White People Don’t Appropriate Juneteenth, Please

We are one week out from Juneteenth. Many Americans have no idea what Juneteenth is, let alone it being one of the oldest NATIONAL holidays in the country. I asked 10 white people from my area, Indiana, only 2 knew or heard about it. With the president about to politicize Tulsa and Juneteenth, soon the whole country will know about the holiday and the horrific events that took place in Tulsa 99 years ago. However, that is another topic for another day. This post is regarding cultural appropriation and how to appropriately recognize Juneteenth.

White people, I am speaking (writing) to you… urging you, no- begging you, no- imploring you… do not make this holiday about you. Do not accessorize and appropriate black culture to feel or be ‘woke’.   It is very easy to appropriate ones culture and I, unfortunately, am guilty of the fact. Nearly everyone is. However, I am very fortunate to have been involved in deep/serious/sobering conversations. I am fortunate to live and grow in West Africa. I am continuing to learn the history of my white forefathers and the terror they caused and atrocities they committed; still being felt today both on the African Continent and in the US. Ok, ok, ok let me back up and explain Juneteenth.

A little history…

The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1st, 1863, but many ‘western’ states didn’t hear about it (so they say) and/or refused to acknowledge the freedom of slaves. It wasn’t until two and a half years later, read: 2.5 YEARS of opposition to the law, on June 18th 1865, Union Soldiers, rode into Galveston, Texas and enforced the rule of law. Why, did it take so long? Your guess is as good as mine. From the Juneteenth website:

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another is that the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations deliberately withheld the news. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.

Being one of the oldest holidays, why isn’t it posted and advertised everywhere? Why don’t we see supermarkets, alcohol, and sports teams trumpet and paste it all over? 4th of July sales basically go up after Labor Day, why are there not Juneteenth sales to go alongside?

Since Juneteenth is so close to 4th of July, I believe the US does what it does best. First it appropriates tradition, before stealing and erasing the founder from history. Finally, they proclaims it as theirs. For example, BBQ is known as a staple of the South especially in Texas. One wonders how the influence of Juneteenth played into this, especially during 4th of July.

Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors – the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations.

Now that we know about Juneteenth and its history, how can we as white allies recognize/celebrate it properly? First, we need to know what is cultural appropriation.

Cambridge Dictionary defines cultural appropriation as “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.  Or this quote from Julianne Escobedo Shepherd: “Privileged people want to borrow the ‘cool’ of disenfranchised people of color, but don’t have to face any of the discrimination that accompanies it”.

Okay, what does this mean?

White people have been appropriating cultures for generations both knowing and unknowing of the negative effects that comes with it. Cultural appropriation has deep roots related to racism with the most infamous being black face. Other examples of racist appropriation are dressing up as a Native-American, wearing weaves/plaiting hair for ‘fashion’, or any major sports team that displays a Native-American as their mascot. For a deeper look into cultural appropriation, how to avoid it, and celebrities who have participated in it, click here.

Let’s take a look deeper into some of the most appropriated looks:

Starting with one of the most racist forms of cultural appropriation: blackface. I do not think that I need to explain why this is abhorrent, but here is a link if you want to learn.

Next up: Wearing a sombrero/mustache on Cinco de Mayo:

Think back on the last Cinco de Mayo you celebrated and how many people donned a sombrero and/or a mustache? Within this group of people ask yourself: How many know the history of Cinco de Mayo? How many of the people donning sombrero’s and fake mustaches have racist ideas regarding first generation Mexican immigrants and other Hispanic Americans?

Let us refer back to the above quote: “Privileged people want to borrow the ‘cool’ of disenfranchised people of color, but don’t have to face any of the discrimination that accompanies it.” Hispanics are one of the most disenfranchised people in the US. The sombrero is used to shield the face and neck from the intense southern sun. Again, it is not a hat to be glorified and used as a prop on certain occasions by people who do not have to figuratively and literally wear the weight of the hat on a daily basis.

Dressing-up as a Native-American especially wearing a headdress… Thanksgiving/Halloween I am looking at you!

Our ancestors slaughtered and looted millions of native-Americans calling them savages and other terrible terms while today we continue to do harm. Hello DAPL! The headdress is known as a war bonnet and as such is considered a symbol of war for the tribes that don them. It is illegal in the US to don a purple heart or make other fraudulent claims about serving in the military with a sentence of up to one year in prison. The law was struck down because of freedom of speech rights and was amended to only being illegal when there is an intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit. Thus, if you wouldn’t put on a Purple Heart or Medal of Honor without earning it, then don’t appropriate the Native-American war-bonnet for your instagram. Here is an article explaining how to celebrate not appropriate native-American culture.

Now to Juneteenth and appropriating black culture:

One of the most recognized families, the Kardashians, are often called out for appropriating black culture. Kim and Kylie have both worn weaves and plait their hair on many occasions like fashion shows or photo-ops. Kim had incorrectly identified her plaited hair as “Bo Derek braids” in reference to the movie 10. She failed to note the braids originated from the Fulani women of West Africa. Throughout history black women and black men have been criticized, judged, brutalized, and demeaned for their hairstyles. Often opting for dangerous chemical straightening and flattening techniques in order to look clean or ‘appropriate’. Kim and white women who wear these hairstyles do not have to deal with the everyday backlash black women and men face. White people can wear the same hairstyle and be called “chic” whereas black women will be degraded. Remember Don Imus? After all, it wasn’t until 2017 that Army Regulation 670-1 was repealed. For those unfamiliar, the regulation described natural hair as matted/unkempt and restricted black women from wearing their natural hair such as twists, dreadlocks, Afros and braids.

