Do Better, Google.

News of Nia Wilson ripped across my Twitter. While scrolling through the #Sayhername and #YouOKsis hashtag, I saw this…

I recognized Nia Wilson. But who were the others mentioned in the tweet? I began to Google and learned about the brutal killings of 4 other black women killed within the same week as Nia Wilson.

LaTonya Richards was found murdered in her car, with a gunshot to the head. Authorities believe it was the result of a domestic dispute.

MeShon Cooper was murdered by a sick white supremacist. Family members apparently “weren’t surprised” to hear he did it.

Kishana Harley — a mother of four and social activist — was found brutally murdered in her Richmond, CA apartment.

But when I searched Google for news stories on Sasha Garden, I couldn’t find anything. When I tried searching for Sasha Garden, I got a hodgepodge of search results; including footage from an electronic music show and the FB page of a Sims-like cottage in Kenya. How is it that Google’s spiders were lagging so hard that they failed to serve me information about what should be a major news story.

Google deploys spiders out into the ether to “crawl” (essentially, scan the contents of) websites, determine how valuable the information on each page is, and display that information on the search results page. How was Google not deeming information about this recent murder case important or relevant to my search? Why was some random EDM show taking precedence in the search results?

I typed in Sasha Garden again.

I scrolled to find the murder story I was looking for. No results on the first page.

I switched to the news results tab. Nothing related.

I finally wrote Sasha Garden as “Sasha Garden” with quotations around the words to emphasize I was looking for news about this name. Finally, the stories appeared and I could read what I had come to Google for.

We throw shade at the media for their lack of reporting on the murder of black women. And we should. But when faced with this chicken-or-egg problem, why stop with the media? We need our browsers to step up and start informing just as much as we expect the news to.

I want Google to take responsibility for informing the public just as much as any other news outlet. Google, #SayHerName.

#SayHerName: Nia Wilson

Exactly 3 miles from where I sit right now, less than 48 hours ago. Outside your front door; outside mine. While we were comfortably kicking off our shoes, watching Netflix, listening to a podcast while cooking dinner at day’s end —

— Murder.

Nia Wilson was riding on BART with her sister when she was stabbed to the point of death. Nia, a young, black woman; the murderer, white male. Another black woman’s life sliding too silently underneath society’s dark, dirty blanket. Her death will be quiet, as news outlets won’t splash her name across headlines as they do others…Justine, Heather, Laci. It’s a phenomena and it is silent, but it is frequent. This incident is not an anomaly.

@FeministaJones collected the stories of 4 black women killed in the past 7 days as a result of senseless violence. Of those…

  • 27-year-old Sasha Garden murdered in Florida. Her body was found wounded and abandoned at 5am. I had to try multiple Google searches to locate this story. What does that say about how local authorities investigate the murder or how society treats her death, when I have to do multiple Google searches and even use ” ” to find out about what happened to Sasha Garden?
  • LaTonya Michelle Richards found with a head gunshot wound in a car. Authorities believe it was the result of a domestic dispute. Murdered cold-blooded by a man who at one point presumably loved her.

How many more innocent lives need to be lost to rally us to action? How much community pain will it take for us to force our eyes open?

Take action:

Do I Belong in the Body Positive Community?

In the body positivity world, I often hear self love adages like “love your cellulite” and “eat what you want.”  I love these and have since added my own affirmations to the list:

  • Eat what feels good (like pizza for breakfast!).
  • Relax and release my stomach, taking up the space I deserve.
  • Release food from being the enemy; instead thank it for nourishing me.

I love these affirmations and strive to live by them every day. But these sayings are dominant in the bopo community, while other things I enjoy feel wrong to mention — outlier affirmations I haven’t found space for.

These are happy-moment tickets like:

  • Splurge on the pre-made salad: I love it plus it spares me from cooking.
  • Be bold and beat yesterday’s spin class PR.
  • Get curious around recipes, replacing applesauce for eggs and almond flour for all-purpose, to make them more filling and satisfying.

I love vegetables, I love my dairy-free zucchini bread, and I love to sweat. But I also love my stomach rolls (#feedthepooch!) and am a student of intuitive eating (eating as I please, without assigning value to foods).

So where do these pleasures fall? Are they invisible peripheral dwellers that no one talks about? Or worse, are they outside of the body positivity world and counter-productive to its efforts?

