A daily exercise plan! Do these exercises throughout the day (and add in your own) to get into the habit of daily fitness.

Note that I said “throughout the day.” These aren’t meant to be completed all at once, though you could if you’re that fit. But feel free to do only 10 or 20 jumping jacks at a time. Just keep track of them and try to hit the goal before you go to bed.

Raising a black boy in this country is damn hard work. And, as we are reminded again and again, even when the work pays off, all too often the reward — a long, promising life — is struck down. And the fear of that danger can poison the way we love each other. I’m doing this to you because I’m scared for you. That may be true, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

One of the bullets entered the top of Mr. Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury, according to Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, who flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family’s request to conduct the separate autopsy. It was likely the last of bullets to hit him, he said.

For how long did Americans retain their original British accents?

Answer by Andy Lee Chaisiri:

American English is ‘older’ than modern British English

That sounds counter intuitive and weird, but what I mean is that the kind of English Americans speak today is closer to what British were speaking in the 1700’s than how they do in Mr. Bean and 007 movies today. Here’s an article that covers the topic:

It is the standard British accent that has drastically changed in the past two centuries, while the typical American accent has changed only subtly.

It was around the time of the American Revolution that non-rhotic speech came into use among the upper class in southern England, in and around London. According to John Algeo in “The Cambridge History of the English Language” (Cambridge University Press, 2001), this shift occurred because people of low birth rank who had become wealthy during the Industrial Revolution were seeking ways to distinguish themselves from other commoners; they cultivated the prestigious non-rhotic pronunciation in order to demonstrate their new upper-class status.
-Why Do Americans and Brits Have Different Accents?

So the next time you want to take the piss out of a British friend, call them out for losing touch with their ancestor’s accents.

A proud accent with centuries of continuous history
For how long did Americans retain their original British accents?

How can I get to know what people actually think of me?

Answer by Jordan Phoenix:

I created an exercise called “How does the rest of the world perceive you?” that became a big hit at a personal development retreat I organized several years ago.

Here’s how it works:

Some friends and I were camped out in the middle of the wilderness for several days, which I believe is the optimal environment for something like this. Since it was my idea, I chose to be the guinea pig and go first. I walked a few hundred yards away from the group (far away enough to be able to hear yelling, but not able to hear any talking), while they discussed my strengths, my weaknesses, and areas for improvement as a human being.

There was no time limit. The idea was to create a list comprehensive enough to cover everything, and pull no punches. I was to stay put until they yelled out for me to come back. Needless to say, those 20 minutes or so were as nerve wracking as any I can remember.

One person was in charge of reading the list they created. I cringed the whole time, scared shitless every time they would get to the next item.

And then, it was over. “That was it?” I thought. That wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined it was going to be. There were two very important areas of focus they told me I needed to improve upon:

1. Not everything in life is so black and white; life is messy, and there can a lot of grey area in between in complex situations. Be willing to see things differently.

2. It’s okay to be open and vulnerable; you don’t always need to portray strength and a sense that you have everything under control.

These were spot on, and becoming aware of these blind spots definitely helped me become a better person.

Each person had their turn to walk away from the group, and then come back to face the uncomfortable truths that everyone knew about but themselves. I believe this was such an important part of it, because in this way, it became acceptable for each person to hear the things they needed to hear without feeling defensive, or as if everyone was ganging up on them, because we were all in it together.

We all have certain flaws; and often times, there are some things we do that bother other people that everyone knows about except us. The only clue we ever get is that people disappear from our lives without warning, and the pattern repeats with every new person we meet, until we become aware of what our blind spots are. I highly recommend rounding up a bunch of friends in order to try something like this. It will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

For previews of my upcoming book:
It’s All My Fault: How I Messed Up the World, and Why I Need Your Help to Fix It
How can I get to know what people actually think of me?

