Sunday, January 7, 2018

Q&A: Grad School Advice

Hey scholars! 

I am pretty often asked about applying to grad school and advice about the journey and expectations. As someone who has been in grad school for quite sometime (two Master's degrees and now a PhD in progress), I will give advice based on my own experiences from the past several years. 


Do your research- Where do you want to go? Who do you want to work with? What are your areas of interest? Do you have a research topic in mind? Where you go is important. I am not talking about prestigious schools and name recognition. I mean, where you go and get your training matters. 

Pay attention to each departments requirements- I made an excel spreadsheet with all the information and materials I needed for each school from the dept. I was applying to, deadlines, app. fee, transcripts, letters of recommendation, housing, funding, statement of purpose, writing sample, and whether I needed to mail in application materials, submit them online or both.  

See who is in the department you are wanting to apply to- Whose work interests you? Who would serve best on your thesis/dissertation committee? It does not hurt to reach out to faculty and strike up a conversation. 

Keep up with costs and fees- Every school varies in app. fees. They do add up, so keep that in mind. Transcripts may cost to send. Standardized test cost to take. Unfortunately, if you do not get in, you do not get your money back. 

Respect deadlines- Know when to have everything in. Late apps. are not considered. 

Standardized exam- These all suck. Study, take them, and move on. These cost money to take. Ugh!! 

Letters of Recommendation- Make sure that your recommendation writers are people you have good relationships with and will write you strong, positive letters. 

Statement of Purpose- This is probably the most crucial part to the application process. This is where you let the know who your are in a way that does not come across in the other parts of the application.  

Writing Sample- Make sure to submit a strong, polished, finished piece of work. 

Apply for funding- See if the school and/or department has funding (internal). Search for funding in other places like the Ford Foundation (external) and other databases.  

The journey:

Imposter syndrome- You will feel inadequate. You will feel like all of your peers are smarter than you. You will feel that maybe your writing is not where it should be. You will feel that maybe you are not ready for grad school. You will feel that everything you write is crap. This is all normal. While these feelings may not go away, you will learn how to manage them. You are enough. You made it to grad school for a reason. Do what you need to do, hustle, and finish. 

Writing groups- I am a part of a couple of writing groups. One is a summer group where we share what we have written on any project we are working on and get feedback from the group. The other group we usually meet up someplace and write for a few hours at a time. We hold each other and ourselves accountable so that we reach our writing goals= finish an article, dissertation/thesis, book, etc. 

Study groups- This may be helpful in understanding the reading materials. Get together and discuss what you read so that when class time comes, you have already discussed the reading materials and hopefully not feel lost in class. 

Social life- Find a balance between school and your personal life. Some of my days are spent hanging out with friends. We eat, talk, play games, just main; and relaxin'.  

Time management- This ties into having a social life. Find a schedule that works for you. Sometimes during the week,after class and work, I would do my readings and any writing components, so that on the weekends I can focus on myself outside of school. Sometimes, I would save my readings and writings for the weekend. How I work just depends on my mood and how much I need to get done. Find what works for you. 

Do your work and turn it in!!- Yes, this has to be stressed to many grad students. There is a lot of reading and writing. There is only so much time to get everything done. Do the readings. I have noticed and many classmates have said that they do not do the reading from time-to-time, if ever. You know that you have written assignments to do, do them. Do not put them off and think you will be granted an extension because it is grad school and blah, blah, blah. 

Attend conferences- Network is crucial for so many opportunities, especially jobs. It is also important to get your name and work out there. 

Practice self-care- This includes whatever you need to do and not do to take care of your mental and physical health. For me, this ranges from simply grocery shopping and juicing to doing my nails to watching television to napping to running in the park to reading something that has nothing to do with school to visiting museums and the list goes on. 

Have fun- Enjoy your journey. Do not let these years go by without enjoying them. Once they are gone, that is it. You know what you need to do to get through your program(s), do that and find time to enjoy your life as well.   

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Q&A: Thoughts on Marijuana

Hey scholars!

I have been asked about my thoughts on marijuana and whether or not it should be legalized. There are two parts to this argument. First, marijuana needs to be decriminalized. Second, it should be legalized, everywhere. There is a difference between the two, they should not be used interchangeably. So then, what do they mean?? 


