billionaire

A post by Abagond about billionaires. It is notable that according to Abagond, “the net worth of 7,000 ordinary White American households or 98,000 Black ones (based on median wealth in 2014, adjusted for inflation,” is equivalent to 1 billion. Note the stark contrast in white vs. black net worth overall.

Abagond

The view from Billionaires’ Row overlooking Central Park in New York (via MarketWatch).

A billionaire is someone whose wealth is equal to at least a billion pounds or dollars: $1,000,000,000.00. This post, written in 2019, will use current US dollars, worth 2.0 grams of silver.

There are currently 2,135 known, living billionaires according to Forbes magazine. New York has 103, Hong Kong 93, San Francisco 74, Moscow 69, and London 62. Only 14 are Black, Oprah Winfrey among them. Oxfam says the top 26 billionaires are as rich as the bottom half of humanity.

Isabella dos Santos of Angola, $2.3 billion.

Some famous billionaires (those in greyare dead, adjusted for inflation):

  • > $100 billion
    • 374 John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil)
    • 350 Andrew Carnegie (Carnegie Steel)
    • 298 Nicholas II of Russia
    • 220 Henry Ford (Ford Motor)
    • 200? Vladimir Putin (maybe only 70)
    • 199Basil II of the Byzantine Empire

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Stop Mindless Internet Use

A photo of a Black woman, a white man and a white woman all staring at their phones and not interacting.

Someone once said that time is one of the most precious assets in life. Everyone’s time is limited, and I shudder to think about how much time I’ve wasted mindlessly on the internet.

Don’t get me wrong, the internet has allowed me to connect with individuals who I wouldn’t have known otherwise, it’s allowed me to take online classes and read some great blogs. Many people rely on the internet to generate an income. The internet is not all bad, but when used mindlessly, it can certainly suck up your time and your life.

I am making a conscious effort this year to be more mindful about my internet use.

For the past decade, I’ve spent essentially half of my life on the internet. As a result, I’ve developed a pain in my neck, poorer eye sight, disrupted sleep patterns, poorer habits and increased stress.

I’ve spent less time with my family, been short with them because I was too deeply involved in the happenings of the internet world, instead of the offline world, which is more real. I’ve neglected my hobbies, including writing and ironically blogging.  Although I’m slowly picking up blogging again, I’ve been away from the blog for a while. Yet, I haven’t been away from the internet.

Mindless internet use may mean something different to everyone, but generally this is what I consider mindless internet use: 

  • Endless hours on social media, checking status updates
  • Online shopping and browsing without a purpose
  • Searching random things online
  • Watching junk, trashy reality shows on streaming websites
  • Anything that doesn’t enrich the mind or add value to your life
  • Anything that doesn’t have a purpose or end in sight
  • Going on free online dating websites with the hope of meeting a quality mate (lol!)
  • Anything that is not beneficial to overall well being (for some people this may include watching destructive, racist YouTube videos, unknowingly reading false news stories or conspiracy websites, watching violent/degrading pornography or casual sex websites)

Can you relate to any of these mindless internet time wasters? I certainly can.

I don’t want to live my life and think back on how I spent it mostly on the internet doing nothing and neglecting the things that really matter in life. Yet, most people need the internet for work or to take online classes, to view cooking or instructional videos etc. Sometimes the internet can be a good tool for connecting with friends who live a distance away.

Initially, I attempted to go cold turkey and cut out internet for a while, but this backfired because I couldn’t benefit from useful resources, like educational documentaries, online classes etc.

So now, I’ve set a goal to develop a mindful/ digitally minimalist internet mindset. To aid my journey, I will be reading the book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.

I’ve set the following goals for myself:

  1. Spend more time with my family
  2. Indulge my hobbies, like the arts, crafting, writing, playing the piano
  3. Get out into the world and enjoy nature
  4. Develop real intimacy with real people
  5. Give my eyes and neck a break
  6. When I go onto the internet, have a purpose, such as to watch an educational documentary or a wholesome movie, take an online class, do professional tasks or connect with friends/family
  7. Set time limits on non-essential social media use

My start up plan:

  • I’ve already set up my phone and computer to give me downtime for 30 minutes before bed.
  • I’ve blocked certain non-beneficial/ addicting websites.
  • I’ve started reading before going to bed, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • I will be reading Digital Minimalism.
  •  I will schedule time where I just focus on my non-internet hobbies.
  • I will develop guidelines/ a schedule for internet use.

 

So, I will be doing some book reviews in the coming weeks and this will include tips and a review about the Digital Minimalism book.

  • Do any of you struggle with mindless internet use? Do any of you have any suggestions for how to curb neck pain from computer/looking down at a screen constantly?
  • Do you ever long for the days before cell phones, WIFI, social media and being constantly wired up?