The Weight - E2L Day #1

My new roommates and I are starting the 6 week Eat to Live meal plan.  It’s easier to call it a diet, but I hope to continue many of its facets after the six weeks are up.  The rules:

In unlimited quantities, I can eat raw veggies; steamed or cooked green veggies, eggplants, mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower; beans and other legumes; fresh and frozen fruit.

In limited quantities, I can eat 1 cup per day of cooked starchy veggies or whole grains (winter squash, corn, potatoes, rice, bread, cereal); one ounce per day of raw nuts or seeds; 2/5 of an avocado (about 2 ounces); 2 tablespoons per day of dried fruit; 1 tablespoon per day of flaxseed.

I cannot eat or drink dairy products; animal products; snacks between meals; fruit juice; oils; processed foods; booze; added sugar and salt.

I know it sounds totally crazy pants to limit my food intake so much for six weeks.  But then I weighed myself this morning.  I weigh 200 pounds.  199.6 to be exact.  And very little of that is muscle, because I stopped exercising over a year ago.  I’m only 5’5” :(

This is unacceptable, personally and professionally.  Professionally, I’ve sacrificed income for two year because I chose a career that requires me to be in amazing shape and then I gained 50 lbs of fat in half of that time.  Personally, my self-confidence is in shambles, I’m lonely, and I can’t imagine any of the men who I desire wanting me back.

I’ve let the emotional weight of my past year and a half of troubles turn into physical weight.  I’m literally wearing my depression.  And it’s time to get rid of it.

Food-wise, I don’t intend to stay a vegan, but I will probably stop eating beef again, limit my chicken and pork intake to once per week (for one or the other).  I love seafood, so being an almost-pescatarian isn’t a problem for me.  I’ll continue limiting my starchy veggies and grains, because I often rely on bready stuff to stave off hunger.  And I love cheeses, so that will make a return.  I’m also going to try to get most of my sugar from fruit, but I’ll always love chocolate and will figure out healthier ways to incorporate it into my diet.

I will start exercising again.  I live near the Bayou now, so I’m going to start walking up to City Park and back every morning.  That will be about 2.5 miles.  Then I’ll probably switch to biking, then some combination of biking and jogging.  Once I get down to 160 I’ll start hitting the gym and building muscle to burn off the rest of this fat.  I don’t really have a goal weight because I want to build toned muscles as well as lose fat, but I would like to fit into to at least a size 6, if not 4.

I’m swimming towards the top of the ocean.  I hope to break the surface before the end of the year.


Black and unarmed.

Remember the names of unarmed Black men who were killed by police or vigilantes. This is only a short list, please reply with other names so we may remember these men.

Trayvon Martin.

The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman took place on the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida.  Martin was a 17-year-old African American high school student. He was unarmed and headed home after buying skittles and sweet tea from a gas station close to his home. George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old multi-racial Hispanic American was the neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where Martin was temporarily staying and where the shooting took place. Zimmerman, against the instructions of the Emergency dispatcher pursued Martin on foot calling him “the suspect.” When the case garnered international attention sparking protests all over the world, the state of Florida filled charges against him 46 days after Martin’s death. Zimmerman was tried for second-degree murder and manslaughterand found not guilty on Saturday, July 13, 2013.

Ervin Jefferson

The 18-year-old was shot and killed by two security guards — also African American — outside his Atlanta home on Saturday, March 24, 2012. His mother says that he was unarmed and trying to protect his sister from a crowd that was threatening her.