To be clear, discourse regarding decriminalizing marijuana involves the buying, selling, and using marijuana without their being any fear of criminal prosecution. Looking at the criminal justice system, half of all drug busts are for marijuana according to the American Civil Liberties Union.  Those busted with weed, are carrying small amounts, we are not talking about drug kingpins. Let's talk race, when it comes to who uses marijuana, blacks and whites use it at similar rates. Here is the racial divide:

Recently, there have been stories about white mothers who talk about how marijuana make them better parents. For many black and brown men and women, their dealings with marijuana makes them criminals. Also, the weed boom disproportionately leaves people of color out. Roughly one percent of marijuana dispensaries are owned by black people. The war on drugs was racist from the start to be perfectly honest. 


Over the years, numerous studies have been published on the benefits of marijuana use, such as controlling epileptic seizures, treating glaucoma, decreasing anxiety, slowing down the progression of Alzheimer's, easing the pain of Multiple Sclerosis, treating inflammatory bowel diseases, and the list goes on.... Many use it because they want to. Nothing wrong with that. 
Why is it a Schedule 1 drug?? You know what else is? Heroine. 

In hearing conversations on this topic, many people are tolerant of cigarettes and not marijuana, even though research has proven the negative and even deadly effects of smoking cigarettes. There are many drugs Big Pharma pushes and no one utters a word until side effects take place. You have seen and heard commercials for medicines to treat virtually every symptom ever, which are followed by commercials that start with, "Have you or a loved one??...." Why not reform and support something that is beneficial for so many people?? How will Big Pharma and politicians make billions on something the people can harvest themselves??   

Anyone who needs/wants to use it, should be free to do so. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Homemade Oven Baked Fries

Hey scholars!

Lately, I have been seeing a lot of discussion about the potato diet. This post is not about that, however, I love potatoes and have some sitting on my wire racks and so I decided to make fries, because why the hell not?? Here is a simple (almost) quick, delicious dish. 


Potatoes (I used 5 medium sized Russet potatoes; have fun, use red, purple, and russet potatoes) 
Taco Seasoning (homemade, see recipe below) 
Olive Oil 

*I did not measure, I usually just go by feelings and sight


Heat your oven to 425 degrees

Soak the potatoes in cold water for about 10-15 minutes

Scrub the potatoes and peel if desired

Cut the potatoes however you like, no pressure and toss them into a large bowl

Add the oil, salt, pepper, and taco seasoning 

For the taco seasoning- 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, 6 tbsp chili pepper, 3 tsp paprika, 4 tsp cumin)

Make sure the potatoes are well coated with the ingredients 

Spread the potatoes in a single layer and place in oven for 30 minutes; after 15 minutes, turn the fries so that they bake evenly

Serve with whichever toppings you like or leave them plain 


Monday, January 1, 2018

2018: Goals (Cause I do not do resolutions)

Hey scholars!

I am not the one for resolutions, but I do set goals for myself, especially as I progress through the finals stages of my doctoral program. Here is what I am looking forward to doing/completing this year. 

1. Finish the year in the editing process of ALL of my dissertation chapters. I am putting myself on a writing schedule. By late fall/early winter, I need to be in the editing phases of my dissertation....

2. Accessing the job market here and abroad and applying for jobs to finally start my career. By October, I will be putting together application packages for various types of career opportunities, inside and outside of academia. I am willing to travel abroad... 

3. Submit article to peer reviewed journal. I am just about finished writing an article. There may be rejections, but hopefully someone will want it....

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Important Supplements for Women in their 30s

Hey scholars!

Since turning 30 in 2016, I have been trying to be more proactive about my health. That meant fining a multivitamin that had essential nutrients, does not make me sick, and are vegan friendly. While there are many vitamins and nutrients everybody needs like calcium, Vitamin A, D, and K, these are key for women in their 30s. 

Iron: I have dealt with an iron deficiency sign my early teen years, so it is crucial for me to take an iron supplement on a daily basis. Such a deficiency leads to anemia, hair loss, fatigue, and difficulty moving/exercising. This deficiency usually comes from moderate to heavy menstruation cycles, no meat consumption, and being an athlete. Be sure to not take too much. Side effects includes abdominal pain, vomiting and other symptoms; in children, too much can be fatal.  

