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The ACT can KMA

I hate the ACT.

I make it known to as many people as I can, at whatever opportunity I can. It’s a test that’s made too important amongst my classmates and my family. Every time the topic comes up in school, I feel stupid. Every time it comes up at home, there’s tension. Friends use it as a basis for comparison, and it makes me feel like I’m stupid. The crazy thing about it is, I did well. But, in my high-performing magnet arts school, so many people did better, and it’s held over my head like a cloud that rains on my parade at the worst times.

And there’s so much riding on this score. One point is the difference between acceptance and rejection from your dream school. From a free ride to thousands of dollars of debt. One mistake, one misread question, one math concept that happens to slip your mind, and you consider yourself a failure when your score comes back. No matter how smart, how talented, how awesome you know you are, if you know someone who did better than you, you’ll have a little voice in the back of your head, whispering bad things into your conscience. Why didn’t you do as good as her? You’ll never succeed.

 

At least, that’s how it is for me. Maybe you aren’t that affected by the test. I can assure you that you’re an anomaly. With this test, the general anxiety is through the roof. Young kids are worried about their parents, about their schools, about their lives. It’s one of the most unfair things in life. A sixteen year old shouldn’t have to feel like their entire lives depend on the fate of test-makers who have bad intentions and set you up to fail. We can’t smoke, we can’t drink, we can’t vote, and we can barely drive. Apparently, we can have a developed enough brain to be able to hold copious amounts of content (and pull the right parts of it quickly), have enough logic to learn and apply strategy, and be able to maintain a stable enough mental state to take this test successfully. It’s a scary thing we go through.

I take the ACT on Saturday. I am more than ready to take it. I’ve put in too much time, too much thought, too much physical exertion. My brain hurts and I’m tired. I want to cry, but I don’t think I physically can anymore. This test has made me resent my friends, be ashamed in front of my family, and hate myself. I know there will be more trying things in my life in the years to come. As a matter of fact, I’ve gone through things far worse than the ACT. However, none of these things have made me have such a negative outlook. There’s usually a silver lining to everything, but the only silver lining here is that, in a couple days, this will all be over. You’d best believe I’m more than excited to be rid of this torture test.

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GUEST BLOG: Joursive – A Black Girl’s Experience

FabulousVibes

Click Here to Visit Joursive!

Growing up as a black girl is hard. But, we all have different experiences with our femininity, our blackness, and our culture, however it may mesh together. For the past couple of years, since I’ve become a bit hypersensitive to my blackness, I’ve taken every opportunity to delve into the role my skin color and culture played when it comes to who I am right now. It would only be right to share my experiences, so others don’t feel as alone as I did. I am not of mixed race, but of mixed ethnicity. My mother was born in the United States, and my dad was born in Ghana. Because they don’t together, I’ve always felt torn between two cultures: one full of comfort food and soul music, and one full of kente cloth and stories of the motherland. The cultures never intermingled, and I…

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Me and Justice #FabulousVibes

I remember the first time I met Justice Bennett. I was an incoming freshman at my high school, and we were having Crimson Day, a freshman orientation of sorts. I was looking around the auditorium, as I didn’t know anyone and I was very nervous. After a short period of time, Justice and her friend came up to us.

“Hey!” She said, the ball of energy that she is. “My name is Justice, and this is my friend, Kris.”

I waved back shyly. “I’m Akwellé.”

“That’s a beautiful name!” We smiled at each other for a second. “We’re sophomores, by the way.” I was shocked. With the way Justice carried herself, I assumed she was a senior.

“That’s cool.” A silence ensued. It would normally be considered awkward, but with Justice, it wasn’t. Her vibe was immediately comforting, and even though I was extremely anxious only a couple minutes ago, at that moment, I was at ease.

“Do you have any questions?”

“Yeah. Um, is there a step team here?”

Justice’s face lit up. “There is a step team here! As a matter of fact, Kris and I are on it! It’s called the Dreamers. Are you thinking of trying out?”

I nodded my head and offered a soft smile. This girl is really cool, and she’s on the step team? Wow.

Shortly after our conversation, Justice and Kris had to part ways with me, but that was okay. It was one of my first experiences in high school, and because of her, it was shaping up to be great.

***

I didn’t realize it at the time, but Justice has always had the “auntie” vibe. Fun, a little stern, and very caring. I can recall one instance where she really let this show: the step team tryouts my freshman year.

The day after we learned the dance/step combo, us freshmen looked like baby deer as we waited to be called up to try out. Justice quickly got us into shape.

“Remember, guys,” she said, in her clear voice. “Be loud! Keep your arms straight! And facial expressions are key! You know the steps, just go out there and do them.” Justice made me feel like there was no way I wasn’t going to make the team. After I did the routine, Justice calmed me down and reminded me that even though I made mistakes, everyone did, and I was going to be fine even if I wasn’t perfect.

I was cut, but I was feeling okay because the next year, I was on the team, stepping my heart out. Justice, however, wasn’t there. 2016 was the magic year, because both of us were stepping. Finally, a friendship could begin to blossom.

