Can I Nap? Can We Nap? Let’s Nap.

Carrie Mae Weems, “The Kitchen Table Series,” 1990.

So how does a black woman combat burnout? Black girl magic, right?! I love this phrase. I use and repeat it often. I love the song by Janelle Monáe that repeats this phrase even more. But I can’t stop honing in on that word, “magic” — the idea that black women have had to subsist on their mystical powers to persist. Black women have had to rely on wizardry to make it through this tumultuous life. We must harness magic to succeed and thrive through this bullshit. After all burnout for black millennials is not just tiresome, but deadly.

The data is bleak. Not only are we paid 61 cents for every dollar our white, male counterparts make, but our telomeres (the ends of our chromosomes, which control aging and other key biological functions) are literally shrinking due to excessive oxidative stress factors like everyday racism. According to the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, “black women are 7.5 years biologically ‘older’ than white women.” Couple that with rising black maternal death rates, especially for black academics. If I succeed and push myself harder, I will increase my chances of fraying at the seams on a cellular level. Not only will I age faster (see: portraits of Obama before and after his presidency) and get sick faster, but I will also increase the difficulty of conceiving and then giving birth — all of this while hurtling faster to my death with more debt than any other group in American history. Burnout for white, upper-middle-class millennials might be taxing mentally, but the consequences of being overworked and underpaid while managing microaggressions toward marginalized groups damages our bodies by the minute with greater intensity.


What scares me now is that I’m starting to make the transition from middle-class to upper-middle-class, but most days, it still feels like I’m heading to the back of the bus: financially forward, but psychologically Rosa Parks in reverse. No matter how shitty a restaurant’s service is, I’m still compelled to tip over 20%, because I don’t want to exacerbate the stereotype that black people tip poorly. Or remember when Oprah was in Italy and worth billions, but the salesperson wouldn’t show her a $38K handbag, because she thought it was out of Oprah’s price range? Mmmhhhmm. Insert my permanent side-eye, which has been my fixed mood since birth.

Another question I’m afraid to ask myself: Am I burned out because I’m still subconsciously wanting the American dream to be true, despite the odds stacked against my skin color? Do I want to be the exceptional black person who actually makes it out of my circumstances? Or am I wanting to be something I will never be: a rich, white man — seemingly carefree, with a sizeable Roth IRA, unafraid to walk to his car at night without his keys Wolverine-d in his hands?

But if the American dream isn’t even possible for upwardly mobile white people anymore…then what the heck I am even striving for? Where do I actually see myself?

Excerpt from Tiana Clark‘s essay, “This is What Black Burnout Feels Like,” for Buzzfeed News.

Further reading and listening: 
¹ Roxane Gay, “The Price of Black Ambition,” VQR. See also: Discussion on For Colored Nerds.
² Anthony James Williams, “Blackademia: navigating depression, desire, and deadlines,” Student Voices.
³ Sheldon Pearce, “Earl Sweatshirt Does Not Exist,” Pitchfork.
⁴ James Baldwin, “An Open Letter to My Sister, Angela Davis,” New York Review of Books.

If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.

Therefore: peace.

Giving Myself a Chance // Softness, Hardness, & the Binds Between.

I sent a prayer to my ancestors. I asked for insights into my personal life and doors to walk through to begin my journey to another path. A path to be healthier and more secure in myself, and to be a better relation to the folks I am in relation with. I prayed to my grandmothers to help.

AND THEY DELIVERED GODDAMMIT!!! At the beginning of the year, I made a grave error, and it blew everything up. Cassandra as I knew her blew up…or did she/I? I literally do not know: I’m in the process of the process of trying to figure out what happened to me and what I did/did not do. Doors in the corners of my mind opened to more doors, until I came to the ocean floor. I’m not sure if I’m Asuka or Rei, or just a combination of them both. But I got there by going into the Pearl inside the Pearl inside the Pearl inside the Pearl inside the Pearl inside the Pearl of my body.

So now I sit with myself and my selves. Xangô is here, whereas Exú, ironically, has been here the entire time, in Cass₁. There is also a Cass₂. I don’t know which Cassie I am: it could be anywhere from Cass₃ to Cass₉. But they have all, excluding me, climbed out from my throat to force me to reckon with them: an intervention of sorts, but with cakes and notebooks and tea, on the surface floor.

One thing that has become clear in this intervention is that I have needs. I have ignored my needs for a long time, and right now I want care. I need care to be soft again.

Andi Schwartz, who I already profiled on this blog, published an essay on cultural politics of softness. It poses a number of points, especially that softness as a conceptual framework can be a real solution to addressing harm. Softness does not have to be a stand-in or short-hand for anything. It instead requires “vulnerability, emotionality, and earnestness” as a pathway to securing safety. Schwartz continues:

This stands in contrast to hardness, an approach that often relies on irony and sarcasm to shore up the image of infallible impenetrability. Hardness wants to appear unattached and unaffected. Hardness wants to believe it can pull itself up by the bootstraps. Hardness wants us to see this as strength.

Hardness, as an extension of neo-liberal and classic liberalism, encourages the breakdown of community ethos by tricking populations into believing they are individuals, and that individualism is the primary way to be. “Acknowledging our vulnerability,” Schwartz writes,  “foregrounds our actual interdependent human nature, rather than pretending we could live without each other.” (more…)

It’s Been A While!

Rocío Sagaó (1950) by Nacho López

It’s been a hot minute. Where have I been?

In 2018, I:

☁ went into a freefall depression.
☁ had a major breakdown and resulting PTSD.
☁ took my comprehensive exams in the same period.
☁ applied to several fellowships.
☁ completed and passed said exams, including one with distinction.
☁ won a prestigious dissertation fellowship.
☁ became a doctoral candidate in history.