Folic Acid (Folate or B9): When we hit 30s ladies, our bodies are considered to be preparing for childbirth. Whether or not we are trying, folic acid helps to maintain health by supporting the brain, cell production, enhance memory, and balance and enhance our mood. I make sure to load up this being that my zodiac sign is Cancer and people think that Cancer's are moody. 

Antioxidants: Vitamin C & E: The saying may be, "Black don't crack," but it can and will if you don't take care of it. At 30, your skin begins to show minor signs of aging. These antioxidants are powerful in defending your skin from the inside out. Vitamin C boosts the immune system and create collagen, which gives your skin that soft, youthful look, while giving it that elastic (the ability to bounce back) look that is promoted in cosmetic commercials. Vitamin E oil may be used topically to treat burns, scars, and to speed up the healing process.

I like Rainbow Light products because they have something for everyone.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Adult Wishlist

Hey scholars! 

Although Christmas is over, I have a year round wishlist. It is short, but carries a lot of weight.   

1. Debt free (student loans, car note, medical bills)- One of the joys of being a millennial is starting my career in debt, most of which is student loans. They make me feel like I am being punished for wanting an education. I live in a city where having a car is a necessity; I would much rather take a train/subway. Cars, no matter how new, are metal pieces of expensive junk. Another bill. Then sometimes an accident happens, here comes medical bills. Heavy burdens to carry.....

2. Homeowner- I am tired of renting apartments. I hate loud neighbors. I hate hearing somebody walk over my head. I hate hearing people next to me. I need more privacy and to feel like the place I am living in, is mine, giving me stability. It is also something I did not have growing up. I feel like with my student loans, this is almost out of reach. I am an optimist, so.....

3. Vegan fast food restaurant owner- This is something I have been thinking about for sometime, especially attending a university where the vegan options are slim to none. I would make my own juices, smoothies, wraps, sandwiches, hummus, guacamole, snacks. I would be a spot where you can pick up some food and either dine in or carry out. Also, everything would be affordable. Why is food so damn expensive??...... 

4. Own a Co-op and/or start a community garden- Memphis is a food desert. It truly is. I want to provide everyone with affordable fresh food. It is a travesty that food is one of the biggest socioeconomic divider. By that I mean, in places where income is low, the probability of their being fast food places and liquors are high and where are the grocery stores with fresh foods??? I also like the idea of community. We plant and harvest it and everyone has access to it. Thinking of access, actually making sure that people can physical access it is important. Being there is one thing, getting people there is something else. People will come, but can they??.....

Friday, December 29, 2017

Eating Vegan in Memphis

Hey scholars!

Since I have moved to Memphis, I have become a vegan. I am often asked, how/why did I do this in one of the BBQ capitals of the world????? I am also often asked about being vegan and black, as if veganism is a white thing. Yes, people have actually told me that veganism is white people shit. Saying and thinking that is stupid people shit. How in the hell is consuming fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and plant based proteins like tofu, tempeh, and soy, something only white people eat?? The third question I am often asked is what/were do I eat? The "what?' question confuses me. I eat all kinds of stuff, like burgers and fries, pizza, tacos, etc. No, I do not sit around and deep throat carrots and celery sticks all day. Actually, you will never see me eating a carrot stick because the smell of carrots are headache inducing. I do eat them as long as they are shredded, blended, cooked, or juiced. Celery sticks, I usually throw those in the juicer and make a nice juice. Since I am the only vegan amongst my friends, when we go out, they wonder if there are places to eat that we can all enjoy. While there are places that are specifically vegan, many places make an effort to include vegan options on their menus. Vegans can enjoy a meal from entrees to dessert. I am not talking about piecing together a meal using side items only, even though, some places well......yeah... Here is a small list of some of the places that I enjoy from time to time. I prefer shopping at farmers markets and grocery stores and making my own meals, drinks, and desserts. This list is by no means a comprehensive list of vegan finds in restaurants in Memphis. 