Amadou Diallo

22-year-old Amadou Ahmed Diallo, a Guinnea-Bissau immigrant, was killed when four white New York police officers in plain clothes fired 41 shots at him, 19 of which hit his body. The officers said they thought Diallo was reaching for a gun when they shot him in the doorway of his apartment. Turns out it was his wallet. During the trial, the officers admitted that they never considered the situation (four strangers in an unmarked car with guns approaching a guy on his stoop at night) from Diallo’s point of view. They were acquitted of all charges

 Patrick Dorismond

The 26-year-old father of two young girls was shot to death in 2000 during a confrontation with undercover police officers who asked him where they could purchase drugs. An officer claimed thatDorismond — who was unarmed — grabbed his gun and caused his own death. But the incident made many wonder whether the recent acquittal of the officers in the Amadou Diallo case sent a signal that the police had a license to kill without consequence

Ousmane Zongo

In 2003 Officer Bryan A. Conroy confronted and killed Zongo in New York City during a raid on a counterfeit-CD ring with which Zongo had no involvement. Relatives of the 43-year-old man from Burkina Faso settled a lawsuit against the city for $3 million. The judge in the trial of the officer who shot him (and was convicted of criminally negligent homicide but did not serve jail time) said he was “insufficiently trained, insufficiently supervised and insufficiently led.”

Timothy Stansbury

Unarmed and with no criminal record, 19-year-old Stansbury was killed in 2004 in a Brooklyn, N.Y., stairwell. The officer who shot him said he was startled and fired by mistake. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called his death “a tragic incident that compels us to take an in-depth look at our tactics and training, both for new and veteran officers.” A grand jury deemed it an accident.

Sean Bell

Hours before his wedding, 23-year-oldSean Bell left the strip that hosted his bachelor party, jumped into a car with two friends, and was killed when police fire 50 shots into his vehicle. Police say they opened fire after Bell rammed his car into an unmarked police van filled with plainclothes officers. They say they followed Bell and his friends outside the club suspecting that one person in their group had a gun. Referring to Bell and his friends, Mayor Bloomberg told the Associated Press "there is no evidence that they did anything wrong." A judge acquitted the officers of all charges in 2008. 

Orlando Barlow

While surrendering on his knees in front of four Las Vegas police officers, Orlando Barlow was shot with an assault rifle by officer Brian Hartman 50 feet away. Hartman argued that he feared Barlow was feigning surrender and about to grab a gun. Barlow was unarmed. A jury ruled the shooting “excusable.” Hartman later resigned from the force a month before a federal probe uncovered that he and other officers printed T-Shirts labeled ”BDRT” which stood for “Baby’s Daddy Removal Team” and “Big Dogs Run Together.” 

Aaron Campbell

 Portland police officers got a call to check on a suicidal and armed man at an apartment complex. Aaron Campbell,25, came of the apartment walking backward toward police with his hands over his head. The Oregonian reported that police say Campbell ignored their orders to put his hands up. At which point one officer fired six bean bag shots at his back. Witnesses say they saw Campbell reach his arm around his back, where the beanbag struck him. Officer Ronald Frashour said he saw Campbell reach both hands around his waistband to get a gun, and so he shot Campbell in the back with an assault rifle. The jury acquitted the police officer with no criminal wrongdoing.

Victor Steen
17-year-old Victor Steen died when he fled from police, was tasered, crashed his bicycle and was run over by police cruiser. Steen committed a simple traffic violation while riding his bike. The deadly incident was captured on video. The officers were acquitted of any criminal wrongdoing.

Ronald Madison and James Brissette

In 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, five officers opened fire on an unarmed family on the east side of the Danziger Bridge, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding four others. Next, officers shot at brothers Lance and Ronald Madison. Ronald, a 40-year-old man with severe mental disabilities, was running away when he was hit, and an officer stomped on and kicked him before he died. In a federal criminal trial, five officers involved in what have become known as the “Danziger Bridge Shootings” were convicted of various civil rights violations, but not murder.

Oscar Grant

On New Years morning, 2009, three Bay Area Rapid Transit officers pulled 22-year-old Oscar Grant and four other black men off a train in Oakland. You can view what happened afterwards in this Youtube video. In it, former-transit officer Mehserle can be seen shooting Grant in the back. During the trial, Mehserle argued that he thought Grant was reaching for a gun near his waistband. To stop this from happening, Mehserle said he intended to Tase him, but shot him with a pistol instead. He was sentenced to two years in prison and served 11 months.

