Let's talk about microaggressions

So, what’s a microaggression anyway?

In the event you’ve been living under a rock, have no fear, it happens to the best of us and it’s always better to learn late than never at all. According to Psychology Today, microaggressions are the everyday verbal and nonverbal slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile or derogatory comments to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership (i.e. ethnicity, religion, sex).

Can we get some examples?

A familiar example to point out is when people ask the question “What are you?” in relation to one’s heritage rather than their actual birth place. For instance, I have repeatedly been asked, “Where are you from?” to which I’m all Jersey baby, fuck yeah. But then, after my amorous show of affection for the great state of NJ, I am often rebutted with “No, where are you really from¸ though?” as if I’m lying and actually arrived via shipping container from somewhere in southeast China. Pretty much anyone who isn’t obviously white has been asked this question before.

Other examples of microaggressions include but are not limited to: asking a lesbian if she’s ever had “real sex,” assuming a black man is dangerous, telling a black or hispanic person that they’re “like, unusually articulate and well-spoken,” calling a Jewish person “cheap,” etc. And microaggressions aren’t just verbal, either. My best friend sent me this awesome article that discusses how Asians are often confused with one another by fellow coworkers. This has happened to me at literally every job I have ever had and it is absolutely a type of microaggression.

Do only white people commit microaggressions?

In a word: NO. I have a point of contention with some of the current discussion around this topic because it seems that many articles are primarily (or solely) calling attention to white people.

While white men take the metaphorical cake in greeting me with “Konnichiwa” or assuming I can’t speak English, they’re far from being the only race guilty of doing so. I’m just saying, if we are going to have this talk, let’s be real about it. “Microagressors” are pervasive and everyone should become more aware of how they treat others.

How do people feel about microaggressions?

First off, microaggressions are real. They hurt and suppress people in ways that words have always hurt and suppressed people. That said, the prefix “micro” is in there for a reason. The same people who question where I’m “really” from are rarely the same people who call me a chink or go about committing violent hate crimes. Racism, as with all forms of prejudice, has a spectrum. For me, microaggressions fall on the less-serious end of that spectrum.

How do we deal with microaggressions?

Personally, my response to microaggressors varies: sometimes I’ll gently (or not-so-gently) call people out. Other times, I let it go if I don’t have the energy for it. Either way, I don’t feel bad regardless of which route I take. Of course, other people feel and react differently, and who am I to judge? If someone is devastated by a continuous stream of microaggressions (as many are), they have a right to those feelings and to speaking out about it. Regardless of your stance, though, I would encourage you to keep the following points in mind:

1.     People who commit microaggressions are intellectually inferior. It’s the truth. I grew up with the mentality that people who asked me questions like “can you see a full picture with such small eyes?” were either 1. innocent children or two, 2. stupid.

2.     I believe that a good deal of microaggressors are not malicious. Does it mean they get a free pass? Of course not. Let’s not confuse this with sympathizing with aggressors and blaming victims. I simply mention this because some aggressions and aggressors may warrant different responses than others, and that’s perfectly okay. The point is to be open to teaching and open to learning.

What now? You tell me. Leave your comments or questions below.

Here's to making progress, together!

Photo credit: http://www.nparcseattle.org/uploads/1/0/8/3/10830917/9460351_orig.jpg

 

3 key notes about finding your passion (or widely-applicable life lessons from my father)

If one year ago you told me that today I would be a) getting ready to begin my Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at The New School, b) a member of Norwood Club and c) working in Thought Leadership at PwC, I would be over the motherf-cking moon.  Today, all three of those things are true. 

Needless to say, passion, happiness and gratitude have been front-of-mind lately. If I'm really being honest, though, they always have been. Ultimately, it's what the Tangent Pursuit is all about: finding pockets of free time to explore and enjoy your world in a positive way, thereby inching that much closer to an ideal existence. 

Growing up, my dad spoke frequently and candidly about life and the pursuit of passion. As an immigrant who genuinely came from nothing, he was always keenly aware of the opportunities that surrounded him and he made a constant point of it to my brother and I. So, in an attempt to dish out the knowledge I've acquired on finding and pursuing one's passion(s) while remaining happy and grateful along the way, it only felt right to pay some sort of homage to my pops at the same time. Dad, this one's for you. 


3 key notes about finding your passion (or widely-applicable life lessons from my father.)

1. To learn what you DO like, you have to first understand what you DON'T like
At various points in my life when I was frustrated with something I was experiencing, my father would remind me that in order to get closer to the things that make you happy, you have to distance yourself from the things that don't - but first you have to be able to discern between the two! 

As a self-admitted "jack of all trades/master of none,"  I have spent a large portion of my life siphoning through one short-lived hobby to the next - of course taking away pros and cons from each experience, but nevertheless finding myself, at times, frustrated by my easy enamorability (not a word, I know. Whatever). I started a farmer's market, ran a marathon, taught English abroad, etc. The list truly goes on. I mean, does anyone remember when I opened an Etsy shop for handmade feather headdresses? ...hopefully not. But really, I was obsessed. I became totally immersed with this idea of feather headdresses and spent a solid amount of time and a little bit of money pursuing it, only to learn that it felt like I had confined myself to my own personal sweatshop and it wasn't really my thing. But that's okay! From that experience, I was able to take away a set of conditions I knew I didn't like about being a small business owner while also becoming semi-fluent in SEO and website building which would later prove handy. Plus, now I can say I made someone's alternative wedding veil (true story!). 

