Superman Isn't Coming

He was born Kal-El and hailed from Krypton originally. His beloved father helped coordinate a narrow escape, one that would make him a refugee.
Although gifted with compassion and supernatural ability, he remained an outsider to western culture. He remained undocumented. Not long after his arrival, a kind-hearted couple from Kansas adopted him. He assimilated under the American name “Clark Kent,” and took on a regular, American life. As a normal American, he worked as a journalist with a 9 to 5; he aspired for comfort, love, and acceptance.
Superman isn’t coming. 
Under this Republican House and this Rebublican Senate, he would be at risk of deportation. Under such a regime, it wouldn’t be advantageous for him to draw attention to himself or to his family. It wouldn’t be worthwhile to arouse suspicion or ire. This injustice wouldn’t incite him to action; he wouldn’t know who to identify as the threat.
Superman is principled. He has a code of ethics and a moral standard. He isn’t swayed by political weight or political might. He isn’t moved by an overwhelming sense of justice for all. He is moved by isolated, dramatic instances of chaos: evil that must be eradicated. Immediately.
He believes in honor and truth, but honor above all else. Oh Captain, my Captain.
Superman isn’t coming.
He respects the law, and he respects those who govern it. He follows the rules that exist, no matter how unjust. If his own actions prove criminal, he accepts the consequences of his crimes. He takes responsibility. He needs his words to stand for something. He needs his plight to mean something.
Although he is a widely recognized and well-known hero, he aspires for normalcy. He wants a simple life with privacy, love, and southern comfort (not that kind).
Superman isn’t coming because he’s assimilated into mainstream, western identity and culture. He doesn’t rage against the machine. He doesn’t rally, march, protest, or picket.
He doesn’t stand in solidarity, organize, or mobilize. He doesn’t fight against gentrification, xenophobia, homophobia, racism, or women’s rights. Despite his power, knowledge, and virtue, he isn’t the hero we need.
Superman isn’t coming.
He’s an undocumented refugee who wants nothing more than a simple life and a separate peace.
He would sacrifice himself for the sake of others. He would sacrifice himself to spare the death of innocents, but he doesn’t fight to overcome sociopolitical danger. He doesn’t aspire to end classism or ageism. He won’t prevent war.
Superman isn’t coming, but perhaps this should cause no alarm.
He isn’t the hero we need. For all his ability and might, he doesn’t aspire to be our savior. It’s high time that we stop waiting.

Forget Paris

When I was younger, my father liked to help me with my homework. He loved history, geography, and anything that required building or creating. In 5th grade he helped me create a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower. We used wood and toothpicks, and we painted each individual piece. It was as time-consuming as it was intricate. It took weeks, multiple trips to multiple craft stores, a few hot glue gun burns, and some minor arguments caused by creative differences.
The result was not only an “A,” but a lifelong memory that connected architecture with education with family bonding with Europe/whiteness.
I grew up believing that travel was dangerous and wasteful. Traveling overseas was even more dangerous and even more wasteful. Longing for international experience made me feel disconnected from my southern roots and disconnected from my family.
I wanted Paris because of its natural beauty, because of Sabrina, and because of 5th grade Geography. It wasn’t about race or culture. It wasn’t about the struggle. It was about experiencing beauty up close and personal. It was about finding joy.
The trouble with Paris is that my memories and experiences are littered with positive, pure, life-giving snippets that pit European culture and European identity at the helm. It is iconic, desirable, and adored. I have few to no images that characterize other continents and other cultures so favorably (more on that later).
I ran into a woman recently who went out of her way to compliment me on my hair. “I’ve been on the fence for awhile, but your locs are so beautiful! What made you decide to get them?”
I smiled politely and said what I usually say, “Thank you so much! It took me awhile to decide too, but it was just time.”
I hesitated to say, declined to say, what was true.
What was true was that I had grown tired of understanding and appreciating black beauty in juxtaposition to whiteness. I had learned that my young niece wanted to straighten her hair so she could be pretty like the other little girls in her class. Pretty like the other girls who weren’t black.
I was tired of hearing people say that natural hair was unattractive or too difficult or just “didn’t look right.” I was tired of hearing men say that they preferred straight hair, and that I should let mine grow longer.
I was tired of believing and accepting the lie over and over and over and over and over and over again. Legitimacy is important.
Forget Paris.
Paris was a symbol. For me, it was one that was deeply rooted, intimate, and personal. I wanted Paris because of the memory of the early moments spent with my father. It was iconic. But truthfully, I never wanted Paris because of its significance, or its legacy, or its cultural and historical importance. Paris was never about Paris. It was about nostalgia, reputation, and hype.
Forget Paris.
Go back to the beginning and start again. Figure out what Paris means to you and why you want it. Once you know why you want it and what you want, go back and get those things. Aspire for those things instead of Paris.
Figure out if you want Paris because of Paris or because of what you once wanted but failed to actualize.
Figure out if your desire for Paris is problematic or deeply rooted in a philosophy or an ideology that is counter-productive, harmful, or just not real.
Figure out if your desire for Paris has stifled you from a better vision that you can’t yet imagine.
Forget Paris.