Jordan Davis

On Nov. 23, an unarmed, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, was shot and killed by Michael Dunn after an argument over loud rap music. Dunn, 46, Davis through the window of a sport utility vehicle at a Jacksonville convenience store gas station before driving away, authorities say.Officials say Dunn parked next to the vehicle where Davis was sitting with three other teens. Dunn complained about the loud music and they started arguing. Dunn told police he thought he saw a gun and fired eight or nine shots into the vehicle. N He is charged with first degree murder.

 Kenneth Chamberlain

On November 19, 2011, after his Life Aid medical alert necklace was inadvertently triggered, police came to Chamberlain’s home and demanded that he open his front door. Despite his objections and statements that he did not need help, the police broke down Chamberlain’s door, tasered him, and then shot him dead. Chamberlain was a 68-year-old, African-American, retired former-Marine, and a 20-year veteran of the Westchester County Department of Corrections. He wore the medical alert bracelet due to a chronic heart problem. A grand jury reviewed the case and decided that no criminal charge would be made against police officers involved in the killing.

Abner Louiama

 30-year-old Haitian immigrant, Abner Louima, was arrested and sodomized with a broomstick inside a restroom in the 70th Precinct station house in Brooklyn. The case became a national symbol of police brutality and fed perceptions that New York City police officers were harassing or abusing young black men as part a citywide crackdown on crime. One officer, Justin A. Volpe, admitted in court in May 1999 that he had rammed a broken broomstick into Mr. Louima’s rectum and then thrust it in his face. He said he had mistakenly believed that Mr. Louima had punched him in the head during a street brawl outside a nightclub in Flatbush, but he acknowledged that he had also intended to humiliate the handcuffed immigrant. He left the force and was later sentenced to 30 years in prison. The commanders of the 70th Precinct were replaced within days of the assault. As the legal case wore on, Charles Schwarz, a former police officer, was sentenced in federal court in 2002 to five years in prison for perjury stemming from the torture case. A jury found that Mr. Schwarz had lied when he testified that he had not taken Mr. Louima to the station house bathroom where the assault took place.

Kimani Gray

16-year-old Kimani was shot four times in the front and side of his body and three times in the back by two New York City police officers as he left a friend’s birthday party in Brooklyn on March 9, 2013. The only publicly identified eyewitness is standing by her claim that he was empty-handed when he was gunned down.

 Kendrec McDade

19-year-old college student McDade was shot and killed in March 2012 when officers responded to a report of an armed robbery of a man in Pasadena, Calif. He was later found to be unarmed, with only a cellphone in his pocket. His death has prompted his family to file a lawsuit, in which McDade’s parents argue that he was left on the street for a prolonged period of time without receiving first aid. According to court documents, McDade’s last words were, “Why did they shoot me?” The officers involved were initially placed on paid administrative leave but have since returned to duty.

Timothy Russell

Russell and his passenger, Malissa Williams, were killed in Cleveland after police officers fired 137 rounds into their car after a chase in December 2012. Officers said they saw a possible weapon, but no weapon or shell casings were found in the fleeing car or along the chase route. 

Steven Washington

Washington was shot by gang-enforcement officers Allan Corrales and George Diego in Los Angeles one night in 2010 after he approached them and appeared to remove something from his waistband. The officers said they’d heard a loud sound in the area and the 27-year-old, who was autistic, was looking around suspiciously. No weapon was ever recovered.

Alonzo Ashley

Police say that 29-year-old Ashley refused to stop splashing water from a drinking fountain on his face at the Denver Zoo one hot day in 2011, then made irrational comments and threw a trash can. The responding officers, who didn’t dispute that he was unarmed, killed him with a Taser, saying he had “extraordinary strength.” No criminal charges were filed against them.

