A Positive Trend for Civil Rights?

Last Tuesday President Trump signed an executive order to raise funding for the the Historically Black Colleges of the United States up to $25 billion. This a major victory for Civil Rights and a step in the right direction, as they say, for the entire nation.  How can this be, however?  Is President Trump not the racist animal we all perceive him to be?  And by ‘all’ I mean maybe half the country, maybe just the Millennials, possibly more. Who knows?  Well, it would seem, at the surface, that our new president may be keeping his promise to help all Americans and specifically black Americans here.  It’s about time someone did.

Established in 1981, Ronald Reagan wrote-in the HBCU in his Executive Order 12320 which he authorized the Secretary of Education to supervise, keeping this matter within the very living room of Federal jurisdiction.  However,  reports of the HBCU’s success would only be collected biannually by the Secretary of Education and thus, the agnecy drifted away from the status of priority it once had.  To further the descent of the order upon the pecking order of Federal important,

President George H.W. Bush established a Presidential Advisory Board on HBCUs, and in 2002, President George W. Bush transferred the initiative from the White House to the Department of Education.

The HBCU was passed down to a mere department and has been more or less underfunded ever since.  Even President Obama had only ever granted $4 billion to the HBCU over seven years.

When I brought this up with a colleague of mine, an avid Obama supporter, he argued that President Obama did not fund the HBCU as much because he would prefer the integration of white and black students alike and that raising the money would only sanctify segregation among universities.

Those good intentions of racial integration could have been achieved in other ways, apart from a lack of funding, as many of these historically black schools rely heavily on federal aid to function, at least, to par with the rest of the country.  Which is more important, integration or education?  Well, first off, those two should never be mutually exclusive, and secondly, higher funding or not the animosity and segregation of a national community comes down to each individual making a choice to oppose another person based on their skin color, not the federal aid of an underfunded non-profit agency.

Many supporters of both former president Obama and the HBCU have mixed feelings on the whole situation.  With the left media screaming, “Trump’s a Racist!” and the President bulking the national budget for our black citizens to achieve, I would be too.  Alas, we are a country of many ethnicities and few remember that in this day and age, you cannot ignore our diversity.

Whether a positive outcome is to sprout from the intended budget increase or not, the HBCU would definitely agree that the Obama Administration lacked in this area as released in their recent article.

The Obama administration was a disaster as it relates to black colleges, but this reality seems to thrive in the short memories of some supporters. John Wilson’s troubled tenure, along with President Obama’s bizarre relationship with HBCUs, shows that if indeed the Trump administration wanted to “play” HBCUs, it has plenty of lessons to learn from the Obama administration.

Like I said, this is but a step in the right direction if anything.  Civil Rights have another victory under their belt.  No one can speak for tomorrow, but today?  Some might say  it was a good day.

 

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Iron Zion Lion Road Trip!

As a full time student and part time worker my spirit and being can only withstand so much in the metaphysical, fast paced, interconnected world we inhabit.  The minute-hand of the clock wills my days forward while I submit myself to endless schedules and classes.  The metronome of my life haunts me, correcting the once-capricious stride I had before the heavier facets of Marx’s conflict theory were thoroughly reflective of my toils.  The setting makes no difference, it’s all indoors, from one drywall box to another.  The air is heavy in the carcinogens of approved A/C quality tests, carried out by some bureaucratic necktie with a clipboard.  The consumer world of education and employment will always exist, there is every guarantee of that, but, you aren’t getting any younger and flights cost a lot of money.  Plus, part of the adventure is the journey, the sheer path in which you must speed along!  Zion was that adventure for me,  have you ever considered it?

Zion National Park is a modern jewel of the Mid-West, a destination of adventure and release.  The stresses and goals of the first world lie dormant at the back of the head as Zion’s beauty surrounds you.  There is nothing else quite like it.  Every day is a new experience and with diverse travelers and vacationers from all across the globe.  The majesty of red rocks and green meadows awaits.