I have chosen to make them a part of my body positive world. I shout for inclusion of these happy-moment tickets and simultaneously make sure I’m shouting loud for inclusion of all bodies: for mine, for a friend’s, for the oppressed’s, and for the underrepresented’s. There is no difference or value attributed to eating a salad versus eating a cake, just like there are no good bodies and no bad bodies.

I refuse to think I need to act, eat, or be a certain way to join the body positivity movement. In my opinion, doing so would degrade the body positivity movement to match the dangerous exclusivity of today’s whitewashed “wellness” clique (where anyone who doesn’t juice cleanse and can’t meditate for 30 minutes on a white sand beach need not apply).

Body positivity does not mean I change what I genuinely enjoy: it means loving myself regardless of size, shouting loudly in support of all bodies, and creating more spaces where bodies can be loved, not judged.

Things That Makes Me Feel Good (Like This Dairy-Free Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe)

You know what makes me feel good? Blasting Bomba Estereo and dancing in the sun rays. Sweating until my lungs fling wide open. Loving my body and loving my pooch. Sitting on my couch and just staring at my awesome home. Eating and totally savoring good food.

dairy-free chocolate zucchini bread loaf

There is something special about eating good food. There’s this amazing Chicago style pizza place near my apartment. Every time I eat there I feel so good. When I go, I’ll still order the large to make sure there’s extra for 2 breakfasts’ worth. Because when I eat herbed tomato and feta cheese baked inside a cornmeal pie in the AM after a workout, I feel ultranourished. My taste buds light up, my stomach is sooo satisfied, and my brain is honored with how well I’ve decided to treat my body that morning.

My friends and family laugh when I explain how good Chicago style pizza makes me feel in the morning: how can a heavy piece of pizza for breakfast make you feel good?? IMO diet culture has succeeded in replacing critical thinking with knee-jerk judgements. Like when my body craves a bag of potato chips and the first accompanying thought is, you’re a pig worthless. Or when I eat a burrito and a cookie for lunch and a mocha a few hours later and then tell a friend “I was so bad today.”  So when I tell a friend how much I love pizza for breakfast, diet culture invades his brain, then he looks at me like I’m crazy, and then he waits for the punchline that never comes.

chocolate icing on dairy-free chocolate zucchini bread loa

Luckily I realized a long time ago that I write the rules of my life and no one really cares what I do or don’t put into my body. All this to say, find out what food makes you feel good and eat it. Be patient throughout this discovery process. And try this chocolate zucchini bread recipe below to start.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1+1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk vanilla yogurt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1+1/2 cup shredded zucchini*
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly smear an 11″x8″ pan with canola oil (oh, you have cooking spray? oooo girl you fancy.).

Mix the 2 flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

dairy-free chocolate zucchini bread loaf

Whisk (or beat aggressively with a fork) together the applesauce, sugar, yogurt, oil, and extract in a medium bowl. Add zucchini and 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Once well blended, slowly add batter to dry mixture, being careful not to overwork. Spread into lightly greased pan and pop into oven for 30 minutes. When finished, a knife show come out clean (minus for any melted chocolate! yum!). Remove from oven and, if desired, top with the remaining cup of chocolate chips. Let them sit and melt for a minute, then smooth them over the top of the loaf with a spatula using light pressure so as not to deflate the warm bread.

 

Cool completely before cutting then enjoy! I recommend saving it on the countertop so the insides don’t get mushy in the fridge. Pre-portion it out to throw in your work or gym bag for a yummy, well-deserved snack that’s as good as breakfast pizza!

*If you have a poorly stocked kitchen like me, use a potato peeler to skin the zucchini then peel it into long strips. After, chop the strips into smaller pieces and wala! shredded zucchini!

 

Wellness To Me: Taking Action Against Body Shaming

“Why is she so BIG?” I was watching a movie with Woman X. As Actress Y entered stage left, those were the words that left her mouth. Instead of laughing at Actress Y’s entering line, commenting on the  or even…I don’t know…paying attention to the movie whatsoever, Woman X decided to stop all things to comment on Actress Y’s weight in a judgmental and shocking tone. The moment suddenly became mine: the camera slow-panned from Woman X to me and zoomed in on my face. I owned the stage and had three very obvious options: do nothing and let the moment awkwardly pass, react angrily, or confront the situation calmly. I chose option 1 and the evening proceeded without interruption.