Wendell Allen

Allen was fatally shot in the chest by officers executing a warrant on his house on March 7, 2012, in New Orleans. The 20-year-old was unarmed, and five children were home at the time of his death. Police found 4.5 ounces of marijuana on Allen after they killed him. An attorney for the family says that New Orleans police are investigating whether Officer Joshua Colclough was wrong to pull the trigger.

Travares McGill

In 2005 in Sanford, Fla. (the same county in which Travyon Martin was killed), the 16-year-old was killed by two security guards, one of whom testified that Travares was trying to hit him with his car. But evidence showed that the bullet that killed the teen hit him in the middle of the back and that the guard kept firing even after the car was no longer headed toward him.

Ramarley Graham

18-year-old Ramarley Graham was shot and killed in February of 2012, when Officer Richard Haste and his partner followed Graham into his grandmother’s apartment where Graham was attempting to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet. Haste fatally shot Graham, who was unarmed, in the chest. The officers did not have a warrant to be inside the home. A Bronx judge later tossed out an indictment against the NYPD cop. No weapon was ever uncovered from the scene.

Tyrone Brown 

32-year-old former Marine from East Baltimore, Tyrone Brown was shot 12 times in a crowded bar after an off-duty Baltimore police officer fires 13 rounds at him for groping one of the officer’s lady friend’s. That officer, Gahiji Tshamba, was indicted for murder and faces a maximum life in prison charge if convicted. Tshamba was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Too many.  And there’s more.  So many more.  Every 28 hours.

(via reverseracism)

Late Night Ramblings on the Mike Brown Shooting

Another young Black person was killed by the cops today.  Mike Brown was unarmed, as were the others.  I’ve never considered myself in danger of being murdered by the police, though that’s probably not true.  I’m Black.  Dark-skinned.  Sometimes that’s enough.  Racist white people are calmed by my Blackness because of how “properly” I speak, my evident intelligence, my ability to pass for middle-class.  But sometimes, that’s not enough.

I live in New Orleans.  And I LOVE New Orleans, despite the hideous history of racism.  Despite the incompetency and malignancy of the New Orleans Police Department.  But…some day I’m going to raise children.  Black children.  Can I do that in New Orleans?  Can I do that in America?  Would leaving the country be running away?  But surely me raising children in America will not change the fact that it’s accepted here that sometimes police officers (and non-police officers) are in such “fear” of Black children and adults that they will shoot them.  And get away with it.  

My job is to protect them.  Because who else will?  I always said that I’d raise children here.  I think that all of things that are beautiful about New Orleans are the things that I want to expose my future kids to.  But the bad things?  Could get them killed.

I have a lot to think about over the next few years.  I don’t think that other countries have institutional or societal racism - they certainly do.  But I don’t know if being Black in France, Belgium, Spain, Toronto, Botswana, New Zealand, Morocco, Tanzania, Montreal, is as dangerous as being Black in America is.

#NoShameDay :: About the Day I Couldn’t Swim Anymore

This post is a day late.  But I thought I’d still write it, in case it helps someone else.

Earlier this year, in January, I contemplated committing suicide.  This was the first time I’ve done so.

2013 had been a clusterfuck of bad things happening that I couldn’t control leading to my deepest depression ever leading to bad decisions that left me feeling like I was a general failure at life, and that everyone I cared about was disappointed in me.

On January 8th, the dog who I had helped take care of off and on for six years had to be put to sleep.  He was twelve, and his health had deteriorated pretty quickly over the course of a couple of months.  He was living with me at the time.  And I was struggling with feeling like I wasn’t being a good mom to him because I had to go to work and in his old age, he had become very clingy, which could be frustrating.

So on the morning of January 8th I had been up several times in the middle of the night to let Biko out because he had pooped on the floor.  It was solid, which confused and frustrated me.  I had a call that was supposed to settle an unemployment claim that my former boss was fighting.  My cell phone, at the time, was a piece of crap and when the call came, it wouldn’t let me answer.  I called the office back, tried to explain what happened and get a new appointment.  No dice.  So I lost $900 that day, which I desperately needed because I couldn’t afford to pay my rent that month and was already a month late for December.