Heading Into Zion

The road going into Zion is a curved, bending and meandering as large stone outcroppings dwarfs even the boldest of low-mileage SUVs.  On the sides of the road there are places to park to ‘view’ these enormous steeps, however it is much more fruitful to get out your water and sunglasses to climb the ‘view’. Totally righteous!

It is absolutely amazing to get out of your car and just explore.  There are no trails off the road and if you want to, you can go as far as you want and make your own day hike!  I remember we did that, hiking into a shady part of an off-road canyon for about a mile.  All of the rock is ridiculously rugged down to the fine texture, making it very easy to climb and grip. Notice how I am wearing Vans while climbing at a 55-degree angle.  I Didn’t even have to break out the hiking boots! It’s truly the little things.

You may be thinking about how enticing the canyon is already, however, at this point the entry-fees into the National Park have yet to come and so these pictures are 100%  non-commercialized until right now as you are reading this.

The winding entrance to the park is but a red carpet, a very warm and joyous foreplay to the grandeur of a canyon so longing for your entrance inside it.  There is no comparison to the beauty of carved formations, resting and waiting for tens of thousands of years as the Virgin River still runs calmly along the base of the canyon. Upon entrance, the abundance of iron in the rock sets the walls of the canyon on fire.  After spending a day hiking on one of the designated trails, the day grows long and tired as the loins of the canyon burn in red passion after your own sweaty brow has proven a day well spent.

Inside Zion National Park, Dude

The destination itself is a street filled with shops and hotels on either side. Like a small oasis in the desert, you can see the giants cascading upon the land, ripping boldly against sheer crystalline blue sky- cloudless. Light emanates from the road, the buildings, the air.  Everything is bright during the day and the air is calm.  people of foreign tongues are bumbling all about.  It is a community of shades, hiking boots, and Camelbaks, everyone with similar purpose.  Some returning from a morning hike, others marching toward the beginning of their afternoon adventures.

The fresh air never changes, ushering vitality into the blood of the canyon, a feeling like no other as you wait for the shuttle to pick you up. From there comes the start of the trek.

My favorite hike we got to do was Angel’s Landing at stop five, “The Grotto”.

The climb to the peak of the jutted structure is a vertical haul of limbs and grunts as the only support is a chain with no rails should your footing loosen.  Thankfully, much of the surface is very similar to the formations on the drive into the park, grainy and rough. Simply amazing.  Angel’s Landing (Above) is one of many stops in Zion that offers a seriously thrilling outdoor vibes.  Speaking of which, one thing you must avoid for the total Earthly experience is paid camping!  Don’t you dare succumb to the commercial routing of your vacation, shelling out money for an overly regulated nightly camp space. No way!

Where to Camp? 

There are numerous alternatives to paid camping!  What do I mean by this?  I mean you are surrounded by tens of miles of open land with many unused trails wide enough to drive down.

Young Society Plagued by Anxiety

What are Millennials? Who are we? So many of us wrap ourselves around the varying opinions of our very ‘special’ generation raised by the exponential explosion of technological advances. Some of us say we are the generation to prosper, the pioneers of the great metaphysical age of which we are vastly interconnected.  Others say we are the ‘entitled’ generation with no major war or struggle or even a major cause.  Our cause is ourselves. We are living in a time where we celebrate the individual.  We used to celebrate solidarity by the norm, only now the norm is simply not to have one at all- self celebration. For better or for worse, we are married to ourselves, ‘raised on the participation trophy’, as is now the common phrase branded upon millennials.  Regardless of our surroundings and the opinions made of our generation, the demon of the 21st century inhabits us all, anxiety.

