Murmurs

murmurs

In my opinion when a group of people make a statement saying “We don’t believe our lives matter” and any response other than, “Of course, you do matter” is inhumane. It is inappropriate to choose that moment to state all the other lives which matter instead of addressing the pain that is currently being verbalized.

I am personally perplexed that people can shed tears over a dead dog or pretend to care about orphans in south east Asia or Africa when there is a whole generation of kids in your backyard who don’t believe their lives matter.

I have met several people in academia who believe that the overall response to the “Black Lives Matter” movement has been inappropriate to say the least but they will never say something in public for fear of offending someone else’s feelings. As Alain de  Botton so appropriately stated, “Many people in the intellectual elite are very scared of shouting. They insist on very quiet murmurs”.

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Personally, I never want to become so educated or get a title so important that I fail to respond to a fellow human’s cry for help.

Too educated

So let me emphatically say it; Black Lives Matter! You do matter to me at least. Of course other lives matter, white lives, Asian lives, Hispanic lives, Police lives etc, etc, But that is not the question at hand. The issue at hand is, a certain demographic in the United States feels systematically marginalized and targeted by law enforcement. And when they make a statement as a way of affirming themselves, any other response other than yes you do matter is WRONG! We as a people were provided with an opportunity to respond and we failed, the political leaders failed, the civic leadership failed, even the church failed.

So here is my advice to all the proponents of human rights in third world countries from the United States.  Before you condemn another dictator’s leadership and assert yourself as the self appointed  human rights police force for the rest of the world it would be nice to address the issues you have in your own backyard. Such as, the fact that a good percentage of your population is actually questioning whether or not their lives matter.  To all the awesome people who love travelling around the world to make a difference in the lives of other children 10,000 miles away, would you please consider addressing the issues here at home as well?

Disclosures: I happen to be black and I am also a part of the academia who ignorantly only voiced my disapproval in murmurs. Well, not anymore!

I leave you with a quote from Gaston Bachelard “The subconscious is ceaselessly murmuring, and it is by listening to these murmurs that one hears the truth”.

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I recognize  that we are all overworkedover exposed and over stimulated today but if you liked this article, consider liking it and sharing it with a friendfamily member, colleague, hater or frenemy!

Share your thoughts below, I can’t wait to hear from YOU!

 

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TRANSLATION

translation

Languages are a beautiful thing. I have always been  intrigued by languages and the cultures they unfold. I was so passionate about languages that at age 18 I set a goal to be fluent in 5 languages by age 25. Well… things did not go according to plan. I just turned 33 and I am only fluent in 2 languages (English and French). I can barely understand 3rd grade Spanish with a few scattered medical terms. I have a vocabulary of 50 Italian words and I definitely am not fluent in Arabic which was also one of the languages I had planned to learn. I was feeling pretty sad about not meeting my language goals until I remembered that I spoke Pidgin and Franc-Anglais really fluently  bringing my grand total to a whopping 4!

However, I remembered my upbringing and I could hear my teachers from the British system of education say, “Pidgin is not a language, it is a dialect”. At that point I started researching the differences between a language and a dialect.

Oxford dictionary defines a LANGUAGE as:

The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way. A system of communication used by a particular country or community.

Whereas a DIALECT is defined as:

A particular form of a language which is peculiar to a specific region or social group.

It seems in the colonial era, the ‘powers that be’ decided that the countries being annexed were not “civilized” enough to have a language system and therefore these languages were dubbed “dialects” and this erroneous label has been wrongly promulgated though the years.

What most people don’t know is Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Romanian were once considered dialects of Latin.

Meet Durante degli Alighieri also known as Dante

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He was a major Italian poet who was very controversial because he decided to publish his works in Italian which was a language mostly spoken by commoners. During Dante’s era, most literary works were written in Latin which was accessible to only educated audiences. Dante defended the use of modern day vernacular in literature thereby setting a precedent that other writers soon followed. As such, Dante has been credited in playing a critical role in establishing the national language of Italy.

Now let’s focus on one of my favorite languages, Pidgin which comes second only to Franc-Anglais. PIDGIN is the lingua franca for English speaking West African countries. Check out this recent article by BBC who started an initiate to create a service in Pidgin. They are just now recognizing what we have always known, pidgin is an awesome LANGUAGE!!! It is estimated that over 200 million speak Western African Pidgin English between (Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Liberia.

