25 months, we can handle a few months at home.
It has been exactly 50 days since the state of Illinois issued its stay-at-home order. We’ve been at this for almost two months and a part of it that scares me is how normal quarantine is starting to feel.
I figured it would be interesting to write out what my week typically looks like, seeing as it hasn’t changed much over the last two months:
Monday through Friday
I work, typically in my room, from 7:00 AM till 5:00 PM. Roughly four of these hours are spent on Zoom calls that are frequently back to back.
Has anyone else gotten sick of Zoom calls? It’s like you’re interacting with people but not really interacting with people. We’re all listening to each other talk, but half of the people are clearly multitasking.
The technological veil creates an emotional disconnect, at least in my brain. I am curious to see what psychological studies published over the next decade have to say about this phenomenon.
My evenings are spent, again, primarily in my room. I watch some Netflix, crochet a bit (an old pastime I have returned to in the pandemic), talk to my boyfriend for an hour or two, call my parents, and then head to bed. Thursdays are reserved for a virtual book club and I will occasionally chat with friends during the week, but there are a select few I will get on VCs for outside of work hours.
Sleeping has been an on and off battle for me since March. There are some weeks I sleep fine, but this past week has been a struggle. I find myself staying up until 2:00 or 3:00 AM just thinking. I’ve always struggled turning my brain off but it has been 10 times worse since this all started.
Saturday through Sunday
Saturdays and Sundays are similar to the rest of the week. There is probably more Netflix binging and crocheting during this time. But, this week, there was a slight shift in the routine thanks to nice weather and the delivery of two face masks.
My boyfriend and I went on an 8-mile-walk (wearing masks when six feet of distance wasn’t possible) and explored the city we love for the first time in the last two months. We enjoyed beverages we brought along for the ride and ate a Taco Bell picnic in Lincoln Park. Our main source of entertainment was the judgmental looks runners gave us while we enjoyed our deliciously cheesy carb-filled lunch.
I probably walked an average of three miles a day, most likely more, before all of this started. Since I have been stagnant for most of the time in quarantine, my legs were very annoyed with me this morning (and still kind of are). I also noticed I came out with my first quarantine sunburn: the lower half of my face was unscathed thanks to my mask. My forehead, not so much.
I would not change this weekend for anything in the world. It was a reminder that we can find some normal joys in this weird time as long as we keep our people close and find happiness in simple adventures.
Things I Would Like to Change
After this weekend, I would like to take more walks. Getting outside was good for me and I’ve missed walking. I officially have two masks now and owning these items have given me a sense of security I didn’t know I needed to get my butt outside.
I also think it would be great to start writing letters again. It may be an old-school practice in a time of video calls, but getting a physically letter from someone feels more personal than logging onto Zoom. Words written out by hand display a genuine vulnerability that is lost in our tech-based world. So, if anyone is interested in becoming a pen pal, please reach out.
Is there anything you would change about your current COVID routine to make it a bit more bearable? I’d love to hear about how you’re creating your new normal and have a wonderful week.
This week, I’ve done an artsy spin on my International Update. I found five sources of art that have inspired and entertained many during the current stay-at-home orders sweeping the world. They include news updates, sitcom reunions, and Shakespearean sonnets.
If you want real news updates each morning straight to your email, check out The Skimm. The ladies at The Skimm keep you informed while keeping their news easy to read and fast. All qualities I think we currently need in this pandemic world.
Without further ado, here is my most recent International Update.
All of the videos linked below are the property of their creators and YouTube. I do not own any of the creative genius found in these videos, I simply want to share them with all of you and must give credit where credit is do.
Title: Some Good News
Here’s the gist: John Krasinski– aka Jim for the Office, Jack Ryan; all-around Hollywood Good Guy– has started a new kind of news segment dedicated to heartwarming and wonderful news. My boyfriend was the first to introduce me to SGN after I told him I was really struggling with reading the news– one of my favorite pastimes.
Since its inception on March 29th, John has thrown a virtual prom, opening pitch, and potluck; tonight he’ll be hosting a virtual graduation (it’s probably going live as I type this).
Title: Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration
Here’s the Gist: Performers far and wide united on April 26, 2020 to celebrate the 90th birthday of renowned Broadway composer, Stephen Sondheim. For those that might not be familiar with his work right off the bat, he wrote the scores for Into the Woods, West Side Story, and Sweeney Todd (just to name a few).