At the first quiver of one’s waking eyes, the ephemeral tranquility of the mind soon buckles beneath the warped perception one carries of the world. Fear of failure suffocates one’s potential, flooding the inner workings of cognition until logic and reason are reduced to few manic sparks above the murky depths of the frontal lobe.  Breaths shorten, constricted at the will of the cortisol flowing within constricted veins.  An antenna dangles momentarily above the head as the signal isn’t quite receiving.  Could it be a new situation? Is someone threatening a conversation? Are people staring?  Behind the eyes lies a static screen, ushering white noise throughout the head and gushing out of the ears.  A distant whistle breaks the Velcro calamity  as thoughts are unlatched and the steam of what used to be synapses firing away puff billows of smoke as it chugs into oblivion.  The black and white realm of comprehension flurries into the incessant splatter of greys.   That is how anxiety works, it is debilitating.

Everyone subjects themselves to their own wardrobe of anxieties, a torture, ranging in severity. However, it always manifests itself as the same symptoms- brought to the forefront of reality, never requested.  What do you think of when you hear the word ‘anxiety’?  Do you think of the pink-haired girl with the less-than-conformed ensemble of black jeans and denim jacket; can you hear the Cobain?  Do you think of the man with the nose piercing and disheveled locks?  Or could you possibly imagine the guy with glasses who seldom speaks, only ever heard lecturing about the anime prominent in his life?  The truth is, it’s all of the above and much more.   This plague knows no prejudice, even if we do.

In my experience with Anxiety, words of comfort and understanding are only a feeble remedy to which I could never hold onto, mentally, nor does it seem true when I repeat them later to myself.  Often, these words are formulated with a lacking in dichotomy.  All the world sprouts and blossoms at the will of dichotomy, parted right down the middle, splitting both the stems and petals.  It is only sensible that our understanding of anxiety should follow suit.

One example I struggled with, and still do to this day, is the approach of life in general.  My mind wishes to find the normal way of conducting one’s self in every situation, to stay unnoticed and be productive in my protective sphere.  However, the dichotomy that I have come to understand is that the protective sphere, and my participation within it, has a specific time and place to exist.  Some of these places are morgues, cemeteries, banks, cafe’s and so on.  Here I do not have to be comfortable, some places simply put people at unease.  These places are where social norms are informally enforced the most, but everywhere else exists to be molded by me.  I have to remind myself that there is no right or wrong way act. Not in the moral sense, rather, in the sense of remaining incognito.  There is only my way of conducting myself and if it works for me, everyone else can naff off.

Often times anxiety makes itself present in my life through the concern for others over myself.  Through the day I will pass people and exchange comments and small talk with the barista or the cashier of wherever and I will cater my behavior towards what I believe will compliment them in their state of being.  I find it an arduous task to define myself in front of others.

I read a while back that most people with anxiety will see themselves from the third person point of view as if they’re simply playing a role, however that role is them, trapped in the first person.  The mental struggle of seeing yourself fit-in and wanting to be yourself exists in these perspectives of first and third person.  One will act and formulate ideas according to their first person perspective, however the third person perspective calls for a check-in on one’s place within their surroundings.  They’ll check and ask themselves “Do I belong?”.  Anxiety manifests itself when the two perspectives are at odds.  The  bummer is that due to the diverse nature of urban locations there can be no peace between the two perspectives.  Everybody is different.  There is often no security or safety in both.  Is it no coincidence that the cities are the most concentrated in diagnosed anxiety?

I grew up in Orange County of Southern California and now I currently live in Austin, Texas; two major urban locations. It was always hard for me to be my own person and fit in simultaneously, or so I always believed that.  I grew up with anxiety and so my memories may be warped. I may have fit in well, but I cannot be too sure.

The only thing I can be sure about is logic. It is not logical that people could dislike me for irrelevant things I do.  People cannot dislike me for wearing what I want to wear, within reason of course. People cannot dislike me for being me. If they do, that is okay because they are human and their opinion should not change nor shake me. You must grasp the first person and forget the third person.  The first person is you and everything you are. The sooner one can grasp the first person concept of self, in contrast to everyone else’s opinion (third person perspective), the sooner life begins to lighten up.