Learning about this Dante and his controversial  prompted me to start a project that I had been putting off months. I have always wanted to translate classic text in literature and science into Pidgin. Imagine listening to the “To be or not to be” speech in Pidgin. I can only imagine it sounding like an Osuofia scene by Nkem Owoh (for those of you not familiar with the name, this is a Nollywood actor). If I could describe Pidgin in one word, I would call it “juicy”. It rolls off the tongue with such ease that once you learn it, you cannot unlearn it.

My goal is to create a body of work that can be of value to some groups that may be marginalized because they may not understand English or French well enough to understand the text to its full extent. I am very excited to start this project and here is list of potential works to be translated into pidgin.

  • The old man and the medal – Ferdinand Oyono
  • Dedication – Wole Soyinka
  • Okwonko’s speech (Things fall apart) – Chinua Achebe
  • To be or not to be (Hamlet) – Shakespeare
  • Newton’s Laws of Motion – Sir Isaac Newton
  •  Marc Antony’s soliloquy (Julius Caesar) – Shakespeare
  • The Raven – Edgar Allen Poe  etc, etc, etc….

I am open to suggestions for new works. I am excited to get started. Of course I am open to submissions of original works in pidgin as a guest author.

I leave you with a quote by Robert Frost: “Poetry is what gets lost in translation”

I recognize we are all overworked, over exposed and over stimulated today but if you liked this article, consider liking it and sharing it with a friend, family member, colleague, hater or frenemy!

Share your thoughts below, I can’t wait to hear from YOU!

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Forgiveness

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Forgiveness just like diversity is great idea until you have to do something about it. It is a concept that sounds great in theory but it is very difficult to practice. One of my new year’s resolution is to be more forgiving and who better to practice on than family? Like most people, I struggle with forgiveness and it is sometimes even more difficult to forgive those who are closest to you.

I am reminded of these words by Thomas Szasz “The stupid neither forgive or forget; the naive forgive and forget ; the wise forgive but do not forget”.

forgiveness

I have learned that forgiveness is more about you than about the people you are forgiving. I realize that forgiveness frees you to be vulnerable again. Now vulnerability is a word that is not really part of an “independent” woman’s repertoire but may be it should be reintroduced. It allows us to be open to possibilities, it frees us to welcome the possibility of being surprised and even swept off our feet by the nuances of life.

I am also reminded of an all to familiar quote from Alexander Pope: “To err is human, to forgive is divine”. A quote from his work “An Essay on Criticism”.

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Last year, I heard an awesome song by Takesure Zamar Ncube which is now my anthem for this year. The title of the song is KUREGERERA IN ADVANCE-  (meaning I forgive you in advance) – Click on the link to watch the song. The song is sung in Shona, a South African language but it speaks volumes and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Forgiveness is not a process that you can embark on with lukewarmness it takes gusto and strong will to forgive someone and to live in that forgiveness. I am well aware that living in forgiveness is whole separate topic. It is easy to forgive someone you see once a year but living with someone whom you have to forgive or you have forgiven is another cup of tea. I had no idea about the meaning of the word until I got married. There is nothing like marriage to teach you about forgiveness and humility. I leave you with a quote from George Foreman “Forgiveness is that subtle thread that binds both love and friendship. Without forgiveness, you may not even have a child one day”. In the interest of keeping families together and living our best lives; let’s embrace and learn the science and art of forgiveness.

 

 

Dogs are people too!

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Dogs are people too!

As a Black woman in living in the state of Washington, I have very little opportunity to interact with minorities of  all backgrounds. When I first moved to Seattle approximately 3 years ago, I was excited to live in a city which was socially liberal. This was a welcome breath of fresh air after leaving the deep south. For the most part I love this city and it is one of my favorite places to live in the US (with the exception of New England).

However, there are a few things that I must deal with but I am struggling to understand as I acclimate to Seattle. The most prominent thing being their love for dogs and animals. I grew up in West Africa and we grew up with pets (mostly dogs, cats and one bunny- who disappeared under suspicious circumstances). Recently, in conversation in with one of my neighbors I asked her to clean up after her dogs and she went into this litany about dog rights and animal rights. In summary, she equated the life of a dog to the life of humans and I am paraphrasing here but what I surmised from her argument was; “Dogs are people too”. I was so flabbergasted that I just started laughing hysterically.

All joking aside, I struggle with the fact that certain Seattlelites express more compassion over a dead dog than they do for black men being gunned downed and murdered by police officers. I find these views really disturbing especially living in a state that is a liberal as Washington state. I can only imagine what people living in more conservative states must be going through.

