I Spent Spring Break in Pre-Embargo Lift Cuba

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Cuba has interested me since fourth grade. I’m a Floridian. My first boyfriend was half-Cuban. He never wanted to talk about Cuba or the individualized and collective circumstances that led to his mother fleeing to Florida. And with the American economic embargo spanning several decades, Cuba has often seemed closest to and farthest from the United States.

Back to fourth grade. My teacher was terrified of anything Cuba. During a geography discussion, a classmate asked a question about the island. She stumbled through some response. She also apologized to the air, raised her hands and said she hoped the classroom wasn’t bugged. It was weird and above my nine year old brain.

As a law student, now closer to the finish line than to the beginning, Cuba is of interest for other reasons. The country’s constitution is beautifully written. The outright acknowledgment of being a diversified people—and celebrating that fact in its law—resonated with my “cotton black” self and global aspirations.

There’s also the fact that Cuba has routinely honored political asylum by keeping freedom fighters free, and allowing them to live in Cuba. The nation has disregarded pressures from westerners who would better serve their constituents with education funding and summer job programs than expired calls for extradition. (We love you, Assata. We also love you, Cubanos who transport her throughout the island and protect her.)

Anyway, insert Mississippi College School of Law. Their law school has had a spring break Cuba study abroad program for two years. For street cred’s sake, I Googled spring study abroad programs and applied well before President Obama announced, last December, the American and Cuban goal of normalizing relations between the nations.

This spring break, I was blessed to visit Cuba with MC Law and study comparative constitutional law with students from The Sip (Mississippi), Washington state, New York and Arizona. Our professor, a J.D./Ph.D, kept substantive and philosophical queries on deck. My classmates represented different walks of life. The academic portion was squared away.

The cultural component that remained was satisfied and exceeded expectations. Cubanos could not have made me feel more welcome. We had substantive and random conversations. Shoutout to the men whose response to my Floridian origin was a conversation about rappers Flo Rida, Wiz Khalifa and Tyga.

Cuban artists sold handcrafted pieces, spoke passionately and told jokes. One vendor, a soft-spoken woman with blond hair, lured me into her booth with decidedly African art. She reminded me that March 8 was International Women’s Day. We took a picture together.

The natives patiently listened when I fumbled through Spanglish 2.5, apologized and grasped for cognates. They seemed to appreciate sincere effort and cultural humility. When I wasn’t talking, or too close to loud westerners, they thought I was a native. Nope. Just cappuccino skinned with an affinity for colorful clothes and people.

Of course, our trip was not free of the Obnoxious Gringo American stereotype, as such arose in the form of a loud man who said things like “Book. You know, boo-kuh?” True story, cross my heart.

Some natives seemed as excited to try their English on me as I was to try my Spanish on them. Others saw my struggle and threw lifelines. One vendor, whose cadence sounded more Houston than Havana, laughingly said, “I speak English,” and negotiated a fair price with me for a knitted shirt.

Our study abroad group ate frijoles soaked in goddess tears, rice simmered in utopia and drank mojitos that never seemed to run out. We heard people say they love America. Some shouted “liberty” when we were around.

One night, we walked for an hour through areas our bus carefully avoided and saw inside tiny, tidy homes with colorful decorations, rousing discussions, barbershops and family and friends.

Cuba reminded me of the diversity of people of color. Some looked undeniably white. Others looked black. Others’ traits skimmed from many people, like the copper skinned boy with brown eyes and bright red, straight hair who skateboarded past us.

I did notice an unspoken colorism. Whiter looking, mixed or brown skinned people with long hair or light eyes often greeted tourists, handled money and held prominent positions. The people with the dark cocoa skin, dark eyes, broad features and coarse hair often worked service jobs. Many live in other parts of the island.

In critical race circles, the light-is-right ideology in Latin America is called pigmentocracy. It’s an iteration of colonialism seen across the globe.

The trip, however, was still amazing. We visited the home of Jose Fuster, an artist widely regarded as the Caribbean Picasso. His relative and I shared a moment, and fist bump, because we both have tailbone length dreadlocks that represent our eight years with matted hair.

Our group visited a beach. We saw musicians. We met an American diplomat. We met a Cuban international lawyer. Both were women, just saying. We learned that wifi was expensive and not always dependable, so we ate meals where everyone made eye contact and listened instead of scanning phones for updates.