 

 

 

 

A King of Clubs

Deep in the throbbing epicenter of Austin’s downtown scene lies a concrete alleyway very familiar to the seasoned night-life enthusiasts all across Texas.  Pulsating in the heart of Austin’s warehouse district, emitting the muffled bumps and punches of lively sub-woofers onto the city streets lies Kingdom, a world-renowned nightclub and haven for passionate artists and electronics music patrons alike.  You will find that this is no ordinary club with no ordinary crowd.  Inside, the sparks fly from corner to corner as drinks are quaffed, music is celebrated, and the DJ’s are made far more than welcome.

Every weekend a bond is formed- the experience between DJ and crowd that manifests itself nowhere else.  With the DJ booth just foot or two above the dance floor, the connection between artist and audience is made.  On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays an exchange of ecstatic praise resounds through the building as the DJ answers with his heart and soul by way of sweat and sound.  Enormous names such as Don Diablo, ATB, and Nicole Moudaber have left their mark at kingdom along with many others, meticulously fading, plucking, and twisting away at the decks as the camaraderie only strengthens the sacred bond between ‘selecta’ and crowd.

But, what makes all of this possible?  Is it not usual to find a somewhat rhythmic connection between the dude behind the decks and those who’ve paid to see them, even if the stage is a little less isolated than a standard venue?  That’s where the underlying foundation of priorities and culture of Kingdom come in.  All money-grubbing sentiments, down to the slightest odors of the commercialized electronic industry, make it no further than the curbside, as the threshold of Kingdom’s alleyway entrance calls only for the rhythmic merriment between fellow man, woman, and everything in between, each and every weekend.

Despite the three-hundred person capacity, Kingdom accommodates far more than imaginable simply by feel, professionalism, and a dedication to keenly anticipate the ebb and flow of a growing electronic scene in Texas, if not the whole United States.  The open dance floor walls are lined with a candle lit shelf on one side, and an inviting, padded bench all along the other side for those who partake a little more casually, relatively speaking of course.  When the jam is pumping and the feet are stomping, it is easy to forget just how close you are to the thriving urbanity of downtown Austin, as the vibrato of piercing lights alludes you to believe that undergrounds are still the only way to peak the rhythm and soul that manifest so deeply in the roots of Kingdom’s core.

The place functions smoothly yet deliberately, as though an understanding has fallen upon the subconscious of all whom enter its stooped threshold, one of respect for the establishment and to everyone else inside it.  The stereotype of a club having fights and drunken quarrels really finds no application here.  Not even the typical EDM douche bag has much of a presence at Kingdom.  This is not to say that there is any informal sanction against anyone with lesser than positive intentions, only that the positive movement of what has come to be PLUR, Peace Love Unity Respect,  is deeply woven into the culture of Kingdom itself, starting with the management.

Owner Andrew Parsons manages Kingdom, carefully selecting world famous artists from all across the globe, he, not only inviting them to an experience matched nowhere else, includes them in the sanctuary of Austin, introducing them to its wonderful inhabitants.

Parsons has made it evidently clear that money is not the goal for Kingdom.  It is merely a tool, an avenue for the furthering progress. The real objective, which Parsons frequently stresses on social media, is the accessibility of the venue. This is easily observable after only last month He booked Eric Prydz at Kingdom for an insanely low ticket price.  Parsons cannot emphasize this enough as his love and passion for music cannot simply reside within him, rather,  he must make readily available this love and passion for everyone to participate in.  Parsons accomplishes this every weekend all the while continuously announcing the following talents for months to come, outdoing himself time and time again.

Not only do the local patrons recognize this, but so does the talent.  Major artists, who entered into the industry to share their love of music, anticipate their shows at Kingdom only to thankfully reminisce about their performance, days or even months afterwards.  The place is truly a grounds for acceptance and tolerance of everyone- a soulful, rhythmic extension of Andrew Parsons and even the City of Austin itself.