 

Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson wanted to take revenge on any black person because one black man raped his friend. Yes, that’s racist. Would it be okay if black people took revenge against all white people for all the white men who raped black women with impunity all throughout history? So much so that most African-Americans are part white from white males? What about the rape of black women by white men today? If it would be unacceptable and wrong to blame all white men for raping black women, so it’s unacceptable and wrong for Liam Neeson to do that to black men. I’m tired of all black people being made to pay for the wrongdoing of a small minority, while white people get the luxury of being individuals. via Liam Neeson

Being a Black Child in a Suburban School

The top is a photo of a black child in Jim Crow America. The child is on a bike with a "colored" sign representing Jim Crow times. A modern day Black child drinks from a water fountain. The caption reads Jim Crow is illegal, but the school system is still unequal.

A recent article describes how Black children in suburban schools’ face disproportionate expulsion, denial from advanced classes, lack of support from teachers and other forms of discrimination. This article came right after a black girl, who was told by the school dance instructor that her skin was too dark to perform, sued the Kansas school district. Yes, the Kansas school district, the same district that was sued in Brown v. Board of Education. These stories may be surprising to some, but not to me.  I grew up in a suburban, all-girls, private school and I can relate to everything that these black students in the article went through.

I know how it feels to be treated like an oddity. I know how it feels to be the only Black girl at the school dances and to never be asked out or danced with because of it. I know how it feels to have teachers and other students assume you’re stupid. Subtle things in that suburban environment will eat away at you every day. Things like teachers who tell white students who earn high grades, how naturally gifted, bright and intelligent they are. Yet with me, the black girl, when I earned high grades, I would get told “you’re a hard, little worker.”  There’s nothing wrong with working hard, but I was a normal teenager, I didn’t work any harder than other students. Yet, I never got the respect that my white peers did from teachers. I may not have been a genius, but neither were my white peers, but no one ever told me that I was smart. Of course, there were also the systemic disadvantages, like not being promoted to advanced classes.

In 8th grade,  everyone was required to study Latin, but in high school, it was an elective. In high school, Latin was considered prestigious because it enhanced your college application and helped with the verbal portion of the SAT because so many English words have Latin roots, such as the words elucidate, malefactor and acquiesce. The high school Latin classes were also situated at our brother school, so all the girls who qualified for the high school Latin classes were eager to take them to learn, to gain an edge on their college applications and to flirt. In order to qualify for the high school Latin classes, you had to earn at least a B+ average in middle school Latin. I earned an A average in Latin. I loved Latin and  I was well above the threshold for qualifying for high school Latin. Of course, I wanted to take the class in high school. Yet, when it came time to pick our classes for high school, my Latin teacher and academic adviser decided that they didn’t think I could handle the pressures of Latin in high school. Apparently, high school Latin at the boy’s school, in addition to taking Spanish class, would be too much for me. Plus, I wouldn’t have an extra study hall. So, they decided not to recommend that I pursue Latin. What they didn’t know was that my mother was very close with the high school Latin instructor at the boy’s school. She reached out to him and told him about my predicament. The Latin instructor  sent an email to the head of the middle school, advocating on my behalf.  In addition, my mother threatened to get the school principal involved, if they didn’t allow me to take the class. So, I was allowed to take the class.

I took the Latin class and I was the only black student. I still have the letter that the high school Latin teacher sent to my parents, stating that I earned a 90% on the final exam, 15 percentage points above the average.

This was a traumatizing experience for me. Not the final exam, not the long hours of studying, but the discrimination. I am grateful that the Latin instructor at the boy’s school advocated for me and I actually grew to greatly respect him. He was a great teacher and person. But, the fact that he even had to advocate for me in the first place was beyond hurtful. Why did it take another white man to vouch for my capability and intelligence, just to get into a class that my white peers were presumed to be worthy of?

This type of discrimination is not unique. It’s pervasive and damaging because after a while, when teachers constantly imply that you’re inferior, stupid and don’t belong in that school, you may begin to believe it yourself. It’s a real concept, it’s called stereotype threat. This is part of the reason why I’m considering homeschooling my children, if I ever have any. I can’t leave them to the mercy of the policymakers in the city public schools, who want to pull funding and force students to learn in overcrowded classrooms. I can’t subject my children to going to predominately white, suburban, private schools where they’re treated like an ‘other’ constantly either.

Sometimes, being a black kid in school is just hard and my heart really goes out to the youngsters. It’s like there is no place for us, sometimes.

 

My 2019 Reading List

My 2019 Book List

A small end table with novels Parable of the Sower, Boys in the Boat and Wives and Daughters on it. An upside down tea cup is also on the table.