Our tour guide bridged the gap between the natives and us. We saw lots of pretty things, and areas with infrastructures reflecting a need for progress into contemporary times. We saw the old school vehicles that baffle international scholars, as Cuba has patents and secrets that keep classic things as good as new.

Hopefully, as relations improve the US will respect what Cuba brings to the table and their willingness to be autonomous and unbothered. The nation that expects everybody else to bow down, whether American exceptionalism ideas are warranted or not (hello, #blacklivesmatter), should learn to kiss their ring.

Ultimately, I am not a Cuba expert. Or a legal expert. Yet. But, I opened myself up to Cuban and Cuban American people who shared more with me than I could ever record.

I chopped it up with a Canadian Millennial who shared that many Canadians and Europeans say Cuba will remain wonderful as long as lazy Americans who don’t eat real food or appreciate real culture can’t get universal access. As it stands now, Americans can only visit Cuba if they satisfy at least one of the enumerated reasons to visit. (Reasons include having family members there, cultural exchanges or academic purposes.)

This Cuba trip felt like an appetizer,  one that reminded me of my family’s time spent in Mexico and Costa Rica. But, it was also distinct.

Thankfully, global good faith is afoot. As seen through President Barack Obama’s handshake with Cuban president Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, global politics are becoming more inclusive. We need others. And others need us. America can also remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list amirite?, but that is for another day.

For what it’s worth, a study abroad classmate told paladar employees, “Here’s to the end of the embargo!” The Cuban restaurant, he said, erupted into cheers.

A Non-consensual Toad & Consensual Realizations

Sometimes one prepares for Evidence class and one of his brethren is on one's wall.
Sometimes one prepares for Evidence class and one of these is on one’s wall. Yes. As in inside one’s home.

I will finish reading in the library, I thought. Rolling my backpack outside, a to-do reel displayed cerebrally. Blissfully unaware, I was.

Came back for my lunch, laptop bag and purse. He appeared. Young Leap of the Prince Charming Clique. A toad almost the size of my iPhone decided to be a Monday morning blessing—and then had the nerve to try covert tactics.

He was still at first, as if his greenness wasn’t blatant against the cream wall. Then he did a little stagger step toward the ceiling. Playing conquer-the-phobia-and-capture-the-reptile would likely make me late for a four credit hour class, so Imani was thrust into decision mode.

‘Twas a Robert Frost moment. When the two roads diverged … I closed the bedroom and bathroom door, hopped in Jazzy, my Jetta, and pushed the reptile to the recesses of my mind. Of course, when I came home from school he was nowhere to be found. OMG! WTH! I live alone for reasons. A non-consensual roomie with wart connotations and overarching grossness. Lord, help me.

Solutions. I needed solutions.

Because I’m a student with a recently uncovered fear of frogs, I thought textbook-y. Google-y. What do educated people do? Notice? Notice! Yes. I will put the maintenance men on notice. So, I made a work order and request for someone to retrieve Young Leap.

A friendly staffer offered assurances that if Young Leap appears during business hours, and I called the office, they’d evict him for me. He laughed good-naturedly, as if relieved that it wasn’t a break-in, beat-up or mold complaint.

An aside: Sometimes I’m a hyper-rage-against-gender-normativity-and-expectations chick. Other times, my voice ratchets up a few octaves and I want a man to do the manly thing. Namely. Get. The. Frog. Now.

About a month before this, I stood outside for 45 minutes because a toad boy band assembled on and around my front door. Calling my mother proved to be of little use, as her usually limitless well of support dried up a bit when her voice cracked. She was laughing. Or worse, doing that whisper-vibrato one does to suppress a laugh. My baby brother literally Face timed some sense and courage into me.

Otherwise, I might still be paying rent, sleeping in Jazzy and trying to couch outfit repeats in terms of sustainability and going green—instead of admitting that a G gets scared sometimes. Thanks, Kalif.

Well, fast forward. Young Leap hasn’t appeared in about two weeks. Despite scouring every potentially frog friendly crevice of my digs, neither he, nor his icky legs nor beady eyes are visible.

Then, it hit me. He might be gone. Or he might be so hidden that it’s like he doesn’t exist anyway. And tiptoeing around a place that I sign the lease for isn’t fancy, Millennial or cool. So, I simultaneously created an NWA playlist (not really), drank a protein shake (not really) and walked around like the queen of my domain (yes, really).

Young Leap brought other notions to mind. The frog-to-prince trope. Transformations. Growing up. Loyalty to fear. Loyalty and fear.

