Is Social Media Enough To Bring Our Nigerian Girls Home?

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Two weeks ago, militants abducted over 200 Nigerian girls from their boarding school in the town of Chibok. It is now being reported that the girls are being sold into mass marriages for $12. Out of the 200 missing, 14 girls escaped, but large portions of them are still missing.

Parents and relatives of the missing children are not satisfied at the way the Nigerian government is handling the situation. They feel the safe return of the girls are not the government’s nor Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s first priority. Protests and rallies occurred in the wake of this devastating ordeal and sparked international outrage. But not in the way you would think.

I’ve been following this story for the past week and it gets more and more heartbreaking. Part of the reason why I started Candid Commentary was to write about difficult topics not consistently covered in the media, and unfortunately, this story is one of them. Every time I tune in to any type of mainstream media outlet, it seems as though this story is slipping under the radar. I keep hearing about the recent job report and even about Malaysian Flight 370, but no one can take the time to analyze or even report on the missing girls. The only way I could get updates was through the Internet.

The safety and protection of these young girls just trying to get an education is a REAL issue and should be covered 24/7 like everything else. It’s sad to say, but this story is just evidence of how society views black women. Much interest in this story appeared on social media and it has now sparked a full campaign. According to the BBC News, the hash tag #Bringbackourgirls generated over 360,000 tweets and retweets since it’s creation on April 23. Many celebrities and Nigerian residents joined the cause expressing their frustration with the Nigerian government and are demanding answers.

One cannot deny the power of social media. It’s known to bring missing girls home in the U.S., and can generate enough interest to increase change when it comes to activism. Even Black Twitter is known to have tremendous power in amplifying issues to initiate change. But is it enough? Will our concurrent likes, retweets and posts really make a difference in trying to find our girls? When the government fails, can we rely on social media to advocate for more media attention and involvement from international organizations? That’s why it’s so important for us to continue to follow new developments and to continue to tweet, post and talk about this story until each girl is rescued.

A petition on Change.org was created by Ify Euleze to support all efforts in rescuing the missing girls. The petition urges that all children deserve to be safe and protected especially in educational environments.

What do you think? Can social media be the driving force to help #bringbackourgirls? Click on the post and comment below! Be candid in your response!

Mimi Faust Is Not A Reflection Of Me

THE WONDERFUL        WORLD OF REALITY...

I promised myself I would not address the whole Mimi Faust sex tape scandal, but since we’re still talking about it…here goes.

In no way shape or form is Mimi Faust a reflection of me. For those who don’t know, Love and Hip Hop star Mimi Faust made a sex tape or porn video (that subject is debatable) with boyfriend Nikko Smith. In anticipation for the upcoming season of Love and Hip Hop the sex tape was highlighted in the new trailer. Then the video was leaked and Mimi received the largest backlash I’d ever seen. We subsequently rolled our eyes and  expressed our confusion on why she would do such a thing. Even Steve Harvey inserted his two cents in an open letter to Mimi.

Last week, commentators on The Grio’s show Politini addressed this same issue stating, “Seriously, what’s up with the outrage?” “Why are people shocked that ratchet reality stars would make a sex tape?” “Obviously they are in the game to get paid and to extend their 15 minutes of fame, so why are folks acting like our hopes and our dreams and the fate of black womanhood are tethered to this?”

I could not agree more with this statement. The fact that we have to compare ourselves with a reality star is confusing. This whole faux scandal is really a non-issue to me. I’m not mad. In fact, I don’t have any emotions tied to Mimi and her decision to market herself as a porn star. That’s on her.

Image is everything in our culture. If something surfaces that we consider less than, the world shakes and comes to an end, because we feel like there are no positive images of black women in the media. It’s something we fight for more often than we have to. And it’s hard seeing the images of Mimi and Nikko on television and on the Internet. I get it. But we’ve struggled with imagery long before Mimi Faust ever became popular.

Why give the whole sex tape scandal any attention at all? Let’s face it. We are the reason her image gets played like a broken record. Our society craves for more sex and more drama hence our love/hate relationship with reality shows. When images like Mimi’s pop up on our news feeds or timelines, we say we’re not monolithic, but do we really believe it? If that’s the case, let’s stop tweeting about it, let’s stop emulating the infamous shower rod scene and reshift our focus to something else worth talking about (like People Magazine naming Lupita Nyong’o ‘Most Beautiful Person’). We have different perspectives, and most importantly, we don’t have the same morals or values.

Mimi’s decision to do a sex tape does not weigh heavy on me. If you follow the show and all of its antics, someone was bound to come out with a sex tape. I’m surprised it took this long and I’m even more surprised at this whole PR campaign to promote it. At the end of the day, when we give negative actions attention, its people like Mimi who gets paid. Not us. So why does it affect us so much if she’s not a true representation?

What do you think? Click on the post and comment below!

Joy Comes in the Morning: My Battle with Fibroids, Ovarian Cysts and Endometriosis

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Excitement ensued when I read this month’s issue of Essence. On the cover was a special health report which addressed the issue I’ve been dealing with over the past year. Since my surgery, I battled with telling how this very issue affected my quality of life. After reading the article, I knew it was time.

The article, Fighting Fibroids, tells the story of Tasha Mitchell. When she decided at 26 to stop taking her birth control pills, it unleashed a multitude of health problems. I was just like Tasha. Starting at a young age, I suffered from painful menstrual cramps and seriously heavy periods that no medication in the world could cure. After years of taking the pill, I took a stand. I wanted to feel like myself again.