The most noted moment in the two and a half hour tribute might have to go to Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, and Audra McDonald’s rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch” (it starts at 1:58:42 in the video linked above if you would like to watch).
Title: #ASonnetADay with Patrick Stewart
Here’s the Gist: Patrick Stewart is bringing Willy Shakes’s sonnets back to life on his Facebook page by recording himself reading a sonnet a day. I don’t know about you, but Patrick Stewart could read me the ingredient list on a dog food bag and I would be happy– the man has one of the most soothing voices in the world.
Combined that with the Bard’s sick beats and you’ve created one of my newest favorite things on the Internet.
Title: A Parks and Recreation Special – Full Special
Source: NBC Universal (video found on YouTube)
Here’s the Gist: The writers and cast of one of the most loved sitcoms of our generation, Parks and Rec, reunited for a special dedicated to raising money for Feeding America. The nonprofit supports food banks around the country and helps feed more than 46 million people.
This 25-minute special gives you the chance to reconnect with all of your favorite Pawnee pals, from Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer to Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson. It’s worth a watch and please consider donating to the Feeding America cause if you can.
Title: Read Along Mondays with Michelle Obama
Here’s the Gist: The former First Lady has joined forces with PBS to read children’s books every Monday. This gives any family the chance to listen or read along whenever they like.
The videos premiere every Monday at 11:00 AM. This week, Michelle will be reading Mrs. Maple’s Seeds
Why We Should Care
I know all of these videos probably seem unimportant, especially with everything going on in the world right now. You’re probably thinking, come on Erica, what gives? Find me some news for crying out loud!
To be real, the news has been too much for me for the last three months and it breaks my heart. The world right now scares me more than it ever has, so I’ve cut back my news intake by a lot. (On an unrelated note, has anyone else read about the murder hornets detected in Washington State, or is that horrifying news just for me?)
When reality gets overwhelming, these are the things I have always turned to– music, poetry, books, TV shows; silly stories worth sharing. They make me smile and remind me that there are small joys everywhere as long as you keep looking for them. These stories are worth sharing and that’s why I’m passing them along to you.
I hope one of these videos brings you a small bit of happiness today. Have a wonderful week.
Well, another week slipped past me without an article post. I started working on a piece about the locust swarms hitting countries in East Africa, but my heart wasn’t completely in it. If you are interested in reading about what’s happening in Africa, check out these articles by UN News, Business Insider, The Guardian, and WIRED.
This week, I want to do another stream-of-conscious piece about the coronavirus quarantine:
On the 15 of April, I was sitting in my room working. It was 12:00 PM. I’m usually up and out of my room in my kitchen getting lunch started–keeping my routine as normal as I can during quarantine. I had gotten so caught up in the work project I was given that day, I didn’t realize the time.
Suddenly, I heard church bells. The tinning of the bells had never struck me before like they did that day. Here in Chicago there are usually two many cars whizzing by– too many sounds of urban living– for me to register those bells, or even hear them in the first place.
As I sat and listened, I realized I didn’t hear a single human sound. No people. The faint sound of cars was still there, but not as strongly as it normally was. The birds had created a choir singing along with the bells. It was the most natural sound and possibly the most beautiful sound I had heard in months.
It lasted for five minutes— gone as quickly as it came. Sounds of planes and automobiles started to pick up once again and it was over. The calm in the chaos evaporated and my need to get back to work started up once again.
Since then I have stayed in my room until at least 12:10 each afternoon and kept an ear out to listen. I’ve made it my form of meditation in these times of being cooped up in my apartment during the week.
Why it brings me peace, I do not know. Maybe it is the familiarity of the sound. Maybe it’s knowing that time is still moving forward, even when it often feels like it is standing still. The bells have become the antonym to the sirens of ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars that seem all too frequent in this time. Part of me is unsure if it is my uneasiness or reality that makes it seem that way.
But as the world starts to shift to our new normal, my ability to stay calm does not. On the 23rd, Governor Pritzker extended our stay-at-home order until May 30th. Parts of daily life will start up again, but only just. State parks are opening. Non-essential retail will be allowed to have online and curbside pick-up orders. As of the 1st, individuals are required to wear face masks in public if a six feet distance cannot be obtained.
I just ordered two washable masks today, figuring it would be best to have more than one at my disposal. It has been drilled into our heads that it is a precaution to help those around us in case we’re already contaminated with the virus, but part of me still questions how truly effective it all is.
