Wakanda Forever and a Hope for Embracing Culture

With the passing of Chadwick Boseman on Friday, I was thinking about how much I loved the Black Panther movie and I wanted to share some thoughts.

Black Panther is my absolute favorite, and in my opinion, the best, Marvel movie that has come out thus far.

There are so many reasons why it’s such a great film and deserved the recognition it received.

The majority black cast. How the story connected to the anti-black problems in the world. It’s depiction of smart and strong black women. Plus, to my writing pleasure, the crafting of the story itself.

But one of my most favorite things is the incorporation of African culture in the film.

It’s an amazing depiction of how rich, detailed and colorful African culture is that brings an added element to the film and Black Panther’s character that’s not shown in other Marvel movies.

I love how even though Wakanda is a technologically advanced city, it still has ties to the African culture through it’s traditions, dress and language.

It makes me wish that the United States honored all the cultures that we have a little more and that we don’t have to wait for the capitalist/consumerism culture we live in to tell us when certain ethnic styles are “in”.

Like, when will it not be jarring for people of color to embrace their cultural traditions in the way they dress, no matter what position they hold in their career?

Because let’s face it, we are not all there yet. Black, Latin, Asian, etc. cultures still get scrutinized in mainstream media. Why can it just be normal and not a statement?

Anyway, I just loved how Black Panther embraced it all and didn’t water down the culture aspect to appease white viewers . (We all know that’s the demographic that gets considered and is worried about the most when a film or show gets created that doesn’t feature a white person as a main character.)

What did you like about Black Panther? Are you still excited to see Black Panther 2?

The Loveland Foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls. If you can, donate here.

Diving into Tarot Reading

About a month ago, my sister and I started learning how to read tarot cards!

We were discussing it here and there and I remember listing to a podcast about daily tarot reading for self-improvement. (The podcast is called By the Book. The hosts read a self-help book and live it for two weeks, then come back and talk about their experiences.)

Then we decided to make the plunge and buy a tarot deck.

My sister bought one for me and I bought one for her. There’s a superstition that you shouldn’t buy your own first tarot deck, but there are other claims that you should. We just decided to gift each other one.

It’s been really interesting getting to know tarot. I think common perception of it is that it only tells you about your future. But after reading meanings of cards and doing a few of my own spreads, tarot is more like bringing out self awareness, a new way at thinking about a situation, or something to be aware of or open to as you go along your day/project/adventure.

At times, it can be eerily accurate, showing me what’s exactly on my mind. Sometimes it feels a little harder understanding what it’s telling me, but that will come with time of learning the meanings of each card and looking at the big picture of the spread.

I’ve learned to not ever expect the cards to tell me what to do about something. In the end, it will all come down to my choice. But they can serve as a form of encouragement or warning.

In the podcast episode I listened to about tarot reading as self improvement, they used it as something to meditate on or reflect on throughout the day. After pulling a card, you can journal on what the meaning means to you for that day.

I like to take that approach to my tarot reading, and to do it on a new moon to see how I should approach the next month.

It’s also fun to do love spreads and career spreads, just to see what you could learn about yourself.

Another fun thing about tarot is the decks is you can buy a traditional deck if you like, but there are more creative ones out there.

My sister gave me the Star Spinner Tarot deck. It has a very whimsical, fairy tale vibe to it, which I love. The cup suit tells the story of The Little Mermaid! Also, it comes with 4 lovers cards, and you pick the one that resonates with you to use in the deck.

Hooray for gay representation! I picked the one on the far left.

The one I bought for my sister is the Modern Witch Tarot deck. This one is so cool. The imagery on each card looks like more traditional decks, but it depicts all women.

Badass!! The Magician, Emperor, Hierophant and Chariot cards usually depict men.

These decks also come with their own guidebook, but I also like to go on Biddytarot.com to look up their deeper meanings.

Has anyone else started an unconventional hobby this summer? Or perhaps you’re experienced at tarot?! What has reading the cards brought you?

Journal Excerpt: July 26, 2020


I want to take the rest of quarantine (or the year, whichever ends first) to truly focus on myself and being comfortable with where I’m at, but also working on self development. I want to get back to focusing on my goals and being aware of when I’m feeling confident (and bask in it) and when I don’t (so I can bring it out). I want to appreciate everything I’ve done for myself and how I’ve grown. I want to be more excited about what’s to come in life, rather than nervous or disappointed that I’m not at a certain place yet. I already know that I have a lot to be grateful for and that’s more than enough to realize I am amazing and I should be confident and I deserve compassion and love from myself.