Sometimes inconveniences scare people out of otherwise healthy opportunities. Sometimes people psych themselves out. Sometimes letting people know what’s bothering you is best, not because they will always do right by you, but because candor is right for you. Sometimes things really aren’t that scary.

My classmates and loved ones have inquired. I’m ok, y’all. Really. Besides, whenever something seems stressful, unwarranted or ill-timed, odds are good that something better is already jumping.

On Dreads & Why You Can’t Send a Girl Who Knows Who She is Home

Exhibit A: Nine year old Imani with a fresh perm and JC Penney dress.
Exhibit A: Nine year old Imani with a fresh perm and JC Penney dress.

“They didn’t like my dreads,” Tiana Parker, a 7-year-old black girl said. “They” are her former school, Deborah Brown Community School. Officials told Parker’s dad, Terrence, that she wasn’t presentable because of her hair.

According to the community school, “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” And chastising little girls to the point of tears about their immutable characteristics is?

I don’t know a 7-year-old white girl experience. But, I remember being a 7-year-old black one and confronting people’s ignorance and distaste for anything that rendered me blacker or highlighted my parents’ conscious choice to let people know who I am. But, they taught me first.

What do I mean? If Imani Jackson shows up as a resume or application, you might not know exactly who I am, but you have a pretty good idea of who I’m not. First, it’s dope that Tiana is brave and bold enough to wear her natural hair at seven. That her father, a barber, champions his princess’ natural mane? Doper. People want their loved ones to love themselves and to present in ways that cause them the least amount of resistance.

But, it’s bigger than individuals, y’all. When I was seven, my mom finally acquiesced. The relaxer I begged, prayed and hoped for finally morphed my midnight mass into long, straight hair. I wore it relaxed for about four years until it broke, fried and drowned in a pool of split ends and spritz.

I experimented with natural styles, and unfortunately blonde hair dye, for a while until at age 17 I saw a picture of Goapele, thought about Lauryn Hill, and decided to quit playing. I began locks at 10 years old than Tiana. It taught me patience, persistence and self-love. Some days I had to go on with life, when my head looked like Coolio and a Chia pet’s Bill Nye experiment.

Gradually, the nappy, curly and coiled collision locked, grew, and became something I’m proud of. But, it was painful to get there. At Tiana’s age, I attended a multicultural magnet elementary school, as in mostly white, with kids of color and military families sprinkled in.

The teachers were generally competent, although some needed to venture beyond their backyards if they wanted to connect with more students. My hair, which my mother braided, pressed and styled in awe-inspiring black-girl styles, reminded everyone that I was different. I was tired of being different.

Always in the back of the class photos, taller than most of the boys, and having a “foreign” first name in a city that just missed being in South Georgia, my differences felt burdensome.

Why hadn’t my mom named me Brenda? That is her name. It was my late grandmother’s name. Teachers wouldn’t mispronounce Brenda. I wouldn’t be forced into awkward conversations with adults who didn’t know Kwanzaa existed, Swahili isn’t a place, and while Iman was hot stuff, her name is Spanish and I was not named after her.

Teachers barreled through Brittanys, Ashleys and Brandons with reckless abandon. That weird I-word lodged in the middle of the roll was an impediment from quickly assessing which students came to school that day. I learned to raise my hand when anything remotely “Ih”-sounding preceded Jackson.

The long and short of it is that I evolved with family support and love. The kind of love that Tiana has, as her dad, Terrence, went to bat in the media and against that school for her. That’s the same love my father showed when he reprimanded a high school boy who sought to impress his high school friends at the expense of middle school me by shoving a dirty, discarded pick in my Afro at the bus stop.

In many settings I was the only non-mixed black girl who were wore her natural hair. I was nappy and trying to be happy before curling puddings, big time bloggers and a bourgeoning beauty industry would explode into follicular fiestas for women who sat on the sidelines because they didn’t want drama regarding the hair from their mamas.

Today my hair is a big part of my identity. It’s proof that I survived. I was bullied, ostracized, thought suspect and ridiculed for being me in a world that mistreats the other. My hair gets checked by TSA. I force them to discuss the additional searches. I am stereotyped about how I spend my recreational time.

I’m automatically West Indian, even though I’m not. My mom, who has a big, curly fro, is apparently black Latina. Why our ethnicities don’t match is beyond me. I become de facto hair teacher for people of all backgrounds who don’t know how follicular diversity works.

