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Sunday, January 31, 2016

We Need a Dialogue....and a Resolution


Over the past few months, The United States of America has been in a constant state of regression. Everything from the national joke and spectacle that is "Donald Trump" running for president to the disgusting race and culture related issues that seem to be growing in popularity each day is helping propel the regression. It never truly dawned on me how bad things were until things
became personal and hit close to home.

On January 25th, a group of Caucasian seniors from my high school alma mater, Desert Vista, decided it would be a good idea to veer off from the annual, "Senior Photo Day" and compose their lettered shirts to resemble the word "Nigger" with two ** replacing the G's. I have never been more appalled and embarr
assed for my school. The things I have seen from the youth of today makes me worry. They are so incredibly desensitized by words, race, religion, and politics that it allows them to present themselves in the most damaging light.

These "girls" who are actually all 18, not only decided to compose this absolutely wrenched and horrible word, additionally, they decided to post the picture on SnapChat to commemorate the experience. Ever since this photo surfaced, there has been national outrage and most of it came from the community in Ahwatukee or as many would say "All White Tukee."

Many have voiced their opinions on social media and if words were daggers, many people would be dead. Sadly, several parents and commenters on Facebook voiced an overwhelming and highly "entitled" opinion regarding the situation. I heard comments like "Well, the black kids say it too, so they should get suspended" and "They are kids, what do they know. They made a stupid choice. Time to move." As I read most of the shockingly raw, commentary of relative strangers, I couldn't help but wonder of a group of black or hispanic youth had posted a picture with a racial slur on their shirts, would they be granted the same compassion and understanding for their ignorance and youth?

If history has shown me anything, "those" kids would not be granted the same freedom, respect, and allowance to start over. They would be marked with a scarlet letter of shame which would haunt them wherever they go systematically deeming them unworthy of a second chance at life. I think wh
at bothers me the most about what these ignorant little girls did is that there is no apparent or genuine reason as to why they decided to do this at all. It seemed like it was just some light hearted, humorous thing they did for social media likes. The fact they never they shuddered to think about how much this word could hurt others is what troubles me most.

Historically, the word nigger has been associated specifically with black people deeming us everything from lazy, to thieves or worse. It is a word that immediately strikes a chord with anyone who has a conscience. It is also a reactionary word that caused various thousands of African Americans to come together and rally for these "girls" to be expelled from high school their senior year. The school district, shockingly, only gave the girls a 5 day suspension.

This is a particularly light punishment in my eyes because I have seen kids get into brawls and get 10 day suspensions or worse. I guess they felt that since a word which drudges up every piece of racial degradation felt by any black person in the history of mankind was not deemed serious enough for extreme consequences. Let this be a serious lesson to the youth of America. Sometimes, you have to pay the price for what you do as a young person. And while I have some 10% compassion for these ignorant girls, I ultimately feel sorry for them because the only thing they will likely take from this situation is to keep their racial ignorant and prejudice private next time.

Hollywood is nearly as overt and blatant with their racial prejudice as the "Desert Vista 6" by deciding to, once again, nominate all white performers for the top honors for the upcoming Oscars. Am I surprised? Absolutely not. This is the kind of thing I actually expect them to do because the Academy is still filled with a majority, white male membership and as my grandmother once told me, "Things in this country will not improve until the "Baby Boomers" and beyond die out. The youth of America has got to be much better." Never have I known how right she was until now.

With Jada Pinkett-Smith rallying for change in the Academy's typical behavior towards performers of color, Janet Hubbert in opposition of the Smiths message, ignorant suburban youth displaying their vitriol entitlement, Donald Trump continuing to pump his own special blend of hate and separation throughout the world, and keep my feeling bottled up, I am about to explode. Let me be the first person to genuinely say, I am far from racist or prejudice, but I am also not dumb. I know how I may be viewed by some and instead of rolling in and slinging mud, I have decided to take the high road in most situations, but I want to present a theory, of having an open, honest, and raw conversation about race.

I feel the dialogue is needed now more than ever. There is no way we are going to be able to continue in this country ignoring the racial and cultural injustices faced mostly by minorities nor can we afford to have more "incidents" where the youth of America "play dumb" while offending. Enough is enough. There are simply too many statistics that show race plays a dominate factor in many of the things that affect us as adults (mortgage rates, loans, job offers) and it is time to level the playing field. A Z-list, Republican puppet, who is of very little importance, once said "Blacks need inclusion. We need to stop excluding ourselves if we want others to treat us the same. We need to do away with BET and Black History month and assimilate."