1. Two Vegan Sistas- This black owned establishment is 100% vegan and mostly raw. I enjoy their mustard greens, mac and cheese, and corn bread. Soul food that is hearty and healthy!! The desserts are amazing as well. 

2. Lyfe Kitchen- This a vegan friendly fast food chain with sandwiches, sweet potato fries, smoothies, and infused waters. 

3. Pyro's Fire Pizza- Pizza chains are beginning to offer vegan cheese alternatives. Here at this build your own pizza place with crust, vegan cheese, and tons of toppings, yes pineapple on pizza is good. 

4. RP Track's- Located across from UofMemphis, this popular hangout has different tofu options such as BBQ tofu and my favorite, buffalo tofu fingers. My meal usually consists of buffalo tofu fingers, sweet potato fries, and ginger beer. 

5. Dejavu Creole Soul Food and Vegetarian Cafe- Enjoy southern comfort food like BBQ tofu, "chicken" salad, and numerous side items like greens and fried cabbage; they also offer vegan desserts. 

6. Evelyn and Olive- This Jamaican restaurant have the most amazing Pasta Pasta and black bean tacos topped with kiwi salsa. 

7. Mulan Bistro- Who says vegans cannot eat sushi/tempura? I absolutely love their sweet potato tempera rolls. Be sure to ask them to leave off the eel sauce. The General Tso's tofu is pretty great too. 

8. Robata Ramen & Yakitori Bar- Who does not love ramen? This place offers seaweed and soy broth topped with noodles, tofu, and veggies. 

9. Mama Gaia- This place is vegetarian but pretty much everything can be made vegan by leaving off cheese and some of the sauces. The bowls are popular as are the pitas and pizzas. 

10. Muddy's Bake Shop- This bakery offers a number of vegan cookies, pies, and cupcakes that are divine. As they expand their vegan treats, they take suggestions, bonus! 

Themed Music Playlists

Hey scholars!

When I listen to music, I do so according to my activity and vibe. My tastes are eclectic, which helps to figure out what best fits my current vibe and activity. Here are a few examples of lists I frequently go to and add to over time. All of these are what I am currently listening to while I write my dissertation. Aside from the lists below, I like the Bossa Nova/ cafe music music streams on YouTube, especially when I am working in a quiet space, it makes for perfect background noise; I am not one of those people who can write in silence. I need words for inspiration. Here are some lists that helps to put me in a creative mood.......


Sinead Harnett- If You Let Me
Alina Baraz- Lavender and Velvet
SZA- Broken Clocks
Sabrina Claudio- Confidently Lost
Cree Summer- Soul Sister
H.E.R- Focus
Rendevous at Two- Replay
Raye- Bet You Wish
Kehlani- Escape
Solange- Where Do We Go


Rita Shelby- Cherish the Moment
Anita Baker- Whatever it Takes
Will Downing and Rachelle Ferrell- Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This
Pancho Sanchez- Morning
Lalah Hathaway- I'm Coming Back
Nnenna Freelon- All of Me
Chris Botti ft. Jill Scott- Good Morning Heartache
Chaka Khan- My Funny Valentine
Jeff Lorber- Never
Saunders Sermons- In a Sentimental Mood
Esperanza Spalding- Wild is the Wind

Laid Back Hip Hip:

Mos Def and Aretha Franklin- One Step Ahead of Ms. Fat Booty
Disable Planets- Rebirth of Slick
Soul II Soul- Back to Life
Nas ft. Lauryn Hill- If I Ruled the World
Arrested Development- People Everyday
The Fugees- Ready or Not

Late Night Vibes:

Tamar Braxton- All the Way Home
Janine and the Mixtape- Cold Out
Norah Jones- Don't Know Why
JOY.- Same Place
Tink- I Like
Lady Antebellum- Need You Now


Jazmine Sullivan- Masterpiece

Adam Levine- Lost Stars
Lisa Stansfield- All Around the World
Angie Stone-No More Rain
Gladys Knight and the Pips- Neither One of Us
Chaka Khan- Your Love is All I Know
Regina Belle- Baby Come to Me
Teena Marie- Out on a Limb
Luther Vandross- Don't Want to Be a Fool
Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald- On My Own
Chante Moore- I Cry to Myself
Floetry- If I Was a Bird
Duke Dumont- Ocean Drive

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Fishless Fillets and Chips

Hey scholars!