White people tell me about their friends with sketchy showering habits and dreads. Sometimes they share the (BIG!) secret that all of their hair isn’t naturally straight. Rasta men greet me in ways I don’t fully understand. Older blacks tell me that I beat the odds and look nice with “those dreads.” Somehow my dreads inspire conversations about how black men with dreads must disprove ideas that they’re thugs.

Mostly now, I’m embraced. My hair is healthy. It’s strong. It’s long. It’s a lot like me. It’s accepted and acceptable because I accept it, love it, treat it well, and remove myself from situations where I won’t be valued because of what it represents. Life is too short to hang out in hate spaces.

My 1st Year of Law School Was Just Like Being in a Moshpit

It started first semester. You were my, my boos. Please note: This picture does not include additional books & sources that I read/took notes from etc.
It started first semester. You were my, my boos. Please note: This picture does not include additional books & sources that I read/took notes from as a 1L.

Moshpits aren’t my thing.

On a holiday break from college, my friends and I attended a rock show. We didn’t know much about the bands. Tickets were affordable. We were bored. So it goes.

Bury Your Dead (BYD). A normal person unfamiliar with the night’s lineup would have made contextual leaps based on the band’s name. Sometimes Imani finds other nexuses.

I rocked jeans, lime green flip-flops and understated makeup. In we walked. Multiple stage dives greeted us. My stomach flopped.

One of my professors says lawyering is about semantics. Trust, Imani. Not recklessness. Sometimes people stage dive, and nobody falls. Aight.

Law school. In I walked. Learn your environment, Imani. Socratic Method. Getting called on.

“Ms. Jackson,” did I care to elaborate on (seemingly) esoteric points of the law as evidenced by the case it took me two hours, a Google history lesson and five dictionary trips to read?

Are we rocking with the majority opinion or does the dissent warrant consideration? As a coffee shop hopping, love bug leftie, I usually root for the underdog. But, is that this professor’s thing?

I’d try.

Success was perfect. Liberating. When I didn’t know the answer… Stage dive. Would I catch myself? Toiling. Reading. Noting. Study groups. Panic attacks. Dreams about class/assignments/justices/dicta/policy/issues. Can sleep please be my happy space, God? Thanks, Mgt.

Competition. The curve. Meh. Part of why I transitioned from performance theatre to creative writing in my arts high school was a desire to dictate my lane without it being relative to what everybody else had going on. Law school sees it differently.

Fists. Ideas. Someone repeats what was just said as if an epiphany god made it rain. People light up. Are some ideas more palatable from certain people? What did I sign up for?

At the BYD show, I didn’t realize I was in a moshpit or that they spontaneously form. Then a cluster of raging, sweaty people surrounded me. Someone punched me, and several ran into me. My flip-flop was swallowed by a crowd. My face hit the wall.

Ready to (try to) fight, the crowd was gone. I’ve actually never been in a fight. A new moshpit formed. Whoever hit me was in that mass of people pummeling each other. Masochism.

Sometimes you gotta move on. Appellate brief. Oral arguments. Midterms. Finals week. Walk by faith and not by sight. And sometimes sight reminds you why you’re there.

A man who lives under a bridge a block from campus spread his blanket beside a shopping cart one evening. I was leaving the library. It was freezing. Blasting the radio and heat in my Jetta, while envisioning a pre-wine to-do list, the man’s blanket broke me. I’m going home to an apartment in a gated community. He’s settling in beside rocks. Sobbing, I turned onto the highway. God, I’ll do this. You let me be here. I’ll do it.

This experience hasn’t been all or even mostly bad. I went first for oral argument. It went well. My partner is a genius. We signed our lives over for the pretend client with dedication until our brief’s submission night and argument morning.

Three attorneys, who I had never met, grilled me for 10 mind-blowing minutes while I defended the rights of a pretend man that pre-law school Imani would have written off as a creeper. A meek legal voice left my lips. With a crescendo-esque cadence, theories flew  and before I knew it, OMG adrenaline. Can I go again? Please? What about these other cases, Your Honors?

Were my client’s rights being infringed upon? Were tenuous connections used to inappropriately authorize invasions against a man deemed a creeper, whose  non-traditional interests shouldn’t be at issue?

Then the February bar takers passed with an almost 83% rate, besting competitive state schools. Strike, Rattlers. There’s always illumination in a tunnel.