While her face now repulses me, I believe she is right in one way and one way only, we do need to blend meaning, Hollywood needs more African-American, Native American, East Indian, Persian, Latino, and culturally diversity in their productions and programs on a regular basis not just when they want to make a slavery, exotic, or foreign language piece of art. Every culture and race should be represented both equally and fairly in society. Every culture should be able to watch a program and feel a sense of pride knowing their are considered a part of the social fabric of American life. Gone should be the days where exclusion and one person of color is considered inclusion. She is right in the sense that every month should teach black history, present facts of various cultures, and give credence to the reality that the world is more than just one tone.

In closing, I am 29 years old and will make 30 this year, God willing. I don't have enough words in the English language to describe how incredibly tired I am of talking about race. I would love to just be in my own skin and feel every sense of humanity that is my God given right as a human being. I pray that one day the world will heal itself of the heavily veiled theme of "skin separation" and truly level the playing field so EVERYONE can have a chance to simply "be." Oh wouldn't that be a happy day? Most certainly.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

This is It!

If I had to say what was on my heart, I would say, I am ready for this year to be over. 2015 had more lows than highs and the greatest high was the fact that I made it through. I can only thank God for that. The greatest blessing of bad years and moments is that with each bad break, rough moment, or tear dropped brings a pearl of wisdom so refreshing that it automatically makes you stronger. 

Resilience comes in many forms and mine came from my ability to resist the urge of letting my internal feelings overcome me. Everything from hair loss to dead teeth to autoimmune issues threatened to shred every single bit of sanity and happiness I ever possessed, but my resilience would not allow it. It is pointless to dwell on what has happened so I won’t. I will simply say 2016 will be phenomenally better.

Highs


  • Career movement. I made some solid strides in my writing career, created my own brand, and finalized the plan for my non hostile takeover of 2016.

  • Far Away Places. I finally laid eyes on one of the coolest places I have always wanted to go; Thailand. I stayed, ate plenty of Thai food, lived at the beach, and attempted to relax.  Such a strange and unique land will be visited again in the near future. That Bucket List keeps getting smaller and smaller. 

  • End of an Era. I finally entered the last phase of my 20’s; the year 29. It is a strange, often unimportant year, but not to me. In my eyes, it is the last year to truly live up to my 20’s full potential. I must make it count.
  • How Many of US have Them? I would venture to say I made some amazing friends this year. Honestly, some of the coolest, well rounded, and thoughtful people ever. They made one of the most trying years of my life much easier and I am so grateful for them. 
  • My House. I am moving from my casita to my very own house. As I venture into my 30’s I am taking with me good credit, a solid career, and a new home to call my own. Pray and you have what you wish. I am putting my faith in that.

Lows
  • Your Health is Your Wealth, Always Take Care of Yourself. This saying is surreal in my life. I honestly had a health wake up call. I experienced a “poo poo” platter of health concerns from weight gain, heartburn, hair loss, eye issues and sadly, so much more. In the New Year, I don’t want much, but good health. It is my only wish.
  • Heartbreak Hotel. Always unlucky in love I will be. I don’t claim this title and yet it loves me so. Hopefully I get enough positive mojo to turn this issue around permanently.
  • Masterful yet indecisive. I have yet to figure out a master program that I want to invest in and commit to. I am like “Runaway Bride” but with education. I must narrow this down and make a firm commitment….like…NOW!
  • The strain of Humanity. Some of my most precious relationships are strained and I am not sure how to fix them. I am praying for discernment to repair them.
  • Slow Down. I had a car accident and sadly I was more concerned about the car and the cost of repairing everything rather than my health. I have truly learned the importance of accidents because I have finally seen that it has very little to do with a car and everything to do with the people in them. I believe God was trying to slow me down so even though the accident was scary, it was necessary. My value is increasing in every aspect of my life.





Overall, I would rate 2015 at a 4. It was not the worst year, but it was challenging in ways I did not know existed. Thankfully, resilience is on my side and if I am lucky, God will allow me to greet 2016 in a much better, more positive mind frame. I couldn’t be more ready for this change.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Transformed






Oriel M. Martin 
Learning Journey Timeline
EDU230 Cultural Diversity in Education
Mesa Community College



An education is an amazing thing because it does not necessarily have to begin with books or classrooms, but simply being open. Open to the possibility of change. Throughout my journey within my cultural diversity class, I learned there are hundreds of ways to skin a cat and any way is fine, so long as the cat is skinned.

Throughout my journey, I learned the true definition of culture. Culture is the various and complex knowledge, history, art, morals, law, customs, and common behaviors of a certain group of people. The major aspects of culture are deep in range, but typically include; musical stylings, language, dialect, food, and education. From what I observed, culture is hugely important to people and must be heavily involved in educational teachings thus shaping a more well rounded society.


