Better Than Words

The 20s are all about making moves. There's something to be said about words and speech. Yes, they are both powerful in their own ways (says the guy who writes out his entire life) but they definitely have their limitations. Some emotions are so visceral that they cannot be described by words alone; they must be lived. We all have a call to action, and we choose in every moment of our lives to either answer or ignore it. The choose is yours, but action sometimes is better than words.

*I'm unashamed to say that I've literally had One Direction's song "Better Than Words" from their new album Midnight Memories, solely on repeat for the past three days. I may very well be obsessed with it and it's literally just them listing off song titles to explain love - brilliantly simple or super lazy - either way I'm all about it.
*I'm taking this space this remember Nelson Mandela who was the example of what we should all strive to be. His selflessness, his drive and his compassion for all is what allowed him to change the world. His sacrifices will never be forgotten and his challenge for us to end discrimination in all its forms but even more so racism is what we continue to fight for.

You never know just how much people are all about you until you do things to get them to show their interest. So I made this bet with my friends that if I changed my relationship status on Facebook to "in a relationship" that 44 people would like it within a 24 hour period. Come to find out 106 people total liked it and people were thirsty to know. I was bombarded  with text messages, tweets, inboxed messages, snapchats, and in-person inquisitions like they were out for blood (okay Spaniards, calm down). I made a melodramatic status to let people know it was just a prank, and the campus let out an exasperated sigh. Apparently my nonexistent love-life is talk-worthy news. Let's be real, I thought it was funny especially how much it blew up. Who would have thought? It was better than words. Thursday I spent some time studying for my upcoming exams and then went to help out with the LGTQA Center's annual "Home for the Holidays" event. It's a place for the community to come together and for everyone to be themselves, especially since some people are not able to be who they are when they are home - a travesty I had not really thought about. How frustrating to keep your sexual orientation a secret, and terrifying that your identity could have dire consequences for the bigots not only where you live within your own family. It's unfair that people have to hide/change who they are to appease the made-up ideals of society. I just watched an episode of the Crazy Ones where an openly gay character pretended to be "traditional" (problematic) to quell his clients. Anyway, I helped decorate the space in a winter wonderland theme and had some really good conversations with the other volunteers. It was good to meet some new people (especially in the wake of my realization moment from that last post). My upbeat attitude was apparent and people were commenting on it - man did I miss this version of me a lot. I took a couple hours to do some Latin prep and just jammed out, frequently being interrupted by people stopping to say hey to me (just letting that affection wash over me) and I was more than okay with it. It felt good. All of a sudden, I was aware of people showing not just internalizing that they liked me. I went to an Intervarsity Christian service trip meeting and met some cool people there, as well. The cheeriness of everyone in general was almost overwhelming. I made my way to the Home for the Holidays event and worked the room. How could I have been so oblivious to all the people that I knew and that expressed interest in me? I sat for hours on end with my friends, Dae-Dae, Sam and Maché, eating, cracking jokes, and genuinely having a good time. My brothers Lane and Alton joined us and the conversation kept flowing. I departed eventually and went back to the books (study guides and simultaneous TV watching). So good, it was better than words.

Somehow this post became something completely different than what I was expecting, but I gives none. Friday was more exam prep and I went to a white identity retreat planning session. It was super cool to hear from administrators that they were offering this opportunity and that they valued my opinion on how they should go about the curriculum for that weekend. When evening fell I went to dinner with Sam and Dae-Dae before going to an acapella concert to see my old friends/roommates, Patrick and Joel. I was blown away by both their groups. The show was absolutely phenomenal and wholeheartedly entertaining. My feels couldn't even be contained, I was giving out hugs left and right (things that never happen) but that harmonizing though was on point (District 3 - why did you break up, I can't deal). Fast forward to Saturday morning and it was dropping off my textbook for my classmate to borrow and it was off to brunch with the ALANA student organization presidents at the director's home. Oh it was wonderful. The food was great and the atmosphere was so refreshing. We discussed our experiences with one another and those who were there, including state representative, UVM alumna and social justice activist, Kesha Ram. It was powerful to hear all of us problem solve the apathy on both sides of the racism discussion (both people of color and white people) as well as how we lead, empower, and give room for others to grow. We were thanked for our service so far and the warmth in the space was felt. All our hardships felt more than worth it in those moments. Back to campus where I posed for a fraternity/sorority life rebranding campaign (we're involved in more than just our chapters, and here's where - also you can do both) and went to eat and hang out with my buddy Tyler. I put my head back in the books and tried to minimize my social media but did enjoy the constant stream of random snapchats from my friends Connor, Mac, Christian, Ben, Jeff, and all the rest. It's better than words.

There's this page on facebook not directly associated with my college, but pretty much is. It's an anonymous confessions page where people can spill their guts, but there have been some wholly outrageous posts on there, particularly the ones regarding white-allyship and racism. You know me, wielding my social justice sword like I'm King Arthur or something, to post a very well written (if I'm saying so myself) rebuttal to the ignorance. Personally, I'm tired of this whole fake-allyship thing that people have going on. You can love the idea of equity all you want in the comfort of intellectual conversations, but until you risk yourself (that is membership within a dominant group) and interrupt discriminatory or oppressive behaviors, you are not an ally, at least to me. You must speak (know that those in disadvantaged positions are always speaking because they have to - people just aren't listening), because as far as I'm concerned there's no difference between your silence and those who are actively attacking. It's scary, I understand - but realize that people with subordinate don't have luxury of choice in the matter, they're scared too and still fight. Yeah, you're alienating yourself from the group you belong to - but the people being stepped on need you. Please find it within yourself to do something. Confront someone who's done something out of line, or even simpler, console the person who's been affected or let everyone know that you've been affected too (you don't have to be personally offended, but understanding the offensive of it in general has its merits). Action is required to be an activist. It's better than words and that's all that's asked of you. Yes, you'll make mistakes - it's okay to be afraid to do so,  but when you let your fear keep shut you down you miss the opportunity to show your support and become an ally. I promise you, someone will thank you for you moving to do something, and while it seems combatting these social constructs and ideals seems futile, they do have an effect (on both parties mind you). There's hope and it's better than words.
Throughout my life I've come to notice how people treat me. There's three types of people. Those who tokenize my identity as a person of color. I'm their comic relief, the punchline of their jokes, and their "get out racism free" card. There are those who tip-toe around anything that has to do with race and change the subject when I'm around. They ignore my identity (and subsequently me as a person) because it makes them uncomfortable. Lastly, there are those who acknowledge my identity (and the struggles that come with it) but also do not patronize it. I can tell I can be friends with someone because I'm comfortable around them. My race isn't on trial, but it's the not elephant in the room either. For most people, there's this barrier between races that remains until self-work is done. If you can't understand my identity, you will never understand me because it affects every aspect of my life. Let's talk but at some point, you're going to be called to fight. You can answer the call and join the ranks, or ignore it and return to a world devoid on my existence. We both miss out on the opportunity to know each other. That moment where we can all just be, because we value all our identities is experience is better than words.
The 20s are all about moving beyond words. There comes a time in your relationship with another person or just people in general where you have to move beyond words. You can say you believe something all you want, but until you prove it by acting, your words are empty. Whether you sit with someone in silence, give a much-needed hug, or speak up in support of them you actions can have monumental meaning. Words can only go so far, your actions take it the rest of the way there. It's better than words.
My blog post question for the day is ... what's your current favorite song? I'm currently enthralled with the Wanted's "Only You" off their new Word of Mouth album (if you read the blog post right before this one, that song literally described my life #awk)


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