For a better explanation search @mwagiramuriithi twitter feed from June 6th 2020. Until black children can wrestle without fear of having to cut their dreadlocks, can go to school wearing their natural hairstyles, black adults don’t lose job opportunities or are told to straighten or cut their hair (whitewashing) there will always be a resentment when a white person copies and receives praise and is called ‘trendy’

Dressing and wearing traditional African garb is another no-no on appropriating black culture. Please do not be a Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the rest of the GOP and make a photo-op out of African wear. Ghana’s kente showed loud and clear in the photo, but many saw it as a publicity stunt. Pelosi and other leaders visited Ghana last year and I am sure they received the Kente cloth as a gift. Knowing the history of Ghana and the slave trade many people questioned, rightly so, the use of the kente cloth as a means of solidarity. Confederate statues still stand, towns are still named “Lynchburg” schools have building named after known slave owners. All of these serve as a constant reminder to Black Americans the brutality their ancestors endured and the continued brutality the current generation is fighting today. Until the government passes legislation to shorten the racial disparity between black and white America, reparations or restitutions for the black community, ridicule will always follow these gestures. Other African clothes to stray away from are boubous, kabas, dashikis, etc.

As a former Peace Corps Volunteer spending time in Cameroon I own many African styled clothes. However, I have learned from countless sources and discussions how me wearing various outfits is appropriating and refrain to wear many of my outfits. I can still show my support while not appropriating African history ie wearing african print I have sewn into t-shirts, shorts, trousers.  These clothes made from “wrappa” I can wear to stand in solidarity with the BLM movement, protests, and Juneteenth.

A rule of thumb when considering if you are appropriating or not: If you will feel ‘out of place’ wearing it around your white friends or won’t wear it at your place of work then you are definitely appropriating the outfit and culture.

Follow Louis Fame Official on instagram to see various options on how to support African wear without appropriating the culture. His motto: “Urbanizing Africa for the World” He is always astonishing me with his new works and if you want a really cool mask I suggest you look at his style and patronize him.

  • For a deeper look into cultural appropriation, how to avoid it, and celebrities who have participated, click here.
  • Here is a video of various people from different backgrounds explaining cultural appropriation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwEMVEmeubk
  • Click here for an article regarding kente and its various meanings.
  • While you’re at it… here is a post regarding 14 black inventors you probably didn’t know about!

I hope you are not scared! There is a big difference on appreciation and appropriation! Click here to find out questions to ask on if you’re appropriating the culture!

Go ahead and grill out, make your mixed drinks, drink lemonade, sing songs, and come together as a community. (During the current Covid pandemic, please be responsible). If you are having a get together, invite your black friends over to enjoy with you. This is where natural organic conversations about race can come into play. If your friend refuses or has his/her own celebration and doesn’t invite you, don’t be upset or turned away. It is nothing personal and nothing to be upset about. Continue with your celebration and continue educating yourself.

If you are recognizing Juneteenth, you probably are emotionally spent like I am. Reading the horrific news while watching mass protests and racist acts live on camera daily is exhausting. It is completely normal to have these feelings; just imagine how heightened many of your friends or acquaintances of color feelings/emotions are right now. Give your friend their required space, respect their choice and as always end on a reassuring confirmation regarding your support of the BLM movement.

If you do celebrate Juneteenth with fellow black friends, be aware and vigilant. Stay back and don’t be the center of attention. Listen and learn. Be respectful of boundaries and aware of your actions, words, and statements. Be conscious of your political discourse and keep it to a civil discussion. Ask questions if you don’t agree and don’t become offended when the answer challenge you. We are all learning and growing together. Your thoughts and beliefs are ever changing. Remember that this is a historically black holiday and leave arguments out of it.

Moving Forward:

One can learn a lot from sharing, exploring, and learning of other cultures. This makes the US such a diverse melting pot or as a friend described it as a stew. The broth is all of us in the US combined, but there are its distinct parts. A major problem with people being appropriated is the majority-minority imbalanced. With proper education, growth, and a sharing of cultures/traditions growth and change prosper. However, when one particular person throughout history and into today’s society continues to be abused and ridiculed for their style they have every right to be defensive when a difference race appropriates their everyday lifestyle and it is called ‘trendy’. As always change begins with proper education. Once the world, especially, the US is educated and doesn’t stigmatize certain cultures’ habits and style then will it be proper to share certain parts of ones culture.

Off topic, but I think needs to be read as well regarding peaceful protests and how to attend as a white ally.

 What to do if the celebration turns into a protest/demonstration and police are called.

As stated before 45, unfortunately, is going to hold a rally in Tulsa, the city of one of the biggest race massacres operated/orchestrated by the government and police: Black Wall Street. Tensions are already at an all-time high and police will be called in various areas. This is where you show your ally ship. The following are protest guidelines were put together by a a friend:

  1. FOLLOW CALLS ONLY. Do not initiate or lead calls. Your job is to follow and add your voice when it is called for.
    2. DO NOT TAKE SELFIES. Ask permission to take pictures or videos of individuals. You are there to witness and learn only. Film the police as much as possible. Your goal is documentation to ensure that the true narrative is told.
    3. BE HELPFUL. Bring water and snacks. Make sure protest/vocal leaders are hydrated and fed. This is exhausting work; help keep their energy up.
    4. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. If a black leader tells you to do something, you do it immediately without question. You respect the authority and the decisions of the black protesters at all times.
    5. STAY IN THE BACK UNTIL YOU ARE CALLED FORWARD. If you hear “White people to the front” or “Allies to the front” step forward and link arms with other white people to form a shield.
    6. WHEN YOU ARE AT THE FRONT, YOU ARE SILENT. Your job is to be a body. You are there to support only. The only voices on the police line should be black voices.
    7. REMAIN CALM AT ALL TIMES. This is difficult. You will be emotional and your system will be flooded with adrenaline. Remember this is life and death for the protesters. Save your emotions for home. DO NOT AGITATE.