For a while, everything was fine. I dealt with the pain every month and I thought I got my life back. But one day I felt the worst lower abdominal pain ever. The world began to shatter like I was in some alternate universe. After a series of tests and two emergency room visits, I was diagnosed with having uterine fibroids. At that very moment, my fight began.

In the Essence article, I read about a Mayo Clinic study of women ages 29-59 with fibroids. Elizabeth Stewart M.D., the study’s lead author explained, “The study also suggests that Black women have a harder time getting a diagnosis, good information about treatment alternatives and a solution.”

I was 23. After multiple trips to the doctor, it seemed I couldn’t get any valid information about my fibroids. Forget a solution. I was only given a pamphlet about my newfound condition and possible treatment options. Since I wanted to have children, there were only a few options available. My actions and my feelings were reduced to this pamphlet. Any symptoms I had, if it was not in the pamphlet, didn’t exist at all. I often found myself questioning if the pain and the significant blood loss was real. Just a few weeks earlier, my doctor told me the reason he chose to become a physician was to help women with fibroids. I lost confidence in him.

Soon after, I began to feel worse. An ultrasound revealed I had an ovarian cyst on my right ovary – a complete let down. One cyst turned into several on both of my ovaries and small activities such as walking became a challenge.

As time passed, the pain became relentless. My fibroids drained any life I had and I didn’t know why. When I looked in the mirror, I started to become unrecognizable. After weeks of confusion and more tests, one of my cysts ruptured. The ER doctors sent me home after yet another frustrating night. There is nothing more devastating than a doctor telling you he is out of options. I thought I was going to die.

My only solution was to undergo hormone therapy and stop my reproductive system all together. I went through a medical menopause. I had night sweats, hot flashes and debilitating migraines. The series of injections caused serious adverse effects aside from the usual side effects and it affected my brain function. Not to mention taking more medication to cure the side effects. I went from just getting by to being completely broken. At one point, I could no longer feel. I was numb to my situation. A spinal tap and a blood patch later, I said enough was enough.

I sought a second opinion and was also referred to some infertility specialists. The first one denied my case. She said she couldn’t help me. I appreciated her honesty. By the time I talked to the second one, I stopped all medications. He recommended surgery to remove the fibroid, and to see if I had endometriosis. I was diagnosed with a moderate form of endometriosis after the surgery.

The misunderstanding about my experience was the lack of information available about the cause of these conditions and preventative measures. I wanted to be proactive, but didn’t know how. What can I eat? What can I do? I was left with nothing. The only way I knew how to deal with it was just as the women who came before me did. You get the surgery and move on, because life doesn’t stop.

A few people told me all women get fibroids at some point in their lives. It was just a way of ushering me into womanhood like some rite of passage. And because so many of us get diagnosed, these health issues become acceptable. We carefully wrap our issues, put them away, and fiercely protect them. We fail to talk about it, because it’s too painful. I was amazed at the amount of women dealing with these complex issues. I had no idea until it was my turn.

I hoped, prayed and wished; and wished, hoped and prayed; and prayed, wished and hoped for answers. I never got them. All I could do was try to take control of my health. But in order to take control I had to recognize my worth. I was conditioned to put everyone else before me just like my mother and my grandmother. They took care of everyone and everything until it was nothing left for them. I had to realize I was enough. I had to know that I mattered too.

Now at six months after surgery, my life is full of the unknown. Am I confident that I will be able to have children one day? No. Am I confident that my fibroids, cysts and endometriosis won’t grow back? No. But that’s the beauty of walking by faith. I’m more than overjoyed that Essence decided to continue the conversation. It gives me hope.

Seven ER visits, two biopsies, countless doctor visits, ultrasounds, surgery and an extended hospital stay can sum up my story. It’s not a testament to how I got over, but it’s a story about God’s power working through me. If He can fix me, He can fix you too. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

What It Means To Be Candid

My cousin and I recently started to have weekly Skype sessions to catch up and to study the Bible. During our first session, I was nervous. I tried to make light of the situation and made some jokes. She instantly saw right through me as we were speaking about how a certain scripture – I can’t remember which one – applied to our lives at that particular time. She replied, “Now Jennifer, let’s be real.”

In a 2011 article entitled The Value of Being Candid, writer Dan Moran explains how candor is a means for effective communication. He describes this notion by giving advice on how to be candid with other people, especially in the workplace.

I wanted to go a step further and decided to be candid with myself. I wanted to be honest with my own experiences and circumstances, so I could help someone else on their journey. To express myself without limits ultimately confronting my own issues and becoming a better person in the process.

On the other hand, one might argue when you’re too candid about your life experiences, you’re more susceptible to judgment. You open the door to the positive, but also to the negative. We sometimes shy away from expressing the truth about ourselves. We have a tendency to hide behind photo filters and 160 characters or less to put forth a carefully manufactured version of who we are. As a result, people only get to see one side, and that’s unfortunate.

As time passed, I thought about that initial meeting. What good would I have done if I decided to hide behind my jokes and not express my true self? Since that conversation my cousin let me know I helped her by simply being honest about my thoughts and perspective. At the end of the day, isn’t that our goal? We all want fulfillment in our lives and know we’re not alone.

My purpose for this blog is to use my perspective, truths and experiences to help others on their journey by first being candid about who I am. I want to write about issues we don’t want to address, to be able to relate to people more and develop a level of understanding of the world around me. Real change can occur when true candor is expressed.

Welcome to Candid Commentary.