How to Acknowledge Privilege

I am a 28 year old Latina. I’ve never experienced overt racism or systemic racism but I have experienced micro aggressions. I consider myself privileged. Here’s why:

I grew up in a good neighborhood, had access to good schools, and was brought up and supported by two parents. My parents were able to afford private catholic school for me for grades K-8. I had the option to choose which high school I wanted to go to: another private high school or the local public school. It didn’t matter which one I chose, I would get a good education. I was then able to go to college to get a B.A. and an M.F.A without being bogged down by student debt. My parents graciously paid for my undergraduate education and helped me pay for my masters. I have a job and I get to keep every dollar that I make. I live with my parents, rent free, without having to be a burden on them (I do pay for most of my own expenses). This is allowing me to grow my own wealth. One day, when both of my parents pass, I will inherit their wealth and their property. This will allow me (and my sister) to one day pass this wealth onto our descendants, if we choose to have them.

Of course, I am able to have all this because I worked hard and, more notably, my parents worked hard.

However, I can’t help but think how my life would have been if I, or my parents, or even my grandparents, didn’t make the decisions we made. Or simply didn’t have choices at all.

My mom immigrated into this country when she was only 7. She didn’t speak a word of English and had to work ten times harder so that she could get the lesson and learn English – without the help of her parents. My grandpa worked himself to death in order for his children to go to a private catholic school and college. My grandma was the one who insisted they moved to the U.S. in the first place, because she knew that was how they would have a better life.

I know I wouldn’t be here today if my mom’s family hadn’t moved. I know I wouldn’t be here if my mom didn’t make the “right” decisions and was determined to make a better life for herself.

My dad was born here, but his dad never finished high school. At the beginning of my dad’s high school career, my grandpa sat him down and told him that it was important to finish high school. My dad not only wanted to graduate from high school, but also wanted to go to college.

And he did. And he was able to get a job soon after graduation. That job turned into a 37 year career.

I know I wouldn’t be here today if my dad didn’t set his sights higher than high school (especially since college is where my parents met). But I also know I wouldn’t be here if my dad didn’t make the “right” decisions.

I keep saying “right” decisions, because that’s how we validate the American Dream in this country. If you make all the “right” decisions, then you can make it, you can be successful, have a comfortable life.

But remember, my parents are Hispanic as well. What if, because of their race and/or gender, something happened to them or they ended up in a different situation that prevented them from having access to choices in the first place?

What if my dad was incarcerated? Let’s just say, for a crime he didn’t commit (because that happens a lot to Black and brown men). If this happened at any point in his life, with me already in it or not, no doubt it would have lasting effects.

What if my mom had an unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock? Would she have support from her family? I’d like to think so, but I’m not sure. Would there be a father figure? I don’t know. But I do know that her life would have been very different. I do know that being a single mother or having kids too young brings an onslaught of judgement by society. And she would have gotten that for just being a woman. It adds another layer with her being Mexican.

I’m not so detached from realizing I have privilege because my mom and my grandparents are immigrants. I know that everything I have is because of them and what they did. But I also know that my life would be very different if I didn’t have choices available to me.

While you may dismiss this as just hard work and pulling yourself up from your bootstraps, we could have easily ended up in a spot where we didn’t have opportunities, didn’t have the “right” choices, didn’t have those bootstraps. Because of where we come from and our skin color, everything could have been taken from us.

I encourage you to think deep about the privilege that you have. What has made your life easier than others? What choices were you given so that you could have the life you do now? Keep in mind not everyone has access to that.

So what does one do with the newly realized privilege that they have? You use it to help others that don’t have access to opportunities like you do. Advocate for change that supports the those in need. Donate to charities that support those on the outskirts of society.

This is how we make wealth truly grow in America. What could our country look life if everyone had choices?

The Play Equity Fund is dedicated to supporting programs and actions to ensure all kids have equal access to sport and structured play.”

Everyone knows sports is a great way to get kids active and for them to learn discipline, while keeping them busy and off the streets. Poorer families are less likely to participate in sports, as it can be expensive, as well as for other reasons. Please donate what you can.

This fund is based in L.A. but I encourage you to find one similar in your area.