A recent job application I filled out asked this question and I thought I would share my answer with you guys:
How would you define racism? What has led you to understand racism this way?
Racism is the undeserved judgment of one’s character based on cultural constructs about one’s skin color, language, background, traditions, homeland, and societal status. It is the idea that certain people are inferior to others because of some arbitrary conceptualization of their biological traits and the subsequent minimization of resources and opportunities. Fundamentally, racism comes from ignorance; people who are racist are ignorant to the fact that we are ALL human beings. Racism is unfair, undeserved, unnecessary, and unfortunately, part of all of us.
To me, racism is the idea that a homeless African girl who lives on the street wouldn’t want a tiara just as much as a privileged white girl. It is the fact that yesterday, when I gave that little girl the tiara, I was surprised by her reaction, and more surprised by her mother’s reaction. In my time in South Africa, I have been asked for money more times than I can remember; I have never once thought about sharing more than food. When this little girl’s mother told me “you have no idea how much this means to her, we sleep on the streets” as a grin broke out across her daughter’s face, I questioned why I had never thought about giving a gift to the children who grow up differently than I did. While I know I still don’t understand all my biases, yesterday I realized that children are children, no matter their circumstances, and that every little girl, whatever her upbringing, might still aspire to be a princess.
This is hilarious.
Well, I’m back to summer and that means summer food! Popsicles and ice cream (totally ate both of those today) and fresh berries and salads are just some of the best summer options. It was a gorgeous day today, so I figured it was a perfect day to make a summer dinner for my family. I’ve never done a food blog post before, but here goes nothing. After buying ice cream, I stopped by the local grocery store and picked up some pasta, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and some seasonal vegetables. With this, I made a caprese pasta and an avocado, tomato, and cucumber chopped salad. Paired with a tall glass of pink lemonade, we had the perfect dinner for a warm day. Next time you’re looking for a good summer recipe, try it out – you won’t be disappointed.
So I’ve been back in the U.S. of A. for an entire week now and I’m definitely experiencing some reverse culture shock. Since my friends seem to be getting bored of me saying “Oh my god, I forgot _____ was a thing in America! In South Africa…….,” I figured I’d share my thoughts with all you wonderful people out there in the blogosphere. Here is my list of things I totally forgot existed in America and am now having to come to terms with:
1. Outlets everywhere. To be fair, I knew this was something I was missing, but it’s still so nice to get to experience the surplus of outlets.
2. Really big TVs. We have huge-ass TVs here and it’s ridiculous and wonderful.
3. Fat people. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Other countries just don’t compare when it comes to obesity. And as nice as the woman next to me on the plane was, it still made me ashamed for America when she came back from the bathroom out of breath from the walk.
4. Giant cars. I forgot what it was like for most cars to be taller than me. It’s kind of terrifying, but I’m never going to complain about big parking spots.
5. Sale sections. I missed sale sections of stores more than I realized – I just can’t bring myself to buy full-priced things so sales are essential to my life. Not joking.
6. Successful TV jingles.
7. Really terrible car and furniture store commercials (Yeah, these two don’t need explanations. You all know what I’m talking about).
8. Water at restaurants. It is so nice to not have to ask for tap water. This is what the life of luxury looks like.
As much as I’m enjoying being home, I’m really not a fan of the prices here. I’m denying that I actually have to pay for things by not taking any cash out and continuing to only have South African rand in my wallet. Whatever. Baby steps.
I aspire to have these 25 things in 5 years.
1. Enough confidence to no longer feel the need to justify what she eats, who she dates or what she wears, not only to other people, but to herself.
2. A bank account with three months’ living expenses in it.
3. Only the phone numbers, Facebook friends, weekend plans, and roommates she actually wants.
4. A best friend who is like a sister.
5. A space of her own.
6. A good idea of what she needs in a romantic relationship, not just what she wants, or what she thinks she needs, and the willingness to explore different people and other ideas to find what exactly that is.