  1. How Long ’til Black Future Month?: Stories-  A collection of short stories by N.K. Jeminson  “spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo Award-nominated short story ‘The City Born Great,’ a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.” More

  2. Code Girls: The Untold Story of American Women Code Breakers of World War II– A story of the American women who helped to win  WW2 by breaking codes and overcoming gender stereotypes.

  3. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – This book has been on my list for years. I’m going to actually read it this year. I’ve read some of Adichie’s other books and loved them. You can read a post by Abagond about Americanah. 

  4. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones–  This is a novel recommended by a friend. I will likely read it in spring or summer. “Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding.” Read more.

  5. Amy Snow by Tracy Rees- A novel about a young girl who is adopted into an aristocratic family and treated as an outsider. The story is set in the year 1831. 

  6.  Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers– A story about the history of African-American paratroopers in WW II. A photo of a giant man in 19th century attire. He towers over a city.

  7. Gulliver’s Travel- A classic story about a ship surgeon’s journey. 

  8. Rose Madder by Stephen King-The story of a young woman who leaves an abusive relationship and attempts to start fresh in a new place. She must constantly be on the lookout for her husband, a police officer, who she fears will stop at nothing to track her.

  9. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler- Another novel that’s been on my list before. “Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, war, and chronic shortages of water, gasoline, and more. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.” Read more. 

  10. The Boys in the Boat-“The improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.” Read more.

  11. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell- “When a widowed father of 17-year-old Molly Gibson decides to marry again, her life turns into chaos. Molly has to learn to live together with a bossy stepmother and uncontrollable stepsister, deal with dark family secrets, experience the ardent passion and become a victim of love intrigues.” Read more. 

  12. The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker– A novel about what it would be like if everyone went to sleep an didn’t wake up and not from death. If a mysterious sleep disease wreaked havoc, what would the world be like?

Here are the books that I read in 2018:

A young, African-American woman is sitting at a desk reading a book with a cup of tea.

  1. Brown in Baltimore: School Desegregation and the Limits of Liberalism – A nonfiction book about the history of de-segregating Baltimore City Public Schools, white flight into the private schools in Baltimore and how liberal, laissez-faire racial policies contributed to modern day segregation in Baltimore city. A post will be coming out soon. ****

  2. Cold Running Creek-A novel about Native and Black women who grow up in the antebellum era and must struggle through the Civil War. ****

  3. The Black Girl’s Guide to being Blissfully Feminine- A nonfiction book by Candice Smith Adewole, who is a feminine arts educator. The book explores the concepts of Black femininity and masculinity. ****

  4. Somewhere In France- A novel about a young, affluent woman of genteel background, who falls in love with a middle-class man during the Great War. They must struggle to be together, despite their difference in backgrounds and the First World War . *****

  5. Enemies in Love by Alexis Clark- A nonfiction book about a Black nurse and German POW who fall in love during WW2. They are caught between Jim Crow in the United States and Nazism in Germany and must love each other through it all.

  6. Lays in Summerland by John Willis Menard (see my blog post here)

  7. Property by Valerie Martin- A novel about a young, white plantation lady named Manon who lives in 1812 Louisianna. Her husband is a brutal, lascivious and manipulative slave owner. Manon, who is a bit self-absorbed, must deal with her husband’s brutish behavior and come to terms with her own jealousy.

  8. A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard- A memoir by Jaycee Dugard, who is a childhood survivor of kidnapping, sexual abuse, and other trauma. The memoir tells the story of her experience as a prisoner of a vicious man who steals her innocence and childhood.

  9. Embarrassing Confessions of a Marine Lieutenant – A somewhat raunchy, but interesting story of a Marine officer’s experience in the military. It is mainly for the military reader. Each chapter pays homage to servicemembers who have been lost either in combat or by their own hand. It underpins a real crisis of suicide within the veteran community. It also highlights the complete gap between the civilian population’s understanding of what it can be like to be in war or even in the military and the experience of servicemembers. Years ago about 40% of young, eligible men served in the military, today it’s about 4%.  I stumbled upon this book when researching the Marine Corps.

  10. Various nonfiction, home keeping books such as At Home with Madame Chic, Complete Book of Home Organization, Complete Book of Clean, Hello Glow:150+ Easy Natural Beauty Recipes for a Fresh New You – Books mainly about cleaning, organizing and making your own cleaning and beauty products.

  11. The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial by Susan E. Goodman– A children’s story, which is based on the true story of Sarah Roberts, a girl who challenged segregation in Boston schools. The story is set in 1847, years before Brown vs. Board of Education. The story does an excellent job of highlighting how Sarah Robert’s case was a precursor to Brown v. Board of Education.