 

I hope everyone has a good Juneteenth and continues to support, donate, and raise black voices. If you are from Indiana and reading this I highly suggest you check out http://www.proactindy.org. They do amazing work throughout Indianapolis and their Stand in the Gap initiative to “provide vulnerable neighbors fed and immediate needs met – no questions asked” is very inspiring.

The following is a list of books and resources to continue educating yourself on race relations.

Anti-Racist Starter Kit:

Title Author
A People’s History of the United States Howard Zinn
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism Robin Diangelo
Stamped from the beginning Ibram X. Kendi
So you want to talk about race Ijeoma Oluo

Intermediate:

Title Author
The Burning House: Jim Crow and the Making of Modern America Anders Walker
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness Michelle Alexander
The Condemnation of Blackness Khalil Gibran Muhammad
How to be an Antiracist Ibram X. Kendi
A Different Mirror Ronald Takaki
Dying of Whiteness Johnathan Metzl

Topic Specific: 

Topic Title Author
Police Violence/ Mass Incarceration Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable Marc Lamont Hill
Education/Colonialism Lies my teacher told me James W. Loewen
Education/Discrimination/ Bias Why are all the black kids sitting together in the Cafeteria? Beverly Daniel Tatum
Redlining/Segregation Housing The Color of Law: A forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America Richard Rothstein
Voter suppression/Black Voting Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy Darryl Pinckney
Poverty Housing Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Matthew Desmond

Biographies, Non-Fiction Novels, Personal Narratives

Title Author
The Warmth of other Suns Isabel Wilkerson
The Fire Next Time James Baldwin
The Autobiography of Malcolm X Told By: Alex Haley
Becoming Michelle Obama
Between the World and Me Ta-nehisi Coates
Killing Race: Ending Racism Bell Hooks

Black Feminism

Title Author
How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective Edited By: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Black Feminist Thought Patricia Hill Collins
Ain’t I a woman Bell Hooks
Bad Feminist: Essays Roxane Gay
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers her Superpower Brittney Cooper
In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens Alice Walker
Sister Outsider Audre Lorde
Women Race & Class Angela Y. Davis
Assata: An Autobiography Assata Shakur

 Black LGBTQ+

Title Author
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name Audre Lorde
Real Life: A Novel Brandon Taylor
Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements Charlene A Carruthers
No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies Edited by E. Patrick Johnson
Since I Laid my Burden Down Brontez Purnell
No Ashes in the Fire Darnell L. Moore
The Summer We got Free Mia McKenzie
Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir Staceyann Chin
Giovanni’s Room James Baldwin

 Films- List by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein

 Netflix:

Film Producer(s)
13th Ava Duvernay
American Son Kenny Leon
Dear White People Justin Simien
See You Yesterday Stefon Bristol
When They See Us Ava Duvernay
Time: The Kalief Browder Story Jenner Furst
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson David France
Strong Island Yance Ford
LA 92 T.J. Martin, Daniel Lindsay

Hulu:

Film Producer(s)
If Beale Street Could Talk Barry Jenkins
The Hate You Give George Tillman Jr
Crime & Punishment Stephen Maing
Whose Streets? Sabaah Folayan

Available To Rent:

Film Producer(s)
Black Power Mix tape: 1967-1975 Goran Olsson
Clemency Chinonye Chukwu,
Fruitvale Station Ryan Coogler
I Am Not your Negro- James Baldwin Documentary Raoul Peck
Just Mercy Destin Daniel Cretton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Stanley Nelson Jr.
Do the Right Thing Spike Lee
Selma Ava Duvernay

Admiring a Louis Fame Designed Suit: WhatsApp Image 2020-06-13 at 1.22.32 PM

New country, New Journey, Different Feeling

Just landed in JFK with a 9 hour layover, destination: Ghana.

Here’s to another adventure and another country. As the instructions of the flight began to crackle over the speakers, the flight attendant miming the exits, and the wheels on the plane reversed- departing the gate, I had the same feeling of excitement, joy, nerves, elation, stomach full of butterflies- I felt wrestling and during the start of my #5000milesfor500scholars journey.  However, this time there was a tinge of gloom/sadness and the hardest departure to date. I left my two nieces and my 3.5 year old nephew waving bye bye Uncle Jacob and him asking if I’d wave to him when I was flying in the big airplane.

I am no longer the oblivious, innocent- blue eyed blonde boy that volunteered for the Peace Corps in Cameroon, 6.5 years ago. I am “aged”, more aware, and realistic. I saw on the news #45 declare a national emergency over something that isn’t a threat deflecting  from the latest mass shooting. There are many problems our country is facing and the least, I believe, should be a wall.

According to the CDC in 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 6 times higher than in 1999 and on average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. To me this is a national emergency.

Or the number of school shootings in 2018 where roughly 113 people were killed or injured in the US. This equates to nearly one school shooting per week. To me this is a national emergency.

Not some fear mongering tactic and symbol of hate, racism, and division.  I can almost guarantee nearly everyone in the US knows somebody affected by gun violence or the opioid crisis and nearly nobody knows someone affected by illegal immigration.