From my readings and class lessons, I learned that multicultural education in various lesson plans developed by educators to assist teachers responding to the ever-changing demographics of a multiracial society. Some of the main goals of a multicultural education is to ensure that all students feel connected and appreciated culturally thus increasing their tenacity to learn and develop as a person. A multicultural education promotes the idea that everyone matters and that is exactly the way that children should be taught.

Multicultural education reflects responsive teaching to help meet the academic needs of a diverse student populations by including them in every aspect of their learning. As a teacher and mentor to several Native American children, I witnessed firsthand, the huge impact of children learning more about themselves and their culture. It makes a profound difference in their lives for showing them that every human being matters and every culture is special in their own way. 

Throughout my own personal development as a teacher, I learned, multicultural education affects broader social issues that impact our society in a number of ways. Minorities are the main group of people oppressed in this country and when their culture is being compromised and withdrawn from them (especially history), it relinquishes the confidence they could have in turn, keeping them from being truly invested in their futures. The wealth gap between ethnic people in the world is astounding so being educated and knowledgable on the world surrounding us greatly decreases the odds of being part of the working poor. Other issues lie in the way of minorities including; low educational expectations, achievement gaps, and professional growth which is why is it highly important for students to be exposed to a multicultural education so that they can have pride in themselves and derail the plans society may have for them. 

Some other significant insights that I gained over the course of this class include; learning how to listen and respond appropriately to children. As a teacher, I must be willing to listen to my children and hear their thoughts, opinions, or even cries for help. I must focus on constantly (and subtlety) on including multicultural facts and figures into my lesson plans. I must keep education fresh in order to keep the attention of my students. 





One of my favorite songs sung by one of my favorite singers (R.I.P.) is dedicated to all the young people in the world. Every child deserves love, happiness, and a fair chance at a great life. Never give up on yourself and never believe what society says about your culture. Learn to accept yourself, the world around you, and the people in it. 


Friday, October 30, 2015

An Ode to Autumn

If you are a Autumn enthusiast like myself, you know autumn is the absolute best time of year to do just about anything. The weather, in most states is finally starting to cool off. It is the perfect time of year to do just about anything. I have summarized my passionate feelings for fall in 6 tantalizing reasons why fall is the perfect time of year


1. Weather...In most states, fall marks the official decent into cool, crisp breezes and much cooler weather. Blend that with boots, hats, windbreakers, and fabulous hats and fall is fashion's most playful time of year!

2. Pumpkin season. Whether you're a fan of the ever so popular, pumpkin season (not really my thing), it is a fan favorite around the world. Once the end of September hits, all the world is gleefully adorned with beautiful accents of pumpkin including; pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cheesecakes, pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin patches.


3. Travel. Traveling in the fall has been something I have done for years. I am not sure if it is the holiday season or my birthday, but I tend to always get out of town during October-December. I personally believe I get to see the world in the most beautiful light when the sun sets earlier. This fall will be no different with trips to Thailand and Europe (part deux) planned, I will be
quite busy this fall as usual.

4. The fair. It doesn't matter where you live, for some glorious reason, the fair goes perfectly with fall.   The cool breeze flies effortlessly through your hair while swinging on the swings or kissing on the ferris or eating a turkey leg....the possibilities are endless.

5. Doorway to the Holidays....it is inevitable that right after fall hits, the energy shifts to that of the holidays. All I can dream about is cider, delicious baked goods, family time, and lots of yummy cocktails. 

6. Excellent films. Naturally, colder weather keeps people inside more so it is the perfect time for people to get together and see new films. Why do the best films come out in Autumn though? Maaaaybe because it is truly the best season!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A New Chapter

A lot can happen in six and a half years. You can finish two degrees, travel to ten foreign countries, deepen bonds with your loved ones, loose several along the way, and start the path to figuring out what your true passion is. 

I know this statement to be true because all this and much more happened to me in the last six and a half years. 


I moved back to Phoenix, Arizona in June of 2009 and have been here ever since. Make no mistake about it, it was far from my first choice, but I desperately needed to leave Los Angeles. I was in a horrible state and needed a reality check. 


I left against my own conscious will on the heels of something tragic in nature. I trusted the wrong person with my reputation and good name. I finally trusted the wrong person and it caught up to me. The chain of events that followed would lead me to where I am now. If someone had told me this ten years ago when I first moved to Los Angeles, I would have laughed in their face. My, how the mighty have fallen. 


