Category Archives: Commonplace Book

Gender Neutral Bathrooms

This sign is posted outside of one the gender-neutral restrooms on American University’s Campus. The sign reads in the second paragraph, “Sharing  a bathroom could feel new and different, but we appreciate everyone helping to make this restroom inclusive to everyone.” this statement is American University acknowledging the people that are going to be bothered by beneficial efforts such as this one, but at the same time its a statement that is firm and to the point about the necessary to be inclusive. This paragraph cordially and professionally leaves no room for dispute about this being a gender-neutral restroom; yet,  there’s no number or email provided for people to contact Housing and Dining to voice their complaints  and I appreciate that. Im proud of American University to making this change to the campus and Im proud they choose to take a stance rather than playing “the middle man” in a topic such as this.

The presence of gender-neutral restrooms is a fairly new addition to a few big name public spaces such as Target stores and Google offices. It is no surprised that American University, being a liberal college has headed in the direction of being more progressive in regards to gender, thus including gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. In today’s world we are living in a society where identity in gender is increasingly more fluid and young people on college campuses are becoming more expressive. Im glad American University is making a step in this direction to a greater acceptance of all people and I look forward to the continuing of efforts made by the university to uphold the standards of inclusion and acceptance that they promote and advertise to the public.

The Power of She

***All images featured are from Google.com***

Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty is a FASHION ICON. She’s a world renown pop-star, singer, songwriter, philanthropist and CEO but she’s made the fashion world her playground within the past few years and the image above is the most recent photo of Rihanna circling the internet. Its not the ensemble that Rihanna adorn at Coachella 2017 that has the internet in a frenzy (again) but its her nipples that has people talking…..yes her nipples. Rihanna is notorious for her cutting edge style and unique taste but more she has a lot of critics for the way she chooses to expose he nipples in nearly almost every outfit she wears. Why its such a big deal? I have no clue. I’ve never understood why people are so outraged over a human body part as simplistic as a nipple when it comes to women but yet men expose their nipples all the time. Male nipples are commonplace and female nipples are some how made out to be taboo…..Rihanna has clearly rejected this social norm with her stylistic choices over the years. Whether its been another televised award show, editorial photoshoot, her own “Work” music video, a music festival, or just a causal outing, Rihanna has no problem “freeing” the nipples and remaining carefree about who doesn’t approve of it. She’s been such a trailblazer in contemporary fashion, a trendsetter in pop-culture, and a icon in the entertainment industry over the years, all while challenging social standards and gender norms/expectations of the female human body simply through the way she dresses. Seeing these images of Rihanna and even how comfortable she is with herself and choosing to wear what it is she likes despite the misogynistic, hateful, comments she receives is extremely empowering for me to see as a young woman. 

Self Celebration

This image was on my Tumblr page and its something I’ve thought about so many times and its been a reoccurring thought as of lately. We as students spend so many years in school and some more than others if we attend college and/or graduate schools. We pay full tuition, some of us collect large amounts of debt, some of us work two and three jobs all to take classes that are supposed to make us “successful” or contribute to our success  in some way or another. With that being the case, Ive noticed that there are little to know undergraduate classes offered that teach us the art of loving one self…..thats unacceptable in my book. In my mind, I could be the richest, most famous, most educated, most successful woman in the world  but that doesn’t mean a thing if I don’t know how to love myself. Its a shame too because some many young people growing up struggle with anxiety, depression, emotional disorders that stem from lack of self celebration and self love.

A lot of people would argue that teaching of self love isn’t the responsibilities of our school system, or a duty of public education systems but I disagree because if its not, our society and we as a human race are going to crash and burn. We’re going to have more and more people hurting themselves and hurting others, plenty of young, bright, smart, beautiful people getting in their own way because they never learned how to love themselves honestly. Growing up Self celebration is something that I had to teach myself, no one in my life told me it was “cool”, heck a necessity in fact, to love myself. Two things that saved me from a lot of darkness, God and the power of self celebration, because at the end of the day I know that even if it feels like all is wrong in the world, God loves me and I love me, and that is enough. That is why Im still here.

Now I Do What I Want…or What They Want

Pop Culture is probably one of the most powerful forces that society has. Im not a fan of Jordans, never had a desire to own a pair and I can say that I’m not too invested in Russell Westbrook as a fan, but how come after watching this commercial, not only did i want these sneakers, I actively went online shopping to try an purchase them; it wasn’t until I actually stopped myself and thought about if I genuinely wanted them. I was astounded that a commercial took me this far to find the sneakers in my size and put them in a shopping cart, but when I look at the situation in hindsight, I can’t say Im surprised with my own behavior as a 20 year old influence heavily by pop culture. First of all, I love the song playing in the video, its call “Do What I Want” by one if my favorite rappers of all time, Lil Uzi Vert; secondly, everyone dancing in this video is doing  a dance move that hit the internet and went  viral, its called the Hit Dem Folk.  Once this dance move caught on it resulted in people all around the world posting on social media the Hit Dem Folks Challenge. Thirdly, the commercial is starring one of the biggest athletes in basketball at the moment, Westbrook has fan near and far, nationally and internationally, He’s appeared on the most popular magazine covers, biggest red carpet events and has over 4 million followers on Twitter.