To top it off there is another national emergency, the devastating effect Climate Change is having throughout the lands and seas. This will affect our kids and grandkids drastically in the years to come.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46507514 https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html

However, as always, I will try and stay optimistic and find the good with the bad. And, I can tell you there is a fire lit inside my belly that burns brighter and stronger than before, to bring goodness. I am more mature, knowledgable, confident, and determined to create bridges, love, and peace throughout the world.

We are all inhabitants of this beautiful world and only a spec amongst giants throughout the universe. I refuse to let one mans actions and rants stop me from being the best person I can be and treat every human with the equality and respect they deserve.

I am traveling to Ghana and starting another journey. The goal remains the same… putting a smile on the person in front of me and making their tomorrow better than what their today is. However, I have a little nephew and two nieces looking up to me and who will have to navigate this lovely maze we call life, and I hope to make a better and safer world for them.

I hope your 2019 is starting of well and you will continue to follow my journey.

 

 

Happy Birthday JT!

“Where do you get your perseverance?” “Wow, I could never do that!” “You don’t stop you just keep going.” Where does the determination come from?”  These are all exclamations and questions I have received in my lifetime.  My whole life my brother and I have been underdogs when it came to sports.  I was never the fastest nor he the biggest.  Although I was born in my hometown my family had just relocated there a year before. This meant nobody knew the “Moore’s.”  Growing up my brother became a household name and paved the way for my success.  It was not due to raw talent; however, he worked his butt off.  He is one of the few people I can say is an inspiration and I’ve looked up to during my life.  My success both in and out of sports I owe to the lessons he taught me growing up.

People raised the question, “Why did you continue riding after passing the Guiness World Record mark on the electric bike and fly home from Miami?” Or “Why did you continue after breaking your wrist? You could have stopped when reaching home and people would have understood.”  There are multiple answers to these questions, but I’ll answer simply, look at the picture.

Growing up our parents put us in every sport imaginable. They had two rules: Once you start you cannot quit mid-season and you have to try your best.  My brother, JT Moore, showed me day in and day out what ‘your best’ is.

Everyone who tries their best will become elite, but not every elite will be the best.  Sure, a lot is based on genetics, private lessons, and natural talent.  Some people start behind the 8 ball in regards to outside factors: home life, race, access to equipment, neighborhood, etc.  However, you do not have be college, professional, or doctorate bound to be considered a success.  Trying your best does not mean when people are watching or when you are at practice, but behind the scenes. What are you doing at home? What are you doing outside of practice?

I excelled in wrestling; not because of talent or private lessons, but because I trained harder and wanted to succeed more than the next person.  I had and still have great mental strength and my never give up attitude pushed me past people in the final period.  Again, I refer you to the picture.  How far will you lay out to make the catch?  Many people would have let that pass hit the turf and continue on to the next play… not my brother.  I grew up idolizing him and

When we were younger my brother and I would would workout in the house together.  He would say he is going to do a certain number of rounds or a certain quantity of a lift and ask me to count.  Every time he would reach a few more than the number he told me. One day I asked him why he never stopped on the number.  His reply “Everyone is doing a certain amount and stopping, I am going above and beyond and have just become that much better than my opponent.”  People say you cannot teach hard-work or work ethics, but that one quote and those workouts upstairs in 100 degree heat stuck with me and taught me to go above and beyond the norm even when nobody is watching.

This lesson can be used to explain how athletes and academics become bigger, smarter, and better than their opponents.  The valedictorians in school are those who read extra books or study beyond the homework given to them. Those who come to school early to ask questions and those who don’t take weekends off of studying.  The most famous scientists of all time were considered ‘mad.’ They rarely slept and tried every little angle before finally inventing something nobody ever dreamed about. It was that 100th attempt after they said they would stop that helped them achieve their results.

I am glad this catch was captured, because as they say a picture is worth a 1000 words.  My brother worked his butt off four years to get playing time on the field and when he got the chance he made it count.  Growing up he was always smarter, faster, and more athletic than me in virtually everything.  From day one I was always “JT Moore’s little brother.” I hated it.  I was always a thick stout child while JT was lean and super fast. In Jr. High a football coach told me “Looks like your brother got all the talent in the family.” I was not coordinated, slow, chunky, and had severe knee problems enhanced by cleats.  This remark fueled me and put a chip on my shoulder to prove him and everyone else that I was my own person and not JT’s little bro.

On the wrestling mat there was no excuse.  Speed, strength, balance, attitude, plus a multitude of other factors determined the victor.  I took my brother’s teachings and beatings (we fought all the time) and would outwork my opponent daily in the wrestling room, doing more pushups than expected, a few more pullups than asked, coming in for extra workouts.  He forced me to wrestle rather than play basketball and it turned out to be a good decision.  The only people I ever heard while I was wrestling were my coaches and my brother.  Everyone else I drowned out.

I took my brother’s advice when I left academics and athletics and into the ‘real’ world.  Everything I do is what is more than expected of me.  Getting older my body sometimes would wish I would slow down ie the broken wrist on my bike ride, malaria/typhoid in Cameroon, but I know any curveball thrown at me I will attack and hit out of the park to be the best version of myself.  All of my success has one denominator and that is my bigger brother JT Moore. Yes, one can say I am the one who was on the mat or rode my bike, but without his teachings and guidance I would not have developed the mentality to never give up.

Today he has officially travelled around the sun once more and I wish him nothing but happiness and a great 33rd year on this blue mass we call Earth.  I love you and thank-you for all you do! PS can’t wait to come home and spank ya in a round of golf!

FULL MOON, BEACHFLYER, WASHINGTON MONUMENT!