7. A closet of what she considers to be her “staples,” and among these things, something to wear to an interview, funeral, wedding, impromptu Friday night drink at a casual bar and dream date if ever someone were to call out of the…
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As most of you know, I have spent the last four months in Cape Town, South Africa studying abroad at the University of Cape Town. While I have absolutely loved my experience here, there are so many things I never even realized I took for granted at home until I left. Next week, I will depart from this incredible city and board my 15-hour flight home. I know that next week I will be a mess of emotions – excitement, confusion, sadness, and just general overwhelmedness (we’ll pretend that’s a word) – so before I enter the angst that will be next week, I decided this post was necessary (you know, in order to offset the “I hate America, take me back to South Africa” post that is sure to appear in the next month). The following is my list of totally insignificant things I miss about America and am excited to go back to next week. Because #Murica.
- Stick Deodorant – In South Africa, they mostly use roll-on and spray-on deodorant. I decided to “do as the locals do” and buy myself some roll-on deodorant when I ran out of my American-bought deodorant, and I have been less than impressed. I’m also not entirely sure how spray-on deodorant work and I’m 90% sure that if I tried it, everything BUT my armpits would end up perspiration-free. I can’t wait to get home and get myself some Degree Motion-Sense Technology Deodorant with some ridiculous name like “Cherry Blossom” (okay, you’re not fooling anyone, there is no chance my armpits are EVER going to smell like cherry blossoms) that will keep me fresh and clean all day long.
- Water at Restaurants – Apparently getting tap water upon sitting down at restaurants here is not a thing. I’ve come to accept this over the past four months, however, I will be overly grateful for every glass of water I get at home without having to ask for it.
- Reliable Internet – Okay, I know these are all first world problems, but when I am at school and have assignments that require me to do research online, I don’t think it’s ridiculous to expect reliable internet.
- 3G – On a related note, I cannot wait for the moment when the plane lands at JFK and I can switch my phone off of Airplane Mode for the first time since January 27th. Constantly asking “Hi, do you have a wifi password?” has taken its toll on me – I now regularly feel like an eighth grade girl who sleeps with her phone in her hand.
- Customer Service – While hiring 6 people to work during the quiet hours of the frozen yogurt place has its benefits (like giving more people jobs), it doesn’t help when they all stand behind the counter speaking in a language you don’t understand and refusing to acknowledge your presence. I’m excited to come back to America, where the customer is always right.
- A Normal Level of Enthusiasm About KFC – KFC is a really big thing here. Like, a REALLY big thing. I don’t get it. They don’t even have biscuits at KFC here, which is definitely the best part.
- Bagels – “They’re like not sweet donuts right?” WRONG. Why do they have so much damn cream cheese here if there are no bagels to put them on?! I will never understand.
- Kraft Products – No Easy Mac? What’s a college student to do?! I’m surprised that Kraft has not realized what a big market they would have here, but since they’re behind the game, the only logical thing to do was to have my parents bring me six boxes of Mac&Cheese (SpongeBob shapes included).
- Target – I don’t even think I need to explain this one, but I miss Target so much. I miss the Starbucks when you walk in and the $1 section at the front where most things aren’t a dollar but still seem worth it; I miss the familiar red shirts and khakis and the price scanning machine that’s never near you when you need it; I miss being able to buy my clothes and food and DVDs all in the same place and being distracted by the shoe section every time I go in; I miss the sales and the snacks. I could keep going but I’m getting a little teary-eyed over here (kidding… mostly).
- Refrigerated Eggs – They don’t refrigerate eggs here, and while I don’t have a problem with that, seeing as they’ve never caused me any problems, I still just don’t understand how that works. I’m sure I could do more research on their pasteurization process, but that sounds like a lot of work. Similarly, I like only having the option of refrigerated milk – they have “long life milk” here that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, which is a great idea and all, but it just doesn’t taste the same.
- Mexican Food – In its defense, South Africa is very far from Mexico, but the Mexican food here is quite sub-par. Sweet chili sauce does not belong on Mexican food. Nor does BBQ pork. I need my West Coast Mexican food ASAP.
- Real Coffee – South Africans love their instant coffee. So much so that they have to specify when coffee isn’t instant by calling it “filter coffee.” Well, I miss filter coffee.
- Outlets – I have one outlet in my room. For both me and my roommate. The number of times we have almost electrocuted ourselves trying to plug our computer chargers into the outlet extender into the converter into the splitter that also has a light and a fan plugged into it is… really really high. And by “almost” I mean we have. Visible sparks happen every time. It’s janky.
Please don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE this country. I have just come to the end of my trip and realized I’m excited to come home. Keep reading in the next few weeks for a similar list about things I miss from here, which will probably be much more extensive.