For so long, the Black community has had to live with the systematic portrayal of black people in general and black men in particular as animals in the media. I wonder if the Black Lives Matter movement will make more headway if they acquiesced and said yes “we are animals” and just let PETA take up their cause. PETA certainly seems to be getting their message heard.

Recently, I was taking with one of my Caucasian friends and she mentioned the the Netflix show “The Man In the High Castle” and she tried to imagine what life would be like in America if Hitler and the Nazis had won the war. I calmly informed her that for some groups very little had changed since the war namely for the Black community and other minority groups. Some groups don’t have to imagine an alternate reality if Nazi’s had won the world, we are living in an alternate especially with the recent election results.

the-man-in-the-high-castle

If you think I am exaggerating, take a look at this group of white high school student doing the Hitler salute for their annual picture in a high school in Texas.

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In her recent Oscar nominated documentary 13th, director Ava DuVernay makes the argument slavery is being effectively perpetuated in the United States through mass incarceration of African Americans. One could argue that there has been some change in the way Blacks are treated in this country but no one will disagree that there is still a lot of room for growth.

13th

ava-duvernay

May be aligning the Black lives matter message with PETA and having them take on the role of defending certain Homo Sapiens sub groups (especially those with a certain level of melanin pigmentation) is a bit extreme but they seem to have made significant headway. I worry about raising my daughters in a society where animal lives are more valuable than certain human lives. PETA stands for People for the Ethical treatment of Animals. Maybe we should create a new group called PETAH (People for the Ethical Treatment of All Humans).

I  don’t know about everyone else but as for me and my family we are “down with all Homo Sapiens”. As far as I am concerned Dogs are NOT people. Now I love the Canis Lupus species but I am “down with the Homo Sapiens” in a crazy kind of way – ride or die!!! I guess that explains why I have spent the last decade of my life obtaining training to better serve them as a physician.

I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite books: Animal Farm – “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others”

all-animals-are-equal

If you are down with the Homo Sapiens like and share this post.

homo-sapiens

 

So where do we go from here?  Thoughts anyone? Now is not a time to tremble in the face of adversity, it is the time to get your voices heard.

I recognize we are all overworkedover exposed and over stimulated today but if you liked this article, consider liking it and sharing it with a friend, family member, colleague, hater or frenemy!

Share your thoughts below, I can’t wait to hear from YOU!

 

Jealousy vs Envy

I have always been fascinated by these two words; by their meanings, their differences and similarities, by their use and misuse and most importantly by the fact that they are used interchangeably when they should not.

Jealousy is a complex emotion marked by insecurity and the fear of losing something or someone that we value greatly.  Jealousy encompasses several emotions including; abandonment, anger, humiliation and shame. It has been defined as being fiercely protective or vigilant of your rights or possessions.

Envy on the other hand is wanting or desiring something or someone that belongs to another person. One dictionary defines Envy as a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions or qualities.

envy

Neel Burton, MD in Psychology Today makes the following statement ” Envy is the pain caused by the desire for the advantages of others while Jealousy is the pain caused by the fear of losing our advantages to others.”

I always found it interesting that God uses “Jealous” to define his character:

Exodus 34: 14 (NLT): You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is JEALOUS, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.

Envy somehow makes the list of the “Seven deadly sins” which is a whole separate topic beyond the scope of this post.

In the privacy of your own meditations, I hope you get a chance to examine your life to see how jealousy or envy may be affecting your outlook. I would like to invite you to consider that there are sometimes in life when we should be jealous but envy on the other hand is an emotion I would rather not experience. One of my goals this year is to build successful relationships and I wish you the best with your relationships this year.

I know we are all overworked, over exposed and over stimulated today but if you liked this article, consider liking it and sharing it with a friend, family member, colleague, hater or frenemy!

Share your thoughts below, I can’t wait to hear from YOU!

I leave you with a quote by  H. G. Wells: “Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.”

jealousy-halo

 

Gone

Whatever happened to childhood? Childhood has become more and more abridged in the post millennial era. The innocence of childhood has become a thing of the past much like Afros and wide leg pants. I reminisce about my childhood much like my parents reminisce about the music from the 60’s and 70’s. The innocence of childhood is a jewel that future generations have been robbed of. If one is not allowed to be a child, how can they be expected to mature into an adult? I recently came across a book by David Elkin called “The Hurried Child” which was first published in 1985. In his book he warned about the danger of rushing the process of growing up. He cautioned about the perils of having children make more and more adult decisions each day.

