Getting To The Why of Reading

If you ever want to know why a person whose face is always in a book does that, think of this quote:

“Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.”

Taken from “Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

Another favorite excerpt, from a very personal perspective:

“I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.

We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.”

 

My Thoughts: “The State of Women of Color in the U.S.” Education and Entrepreneurship

When I saw on my timeline earlier that American Progress released a report entitled “The State of Women of Color in the United States,” I knew automatically that I would have to read, analyze and process the data and provide my thoughts on here. Not only because my education makes me interested in all forms of research (What was the methodology? What questions did they ask? Was it survey, interview?), but also because the lived situation of people of color is an area of interest for me. In my classes, I’ve done papers on the online natural hair community and ideas of beauty and I’ve wanted to explore the conceptualization of the “marriage issue” and Black women for some time. So when I see research like this, I jump on it.

I specifically looked at the sections for education and entrepreneurship because these areas have the most impact on my life right now. Having just finished the first of three comprehensive exams for grad school and talking with my significant other about his aspirations for graduate-level education, it’s all the more clear to me that education has shaped my life and those around me in significant ways. The cohort group to which I belong is increasingly seeking post-graduate degrees at high rates. However, this is not reflected in the data of the report, which found that Asians and Latinas are increasing graduation rates for first-time postsecondary education in cohort groups between 1996 and 2004 at 117 and 121.6 percent, respectively. For African Americans, the numbers have stagnated. This is disheartening news, though not surprising. Many news reports have shown the statistics on the lack of preparedness for students of color entering postsecondary education. According to the research report, it is estimated that up to two-thirds of jobs between 2010 and 2020 will require some kind of postsecondary education; the question becomes what are we (we the people of government and we the people of the community) truly doing to prepare the future generation?

There was encouraging news in the Entrepreneurship section, as the report indicated that the fastest-growing majority women-owned businesses are owned by African American, starting up at six times the national average. In working with the local Black chamber, there are some very driven women who are at the helm of multi-million dollar companies and corporations. This extends down also to my generation of young women who are starting a side hustle and making extra while maintaining a secure position with the goal of eventually converting to full-time entrepreneur.

I’m a fan of delving deeper than statistics, so I would love to see American Progress follow up this report with more in-depth interviews and focus groups to parse out the everyday experiences of women on color in the areas of the report. ¬†Fingers crossed for that future report. For now, I suggest you download the report for yourself. What are your thoughts on the results?

Basking in the golden silence

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Photo via Joel Jefferies on Flickr

When I’m asked, I always like to say that my family is my sister and my mom. Though I have an extended group of aunts, uncles and cousins, when I consider the mental image of family, it’s those two. Because of this, I am wholly unaccustomed to boisterous weekend gatherings of generations of assorted relatives, reliving the “remember when…” stories and having hours lapse before everyone starts to peel away slowly to do it again the following week. While not a solitary creature, I revel in a quiet household where not much needs to be said because it is understood that our shared time is entertainment and company enough.

Over the years in romantic relationships, I’ve learned that the same approach I take to family togetherness works best for paramours as well. I remember in my youth, being in each other’s pockets seemed like the place to be, and God forbid something happen to one of us while the other wasn’t there to simultaneous experience it. Honestly, I’m shocked I wasn’t more exhausted from sustaining these types of dealings.

With age comes wisdom, as well as your own business, which requires you to mind. As I move within my current relationship, I try to keep in mind that while there is an “us,” more importantly there is a “me” and “he.” I have to allow both of us space to decompress, unwind, unpack and reflect without the nagging feeling of “growing apart” and he does the same.

What I see as somewhat of conventional (romantic and non-romantic) relationship wisdom, many others don’t seem to get, if the anecdotal examples from various advice columns imply. Some of my favorites are Dear Prudence on Slate, Carolyn Hax on Washington Post and A Belle in Brooklyn Ask.fm page. Lack of basic communication practice (ask for what you want, be open to compromise, don’t accept less than you’re worth) seems to be at the root of nearly all exchanges for which people are seeking guidance, be it a relationship between mother-daughter, boss-employee, boyfriend-girlfriend or just two people who are exploring the dating scene. Reading the submissions is one of my guiltiest pleasures; people always find a way to reach new level of “Huh?” with each question.

Mind you, in no way am I saying that my communication style is ideal – I can be short of patience, I want people to get to the point quickly and I hate arguing with those closest to me. What I always try to keep in mind is to listen more than I speak, consider all the perspectives, even the ones that aren’t being presented, and that taking 10 seconds before speaking in anger or irritation can save a whole lot of feelings. The more I operate within these kinds of guidelines, the better my relationships work. And the more of that sweet, sweet silence I get to have in my happy household.