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We had been in the lobby of our hotel in Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital, for only a few minutes when the Dutch territory’s Arcadian “One Happy Island” front was shattered by a desk clerk whose petulance hit me like a left hook straight to the temple. As she delivered the rules and regulations like a stern lecture, scolding my daughter and me for the simple offense of standing before her, my mind drifted back home to New York City. There I was, at Mendez Boxing gym, and there she was, standing in place of my favorite heavy bag.

Eventually, spurred by my husband, Sacha, she produced a set of room keys. But when we finally made our way down the spare beige hallway and into a room facing the busy boulevard (with dingy beds smaller than advertised), I realized I was relieved to have seen the front desk clerk’s vitriol. It countered the tourism board’s Stepford-ian remake of Aruba. And that was a good thing.

CONTINUE READING THE STORY HERE. 

BELOW ARE SOME PHOTOS FROM OUR TRIP, MOSTLY TAKEN BY DJALI BROWN-CEPEDA.

COPYRIGHT, 2014.

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The God Hour

by admin on August 12, 2014

Every early morning, on my way to the gym, I take a few moments to thank the Forces of Nature and our Supreme Friend for the major and seemingly minor things in life. Today, as I was walking up the block and praying for our global family in Iraq, Gaza, Missouri, and West Africa, for Michael Brown and all of our endangered Black and Brown boys and girls, I didn’t expect to see this sight when turning the corner. THIS picture doesn’t capture the majesty of what I saw hovering above me. What I took away from this sighting was not to give up on my global and local community. For every thug, every terrorist, every dirty racist cop, every unjust soul in the world, there will also be beauty and peaceful moments we can harness aché from.

Photo by Raquel Cepeda, copyright 2014

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Rest Easy, Robin Williams. And Safe Travels

by admin on August 11, 2014

I was saddened to read that our national treasure, the actor, comedian, social activist, and my favorite alien, Robin Williams, died in an apparent suicide earlier today. According to his publicist, Williams had been battling severe depression, and yet another bid at a rehab center for substance abuse. I’m not going to eulogize him because you already know all about his work and how freaking funny the guy was. And if you don’t, then it doesn’t matter anyway. What I will say is that depression is a serious issue I’ve seen affect friends and acquaintances over the years—yes, even those with saccharine Instagram and Facebook pages. Social networking is great but on the flip-side it makes it too tempting for people who need help, a shoulder to cry on, or some serious intervention, to make shit up. You know folks like I do that inflate their personas out of desperation, wanting to make themselves believe they are as slap-happy as they want you to believe they are. I’m not encouraging you to pull the rug out from underneath someone you suspect is fronting. I am, however, suggesting you take a few moments to reach out to your friends and loved ones on the phone or, preferably, in person, and ask how they are doing—Really, how are you doing? Also, if this person is you and you want to talk to someone anonymously, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

 

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New York Boxing Tournament -> #winning

by admin on July 28, 2014

It’s been a crazysweatycool summer so far! I’ve been on the low and working crazy hard this summer. I’ve been juggling production dates for my current documentary, SOME GIRLS, which we recently received a National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) grant for. I’ve been working hard on a book proposal for a subject I’ve been passionate about since the 1990s (more later), and training like a beast for the 5th annual New York Boxing Tournament. Man, it’s been nuts, but hard work, eating clean and dedication pays off! I won my first belt over the weekend, beating out a heavier fighter (in her home gym, no less!) in the women’s masters division. It was a remarkable night, especially with my kids, huz, and friends cheering me on! Check me out, below, with my amazing coach, Moises.

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Happily Never After?

by admin on July 11, 2014

I came across this clever campaign against domestic violence while cruising Huffpo earlier today and wanted to share it here. Middle Eastern POPlitical artist Saint Hoax launched this campaign, “Happy Never After,” to bring awareness to domestic violence. In the series, Saint Hoax uses Disney princesses as a prism to illustrate how violence against women can happen to just about anyone. According to his website, his goal is to “encourage victims to report their cases in order for the authorities to prevent it from happening again.”

I’d love to see Saint Hoax do a series in where he features famous perps of violence against women who are celebrated in the media, by their communities, and even passionately defended by other women and girls (and sometimes their victims!) because, well, he can sing or dance or act. Hoax’s take would be interesting.

 

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I was asked to write a reflection piece by an editor over at Complex magazine, based on an Instagram photo I posted yesterday morning. It went live this morning and it goes a little something like this…

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While riding the 1 train uptown yesterday morning I stared at the cover of the New York Daily News. Someone had abandoned the paper on the seat directly across from me. I felt this thing, the newspaper, suck me into a portal. I traveled back to those moments in time when the five Black and Latino kids pictured on the cover, aged 14-16, were shafted by our judicial system.

The black-and-white photo of these teenagers dressed like pallbearers and looking confused brought me back to that time and what it was like being a non-white teenager in New York City.

READ THE REST OF THE PIECE HERE.

 

 

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It was quite an honor to guest host on Latino USA on NPR for the one and only Maria Hinojosa while she’s been busy conquering the world and being the positive force she wants to see in it. Loved her staff, this week’s theme—MOVE—and interviewing my friend Farai Chideya about our shared passion for traveling. #lovetaps

This week, Latino USA is on the move with guest host Raquel Cepeda. We hear stories of La Bestia, the train which takes Central American migrants through Mexico to the US. We hear about a Salvadoran woman’s story, from a gay migrant, and about those trying to take alternate modes of transport. And we hear about one man who massages the feet of migrants as they journey north. Then: some background on the World Cup, traveling while brown, and doing Zumba for community. And finally, the World War II internment story you might have missed.

 

 

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The gorgeous sunrise this morning made a magical b-roll moment possible: welcome, June. #SOME_GIRLS

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