Ultimately, law school relaxed me. So much is piled on my classmates and me that if we freak out about each thing, everyone will drop dead. Since I put too much time, money and effort into the education thing to go out like that, I learned to breathe. Sometimes.

That is not to say that I regurgitate statutes or 100% know the demographics I will serve. I won’t pretend that law is demystified. It takes three years to graduate. I have one under my belt. It takes bar passage to be licensed.

But, I’m learning a lot. I read/write/analogize more efficiently. I respect expertise. I notice things I didn’t before. When I renewed my lease, all that crazy jargon formed clearer ideas about what my landlord expects from tenants.

Then there’s the fact that I got my ass kicked a lot. I sent manic texts to a few trusted people, all in the legal field. I cried in a bathroom, on the highway and in my pillow. But, all the lawyers and judges I’ve met said that the worst is behind me.

It helped to cling to words. I’m so grateful to use my journalism degree as a writer while navigating this space. My editors are tremendously understanding. P.S. if you’re reading this and we’re social media buds, read me to feed me. I post links often.

In all seriousness, questions remain. I lost some things. Patience for folly. Unneeded weight stressing about stress.

A sexy marketing/journalism job offer in a big city came during first semester. I could make big girl money! Have my beaming brown face plastered on press releases! Diversity!

A mentor-turned-friend once said that my content is more relevant than my countenance. I thought he was just trying to make me feel better because modeling agents said I was “commercial.” Now I get it. I want to absorb all the life, knowledge, love and wisdom I can to make anything I curate worth the recipient’s time.

Romance. Someone I dated began waxing poetic about everything. He appointed himself as my biblical liaison and counselor. Um. What?  Maybe I missed my blessing. *Flashes back to kind collegiate men.* Their family members they had me meet. Dinner dates. Ideas we volleyed. Full stop. Everything happens for a reason.

I accept my role in my journeys. I have complexes. I love to be confided in. I hate being vulnerable. My family is profoundly loving and periodically stressful because they are truly standouts. I just want to carry our name well.

This post is not a rager or rhythm & cry-baby. It’s a victory song. I didn’t need that green flip-flop, although I had hobble-swag back to the car. I’m currently good on some normative success markers. These unorthodox dots will connect.

Adios, 1L year. You rocked and rolled. The homies and I will see another show.

Note: I didn’t actually say that creeper bit in my argument. That was subtext.

Also note: I wrote this forever post ago and wanted to wait until my grades posted and mental arbitrary hurdles were hopped. Here’s to 2L year filling my soul with gooey goodness.

Embrace summertime, not pervasive personal questions

As the sun beams, wind blows, tan lines surface and memories accumulate, remember caution, especially when addressing recent graduates and upwardly mobile peeps.

Some stuff is not your business. This is a mighty revelation for some because nosy people feel entitled to everyone’s business. Because other people’s business underscores universal issues, right?

Your finances, proclivities and politics belong to all. It’s social commentary, not nosiness, right?

Child boo.

Add prevailing notions of a woeful romantic climate for women (especially of color), abysmal job market for all, and the prevalence of Facebook notifications, that yes, even they are engaged now, and the stage is set for pervasive post-grad personal questions.

I graduated in December, but recurring interrogatives often confront me. Spring graduates, prepare. You will develop nosiness spidey-senses.

You know the type. They occur as visions, when one knows that an individual who may not have taken as keen an interest in your professional and academic pursuits, is about to hit a recent graduate with the flex.

Who cares about community service? Let’s discuss carnality. Internships? So, what’s your boyfriend’s name?

It’s the pressure that causes women to hide their relationship statuses on Facebook, hashtag #him on Twitter or take to blogsites of anonymity to express the desires of their hearts without rampant judgment and assumptions.

Breezily dropping questions in speech does not change the fact that some questions are not necessary.

Too many people are team Mind Everyone Else’s Business (MEEB). And what many MEEBs fail to realize is that technological advances and instant gratification do not trump manners.

We live in an era of hyper-connectivity with key words and paparazzi creating facades of access when most people do not owe us anything.

If a celebrity, or heck, even friend of a friend, decides to put something out in the public domain, there is a strong correlation between its existence in that space and the likelihood of people commenting on and noticing it.

Fair enough.

But, even when people make something known, a notion prevails that MEEBs can ask whatever, whenever in whichever capacity the almighty collective schnoz deems appropriate.