Hey team!!! Well, after hours of sanding and filing the BeachFlyer I got on the road and hit 4000 miles at the Washington monument. It has been my ride or bye since day one. Once again I pushed the poor thing too its limit which led to another moment of highs/lows and ying/yang.

When the negative comes to balance out the positive that’s where my perseverance comes into play. Some might call it stubbornness or hardheadedness, but it keeps me on the road pedaling.

So what is the negative and positive might you ask? I was pushing the limits, not learning from my broken wrist, trying to ride 150 miles to get to DC. I was super excited with many friends coming from far and near. 80 miles in I had 3 flats in 5 miles and became very annoyed. I decided to push the beachflyer 6 miles on the rim and destroyed the back tire. Making the aluminum very jagged. After the six grueling miles I reached 3992 miles which was very upsetting not ticking 4000 that day. I went out bought a file and sand paper and roughly 5 hours of filing, sanding, smoothing, coaxing, and sweet talks I and the BeachFlyer were ready to rock n roll. (Yes I talk to my bike) Where is the positive you’re wondering? I did a test ride and I hit 4000 at the Washington Monument on a full moon at 1AM!

My whole trip has been about ying/yang, perseverance, and a happy go lucky attitude. If you came at me with negative words or bad vibes I just flashed the ✌! ain’t nobody got time for that. Especially ridin #5000milesfor500scholars. However, if you are down in the dumps and ask for support I am there. If you gave support and encouragement I bottled it up and sent them straight to my heart, legs, and mind. Now many go to my wrist 😉

When I rode to the Washington Monument and reached 4000miles it was very surreal. It was 1 in the morning, I was all alone, and it was a full moon. A wave of emotion rolled through me, chills perked up, a grin curled on the corner of my mouth, and butterflies entered my stomach. I couldn’t help but recollect.  In 2 months I had ridden the entire West coast and across the United States. My eyes swelled with pride (one might call tears) as I stared at the night sky and full moon.

My family and I have a thing, when I am in Cameroon or traveling, we look at the full moon knowing we are together. It keeps me from getting homesick knowing we are super close compared to universe. We are nothing but dust on a larger piece of dust and eventually we will be replaced. It gives me a sense of calm and relaxation

When I looked up this night I couldn’t help but think about Cameroon, why I am riding, and the current crisis. My heart goes out to everyone displaced, who have lost family members, and it pains me I am not able to do more. I hope a resolution can be found soon.

The Washington monument stood as a rock, a foundation for my trip. There’s history behind it and it was built for one man. However, Washington had 10,000s of people behind him supporting his every move and had 100s help write his story. He did not do it alone. Yes, what he did was not easy and he can be controversial, but he led the best way he knew how to lead. Whether you’re a leader or a follower know we are in this together and you’re just as important as the next.

I am just one person simply riding a bicycle with yall my rock and stone. I am using my traits and characteristics to accomplish my goal of a unified world, with less hatred, and more understanding.  My views are not popular with some, but that is okay. If everyone agrees people tend to become complacent. Take time to listen to one another and have a friendly debate. Try not to shut your mind down with my way or the highway attitude. I have definitely seen many other points of views better than what I thought at first.

With that being said, I could not have done anything without you and I thank you from the bottom of my <3. Your kind words, donations, and comments are very well recieved. Yall have been my pillars from the beginning and as of writing this I am 300miles away from 5000milesfor500scholars!!

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This mini journey is almost complete and I cannot thank you all enough. Again your well wishes, donations, shoutouts, and support are overwhelming. I am $7,000 dollars away from reaching my goal of raising $25,000 for ScholarShop Africa. That will equate to $5/mile. Please consider a donation as we prepare for year 3! Again, every dollar counts! If you give $7 (stinking fees) to http://scholarshopafrica.org/give/ you will have sponsored a mile of my trip. If you give ~$55 and you will sponsor a child for the three month program!

Be the hand that extends!

IMG_0958.jpgThis guy right here has been an inspiration from day one. People ask where do I get my grit, determination, and perseverance from? It’s from pops.

He removed the word ‘can’t’ from my vocabulary, taught me my never give up attitude, and if there’s a will there’s a way.  When I was 6 weeks old I was literally crop dusted possibly causing my severe asthma. Having to use a nebulizer for 15 minutes before going out to play with my siblings was torture. Being told I wouldn’t be able to be an active child caused a chip on my shoulder very early on which is still there. My dad, Jeff, never let the asthma deter me, put me in many sports and pushed me too my limits and beyond. Proving to me anything is possible with the right mindset.

Dad taught me from day one, once you start something you better finish, no matter the circumstances. He knew life has its highs and lows… its rollercoaster movement which easily transferred to the world of sports. His teachings, scolding me when I said can’t, and believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself molded me into who I am today.

When I injured my wrist, in St. Louis, I knew I would continue. My first thought was: “At least it’s not my ankle, but I hope it is not broken.”  Anyone who knows my childhood and athletic career knows this injury could have been expected. As well as, riding 250 miles with an ace bandage. Throughout my sporting career I have had: a broken ankle, broken fingers, concussions, dislocated elbow, torn hamstring, numerous stitches and staples, tongue half bitten off, both meniscus removed, Osgood Slaughter and more, I learned to wrestle and play through pain.

During the rough days dad was there to give advice, help me put in extra practice time, and give encouraging words. The good days he congratulated me, not without his coaching and lectures, of course, but never let me be content.  He instilled a drive and fire within that is unmatched.

