24 November 2016

Water is life.

Thanksgiving this year is different for us. My husband is Native American. My mother raised me with a love of culture and diversity. Apart from a very select few who remain, we are all immigrants. Honor our First Peoples. Respect their history and right to safe water and sacred lands. It is the least we as a country can do. 

According to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:  Since 1986, there have been nearly 8,000 oil pipeline accidents in the U.S. resulting in $7 billion in damage. Also since 1986, pipeline accidents have spilled an average of 76,000 barrels per year or more than 3 million gallons. This irresponsible management of one natural resource repeatedly poisons another. 

For Thanksgiving, we're donating to the Standing Rock Sioux. Opt out of buying trendy tees that don't actually benefit the tribe and send aid directly

Be thankful for what you have and help those who are protecting what they need. 

Keep on keeping on, 

16 November 2016

Why don’t you be a doctor or a lawyer?

As a youngster, that was a question I got with great frequency from a number of my Pakistani relatives.  But, I had my heart set on being a Marine Biologist, Animal Trainer, Writer, Egyptologist, and Astronaut.  I feel lucky to have been able to touch the first three. HRC's concession speech last week reminded me of another friendly neighborhood Muslim who never gave up on her dreams.

Today’s post goes out to a woman who has always inspired me to think outside the box, my sister from another mister, Saba Ghole. Our dads are actually college besties and we were raised as cousins. Saba is a brilliant, inventive powerhouse who received her Masters at MIT in Urban Design/Architecture. She attributes her holistic understanding of design and education to her multifaceted interests in painting, photography, interactive art, architecture, and urban planning.

Saba is the CCO and a founder of NuVu Studio, a school for middle and high school students geared around interdisciplinary, collaborative projects and based on the architectural studio model. NuVu focus on hands-on problem solving, encourages an inventive culture, and promotes peer-to-peer learning.  There are no subjects, no classrooms, and no grades.  Instead, students actively learn and create in a studio, and have portfolios to showcase their design decisions and final products.

Watch Saba’s Ink Conference/TED talk on Nurturing a Beginner’s Mind and her TEDxSanJoseCA talk, Can You Learn Creativity?

Keep on keeping on,

14 November 2016

Awesome resource alert.

Has the election sparked your sense of civic duty?  Maybe you're looking to donate to causes that matter to you, or you're on the job hunt.  Check out this terrific List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support.

Keep on keeping on,

12 November 2016

They'll never take our freedom.

After we got married, I decided to periodically run through the house yelling "Braveheart" quotes because, well, I'm Scottish now. We dated for 9 years before getting married, so I think I earned the right. Actually, I was already Scottish on my mom's side, but now you all know it. 

And the new last name makes it easier to get through TSA. 

My first name is Sameen, which means precious/beautiful in Urdu. Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and is an official language in 6 Indian states.  Phonetically, it sounds like Hindi, but the written script is Persian/Arabic as opposed to sanskrit.  It is both written and read right-to-left.  The name was my grandmother's pick.  My parents had Sabena in mind, but it was the name of a now defunct airline, so mad kudos to my Amma for saving the day. 

My middle name is Raniyah, which means gazing in Arabic. Bonus: Rani for short means queen in Hindi. 

My maiden name is Ghazali which references a Persian philosopher and Sufi Muslim mystic named Al-Ghazali.

Keep on keeping on,


11 November 2016

Don't be a tool.

"I feel like a kid again, waiting to see who's going to pop out of some bush screaming 'ching chong' at me."

My friend of 15+ years said that to me this morning. Not that it matters, but he's actually of Jewish and Filipino decent. We're only a couple days in and already the interwebs are all a twitter with reports of women, Muslims, and minorities being openly harassed in public. Needless to say, it's bringing up some old, difficult sentiments. 