So that’s where I’ve been. Where am I now?

Cleaning up a mess I made and working on how to be a better person (a forever journey). Watching the demise of Internet 2.0. Looking forward to the blogging and zine revival. Admiring and analyzing design. Living with my partner. Enjoying brie and fruit.

I’ll follow up soon, because: this blog is now live. The webmistress has returned.
¡Viva super relax!

moodboard: jeanne d’arc

I recently read a brilliant re-imagining of the Sailor Moon franchise and it reminded why I love the series so much: the figure of redeemers. Throughout world history, they appear. Transcending fear, merging with death, and bringing renewal and warmth to the rest of us. I’m not really into dwelling on how a lot of Western art focuses on their plight as suffering individuals forsaken by the very folks they’re there to protect (that actually misses the point and I’m so glad this fic and its sequel explicitly address). So here’s a moodboard and playlist.

moodboard: jeanne d’arc from prismpower on 8tracks Radio.


Internet Roundup // 21.1.18

Welcome to the Working Week ☁ Sunday, January 21

I continue to be impressed with Google’s “Google Doodle” initiatives. Many of the artists are folks of color, which is a interesting dynamic considering Google’s oscillation between neoliberal multiculturalism and white dude hostility to poc cultures.

I’ve been feeling off this week, and feeling bad about it – that nudge of not “being productive,” or rather, not performing it. But once I checked in with everyone, it became clear that my expectations for myself were unrealistic. I just got back from traveling a week ago, and didn’t get to catch my breath until this weekend! So yes, there’s more shit to be done and w/e, but I got this.

Cannaday Chapman did Google’s MLK, Jr. Day doodle for Monday, January 15th, 2018. Her work is really gorgeous; in addition to her interview, check out her artwork!
Tasty Japan‘s twitter feed has been my favorite thing to watch recently! I can’t read Japanese, but the visuals of the portions and the directions are easy enough to make out (I can recognize some characters for time, as well). Here’s some recipes: homemade sorbet, matcha macarons, and fruit tarts.
☁ The many spheres of hell as seen in Japanese art.

☁ ALLLL THE FEMME STUFF 💖💖💖 Sal Muñoz‘s Femme Project interview with Richard, Scarlett Shaney‘s photography, and Andi Schwartz‘s Femme Archives, especially her writing on soft femmes.
☁ Podcast Spotlight: Locatora Radio’s “Loca Epistemologies,”Femme Too Deep’s “Gratitude Attitude,” the Last Adventure’s “More Oral, No Morals
☁ “‘Getting Away’ With Hating It: Consent in the Context of Sex Work” by Charlotte Shane.
☁ Black holes continue to be fascinating.
☁ Trees are migrating away (maybe into the sea? Away from us?).
☁ “Why I See A Black Queer Therapist” by Steven W. Thraser.
☁ I am listening to Nelly Furtado’s discography and IT IS PERFECT. Favorites include Whoa, NellyFolklore; and the Ride. “One Trick Pony” is my jam, potentially for the rest of the semester.

Yaeji is me.

🌸 Call your parents (or equivalent).
🌸 Eat your vegetables.
🌸 Hang out with your friends.
🌸 Pay your taxes.
🌸 Drink water if you have the privilege to have clean water.
🌸 Remember your purpose.
🌸 Embrace all of you.

until next week!

Internet Roundup // 14.1.18

Welcome to the Working Week ☁ Sunday, January 14

I’m back from Rio de Janeiro, and the new semester starts this week. I’m in preparation mode for many things, and I will move head on into all of them. Here’s a linkroll:

☁ A guide to dissertating; I think it’s a good guide for everything grad school-relevant.
☁ “I Started the Media Men List,” by Moira Donegan. See also: shitty men in academia list.
☁ Korean and Chinese recipes for dayyyyyyyyyys. See these recipes for arepas, date + guava grilled cheese sandwiches, and eggplant salad!
☁ Get a hobby for yourself, and try not to monetize it if you can help it.
☁ Logic is a really cool webmag on tech. This interview with Fred Turner on Silicon Valley’s ideological origins and foundations is fascinating and confirms how morally dead the industry is as it tries to institutionalize itself. Information is not neutral. Coding workshops are probably bunk and use similar traps to for-profit schools.
☁ If you can’t take an African diaspora class, take a peek at this resource on the African diaspora in the Caribbean.
☁ Blogs still live, especially in the form of lifestyle blogs. Lifestyle blogs aren’t really my thing (they’re like instagram before instagram), but these, design-wise, are visually interesting. Thank you Kailey for sharing these! oh happy dayscathingly brillianti want you to knowaww samkeiko lynnin my sunday best
☁ I watched Devilman Crybaby on Netflix and I have very strong feelings about it. I’m very happy Masaaki Yuasa is getting his shine, so in the meantime, watch Ping Pong the Animation.

Tchau for now (〃´∀`〃)ε`●)

Personal Archives

Screencap from Wayback Machine’s copy of “GIRLYROCK,” a Yuki Isoya fansite by NatsukiGirl.

I recently wrote a longform essay on the history of web communities pre-social media. Or rather, I argued that despite being understood as ephemera, the fragments left over from dead websites provides folks (historians, archivists, whoever) great material to piece together the histories of digital life, especially since conflict and memory are the glue that puts them together.

While that paper was for a class, I’ve been left thinking about how that paper could have grown. I’ve realized that that meditation on web communities was informed by several themes I’ve been meditating on in the past and present; especially the presumption that “blogs” or other old form web community spaces (LiveJournal, BBS/forums, fansites, etc) are a lost art at best and dead at worst. (more…)