Many people told me, “You made it 3800 miles and crossed 3/4th of the country why not stop and let your wrist heal and get surgery?” Well, if I stop now, in my mind, my mission would have failed and the people donating to my cause should be reimbursed. I set out on #5000milesfor500scholars just for that: Ride 5000 miles and help 500 scholars. Not 3800 miles to help 380 scholars.

In life we will always have a setback. How you bounce back, to me, determines how much heart, love, and passion you have for the intended goal. If one can easily give up, obviously, the task was not their passion. Bouncing back doesn’t necessarily mean completing the task at hand, but picking yourself up, brushing off the dirt, and how your attitude/mindset is moving forward. I tend to fall often… literally and figuratively. However, I am blessed because I know no matter how long the fall  there will always be a hand extended from above. Pop’s hand.

 

Even though dad and I disagree on many things, the love I have for him is unmatched. He makes it clear he wants me home in the US, but his love and support for my goals and dreams has never wavered. Anything I set my mind to, whether he likes it or not, he is always by my side as a number one supporter.

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Little did he know the many summer hours playing ball, cutting wood, shoveling the basement (that was not a passion so never got completed), sitting by the fire telling stories would stick with me. 

When I had trouble finding a ride to Ohio he dropped his weekend plans to drive me so I could continue. We stayed up last night talking, telling stories, and celebrating world whiskey day. Through our many conversations at the fire and last night I now know where I get my stubbornness, hard headedness, and grit. As they say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

As I had a set back, breaking my wrist, now in a cast, it does not compare to the daily struggle many youth in Cameroon have. Difficulties for basic school supplies, lack of buses to transport to school, no electricity to study at night, not being able to pay fees to attend school, not able to purchase basic medical necessities such as sleeping nets to help prevent malaria, and the list goes on and on.

Just like I have a hand reaching down from pops, I try to be the hand that extends for the youth of Cameroon.

Let us join hands and extend them to reach far more corners of the world!!

This is how I continue to ride with a wrist needing surgical repair.

This is what #5000milesfor500scholars is about.

This is why your donations mean so much.

This is how you can help “Supply today to secure tomorrow”

Birthday celebrationS!

I had a fabulous birthday weekend showered with gifts, well-wishes, and great news.  

To start off the festivities, I was showered with blessings (literally) while I camped out.  I pitched tent at Fort Cobb State Park in Oklahoma. The area hadn’t had a measurable rain since September 11th where they received only 1/100th of an inch. My neighbors knowing the rains were coming early morning gave me extra blankets and brisket with tortillas. It was DELICIOUS. The day before it was 85 and sunny and I tool my shirt off for 1 hour.  I didnt get burnt, but had an extremely irritated back that itched like crazy. Turns out it is called hell’s itch. Look it up. 

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The rains started at 2AM and didn’t stop until 11! I felt extremely blessed witnessing the joy in the locals’ faces when the rains started and saturated the farmland.  I thought if I became annoyed or upset, I’d be selfish only thinking about me and my trip rather than the farmers of Oklahoma who needed this rainfall. 

Turns out my rain jacket and weatherproof pants fell off the back of my bike three days before this rain.  I planned to buy new rain gear the next stop in Oklahoma City, but Mother Nature brought rains early, I guess to test my ability to still maintain my “happy go lucky, go with the flow” attitude. I packed my bike with all 80 pounds and went to the local store. The hosts were wonderful. Allowing me to dry my clothes on the space heater, giving me breakfast, and offering me a place to stay. I said I need to take the good with the bad. Luckily, I packed a couple extra heavy duty trash bags so I was able to make a makeshift rain suit. Now ready with my new rain gear on- I headed out. Special thanks to the place with the coldest beer in Fort Cobb, Stevie Rays, for taking me in as their own!  To my blessing- the rains stopped at 11:00 and I had a clear chilly ride with a tailwind the rest of the day to Norman, Oklahoma. 

My hosts in Norman were Kwame and Natalie. We met in Cameroon while Natalie was working on her PhD research.  They stayed with me in Cameroon, for a couple of weeks, while looking for a place to rent. It was wonderful to see them again after 3 years and they were very gracious.  We bought tickets to the OKC- Utah game 5. Before this game started, sadly, I watched the Pacers lose on a buzzer beater by Lebron, so it put a damper on my mood. However, the atmosphere in the gym was unbelievable and the comeback led by Westbrook’s 20 third quarter points was a site to see and a roar to hear! I stayed a few days to rest and enjoy my birthday.  Two days of grilling out and listening to music in sunny 80 degree weather was what my body needed! For those of you who know me grilling out and listening to music are my favorite things to do. The first two days were about me and I treated myself.

I got back into ScholarShop mode, checking emails, talking to my counterparts, etc… I received WONDERFUL news. Sean, co-founder, of ScholarShop Africa welcomed a baby boy into this world the day after my birthday on April 27th.  Baby, momma, and pops are doing well and I cannot be happier for two people so near and dear to me.

The weekend of celebration continued as I chose the winner of the “name the BeachFlyer competition” and was able to give the news to the young lady herself via webcam.  A student in my sister’s first grade class came up with the name, Dragon Wheeler. I named the bike Cliff the Dragon Wheeler which is a hybrid from another student in a 7th grade class.  The first grader chose the name because dragons are her favorite animal and bikes have wheels so she put the two together.  I chose Cliff because I rode close to a lot of cliffs on the west coast and I thought that was appropriate. After talking with the winner we held a Q&A session about my ride.  I am trying to figure out how to upload that and when I do you will be able to see questions first graders can ask! Or add me on Facebook and you can see it there! They were quite good and comical too.