Have you ever watched the Bert the Turtle videos? They were created in the 1950’s during the Cold War to teach people how to protect themselves from nuclear attacks. With all we know now about the bombs and how they work, the videos are a laugh, but during their time of conception, they created a sense of security. The cynic in me wonders if ten or twenty years down the road we’ll realize the masks were all simply worn to create a false sense of security.
It was my grandfather’s 92nd birthday yesterday and he said something so wise to me while we were on the phone. Our family did our best to make it special by having a socially distant celebration for him. As he told me about the car parade my aunts, uncles, and cousins organized for him, he said,
“We may not be able to be physically together right now, but I’ve had moments with all of you today. Weather it was six feet away or on the phone. So we’ve all been together.”
Like the bells, what my grandfather said brought me a sense of peace and hope. It’s important to have moments like that one during this time of uncertainty. My grandfather, even at 92, has never seen anything like this– but he was able to remind me that physical distance only matters if you let it.
While I can’t wait to not have to wear a mask in public again and give my people hugs without worrying, I know that I can still laugh with my family and friends, have heart-to-hearts, feel the love of my tribe, and listen to church bells.
It has taken me a bit longer to come up with something to write about this week seeing as my blog is based around travel and international news and this was supposed to be a travel week.
I think it’s important for us to document this moment in time, however we see fit, so I’ve decided to use my blog as my platform to do just that whenever writer’s block strikes.
Illinois is currently entering it’s fourth required week of its stay-at-home order. My company started to establish working from home about half a week before the order was put into place, so I’ve been home for about four and a half weeks myself.
Deep in my core I believed I was built for the life of a hermit; I am willing to embrace the Emily Dickens / JD Salinger kind of solitude if it’s asked of me. Just ask my roommate. There have been days over this past month where she has texted me, asking if I’m in the apartment still and I simply reply, “Yep, just in my room.” So, initially, I truly believed this would be easy. But it isn’t. Solitude by choice and solitude by necessity are two truly different things.
Having my personal tribe like my family, best friends, and boyfriend to stay in touch with during all of this has made life easier, but it’s still not easy. I’m finding that I need human interaction to not get too caught up in the thoughts swarming my head and video chats and phone calls don’t always cut it.
When you’re left to wonder you’re left to create, which can be such a beautiful thing. But in a time so focused on the negative, it’s difficult to create beauty when you’re brain is consistently clouded by darkness. Some co-workers and I even discussed how we’ve limited our news intake to once a day or less because of its impact on our emotional wellbeing.
I know I am lucky to be someone who has the privilege of staying home and wrote a post about how it’s our one responsibility to do just that on this blog three weeks ago. I’ve seen so many articles and Facebook posts saying we’re “safe” at home not “stuck” at home; but can’t we be both?
It’s ok to not be okay right now. No one knows what the world is going to look like in a week, let alone next month, and it sucks.
So if staying in bed all day to recharge is something you need to do, do it.
If you need to scream and cry until you just can’t any more, just do it.
If you want to try a different cookie recipe every week and proceed to eat every cookie, do it.
If you want to do a deep spring cleaning of your home or work out two hours a day, do it.
I’ve been crocheting a lot and catching up on TV shows, and that’s an ok coping mechanism too.
If you are one of the lucky few that I’ve seen on social media keeping their spirits up and productivity sound throughout all of this, I salute you. You’re doing better than me– but you’re also probably lying to yourself about how you’re really doing.
And if you’re not, and you really are ok, I hope you’re being there for someone you know who isn’t.
Assuming that everyone’s way of coping through this trauma will be just like mine is unrealistic, so I’m putting this out here for the world to read and asking the question I think everyone needs to hear right now:
How are you, really?
Please feel free to share in the comment section below if you need to, or, if you know me personally, feel free to message me or call me to talk. This is a time where we need each other the most and I want everyone to know I’ll be someone that will listen.
If you’re really struggling with staying at home, consider incorporating these tips by Psychology Today into your day-to-day life or looking into tele-counseling services like BetterHelp.
So, as we all know, I love the news. I write about it on here twice a month for crying out loud. But, the news right now has proven to be a very draining part of my day and I’ve felt a little lost when it comes to my international updates.
My boyfriend, a man that is one of my favorite people on this planet, has started to rectify that issue by sending me wonderful fluff pieces about animals and all of the shenanigans they’re currently up to in this world with less humans.
If you want less fluff and more news, check out The Skimm. They continue to produce quality briefings every morning; rain or shine. Give them some love.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.