 

The City that Sleeps

Few awake and I’m one of them…

The waking hour of a crisp dusk gently flows over the rolling westward hills, blankets the  slumbering suburbs, and stretches through the city scrapers.  The gears are already moving as the steamy aroma of morning java wisps about the cafes and apartment kitchens.  Soon the city will echo the vivacious melody of Rhapsody in Blue, bouncing off of every street corner and ringing in the screeches of every worn-down brake pad.  The sun is climbing and the last yawns have sounded off.  Austin’s streets are filled with suits and briefcases, Ray-bans and Vans, pedestrians working at a quarter-time beat, students and tourists and students as tourists on their bikes and marching along in their Eco-friendly name-brand shoes.  The day will press on without pause. It will tick and tick as the seconds go by.

As the sun descends, sauntering downwards below the hills, seconds become minutes, each minute lasting longer than the previous one until finally reaching hours.  By now the ties are off, the dinner is ready and the soon the bed sheets will hold all the bodies as the city lights shine in vain for an absent audience.

It is at this quelling hour when I begin to pack my bag.  I stuff it with a water jug, snacks, cigarettes and the occasional gas mask while my camera hangs from my shoulder.  Only every so often do I have the time to do this.  Only once in a while can I walk around the city for hours taking pictures, redefining urban landscapes as I see them.  The thought alone of having the space of open streets, and the company of radiant neon signs all to myself, leaves me buzzing with nervous excitement.  The uncanny seclusion of thought, in a place so often a hive of footsteps and motors, truly is the world at your command.

Usually I will pick a starting point, an empty parking area that is risk-free of a $200 towing fee.  Then, I will set out with an empty memory card and a fully-charged camera battery, treading onward to scribble the desolate scene is a high-resolution fashion.  The bony downtown infrastructure, in need of a fleshy compliment, outlines only me as the scenery,signs and alleyways are my captives.  No one else is around, only the occasional wandering traveler or the settled homeless man under the stoops, sleeping on his makeshift bench bed.

The night is heavy with thick urban air as only the smallest of breezes make their way through the buildings.  The dense odor of the city rests on the streets, if only I were a bit taller would I be able to breathe.  The dusty smell of asphalt and cement, the same smell in every city and even at night, the zesty aroma of the day lingers as though hundreds of cars had just driven by only moments ago.

Every last light has its own radiant atmosphere around it, contrasting the still shadows and burning mine into the sidewalks as I stroll along.

Some nights I will walk for hours, crossing the town lake river twice, maybe three times.  Hunger and thirst are kept at bay with each small break, a nibble here a sip there.  No destination is ever sought. There is left, right and forward to go, each promising a bouquet of potential past every nearing corner.  Patterns and shadows wait for me as crosswalks become cross-walked, yellow tape and fencing permit my entry through scaffold thresholds.  Leaving no trace, not even cigarette butts are found following my pace.

Miles of walking and my camera battery nearly dead, I begin my walk back to the car. My legs heavy, my clothes damp and worn as the sweat of my brow has since been beading.

It is just another night, documented and cropped, that will find itself cozy in my memories and beholden of my expelled thoughts and feelings, no longer residing within me.

Similar to writing is the photographing of a tranquil city night.   Though the hustle and bustle of the day still resonates softly through steal beams and foundations, emanating a unique sense of a daytime prior, the night and architecture of it all is still at the whim of my perspective.  Though the city is tender, welcoming town yet to adopt the culture of a snobby urban sprawl, I still love to portray it as though I were in the forsaken industrial district of a formerly thriving metropolitan destination.

Fate over Sulfates: Having Dry Hair

Chemicals work, but do they heal?