  12. This Is The Rope: A Story from the Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson- A children’s story about the great migration. It highlights the travel of the author’s family from the American south to the north.

  13. White Like Her by Gail Lukasik – A true story about the author’s mother, who passed for white. The author grew up believing her mother was white. While researching her family’s history, she discovers that her mother was actually of an African-American background. The author goes on a journey of self-discovery and traces her family history.

Healthful Eating Journey|Weight Loss Tricks That Have Worked For Me

A photo of healthy smoothie with colorful fruits and vegetables

I’ve been seeing a nutritionist for 1.5 years and I’ve lost 46 pounds. I haven’t been counting calories or points. I’ve just made small changes that I have been able to sustain.  It’s been a slow and steady journey.

In a stressful world, a critical aspect of protecting and fortifying yourself is eating healthy. Part of living a lovely life is prioritizing and taking care of ourselves. I will be taking you with me on my healthful journey, as I strive to document my strategies and lessons learned for living a lovely life.

Eating healthy isn’t easy for everyone, especially if you live in a food desert. I don’t have to tell you the inequities that make healthful eating more difficult for some. Some people who don’t have access to healthy food are being disproportionately plagued by diseases like obesity, hypertension, and Type 2 diabetes. Some studies posit that there is a connection between the prevalence of these diseases, including obesity, and the stress of racism by the way. In the past, I’ve struggled with mild PCOS, but eating healthy has eliminated my symptoms almost entirely. I hope to share practical and affordable changes that I’ve made to be more healthy.

For me, developing healthy eating habits makes my life a bit lovelier, so here are the top things that I have learned so far.

My Lessons Learned So far…

  1. Having a good nutritionist is essential. Diets didn’t work for me, but small changes have helped me lose weight.
  2. I had to make sure to choose a nutritionist who is going to help me, not judge me.
    • For example, I love “soul food.” I made sure to select a nutritionist who was going to show me how to modify the foods I love so that they were healthier, not forbid them entirely. Simple swaps I’ve made in recipes include: using sugar-free substitutes when possible, using whole grain rice or quinoa and using low sodium chicken broth. There are some great healthy soul food cookbooks. 
  3. I had to develop a healthy routine for RELAXING. After a long day at work, my habit used to be to sit in front of a screen and eat as much as I could, then I’d snack the rest of the evening just to relax more. This is mindless eating. Now, I sit down at the table with some relaxing music and real dishes. After dinner, I de-stress by having a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea and I do a simple craft, read or listen to soothing music. I also use adult coloring books. I try to minimize social media.
  4. I do simple exercises. I am not a gym goer. I don’t like having to master complex moves to get a workout or spend unnecessary money, but I will…  powerwalk or stroll for 30 minutes to an hour.  I will take the stairs. I will do ten minutes of exercise in the morning. Adopting these simple activities into my life has been very beneficial to my health. Tip: Using a pedometer is very helpful. Smartphones have an app and you can get pedometers for fairly reasonable prices online. You don’t have to do a Fitbit.
  5. I fill half my plate with leafy vegetables. This satiates me and keeps me from overeating.
  6. I fill a quarter of my plate with lean proteins, like grilled chicken breasts or fish.
  7. I eat more sweet potatoes. A quarter of my plate is reserved for healthy starches and sweet potatoes are my go to. They are delicious and since I have a sweet tooth, they satisfy that craving. They are also healthy.
  8. I aim to drink half of my body weight in ounces of water daily. I carry a 32 oz. (BPA free) water bottle to work and drink water at every meal.
  9. I use portion control. I try to measure out portions using the hand method. For example, the front of your balled-up fist is a serving of pasta. The size of your palm is a serving of meat. There are also great tools that can help portion food on your plate. 
  10. Use your spirituality. If you are religious or spiritual, incorporate your spirituality into your journey. I try to pray about my health journey. If you don’t pray, perhaps meditate or just take time for yourself.

  My goal is to lose 15 to 20 pounds more and I’ll be within a healthy body weight range.

I have incorporated these changes gradually into my lifestyle. During the holidays, I did get a bit sidetracked, but I will do a post in the future about tackling holiday eating.  

So what is on the menu for me this week? 

Breakfast: 1 slice whole wheat bread with peanut butter and a boiled egg.

OR

A healthy chocolate smoothie (with spinach, black beans, and fruit). It tastes better than it sounds and I will be sharing my recipe soon.

Lunch: Salad with turkey or a smoothie and an apple.

Snack: Almonds and a piece of fruit

Dinner Menus:

For me, being healthy in a world where Black women are regularly pushed to the limit is a powerful tool for living a lovely life.