These three aspect alone, a popular and current person in music along with a viral internet dance challenge, starring an incredibly relevant athlete were all things  familiar enough to me and influential enough nearly lead me to buy something I wasn’t even interested in purchasing and wouldn’t ever have purchased ordinarily; I didn’t even realize what the commercial was selling until the very end when it was about to go off and I saw “Westbrook .2” with the Air Jordan symbol on the screen. Its crazy how 60 seconds can completely change ones whole outlook on something they’re fairly certain about before seeing this commercial, i.e. my dislike for Jordan Basketball sneakers. I still might go out and by me a pair of the Westbrook .2’s and the world will keep spinning but if its that easy I think about how easy it is to influence people on purchasing things that mean more than a pair of sneakers. I ask myself, at what point does it change from a culture and a fad, to playing on the influence and persuasion of people and the manipulation of minds?

PINK

https://10301995.tumblr.com/post/150429997430/curtisdondeano-stop-policing-our-masculinity

“Its a beautiful world and be apart of what keeps the beauty. Don’t be the ugly part. Nobody remembers the ugly part.”

I’ve watched this clip more times than I can count; its incredibly emboldening in my eyes. Im so proud of Curtis and I don’t even know him personally; but what I do know is that he’s from Baltimore, an area where black men are constantly being challenged on their masculinity and adhering to masculine  gender stereotypes are a matter of life or death and he’s walking around in all pink with flowers on his shoes and balloons. Like he said in the video…..pink use to be a “masculine” color anyway. The fact that society decided to assign gender and gender roles to nearly everything in the world to include colors is insane to me. Especially given the fact that there aren’t just two genders as many people would think, its a spectrum and everyone can be gender fluid at some point or another.

Our society has always been ridiculously harsh about what it means to be feminine and what it means to be masculine and Curtis constantly puts our content on his Tumblr page that challenges these ideas. He’s comfortable in his own energy and in his own body and that in itself is inspiring to me. We are all loved parts of this universe so I agree with him when he says to be apart of what keeps the beauty, thats what matters most.

 

 

COMMON sense

” You have a Creator that loves you; a Creator that will always provide for you. Keep your eyes on the prize and your faith high.”

Photo by Marguerite Tucker, Shotbyencore.com

These are the words of wisdom that stuck with me the most from Common’s address to American University last night. I was lucky enough to photograph the event as press. I’ve photographed many “cool” people and celebrities before ( go to shotbyencore.com ) but never have I ever photographed someone this wholesome. Yes, wholesome is the perfect word to describe Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., better known to the word as rapper, filmmaker, actor, and philanthropist Common. His energy is nearly contagious, its rare that you get to meet someone as genuine and as compassionate as him, someone that is comfortable in living their truth, acknowledging where they have fell short, constantly humbled by the presence of God and keeps a level head in the times of challenge. In speaking with him, I saw the goodness in his heart, he smiled with such authenticity and I couldn’t that I was standing their talking to one of my biggest artistic inspirations, I was talking to hip-hop history and culture; he was standing there right in front of me.

Last night, his speech also touched  on having faith in your higher power and your purpose and what exactly that means to each and everyone of us. He spoke about passion, love, dignity and not falling to despair and violence in a time where it may seem likes thats the only thing surrounding us. He talked about his trials and tribulations what it meant for him to leave college after two years, be a black man in America and do something that everyone wanted to do….rap. The thing I understand about Common from being such a fan of his art (music and film wise) he’s not just a rapper, he’s a poet. He does everything  poetically; with such passion, honesty, grace, and determination. It comes out even in his grittiest lyrics, his best love songs, the most complex characters he plays on screen. Wherever life takes me, I hope to do whatever I’m doing with passion, faith, authenticity, and grace; I hope to do it with COMMONsense.

Photo by Marguerite Tucker, Shotbyencore.com

Afros, Stretch Marks, and Hip-Hop

King Kendrick did it again. This video had me shook from a number of standpoints. The videography and graphics were absolutely incredible, this brought the music video together into a phenomenal, entertaining and unique visual for his new single HUMBLE. Additionally, I’m a fan of Kendrick’s irony, despite the fact that the song is titled ‘HUMBLE’ he is dressed as a king the majority of the music video or in some scenes he even depicts himself as Jesus Christ surrounded by the 12 disciples. The part that stood our to me the most was his nod he gave to black women in this video. In one scene he had a heavy-set girl, thats all made up in make up and nice clothes with her hair done. Then he says, “Im so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop. Show me something natural like afro like Richard Pryor. Show me something natural like ass with some stretch marks. Still will take you down right on your mama’s couch”. The girl changes scenes and is shown with a completely bare face, a plain white shirt, and her big natural afro hair; she turns around in her underwear showing the stretch marks all over her thighs and butt. This scene as a young black woman meant a lot to me. Black women are alway berated for their appearance, they’re put down for the way they choose to wear their hair, they’re put down for their body types and complexions. The appearance of a black woman as a whole is under attack daily, from social media, from our classmates, our teachers, our co-workers, and complete strangers. As a black girl that loves to rock her natural fro and has a ton of stretch marks, this video touched me. To hear if from a black man, in hip-hop, it touched me. It didn’t touch me because I’m looking for validation or because i need to felt desired by a man, but it touched me because Kendrick Lamar said what needed to be said so long ago. I’ve been known that my ‘fro is fly and my stretch marks are fierce, Im just so glad he’s getting with the program finally.