Day 2, Week 25: You Don't Know What You Don't Know

A few years ago I visited the Old Town School of Folk Music for a Meshell Ndegeocello concert. It was a crisp fall night and the breeze was subtle, so we ventured for a walk after the show to find a quick, cheap bite to eat.
We met her, accidentally, in the street. Wool hat, plaid shirt, army-colored boots. There wasn’t a crowd around her or even any bodyguards. She must’ve wanted the same thing we did: a little fresh air and some food.
We hadn’t spoken a word for most of her show. We watched the performance in stunned silence: mesmerized, captivated. We giggled for a second nervously, debating whether to ask for a picture. I could’ve touched her arm!
Passersby who’d observed the exchange whispered to each other with confused faces, “who is she?”
What?! The struggle.
You don’t know what you don’t know, and what you don’t know matters.
This week was a mixed bag. I did more research on investing and started making lists of unfamiliar terms.
Whenever I encounter a problem that needs a solution, I do one of three things:

  1. I organize the parts that make sense, the pieces I can control. Usually this looks like a list, a chart, a spreadsheet, or a new filing system.
  2. I evaluate what’s working well via research, data, statistics, conversations with experts, anecdotal info, etc.
  3. I organize the parts that don’t make sense (the parts I can’t control). These two aren’t necessarily the same thing. Then I figure out a) who or what controls those parts, and b) whether those parties, factions, or structures can be moved.

I started by making a list of the terms I need to research:

  • asset classes
  • dollar cost averaging
  • Class C and Class A stocks
  • P-ratios
  • short/shorting
  • short sell
  • gross margin
  • penny stocks
  • blue chip stock
  • SEC filings

Then I created a list of questions:

  • If you own shares of a company that offers dividends, but then you sell your shares of that stock, will you still receive dividends for the period when you owned the stock?
  • Where can you find a company’s income statements and balance sheets?
  • What’s the best strategy for selling your shares of a stock, i.e. when is it most advantageous?
  • Do you need special knowledge to become a day trader? Can you day trade on Robinhood, or is it best to go through a brokerage firm?
  • Best case scenario, what’s a realistic amount that an inexperienced investor can potentially earn in their first year of investing?

Then I summarized the tips from the resources I’ve been reviewing:

  • Diversify your investment portfolio to minimize potential losses
  • Decide what kind of investor you want to be. A day trader? Someone who puts money in and just leaves it there? A penny stock trader?
  • Invest less than two-thirds of your funds in your brokerage account. Leave one-third in case your stock falls.
  • Read the quarterly reports, annual reports, investor relations page, etc. for the stocks you invest in (or plan to invest in).
  • Set a fixed amount that you plan to invest each quarter or each year.
  • Read The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
  • Research/study best practices of prominent investors
  • To diversify your portfolio, plan to invest in no more than 5-7 stocks TOTAL (as a beginner)
  • Decide what your investing goals are. Pay off debt? Earn additional income? Save for retirement?

The week has been kind. In early May I invested $50 into my Robinhood account and purchased two shares of Ford stock. Last week, I put in $200 more and bought one share of Netflix stock. I plan to keep them for the long haul. In the meantime, I’ll continue to research best practices.
The month has been up and down but as of today with my three shares (2 Ford, 1 Netflix), I’m up $3.15. SUCCESS!
What tips would you recommend for a brand new investor?
Have you ever 
missed an opportunity because you didn’t know what you didn’t know?