Fast forward 2 years to present day. Woman X and I are out to dinner when she tells me that a family gathering the last weekend was awkward. Why, I ask? Because they’re all so BIG. They must eat soo much, she tells me, as she takes another bite of salad and I’m digging into my taco. Oh how the universe was testing me.

taco dinner with friends

In a previous life, I would have chosen inaction. But then again, in a previous life I felt  comfortable and blissfully complacent. In between then and now, my eyes have opened and my courage has grown out of necessity. I no longer feel comfortable accepting my surroundings as they are. And I’ve realized that as hard as it is to confront friends with differing opinions, that’s where change happens. So I started a conversation with Woman X. It was an awkward redirection of the conversation: the tone changed from light and flippant to interrogative and constructive. There was no avoiding it. But Woman X is a rational woman and, although I don’t believe she fully agreed with my take on her words, I planted a seed. I have no doubt that it will live inside her for a long time and serve as a reminder next time she thinks about body shaming as I way to define a human being.

Wellness Today: Women! Stop Saying “Sorry”

I consider myself a feminist. I consider myself a strong woman. I consider myself a person who has learned to not let others trample on her. That’s why a piece of feedback from a colleague today really shook me. It was one of the most intentional pieces of feedback I’ve ever received: she had obviously thought about the phrasing of it. Stop apologizing for setbacks or issues, especially those that are out of your control, she wrote. I thought of all the times I had probably apologized when aspects of our project didn’t work out. I can’t specifically recall having apologized, but I believe it.

Around friends, I am more aware. Around likeminded women, I keep my “sorry’s” to myself. But put me in a room where I am out of my element and likely intimidated, and I begin to apologize.

women stop apologizing at work notes

It has been debated whether encouraging women to stop apologizing is actually shameful in and of itself. Although there is a linguistic argument, I think the most personally compelling part of this argument is that setting parameters around what women should and should not say is stifling. That said, I am still of the mindset that I need to stop apologizing.

When I apologize, others just hear an “I’m sorry.” Whether or not I register as inferior to them at that moment is not the issue. The real issue with apologizing without warrant is that it constructs the belief that I am inferior: that I have failed and I was not worthy of the challenge presented. With every apology, I carve the belief that I am less-than deeper within my psyche.

The real issue with apologizing without warrant is that it constructs the belief that I am inferior: that I have failed and I was not worthy of the challenge presented.

I don’t want to doubt my badass self. I don’t want to wake up one morning realizing I’ve apologized myself into a self-deprecating, self-depreciating hole. If I’ve learned one thing on this journey of reinterpreting wellness, it’s that wellness wholly depends on self worth. I won’t shame myself when I apologize, but I will be intentional about categorizing impersonal changes/issues/setbacks as just that — and not accrue the blame myself by implementing the s-word.

Eat Your Oats

overnight oats with berries

This morning at 5:30am I found myself awake and deeply regretting the pizza I ate last night. Usually, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal but this morning I had to get to spin and could not move due to the stone in my stomach. You think I’d learn by this point that dairy is not my friend but I still go for it, when given the option. Throughout spin, I was very aware of my unhappy stomach which made it hard to push through to tempo. But I love these classes so much so even in my stomach’s angst, I had a good time.

By breakfast, I could still feel that damn pizza and was not feeling breakfast. Regardless, I wolfed down my magical overnight oats. I’m very aware of how good and satisfied a bowl of oats leaves me feeling all day. Gotta stick to the plan, even if I veer off path for a dinner. or two.

These overnight oats are so easy and delicious. I love making things that just require me to take them out of the fridge and plate when hungry. I eat a bowl, refill the same container with enough ingredients for the next day’s breakfast, and repeat throughout the week. I feel so satisfied and energetic on the days I start my mornings with overnight oats: I’m less prone to snack and have energy for my lunchtime swim.

IMG_0221

IMG_0222

Very Berry Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup frozen berries
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk (you could make it unsweetened or you could #treatyourself and get the real delicious deal)

Contents will be liquidy. Stir until it’s all mixed together. Put in the fridge overnight (or for at least 2 hours). The next morning, I like to take mine out about an hour before I eat it. Usually, this will be before my morning workout class. By the time I come home, it’s warmed up a little so it’s still cold — just closer to room temperature.