One of the greatest lessons I have learned since embarking on this journey is be creative and open to new foods. Being creative has sparked new recipes from foods I enjoyed before becoming a vegan. One meal I loved, was fish sandwiches and fries, or fish and chips. I was never a big fan of fried foods, but fried fish when it is done right was my shit!!! In my undergrad years, I have been to my fair share of pubs and a local pizza joint in Cincinnati and indulged. In a previous post, I used Gardein fishless fillets. This recipe again calls for a couple of these awesome fillets. For the chips, I used Alexia seasoned waffle fries.

Cook the fries and fillets according to their instructions.

Tartar sauce:
1 cup vegenaise 
1 TBSP minced onion
2 TBSP lemon juice
1.5 TBSP sweet relish or dill if you prefer 
Salt (I used pink himalayan salt) and Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and spread onto bread.

Now, assemble the sandwich:

1 Hoagie Roll 
Cheese (Daiya cheddar slice)- melt on top of fillets 
Tartar sauce 

Plate fries 


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

20 Things About Me

Hey scholars!

I did this post back in July 2015, so I thought that I would update it. 

1. I am a vegan. A strict vegan. When I first started out, I was flexible with it, but not anymore. 

2. I am in my fourth year of my doctoral studies. I have finished my coursework, passed all of my qualifying exams, and presented my research prospectus to my department. My status is All But Dissertation (ABD). I am in my dissertation phase.....

3. I have two rescue cats, Batman and Charlie (girl); they are siblings and one years old. 

4. My favorite show on television right now is This Is Us. 

5. When I am done with school, I want to live abroad, Canada included.

6. Last December, after my oral exams defense, I got my septum pierced.

7. Still an introvert also, I am socially awkward, anti-social, and a hermit.

8. Career goals- documentary filmmaker 

9. Contemplating law school- if this GOP tax bill scam go through, I definitely will not be going to law school.

10. My dissertation focuses on transgender history 

11. Favorite vegan social media:
       - Edgy Veg
       - Sweet Potato Soul 
       - The Raw Boy
       - Shania Belcon

12. Favorite YouTube Content
      - All Def Digital
      - Joe Santagato
      - Qaadir Howard 

13. I am a bohemian soul 

14. I am a HUGE Kombucha lover. I really like Kombucha because it is black owned by a woman in Memphis. 

15. Favorite 2017 albums: SZA- Crtl and Kehlani- Sweet, Sexy, Savage 

16. I am the oldest of 5 siblings (4 girls, 1 boy)

17. I wrote a book. 

18. Took a bowling class in undergrad and bowled a 286 in one of the classes. 

19. The older I get, the more I become a morning person.

20. My 2017 book suggestion: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of  Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Black Names Matter

Hey scholars! 

Some time ago, I visited a coffee shop on campus for a green latte to help me get my day started. I ordered my drink. After checking all the necessary boxes and writing the correct abbreviations for what I wanted, the barista asked me my name. “Rebekkah,” I tell him and proceeded to spell it for him. Sometimes I forgo doing so, just to see what the barista comes up with and they come up with some interesting spellings. Anyway, I spelled it out for him a couple of times, I understand that the spelling is not as common. As he is writing my name down, he mumbles, “Ghetto.” In a level that he can hear and put his ass on notice that I heard him, I said, “It’s biblical.” He looked up at me in shock. Yeah, I heard you punk. If you knew what you thought you did, you would not have responded the way you did. If you had any sense, you would have known that it is from the bible. I almost did not pay for my drink. 

If I was a different type of person, I would have caused a damn scene. I wanted to, but why give him that power?? I did not want to black out and go in, then I would have been the one in the wrong. Angry black woman on deck. Forget that this is a black on black crime. Who cares that I am pursuing a PhD? Who cares that I teach courses? All of that would have either a). been ignored and all the attention going to my anger or b). been used to keep me silent in the future, my head down, eyes forward, know my place. It really pissed me off. 

Still does to be honest.

Q&A: Grad School Advice

Hey scholars!  I am pretty often asked about applying to grad school and advice about the journey and expectations. As someone who has bee...