I looked over and watched Biko stand up and come over to my bed.  Where he had been laying was a fresh poop.  And I realized, in that instance, that he hadn’t squatted and pooped - it had slipped out while he was laying there.  Because he couldn’t hold it.  I wailed.  I’ve never cried like that.  And I called his sometimes owner and told him that we had to put Biko to sleep because he couldn’t hold his bowels anymore.

So I lost $900 and the sweetest, smartest, most gorgeous dog I’ve ever known in the same day.

The next week I was emailed a notice to vacate from my landlord.  I immediately started contacting folks on craigslist.  I was actually relieved.  I’d been looking for a second PT job for four months with no luck.  I couldn’t keep struggling to pay my rent every month.

I found a place quickly.  Move in was set for the last couple days of  January.  I started packing.  So I’m at home one day, just a couple days before I’m set to move, and I hear someone drilling at the security door.  My first thought is that someone is trying to break in again.  I’d had an attempt a couple of months prior, but Biko presumably scared the shit out of the would-be thieves because they never actually entered the house.  I go to the door and open it.  It’s my landlord attempting to change the locks on my door.  He thought I wasn’t home because I’d left my scooter at a friend’s house.  He claimed that my lease stated that the punishment for non-payment of rent was that he could keep all of my possessions.  I knew this was bullshit, and told him that he hadn’t even gone to the sheriff and had them post a paper eviction notice, so there was no way it was legal for him to do that.  He left, claiming that he’d be back with a notice and to change the locks.

I called some people, but I could tell that they were tired of my problems and my neediness.

I cried.

I tried to pack, but couldn’t.

I googled landlord/tenant laws and felt vindicated and helpless.  Just because I was legally right didn’t mean that the right thing would happen.

I struggled to breathe.

I thought about how the people who weren’t there for me would feel if I were found dead in my apartment.  They would mourn, but would they realize how easily they could have helped me?

Mostly I thought about how good it would feel to never disappoint someone again.  Even though he was being an asshole, I felt bad for disappointing my landlord.  I felt bad for disappointing the guy I was dating, who was constantly lecturing me about things that I’d dropped the ball on in the midst of my depression.  I felt bad for not being as present of a friend as I had been in the past.  I felt bad that I had managed to add new debt to my credit score.  I felt bad that I couldn’t relate to my mother, and that her 2 week stay had nearly driven me crazy.  I felt bad that I had gone from being a great employee to being an unreliable employee.  I felt bad that I had gained so much weight.

I felt bad that I hadn’t been able to spend as much time with Biko as he wanted me to before he died.

I felt bad that for all of my supposed talent, beauty, and intelligence, I could not even get my shit together enough to wash my dishes or shower.

I’m not sure why I didn’t kill myself.

I think part of it was because I’d never settled on a way to do it that wouldn’t involve pain or sickness or the potential of not dying and becoming incapacitated.  Wrist slitting I’ve heard can make you nauseous.  Not interested in asphyxiation.  Not sure if it’s possible to overdose on Zoloft.  No guns, and I wasn’t really interested in shooting myself.  So.  I wasn’t sure how to do it.

Also, Biko’s little brother was now living with me.  He was a very sweet and energetic puppy, and in that moment it felt like he was the only person I loved who was not disappointed in me.  He was just happy with my presence, even if it was a melancholy one.

After all of that crying I felt like crap - huge headache, nausea.  I decided to go back to bed.  When I woke up I felt better, both physically and emotionally.  And I dealt with my shit fairly well after that.

I don’t know what to tell someone else who is considering suicide.  It wasn’t some random outpouring of love from a friend, or sudden desire to live, or a surprise solution to my problems.

I don’t know what it was.  But I hope it appears the next time I seriously consider not swimming anymore, and allowing the deep, dark waves of the sea envelope me.