On the eve of my ten year anniversary of having moved to Los Angeles to pursue my love of acting, I learned two things; you have to know where you're going and who is going with you to be successful in life. I have never pondered either one of those questions so it was no surprise to me when I hit a wall. 


Having returned to LA in recent weeks proved extremely emotional to me. I almost feel like I am not done with Los Angeles or entertainment in the larger sense. I feel like there is still much left to be desired.... I have so many things to figure out. 


On a whirlwind set of travel excursions to California, I came up with my decision; I am not done with my creative life. I can't be. It fuels the fire that so desperately burns inside of me. It makes me want to explore and learn and thrive. More importantly, it is the thing that keeps me going.


Once a 18 year old, daisy fresh girl, to a full grown adult I have learned you can't turn your back on your love because you may miss it. I do miss it. I also miss the smog and the craziness of the city. Constant people watching, expensive rents, fabulous food, and the "Who's Who" of Hollywood just around the corner. Yes, LA is something else...it's just not for me. 


I have decided to move on to greater passions. I have handcrafted something that will make my twenty year high school reunion quite memorable. I have also decided I will not get a moment's peace until I complete my masters and master something I love. I originally started this blog five years ago to gain inspiration for my book and I have been running from writing ever since. I believe this recent LA trip revitalized my spirit and inspired me to move forward with my goals. 


Besides, if you don't move forward, you will stay in the same place and I am done with living in neutral. I taking chances and heading east...for new adventures and a new chapter in my life! I am stepping out on faith and leaving the rest in God's hands....for once in my life. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Back for the First Time

Today is a big day....well for me personally. Today, marks my 5 year anniversary of writing my own published blog Cocoon. I have celebrated several rollercoaster highs and immense lows, but through it all, this blog has been my constant and reliable outlet from the craziness that is sometimes called my life. I love that I have this little space to be myself and be free. Ironically, there are very few words to accurately describe how that feels to a person with so many feelings. In fact, I have so many feelings, I have been "in my feelings" for the last few months.

I have been working crazy hours within a potentially lucrative and challenging industry. In addition to that job, I blogged incessantly for a Flooring company in Phoenix and taught Acting and Modeling for the second term at The International Performing Arts Academy. I have also been working on a few choice side projects to feed my creative soul. All while contemplating grad school and moving across the country. Between to all these roles, I failed to continue nurturing my passions...which I desperately miss. 

On top on of missing my old life, I am learning how to truly "let go." So many people say, "It's easy, just let go of the past," but it is far from as simple as that. If it was, everyone would not need therapy, counseling, or the advice of several friends and family to guide them throughout their life. I want to make an impact, leave a valuable impression, and make my mark on the world, I am simply struggling with how to go about my plan. As my 10 year class reunion looms, I put my life into prospective. I am fairly content with my decade of adulthood, but I have much more left to give, see, and experience. My hibernation period is over. I am back! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

For All The Times.....

For all the times that we have laughed, cried, and rejoiced in life lessons learned, I can honestly say you’re one of my life’s many blessings. There are so many things I could never tell other people for fear of the judgment and ridicule, but not you. You know my heart and I know yours. I know you appear to have everything in order and on track, but deep down inside you are hurting; you're hurting for happiness, love, and comfort in your daily life.

For every heart to heart conversation, banshee level laugh, and crazy story we’ve ever told, my heart smiles. To know that I have someone in my life that I can truly be myself with is a pleasure and something I thank God for. We are not perfect and just like an antique plate; there are some cracks and flaws in our foundation. What is most important is that we recover from those cracks, rebuild,  and restructure what we originally had. 

I have watched you mature from a young ingénue at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts to this incredible mother who is both loving and kind. My godson is the cutest and funniest little boy I know. He has so much personality and was made totally in your image. He is intelligent, charming, and destined for something great. I cannot wait to see what that is exactly, but I know it will be something superb.

For all the times we have disagreed or fought, I am sorry on my behalf. I am not perfect, but I do strive to be a good person each and every day; I would like to think you do as well. And I would rather fight with someone who I know loves me than fight with someone who does not wish me well. I feel in my heart that you are one of those people. I hope that our futures are filled with birthday trips, holiday gatherings, and our children growing up closely so they can be best friends like us although the world can only handle one Oriel and one Kathy.

For whatever the future holds, I pray God blesses us in every single corner of our lives. Ten years strong this year and God willing, many more decades of friendship to go. In your time of need, I want to wrap my arms around you from afar and give you that, deep, soul shattering, hideously ugly, cry on my chest hug you desperately need. What I want to do more than anything is tell you is I love you so much. And remember God never puts more on us than we can bare.  Be triumphantly faithful because it is your faith that has always kept and protected you from so much. Don't loose it now.