An interesting point he brought up was the commercialization of childhood with million dollar industries promoting products such as “Einstein baby” who are built on stimulating children from the time they are in the womb until they start school. We now have devices that allow pregnant women to “stimulate” growth and brain development while in the kids are in the womb. Interestingly, the brain managed to develop just fine on its own for centuries. I wonder if Einstein’s mother regretted not stimulating him enough, how about Edgar Allen Poe, Sedar Senghor, Bronte, Chinua Achebe, Shakespeare, Ferdinand Oyono and Marie Curie?

Nowadays, it is par for the course to hear parents boasting about how precocious their children are. I often ask my self does it really matter if your child starts walking at 9 months versus 14 months? A friend of mine boasted about how smart her child was because he could turn on her iPad at 8 months. I was puzzled by her sense of pride given that iPad usually have one button the front and if you let a baby droll on it long enough they will figure how to push the “one button” on the device and eventually turn it on. What is the incessant rush to meet milestones anyway? It’s not like learning the ABCs at 18 months versus 24 months makes the 18 month old a savant since he got a “whopping” 6 month head start.

Somewhere between the 20th and the 21st Century, parenting turned into a sport with today’s parents trying to outdo each other by attempting to impress others with their children’s exploits. Parents became expert raconteurs and parenting groups turned into braggart-fest with the main goal being to outshine the next parent with even more grandiose exploits. Parents went overboard and created a subculture where mediocrity was celebrated, hard work was unnecessary and everyone was declared a “winner”.  I would caution today’s parents that being proud of your child is highly encouraged but you should not turn a private parent-child moment into public showboating. Otherwise they are at risk of conditioning their children to seek and eventually crave public praise and recognition at all cost. Children are our offspring – yes and perhaps our greatest accomplishments but they should not be treated and paraded like animals at a country fair show prancing around looking to win the first place ribbon.

The combination of electronic over stimulation and parenting styles influenced by state fair competition rules has led to a generation of children who have grown up hurriedly and experienced things too fast without really learning much about life.

We are left with self promoting, self declared life coaches who can write code eloquently using python, ruby on rails or java. These young adults are assertive, confident, go-getters who are ready to prove their worth. But they are also afflicted with approval addiction seeming to need validation for every aspect of their lives with “likes” and re-tweets. These precocious kids have grown up to become “emerging adults” who never want to leave the nest. Emerging adults are the new age class which includes people between the ages of 18-29 also known as “late bloomers”.  They are well spoken, educated and entitled cynics who are so self assertive they don’t need go through life’s lessons. At the end of the day who needs life experience when you can just “google” it or read a blog about it. The following quote by Maya Angelou articulates my views on the evolution from “precocious children” to cynical “emerging adults”: – A cynical young person is the saddest sight to see, because he or she has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.

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Fortune

This quote about fortune provoked an adverse reaction in me. I did not particularly agree with it initially. As I read the quote I recognized that the words somehow seemed familiar but I had attributed that description to “fame”. I must admit I was a little annoyed that fame and fortune were being equated as one. As I pondered that quote at 3 am in the morning on my only bathroom break on night call. I questioned why I was so annoyed by the quote and it was not until hours later that I gained some insight into my initial reaction.

I finally realized that I was irritated because it had been drilled in me that if I worked hard I would reap the results of my hard work later. In other words, I had internalized the idea that hard work guaranteed good fortune but this quote challenged that tenet. Once I had calmed down, I was able to understand that just because I put in the work did not necessarily imply I would be successful. This was a particularly bitter pill of knowledge to swallow because I am a physician in training. Most physicians in training will agree with me that the hardest thing about completing the training process is “delayed gratification”.

Anyone can take a test and will eventually pass it once they get enough time to prepare for it. However, it takes a certain commitment to enter a training process that could last anywhere between 11 – 17 years from the time you leave high school depending on your specialty. When you take into account the rising cost of medical education and decreasing physician salaries. It obviates the idea that most people who go into medicine are doing so to get the proverbial “pot of gold” at the end of the training. What motivated me to pursue Medicine was a desire to improve people’s lives and my love for Science I found that this field allowed me to blend the two.

As I begrudgingly accept the fact that I may sacrifice time with my kids and spouse, my health, my personal time, finances, money and friendships and still not be guaranteed good fortune. I realized that finding or discovering my purpose is the key to a building a successful life. But the caveat with that statement is that your must first have a definition of what you consider a “successful life”. I will leave you with this quote by Louis Pasteur “Fortune favors the prepared mind”.

Enjoy the festivities this season and remember – Jesus is the reason for the season.

fortune