Animal 1: Cows Gone Wild
Article Title: Unknown cow on the loose is on Florida’s most wanted list
Source: AG Daily
Here’s the gist: A cow in Southern Florida managed to avoid capture by police for January until mid-March. The cow in question was wandering around I-75, causing danger to itself and motorists on the stretch of highway.
According the police, the cow was faster than it looked and was impressively skilled at jumping fences. Wonderful puns, such as “MOOving Violation” and “UDDering False Checks” were included on the most-wanted poster created for the animal.
For the original story about the runaway cow, go here.
Animal 2: Perusing Penguins
Article Title: Penguins let loose in a Chicago aquarium closed to humans shocked to meet Beluga whales
Here’s the gist: The Shedd Aquarium, located in my current hometown of Chicago, has given its penguins free-reign while the aquarium is closed during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order.
One of the museums oldest penguins, Wellington, has become a star on their Twitter page as he explores different exhibits, including a visit with the beluga whales, which is highlighted in this piece.
I’ve included the latest Twitter update on Wellington’s adventures below:
Where's Wellington now? The Caribbean! 🐧🏝️ Wellington's adventures took him to Shedd's Caribbean Reef. From colorful queen angelfish to luminescent lookdowns and even bonnethead sharks, there was so much for Wellington to see! How many species can you identify? pic.twitter.com/1pDP5kOGvX
Article Title: Leeds woman put message in window to ask cat’s name
Source: British Broadcasting Corporation
Here’s the gist: A woman in Leeds started a window conversation with her across-the-way neighbors to learn the name of their cat.
Ms. Sian Cosgrove and her partner had lived in their apartment for a year and had admired the cat from afar, but had never met their neighbors to ask the cat’s name. They had dubbed the black and white kitty “Eric” but officially decided to ask through brightly colored signs while on lockdown.
The neighbors readily replied with, “Walter” and a few other pleasantries were exchanged. Ms. Cosgrove posted the interaction on social media and it quickly gained traction; receiving over 750,000 likes.
When she shared the news with her neighbors (via window signs), they informed her Walter was already Internet famous with over 5,000 followers on Instagram.
Article Title: The Townspeople Went Inside to Shelter. Then The Goats Arrived.
Source: Buzzfeed News
Here’s the gist: A pack of wild goats have taken over a seaside town in northwest Wales due to the current lockdowns taking over the world.
The packs are known to have a love-hate relationship with the townsfolk seeing as they are known for eating everything in sight, don’t have the loveliest of odors, and shit on almost everything.
Even with all of the slight inconveniences brought on by the goats, locals have taken to posting videos and pictures of the pack on social media (I highly suggest you turn your sound on with the tweet I’ve included below):
The Llandudno goats are so much better with a West Side Story soundtrack.
Folklore in the town states that the goats originated from a pair given to Queen Victoria by the Shah of Persia for her coronation; close to two centuries ago.
To read more of the Buzzfeed story about the goats, go here.
Animal 5: Tigers, Tigers, and More Tigers
Article Title: Where are the tigers from “Tiger King” now? Many of them live in Colorado, just 45 minutes from Denver.
Source: The Know
Here’s the gist: For everyone that has have to opportunity to watch the train-wreck that is “Tiger King,” you can go visit roughly 39 of the animals originally held in Joe Exotic’s zoo at a Wildlife Sanctuary near Denver.
The tigers– along with three bears– were given to the sanctuary in 2017 as part of a court-settlement transfer.
The tigers that ended up at the sanctuary suffered from malnutrition, dental, and orthopedic issues. They now live in a 20-acre habitat on the 789-acre animal sanctuary and have the ability to roam in a way they never could before.
For the in-depth piece about the tigers previously owned by Joe Exotic, please go here.
Why We Should Care
It’s pretty simply why we should care about these silly piece about animals: they’re a source of joy in an otherwise bleak world.
If turning to a YouTube video about cats or Twitter posts about goats give you smile for a few minutes a day, then it’s worth the trouble of watching or reading it. It truly is the little glimpses of humanity and happiness that will help us get through these trying times.
So, go read the fluff pieces. Post that TikTok of your dog. Get overly excited about your neighbor’s cat in the window. Find your source of happiness and cling to it. Happiness is hard enough to come by in the best of times, so enjoy the glimmers you get during the worst.
When this is all over, I know we’ll remember the tragedies, but I also hope we remember the penguins, goats, tigers, cows, and house cats that made us smile.