The point, a la Ze Frank's Brain Crack, is that I gave each idea a legitimate shot and saw it to full fruition prior to abandoning it. Then, when I realized it wasn't for me, I was able to move on without all the internal shoulda/coulda/woulda that comes along with emotionally giving up something you've never actually tried.

To know what you DO like, you have to figure out what you DON'T like. Sometimes, that means trying out a whole bunch of random shit.

2. Know your options 
No joke, these three words are actually inscribed on the back of my dad's business card (he's an independent financial advisor). I like piggybacking this piece of advice on top of the first tip above. Because once you start getting a feel for what you do like or what your passion might be, the focus turns to knowing what your options are in regards to pursuing it. 

To put this in context, I'll give you another personal example. Around 4 years ago, I started writing. I always loved literature and oscillated in and out of stages where I kept a journal or jotted down random snippets of creative thought, but I had never exercised my passion for it regularly. When I finally started working writing into my weekly routine and churning out somewhat readable content, I began submitting essay upon essay to the ever-admirable site, Thought Catalog. Eventually, I ended up getting published. For my 22 year-old self, that silly little nod was the best thing that had ever happened to me, period. It gave me a huge confidence boost. It made me realize that just because I majored in business in college didn't mean I was confined to that world. Ultimately, it led to me becoming more involved in a creative lifestyle. Over the next  three years, I would have articles accepted by Elite Daily and poetry published by the Artist Catalogue. Eventually, I would build my own blog (thanks to some help from that Etsy experience!) and even start a small, successful artist collective. One small pat on the back became impetus for all this imaginative energy. 

However, after 4 years, I finally wondered how I could merge my passion for writing with my every day life. My first thought was an obvious one: change careers and go into journalism. I looked into graduate programs for journalism, searched jobs, etc. It just didn't feel quite right. Was that truly what I wanted? After a lot more research and plenty of time spent thinking about how to satiate this creative urge, I took a gander at Creative Writing MFA programs. Now this, I thought to myself, looks like a way in which I can spend my time. See, it took a significant amount of time and trial and error before I was able to understand what all my options were and then move forth intelligently.   

Same goes for Norwood Club. Over a year ago, my dad (again, go faja!) brought up Soho house to me and suggested I apply. That one suggestion opened my eyes to an entire subculture of compelling social clubs throughout New York. After doing plenty of homework and speaking to a few clubs, I found myself cozily at home at Norwood - and mostly thanks to that small artist collective + writing! 

3. Regardless of what's happening, you gotta live your life 
At the end of the day, my dad has always reminded me that regardless of what's going on, "you gotta live your life." There will, no doubt, be difficult obstacles to work through during this journey.  "Finding your passion" does not happen overnight; working it into your life in a meaningful manner takes even longer. When you experience setbacks or hurdles, it's certainly important to persevere. However, sometimes you have to step aside before you can step forward. Basically, don't forget to take in life's small pleasures and remain grateful. Take a moment to enjoy the sunset, share a glass of wine or laugh at a comedy club. Don't neglect exercise, vacation or any of the essential delights, solely in the name of your passion. And think about this: the last time I went on vacation, I got tapped on the shoulder by a PwCer out of the clear blue sky. It's when I was at my most relaxed that I was introduced to the job I now have. 

 

3 Affordable Ways to Rejuvenate in NYC

Okay, I know it's been a while. I don't have any excuse other than I've been extremely busy ramping up with my new job, traveling for work/pleasure, and getting up to speed with the social calendar of summer. In the midst of all of this, I have (shockingly) found myself physically tired, emotionally stressed and battling a month-long summer cold. However, I'm happy to say that I'm FINALLY feeling back to normal and looking forward to this glorious holiday weekend that is almost upon us. And since I'm getting back into the swing of things, it felt right to post about it! Here are my top 3 suggestions for how to rejuvenate on the cheap in NYC:

1. Get a Chinese Massage $20-$45

Also known as a Qi Gong parlor or hey-that's-a-sketchy-looking-place, these massage joints literally hit all the right spots. You probably pass by them regularly, thinking to yourself, "no way would I dare walk down this strange, dark alleyway." Next time, you should dare and you just may be rewarded with a glorious massage by an authentic Chinese Qi Gong masseuse that actually knows what they're doing. And have no fear, they cover the cleanliness basics by changing the cotton sheets and paper face thingies in between each session. Sure, the walls are more like soft dividers and there's no steam room to lounge in afterward, but at $37 for a 45 minute massage, you still can't beat the bang for your buck.  I mean, that's like a brunch bill. Come on.