Name Brand Cure

Ever since the first hormonal eruption upon my face and body as a young teen, I have been cursed with the embarrassing horror of dandruff.  I didn’t notice the flaky nuisance until the latter years of high school.  When I finally discovered my condition, I couldn’t be seen in public with it again. All the teenage angst and anxiety thrown in too, there was no way I was going to tolerate this rubbish. Not a chance. It was then that I finally sought out the very effective and popular brand, Head & Shouldersto finally rid me of the flaky snow-globe action, every time I wanted to vigorously tend to my frequently irritated scalp.  I continued to use Head & Shoulders for the next four years.  Those were four good years of smooth sailing in the cranial department. That was until this very winter season of 2016.

The dry winds of late November picked up, brushing away the swampy blanket that has enveloped Austin, Texas since last April.  This coming winter, unlike the past four, was different. for some reason the shampoo I had been using was only working for the 24 hours after showering, as opposed to the two to three days I had grown so fond of since my first use.  It could be coincidental, but this was also the first time I had ever attempted to grow my hair long, rather than maintain the routine three-inch max length I have gone my whole life with.  

The symptoms had come back, after four years, and this time I could not rely on the guaranteed scalp treatment from Head & Shoulders, I needed something more.  I started to do some research, checking the latest articles from all the women’s health websites that I assume many middle-aged women swear-by during their afternoon exchanges at their kids’ soccer practice.  What I came across was a whole world of sulfate this and essential oil that. So, what was next? Product was next; newer, healthier, functional shampoo and conditioner.

Healthy Alternative!

It is 2017! After spending a little more money than I am comfortable with on some of the more expensive shampoos and conditioners with little to no effect, I finally came across Renpure.  

With my hair reaching a length of nearly six inches now, I wanted to to take care of it with no chemicals what so ever.  That is where Renpure really gets me excited!  Though the bottle is not flashy and there is nothing about the label that makes you believe it is anything special, Renpure is the butter to my bread- the soft, scrumptious enhancement to my toasted head.  

I bought the Advanced version of the shampoo to start, because I wasn’t so concerned with the silicon chemicals in my current conditioner at the time. I used the shampoo for two weeks, feeling better within just the first four days- no dandruff and no itching. Perfect! With those results, I raced out and snagged the Renpure Advanced conditioner from my local Target.  My reasoning was that if the shampoo can work so well then why not compliment it?  Voila!

20170208_194556
just out the shower and no itching wussup?!

This picture was taken two weeks ago and my hair is more settled and without any irritation except from the hats and beanies I often wear. I am currently five weeks into use of these products and I have been recommending them to everyone I know, especially those who complain about their hair!  For those who are curious as to why this random brand works, allow me to display my findings!

Formula Breakdown 

There are no, I repeat, no unnatural chemicals in Renpure products.  Nothing is going to stick to your hair and weigh it down, nothing is going to leave your scalp irritated even if it isn’t usually dry, and,  all of it helps your body regulate the natural oil (sebum) that your skin releases.  Most other shampoos use chemicals that cling to your natural bodily oils such as sebum, then wash it away using a surface tension decreasing agent. The lack of natural oils causes a dry scalp for some.  For others, your body may over secrete sebum to compensate, however there are no real studies to conclude this.

Study on Sebum Secretion 

Renpure uses an assortment of oils as its major ingredients including; Coconut oil, Rapeseed oil (Canola oil), Tea Tree oil, Palm oil, and Argan oil. How interesting!  I am not a serious health guru…yet and so I find it tedious to research exactly what’s going on with these oils when it comes to dermatology and hair care, alas, the great news must be published!  Down below is a list of the oils and a credible source to find the gritty details of how these natural oils enrich your everyday life!

Coconut Oil , Sunflower Oil, Mineral Oil

Argan Oil 

Rapeseed Oil (Canola)

 Tea Tree Oil

Palm Oil

The wondrous ways of science are all there, affirming the continuous praise in which these healthy oils receive through and through.  It is never too late to go healthy, truly, you do not need to wear harem pants and sport dreadlocks to treat your body well and maintain a healthy state of being in general.  A little bit of research goes a long way and you’ll never know just how simple it is to cure your bodily shortcomings such as a dry scalp!