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BUT the competition isn’t over! Cliff the Dragon Wheeler retired itself in Los Angeles.  So, a new competition has started, I am still accepting names for my current bike!  

That same very day, April 30th, while visiting the wrestling HOF I received more great news! One of our ScholarShop students was accepted into African Leadership Academy in South Africa (ALA).  ALA is one of the most prestigious 2 year academies in Africa and less than 150 students throughout the continent are accepted each year.  Yoland, is a very gracious, humble, intelligent young lady who has huge aspirations for her future and community! Yoland could not have been a better choice for ALA.  You can read her story on the ScholarShop website.  Her hard work, determination, volunteering in her community, continually being top in her class and her dreams:  she will be a great student at ALA. Scholarshop helped Yoland reach her dream to stay in academia! Your donations helped us help her stay in school, purchase necessary items, register for exams, and taught her volunteerism, community awareness and giving back.  The cost will be high to send Yoland to ALA, but if I have found anything on this trip the world works in wonderous ways.

Through ScholarShop Africa, donors like you will continue to grow the program, send Yoland to ALA, educate more youths and supply them with necessary school supplies and help change the next generation one youth at a time.  

Please consider helping ScholarShop Africa to help students like Yoland achieve their dreams and go farther than even their dreams have went.  Visit Scholarshop’s website and help  ScholarShop to expand beyond Cameroon.  

Thanks again for the birthday wishes and I hope everyone has a wonderful May!

Winner of BeachFlyer #1!

I recieved many emails and names for the BeachFlyer. Special thanks To Mrs. Crossley’s first grade class and Ms. Day’s 7th graders. I decided on a hybrid name, for the first bike down the Pacific Coast.

*Competition is still going for the current BeachFlyer!*

I will be forever grateful for the first BeachFlyer taking me down the coast over mountains and through valleys. Chasing pots o gold at the end of  double rainbows, and camping under 1000 year old trees searching for Bigfoot. We had a difficult relationship at the beginning with 6 flats and a set of new spokes in the first 9 days, but we sorted out our issues. Unofficially setting and breaking a guiness world record traveling  140miles in a day! The BeachFlyer retired itself April 1st 9:52PM when I rolled in to see Cory. (I know the time cause he gave me a 10PM deadline haha)

Rolling in the PAS turned off and would only work one more time, the next morning to meet a friend for breakfast. The back motor burnt up and the PAS stopped working, but it got the job done.

The first BeachFlyer I ever rode on now has the name of: Duh duh duhhhhhh!

Cliff the Dragon Wheeler

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This name is very fitting. Almost riding off a couple cliffs in Southern Oregon,  staying in an old motel dating back to the 50’s, taking me to breathtaking sites, seeing the end of two rainbows and being a trusting companion, Cliff did its duty.  I pushed this bike so hard the back tire/hub went out after 1,500 miles of riding. Before me, the bike rode 1200miles from Cory. Thus, Cliff the Dragon Wheeler travelled nearly 3000miles before retiring!

Again, the contest is still happening for the current BeachFlyer!  Get your names in!

Thank-you!!!

TEAM!!! Thanks so much for the Birthday wishes and thoughts! The amount of love and support being sent my way is astonishing and makes my heart full!! This bike trip could not be possible without the support from yall!

I recieved messages from more than 10 countries and 4 continents!

My birthday celebrations started off a day early attending the OKC game where the atmosphere was electric!!! The day of my birthday started out with a haircut, followed by some kabobs on the grill and brewskies. The night ended early and I slept around 9AM.  Special thanks to my hosts Natalie, Kwame, and baby Ama for allowing me to stay a few days and ringing in the big 2-8 with me!

If you know me, the celebration keeps going! Today more grilling, more brews, and some live music at the Norman music festival. Back on the road headed towards Tulsa tomorrow. Have a lovely weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

Why oh why do we use force? A poem written in response to the Syrian Attacks

On the road I do not listen or read a lot of news. This has been a blessing and very good for my soul. However, when news broke out about the bombing in Syria my heart broke. It has taken up the majority of my thoughts and has kept me with a feeling of deep sorrow. My heart breaks for the Syrians who were affected in the chemical attacks, but also the Syrians who were affected by our heartless bombings. I cannot stop thinking about the innocent lives who were lost and the newly created orphans who will be without a parent or both for the rest of their lives. This is one of the reasons I have been silent and not written a blog for awhile. I decided to put my thoughts down in writing.

 

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Why oh why do we use force?

Why oh why don’t we use discourse?

Why oh why is it the West to always enforce?

Why oh why don’t we feel remorse?

To the orphans of Syria created by these heartless attacks.

I understand if you feel like retaliating back.

People will send you thoughts and prayers….

I know these will not help your sorrow and tears.

People will send their condolences….

I know these will not stop your grievances.

My thoughts are for the innocent souls killed without resolution.

My prayers are for the corrupt souls who care more about political contributions.

Why oh why do we use force?

Why oh why don’t we use discourse?

Why oh why is it the West to always enforce?

Why oh why don’t we feel remorse?

Remember with every pointed finger there are three pointing back at you.

What about the community of LGBTQ?

~$224 million of missiles launched in a few hours from air stations.

What about American education or our very own Puerto Ricans?

President Trump said, “The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons”.

Where is this same purpose to deter the illegal drilling of the Keystone Pipeline on land belonging to Native Americans?

President Trump added, “To Iran and to Russia I ask- what kind of regime wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?”

I ask to President Trump the same question, “What kind of regime wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?

What about Flint, Michigan where the water causes people death, disabilities, and illness? What about about BLM?

Why oh why do we use force?