***

I was there at the very beginning of Justice’s blog, and I’m proud to say that I’ve read every post and watched every video (except one… sorry girl!) and eveything she’s written is golden. I love reading what she has to say, and her advice is priceless. Since her blog’s started, I’ve seen myself blossom into a more confident young woman, and I’ve grown more appreication for the color of my skin. I’m so proud of Justice. She’s smart, savvy, strong, and independent. Don’t be surprised if, a few years from now, you and your friends are wearing FabulousVibes merchandise! From the very beginning, even before we were friends, Justice has looked out for me, she’s included me, and she’s cared about me. For that, I am forever greatful.

Justice, I want you to know how much I love and care about you. Now, you’re getting older, and you’re doing bigger and better things, like going to college! I’m proud of you. I’ll try to stick around with you, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up! You’re going to do great things, girly. Enjoy your birthday, Auntie J!

***

Guys, experience the great things I’ve experienced with Justice’s blog, brand, and #FabulousVibes movement! Click here or click the link on Joursive’s “Social” page to read all of the great writing, and follow Justice on Instagram and Twitter @Auntiejustice!

 

 

I Won’t Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance

I haven’t stood for the Pledge of Allegiance for almost a year.

At a recent school event, when the attendees were asked to stand, I didn’t. Neither did my friend (let’s call him R). However, when we realized a choir which some of our friends belonged to was singing the national anthem, we stood to honor them. We didn’t think it out of the ordinary, and we continued the day in a relative peace.

Later that evening, I was at dinner with R and some of our other friends, and I heard him mention my name. Apparently, while I had continued on my day in peace, R was arguing with a friend of his who commented, “How can you sit for the pledge, but stand for the anthem?”

R and his “friend” argued the whole day, in a conversation that was mostly disrespectful stubbornness from the friend and strong yet exasperated rebuttals from R (with some support from his friends). However, I know some of you reading this now might be asking the same question R’s friend had. Allow me to answer that for you.

The pledge is connotative. For me, the Pledge of Allegiance is a promise that our country’s citizens are going to protect the liberty and justice of everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or status. From police killing innocent people to the wage gap, from states refusing to give marriage licenses to gay couples to the “Build the Wall” movement, it is more than obvious that the “liberty and justice” that the pledge promises is not fulfilled. So, I will not stand for something I don’t believe is happening.

As for our national anthem, I will always stand for it, even if my friends aren’t performing. The national anthem represents for me what the flag represents for a lot of people I talk to—the fight for freedom. Our national anthem was born when Francis Scott Key watched soldiers fight for the preservation of a new nation where people could live as they want. Although the system wasn’t perfect at that time, I still respect the efforts of these brave men, and how they inspired today’s military to continue to preserve our nation, a nation which attempts to be a land in which everyone can live freely. So, out of respect, I stand.

I respect those who stand for the pledge. It has different meaning to them than it does for me, and they are not hurting anyone or anything, so I let them be. However, some of these people cannot show me the same respect. I will get into argument after argument with people who disagree with my choice to not stand. It is these people who I want to address, even if they do tend to be more like brick walls and less like rational people. I ask: If I am not hurting anyone, why are you so persistent when it comes to shaming me for my views? Why do you feel as if me standing for the pledge is the only way I can show respect to the military? Why is standing at a flag and chanting a pledge considered a form of respect to the military?

I don’t think I’ll ever stand for the pledge, because I don’t see this country making the necessary changes to be a more equal state during my lifetime. I will stand for the anthem, because I do as I please in accordance with my beliefs. All I ask is that I give the same respect I give to everyone.

CAUTION: Senior Year may be Closer than it Appears

CAUTION: Senior Year May be Closer than it Appears

At first it was just an Instagram caption; the kind we all try to perfect with our wit. But, the caption got me thinking, and seriously questioning my future. Of course, not my future as in career and family; more like next year future. I feel that juniors deserve their senior year as more of a relaxing time after the absolute agony they went through with ACT/SAT and just the year in general. Junior year is not fun... well, not always fun. Of course, we all live up the feeling of finally being upperclassmen, the feeling of having more freedom now than we used to have. It was all a built up excitement of being able to rush the floor during pep rallies, of being able to drive to school and all of our after school festivities. During Manual's ring ceremony, though, the thought of my last year of my parents making a curfew for me, the thought of my last everything–last first day, last Red/White Week/Manual vs. Male game, last pep rallies, last year with my best friends, and my last days at Manual High School–had me in tears on my way home.
 While we, as incoming seniors, are about to live up the last year of our mandatory education, we also have a lot of pressure on our shoulders within the next nine months. Adults are throwing us one big "Congrats on having to figure your entire future in one school year" party, and we are all breaking out in stress acne. Don't lie, because I am too. And, going to such a rigorous school doesn't help in the slightest. We can't let AP classes and college applications ruin our last year of high school! Yes, colleges still look at how challenging your course load is and how well you're doing, but if you're drowning yourself in ridiculous and unnecessary college classes that you might not even pass anyway and are going to constantly stress over, why? Why not just sit back and smell the roses, enjoy your last year of not having to make your own food and, *GASP* do your own LAUNDRY!? 
 I'm not telling you what to do, I'm just giving you advice on what I would do. I'd probably take one or two AP classes, take manditory courses, and then take classes I will actually enjoy. In 15 years, I want to remember all of the adventures I had senior year, I probably won't remember what my AP Psych teacher told me to read for our Chapter 10 test. Take some time to enjoy your last moments walking around the school that made you into your future self. Stop, smell the roses.