Truth

Alex Elle, “Neon Soul”

This poem was written by one of my all time favorite writers, her name is Alex Elle. She is person that inspired me to start my own personal blog and start writing poetry again. This poem is an expert from her book that was just released yesterday, Neon Soul. I find that the older I get the more important truth is to me. I want to interact with people and things and ideas that are very true and very real. Journeying through life with this mindset of lately has brought me a lot of pain but also a lot of joy and growth. In walking in my own truth and light, I am becoming a better me, a better sister, a better daughter, a better lover, a better artist, a better being. The truth can be scary, intimidating, and even confusing but like this poem says its has granted me the utmost freedom and has brought me the most happiness and joy that I’ve felt in a long time. Speaking on more technical terms, her writing style reminds me a lot of Samuel Beckett. The simplicity is what captures me and allows me to stay in the space of what is on the page, her writing and her words. These are the words and the works of art that take me down the deepest rabbit holes of thought and touch my heart and soul; nothing big, nothing fancy and no flashing lights; just truth, thought and passion.

Simplicity and the Art of Failing

Samuel Beckett, Writer

When Samuel Beckett writes, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better” in Worstward Ho! Beckett is saying that in order to achieve progress, we must fail. Looking at this superficially, one may feel as though that this is counterproductive to what it means to progress but in fact it is not because every time we fail we learn something and learning is always in the direction of progress. What Beckett has to say about failure matters because society has put this stigma on the concept of failure as being “bad” or something that is not suppose to happen or that failure should be avoided and this in actuality isn’t the case, we should all try and fail and try again and fail.

Samuel Beckett would use such simple structures in his works, to deliver his point in a focused manner. He’re trying to prove a single point, why is it necessary to add things to the sentences that are just going to take away from this point or cloud his position? The saying is true that sometimes less is more and this structure absolutely affects how we read this. If Samuel Beckett were to use question marks after the first two sentences I think that it would certainly grab the reader’s attention but it would also leave the reader to answer the questions in their head about if they’ve ever tried and if they’ve ever failed. Answering of these questions in one’s own head is leading the reader to be caught up in his or her own thoughts of these memories rather that focusing and continue reading Beckett’s point which is what having a period mark forces one to do; same thing with an exclamation point it almost doesn’t leave any room for the reader to mentally “wander off” in his or her own thoughts. For these reasons, I think the simple structure that Samuel Beckett uses to deliver his point is highly effective.

HOME: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

 

I remember just like it was yesterday how damn good it felt to be home. Or at least what what like home to me. I took this picture standing in the ocean in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. The journey to Providenciales became quite a soul searching journey for me. A lot of terrible things happened to me when I was on the island and a lot of beautiful and spectacular things happened to me while I was on the island. Despite the good, bad and in between I got so much closer to finding out whom I truly was and who I am meant to be. I have always been proud of being black, my racial identity is something I’ve held very close to my heart and cared very much about, On the other hand, I like many other black people in America do not know my ethnicity due to the history of slavery. I could be Jamaican, Somali, Sudanese, Nigerian, Trinidadian, Native, Guyanese, Cuban, Malian, etc. but me and my ancestors were robbed of that knowledge after my people were sold into slavery. So rather than being proud to represent my ethnic heritage, I was left with the choice to be proud of my racial identity, that was socially constructed by the white man and when people ask me what I am I simply respond….. ”I am black” not because Im trying to be secretive or curt but simply  because that is all that I know.

Due to this dilemma, my sister and I chose to do some research on our family history as much as we possibly could and it led us to this beautiful, stunning, miraculous place of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. We found that more than likely, this is the place of our ethnic heritage and background. Given my last name “Tucker” which in itself is a slave name, most of the people sold into slavery and sent to North Carolina were from the Turks and Caicos Islands with the last name “Tucker” which why everyone on the Island thought that my sister and I were locals. Besides that evidence of the last name, my sister and I physically looked like all of the Islanders, the women had small, muscular frames with beautiful dark skin. The men looked just like my father, tall, broad shoulders, large eyes, strong cheekbones and dark skin. Although never having been to this place, it was ridiculously familiar to me, the people, the music, the food, the dress, the slang, everything just felt like I was suppose to be here and it was only a return rather than a visit.

When I look at this picture, I can still tasted the fresh Conch that Skylar and I would go diving in the ocean for and pull out of the water to eat raw. When I look at this picture I still remember dancing my heart out at the junkanoo every Thursday night with the island calypso and soca music and waking up to the sun hitting my face early mornings, when I look at this picture I am reminded that Providenciales, Turks and Caicos is HOME.