No.

There are real opportunities to help and frequently in less invasive ways. We must remember time and place. As we embrace summer we must acknowledge that this is a transition period for scores of people, especially young women.

And transition points are tough. They are marked by reflection, trial, triumph and reassessment. All of that is not breaking news nor should it be.

Transitions do not have to occur under a microscope by obsessive observers who ought to channel their investigative gifts into self-actualization more than dirt digging.

Obviously I’m not addressing everyone. Some people have relationships of trust, love and expertise, which make their interactions meaningful opportunities to learn and grow. Every inquisitive soul is not a MEEB.

But, sometimes sexism is a little too blatant as some situations expose how little unfortunate minds think of women on their own, independent of their romantic relationships or decision to express certain personal choices on a plethora of platforms.

As recent graduates collect photos, funds and memories, many begin planning and working toward the next phase of their lives. Support them. Sponsor something. Connect them with viable professionals. Love them. Help if you can.

But, a bargain for exchange should not be access to the whos, whats, and whens of their bedrooms, date nights and black books, especially if you’re not dating, pursuing or remotely close to them.

As the temperatures rise, don’t catch MEEBer fever.

Ego Trips, epiphanies and intellectualism with Nikki Giovanni

When public figures present their humanity to crowds it is that much easier to understand why people love them. This could not have been more apparent than when Nikki Giovanni made an appearance in my hometown, Jacksonville, Fla., last night.

It was an honor not only to see her encourage and empower a mostly Black audience at Edward Waters College, but it was also humbling to see that a woman, whose brand withstands the test of time, share triumphs, pain and progress with audiences.

She delivered a constructively critical presentation and performed spoken word.

After signing every autograph requested of her, she graciously engaged the media and talked everything from peace to hairpieces in a  press conference at the college. She told the media that she had nothing else planned that night and would answer every question asked.

She re-emphasized the need for urban youth to have technology, namely computers or iPADS. She shamed anti-immigration legislation.

When asked about natural hair, Giovanni did not espouse self-hatred themes about women who embrace chemical alterations.

In fact, she said she thought it was quite clever when young women had green hairpieces.

“One plays with oneself,” she said. She shared that when overcoming cancer she colored her hair blonde to show her mother that she would be ok. Also, as a woman with tawny skin, her hair color gave what she described as an instant tan.

Giovanni kept it real. She kept it human.

The professorial poet reminded listeners of the need for emotionalism in light of technological advances. She said that she does not ask her students at Virginia Tech year specific questions that could be answered with their gadgets.

Instead, she said that she asks questions like “What role did personal ambition play in the Renaissance?”

Many told her that they had never encountered emotional responses to academic material.

I could go on and on about the myriad perspectives that she shared and causes she championed… However, I hope that you’ll check out my story for HBCU Digest on her visit.

** Sneakpeak**  She and I talked hip-hop and misogyny.

 http://www.hbcudigest.com/34244/

 

State of the Union reinforces education

President Obama ministered to my spirit in last night’s State of the Union address when he said, “Higher education cannot be a luxury.”

Despite education’s liberating properties, it struggles to endure.

It gets gutted in budgets. In the face of unsettling economic times, it is undermined.

In an age of overly relying on standardized tests and normative assessments, it is confined to a box that many would rather skip altogether in pursuit of scant odds at becoming a star.

When knee-high to a grasshopper, many of us were taught that knowledge is power.

While pedagogical progress is hardly limited to classrooms, desks, chalkboards and Smart Boards, “book smarts” frequently contribute to the lives of people across the globe.

Education orders thoughts, increases knowledge, and illuminates cultural similarities and dissimilarities. But, it also swags out pockets, opportunities and lifestyles—when done properly.

Recent Census Bureau data reports that a master’s degree renders $1.3 million more during a lifetime than a high school diploma. A bachelor’s degree tends to add nearly $1 million more in lifetime earnings for an individual.

Certainly people nab high paying jobs without additional degrees. Some build fruitful lives for themselves and their families.

But, the president would not have ascended to his position of power without the world-class education that he received. Numerous others have similar stories.

As a recent graduate in a funky economy I am aware of pessimistic reports, and unfavorable odds; however, I come from long lines of educated people on both sides of my family.

Plus, we grind. Challenging work is often more exhilarating than exhausting.

It will be interesting to see how the political season inspires more conversations about the validity of degrees and the need for knowing.

I am ready to take notes.