2. Treat yo'self at Juice Generation $4-$10

As mentioned, I had been battling an epic summer cold for about a month, during which time I ingested somewhere around half of aisle 5 at the pharmacy. While medication certainly has its place, I'm also a big proponent of natural remedies. Enter: Juice Generation. For $5.45, you can get a 12-ounce fresh-pressed Cold Warrior, which includes: green tea, fresh orange, ginger root, echinacea, zinc and Vitamin C. It's a pleasant indulgence AND extremely good for you. Even if you're not sick, a trip to Juice Generation for a drink and some of their delicious meals will leave you feeling like you just experienced a mini health retreat. And all for $15-$20. Next girls night adventure? I think so. 

3. Get. Out. Side. FREE 99

I've said it before: never have I interacted with nature on such a daily basis as I do living in New York City. It sounds strange to most people, but it makes plenty of sense when you think about it. First off, I live a stone's throw away from Riverside Park and three blocks from Central Park. Because of the layout of the city, I walk nearly everywhere, including the 2+ miles to work. If you live uptown, this is a no-brainer. However, even if you're downtown, I bet you're not too far from The Highline, Madison Park, Washington Square or an accessible rooftop - so make use of it! You don't necessarily need to kayak in the Hudson or take a day trip to the botanical gardens (though, kudos if you can swing it!), you just need to get outside for a little bit each and every day. We've all heard the factoids about the positive benefits of even just 15 minutes of Vitamin D and they're all true. Even if you're super crunched for time, take 10 minutes to stroll outside in the sun on your next lunch break while counting your blessings or calling a loved one and then try telling me you didn't have a good day.

February's Top 5 Things to do in NYC

February is cold, bleak and boring, right? WRONG. February is, first and foremost, my birthday month. So, ipso facto, it’s fabulous. Between Black History month and Chinese New Year, it’s also a month full of vibrant culture and myriad chances to learn. Not as if there is ever a shortage of things to do and places to go in NYC, but in February, there most certainly isn’t. Plus, in the heart of the local’s winter, February represents a time when most New Yorkers are feeling rested, having finally recovered from the insanity of the holidays, and are ready to get up, get out, and enjoy this frost-bitten city we love to call home.

So kick back and check out this month’s Top 5 in NYC!

See a Broadway Show… for way less!

We’re coming up on the tail-end of 2-for-1 week on Broadway, but there are actually plenty of other ways to score cheap tickets. If you’re not into standing in line at the TKTS booth in Times Square for ½ price tickets day-of (and if you are, kudos, because there are always great deals), then how about becoming a member of New York Show Tix? NYTix lines up all the currently running shows and lists out each one’s various discounts. It’s only $4 a month and they don’t automatically recharge you. It’s definitely the way to go in order to have access to all the information you need without all the footwork and time spent browsing 10 different sites. Oh and P.S. did you know you can usually score standing room only tickets for $27 a pop at the box office the night of a performance?  And did you further know that there’s something called a “lottery” for nearly every show, every night? And that this lottery can score you front-row seats to Book of Mormon for $25? Yeah, you’re welcome.

Make the Most of Restaurant Week

Restaurant week is an interesting thing – it can be an opportunity to take advantage of some great deals, but you have to be careful. Don’t worry, though, that’s why you have me here to guide you in the right direction J.  During the summer, we took advantage of L’Ecole and I would go back in a heartbeat. This winter, I’ve got my eyes on 21 Club. Stay up-to-date with Tangent Pursuit and I’ll be sure to let you in on all the secrets!

Indulge Yourself on Valentine’s Day

Okay, calm down everyone. Valentine’s Day is, indeed, perhaps the cheesiest of hallmark holidays. But, why don’t we take the 3-day weekend and make it mean something more? If you’re coupled up, how about ditching all of the hoopla of dining out and, instead, grabbing a bottle of good champagne and a solid charcuterie platter and hanging in for once? If you’re single, there are plenty of those “stop light” themed dating parties, but my guess is most people despise them. So maybe try reveling in the fact that the only person you have to worry about pampering is yourself? Set up a spa day alone or with friends and relish the care-free day.

Get a Little Cultured

Not only is this Black History Month, but February 19th  also marks the Chinese New Year. Celebrations for Chinese New Year start early and go on for a while, kind of like Mardi Gras, but the main chunk of the celebrations occur from February 18th to February 24th this year. Head over to Flushing Queens or to downtown Manhattan for fireworks and some authentic Chinese New Year celebrating. To gain some insight into Black History, get involved in an NYPL conversation or check out local culture hubs like Symphony Space for their calendar of events. Symphony space has Keep on Keepin’ on, a documentary about the life and times of famed Jazz star Clark Terry Jr. running on Sundays all month. I caught it last year at Tribeca Film Festival and it was well worth it! If you’d like something a little more light-hearted but just as engaging, how about Black Women in Comedy?

See Something Wild

Check out Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at MOMA, enjoy the Kinky Film Festival and its opening night Gala, run around in your Undies for a cause (or watch others do so), or head over to Monster Jam for their annual monster truck show. There really is something for everyone, here.