And sadly, it's not all random hearsay. Friends who are teachers and high school guidance counselors have already had the pleasure of telling shitty little white kids that it's inappropriate to tell black classmates to "go back to Africa."  Nauseatingly ludicrous.  It's 2016, not 1956.  It would appear that some citizens and their like-minded spawn need a refresher. This wave of newly emboldened racism needs to be checked. Here's how you can help victims just by being a decent citizen and human being.

Don't stand by: Here's a comic showing how to help if you see someone being harassed, without engaging the aggressor.  Of if you prefer, here's a video. It's easier to act quickly and with confidence if you already have a strategy in place.

Another shamelessly stolen idea: A safety pin is being worn on the lapel by Brits to protest racism and hate crimes, on the rise against Muslims since Brexit. It indicates that you a safe person to sit with on the bus, walk next to on the street, or just talk to. I will be wearing one when riding public transit or walking around in the city. Spread the word and be the safe space.

Keep on keeping on,



10 November 2016

All the feelings.

My peeps know I love a good list. 

A list of fave books reminds me of lessons I've learned and gives me places to turn when I need a reminder. A list of destinations motivates me to actively seek out and make time for travel. A bucket list pushes me to stretch my boundaries and try new activities. At some point, I started a list of "art that made me cry" (excellent working title, I know) and today I had to add a piece of writing to that list:

• The final segment in Cirque du Soleil's "O"
• The wordless opening sequence of Pixar's "Up"
• "Joseph Smith, American Moses" from Book of Mormon*
• Sia's "Elastic Heart" video
• HRC's grace-filled concession speech

It hurts because the loss feels personal, and it is. 

Keep on keeping on,

*from laughing so hard

09 November 2016

Hasan for the win.

Hasan Minhaj is a correspondent on The Daily Show and one of my fave comedians. In this piece he managed to capture what a lot of Muslims are feeling in the aftermath of the election. 

My mother is a white girl from southern California who, I'm guessing you already assumed was born here. My dad is Pakistani and became a naturalized citizen in the 80's. Due to their coupling, people can rarely place me. Given California's large Latino and Hispanic populations, as a youth, everyone assumed I was Mexican. Now that I'm a Washingtonian and my complexion is more fair olive than deep tan, people sometimes venture Italian. All they know for sure is that I am decidedly not white. 

I digress. The point is, I am a half-breed (Reclaiming it. Thanks, Cher.) and for the most part, it's been a blessing to be ambiguously ethnic and not a target of Islamophopia.  But I am scared for my family... for my aunt who wears a hijab, for my cousins who attend an Islamic elementary school, and for my relatives in Pakistan who may not be allowed to visit us in the future. 

My faith resides in our system of checks-and-balances and I find solace in the knowledge that our Cheeto in Chief did in fact lose the popular vote. Plus, check out how voters 18-25 voted, below. The future is bright.

Keep on keeping on,

08 November 2016

Election night manifesto.

I still know that every woman has a right to take make her own decisions regarding her reproductive organs, and to not die in a turn-of-the-century, illegal, back-alley abortion.

I still know that creationism has no place in public education.

I still know that women and men are equal and should be treated as such in the home, workplace, government, and in every single paycheck.

I still know that climate change is real, accelerated by our consumption of fossil fuels, and needs to be addressed at a larger scale by our government.

I still know that LGBTQ couples have the right to the civil institution of marriage.

I still know that rape is never the victim's fault.

I still know that trans people are their preferred gender and should use the restroom where they feel safe.

I still know that Mexicans are not here to steal American jobs.

I still know that refugees should be respected, supported, and welcomed.

I still know that Black Lives Matter.

I still know that most police officers are good people seeking to serve and protect their communities.

I still know that the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists.

I still know that Native Americans deserve better than this nation has ever given them and protected water is a fundamental human right.

I still know that stronger gun legislation is inevitable and wonder how many more innocents will be slaughtered before the time comes to say enough.

I still know that America is greater than the rampant, shameful misogyny, racism, and xenophobia that won tonight.

I still choose to care, fight, share, empathize, and hope. 

Keep on keeping on,