Why oh why don’t we use discourse ?

Why oh why is it the West to always enforce?

Why oh why don’t we feel remorse?

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As you ponder these words please think about this…

112 tomahawk missiles launched at Syria. Each costs $1.87M to make. That’s $224M total. Estimated cost to replace Flint’s pipes$55M

And the U.S. has only accepted 11 syrian refugees this year. Yes, 11!

COME ON DOWN!! YOU’RE THE NEXT CONTESTANT…..

“ON THE PRICE IS RIGHT!” A childhood dream came true! I went on the set of The Price is Right. It was definitely a unique experience and one I will never forget. 

That morning started off with a rush and never slowed down.  First, I was riding to meet a friend for breakfast when a bolt on my chain fender broke and instead of removing the other screw, I just mangled the fender so it would not rub on the chain.  Luckily, the Pedal Assist still worked and I made breakfast on time.  After, I put my gear in her car, got on the bike, the motor went out! Which means the PAS (Pedal Assist System) wouldn’t work, so 100% leg had to be used. It’s harder to pedal than a normal bike because the hub is in the rear tire. I got to the bike to the shop and they told me there was nothing they could do unless I changed the rear tire out. Thus, I left it with them while I found out logistics for the rear tire. 

No worries its The Price is Right day!! I went to print my ticket for the show and while re-reading the fine print I saw white shirts were frowned upon…. guess what?!

Yep, you guessed it!

My shirt was white.  White attracks more color so it doesn’t show up as well on TV, is what I was told.  I frantically called around for a t-shirt company that could do a print in 1 hour. $50 later I had a black shirt with my design and phrase! Whew, problem solved!! Nothing like an adrenaline rush starting at 10AM.

Also, stated on the ticket: it says no phones, smart watches, etc. are allowed during the taping. Being a rule follower and not wanting to be turned away from the taping, I left my phone at the t-shirt shop. The time they gave me to arrive on set was down to 1 hour and I had a 20 min drive in LA according to GPS. But it is LA.

I ordered an Uber left my phone at the shop and took off.  Oh no!!! I forgot my jacket at the shop with my business cards.  The Uber driver stoppee and I git out and started running back to the tshirt shop. When I dropped weight from my gear- earlier in the trip, my belt was amongst those items. Down 10lbs in 3 weeks my pants were dropping like its hot…  I  am now half sprinting half holding my pants up while looking for the shop. After the 2nd block fatigue sat in and sweat began to flow. Running down the streets of LA is different than driving. I figured it was just a couple blocks….about 7 blocks later I arrived at the store. Fortunately, my Uber driver was smart and kind and met me at the shop.  I grabbed my jacket and business cards and off we went- with less than an hour for my arrival time.

I arrived in the 20 minutes!!  Everyone in line had their phones. UGH!!  Taking selfies,making calls, etc. I was like what is going on? Turns out you are able to check them in before entering the showroom. 

Growing up my mom had a picture of Tweety Bird on her laptop with the quote

           If anyone speaks badly of you,                   live so that none will believe it.                 Do what you can, for who you                   can with what you have and                       where you are. Wishing your                     day be filled with love and peace!

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I fail at this often, but that is a motto I carry around whenever I travel. This leads me to being a rule follower having both pros and cons. This instance being a con. Again, double UGH!

Back to the show….  I had to sign a waiver form etc. I was being pretty loud starting Drew chants, cheering, shouting, and carrying on. To the mother/daughter duo next to me, I apologize.

 Valerie, the mother was on the show in 1975 and actually made it up on stage and met Bob Barker. She wore a shirt with a picture she took off of her TV. (Different era then) Sadly, no pictures were taken… you know no phone :/ Going through two more stages one being interviews, we were finally outside the room! Waiting an hour, they had some past shows playing getting us pumped up before starting the show.

There are roughly 270 people in attendance and you CANNOT hear anything especially George, the announce, talk about the products. The contestants are pretty much in the dark.  One contestant I met earlier in the day went on down to contestants row and had to bid on 2 hiking bags. He looked right at me and I told him $600. I looked at the screen and saw there were 2 GPS units as well. I tried to get his attention and change to $1000, but he didn’t hear and said $600 😦  I apologize for letting you down Boy in Blue that will haunt me for awhile.

During the show there were quite a few bloopers which delayed the taping and will definitely be on a blooper reel one day. There was a hype girl who was jumping up and down, miming to be louder for the ENTIRE SHOW! She wore me out with how much energy she had and I have quite a bit of energy. That being said, being loud and boisterous for an hour straight is tough work. We did have the commercial breaks where Drew would talk to us and boy is he a funny man.  

The t-shirt shop closed at 5 and when we left it was 5:20. I had to borrow someone’s phone to call my friend and then learn the bus system to get to her work. It was a process, which I loved, and it’s crazy to think people lived that way a mere 15 years ago!

Watch the show June 18th and you will see me in the middle of your screen about 10 rows right behind contestant 4!


Sadly, I did not get called down. I believe it was because I told them I lived in Cameroon rather than saying I operate remotely most of the year from the US.  Ah” But the silver lining is $1 million!!  Survivor and Amazing Race are more up my alley, as you perhaps have figured out- I love adventure and $1 million dollars can help out a lot more children in Cameroon, Africa and the world at large than a brand new car.

A childhood dream to an adventure of a lifetime is unfolding and though there may be pros and cons/ ups and downs/ highs and lows I am having a blast seeing the US and doing things that will benefit the education of the youth of Cameroon.  

If you have the desire to donate to the youth in Cameroon visit scholarshopafrica.org and click on the donate page.