visit baltimore

on #unfairandlovely

I went to visit my cousin in Baltimore awhile back. She’s from Bangladesh and she’s absolutely beautiful. I was a west coast girl living in DC for a few months so it seemed only right to visit family out there. She invited me over for the holidays, made me food, took me to an Indian-Pakistani store to get me those little easy to fry samosas I love so much. She wanted me to feel right at home, miles away from California. As we reached the cash register, she pointed upwards towards the shelves behind the counter. 

“Give me three tubes, please.”

The man at the counter handed her three medium sized fair and lovely boxes, all pink and white in all its glory. My cousin put all three into the bag with my samosas, smiled and said they were a gift from her. Charming. 

I’m from California. Big yellow sun, outside schools and shopping centers. I like to lay on the ground and have the warmth of it hit my back California. I’m not a huge fan of the heat, but I mean I certainly can’t avoid it. You ever been to Shaw’s Cove in Laguna beach? Stood at the edge of the underwater cliff, watching as each wave almost tucks you under the ocean floor, rolled in the sand until you look like tempura shrimp, skin golden and toasty underneath the grain? It’s a dream.

It’s also exactly the thing I was told to avoid as a child. As a teenager. Now. Don’t go outside too much, wear a hat, take an umbrella, even as a far as wear gloves when you drive so your hands don’t get darker while they’re on the steering wheel. When the first Indian female surfer started surfing, everyone told her that she’ll get too dark. Personal opinion: It’s one thing to cover up for modesty, in fear of skin cancer, to avoid sunburns, etc. but the concept of teaching young girls to stay out of the sun in fear of getting too dark is not only degrading to dark skinned people of color, of any race, but shaming girls into believing there is something wrong with how their body naturally looks, how it naturally develops melanin in outside world. It also keeps girls from outside for the sake of being beautiful usually to make sure she gets a proper husband. A husband that wouldn’t marry a dark girl. See what I mean? It’s a continuous cycle of dark shaming. Perpetuating colorism. It creates families that value lighter skin colors, communities that believe that skin color defines beauty, and that beauty defines a girl’s ability to get married to a proper household, which ultimately defines her success in life as a wife and a mother. 

When I came back from a winter in DC, my skin was very light. “You look so good!” When I’m in California, getting dark is hard to avoid. It took me years to develop confidence in my skin. I knew it was wrong to be afraid of the darkness of my skin, that I won’t be a pretty. But here I am in my twenties able to confront and accept and believe that this is everything I am, whatever shade of brown the world gives me is a story of where I’ve been. It’s a history of swimming in the summer, tan lines from the outings, that russet red brown from hikes up the mountains. It shows the warmth the earth gives me. I know that kind of skin-loving, self confidence in one’s darkness that doesn’t come for many girls. For the one’s constantly being reprimanded for not being pretty enough, not being light enough. 

We are girls of the sun. Your mother’s womb had a glow. You are the face of the earth, of elegance, of beauty. Skin shaming doesn’t end with dark skinned girls. I’ve seen girls destroy their skin with bad tanning lotions because they were “too pale.” “Blinding.” It never ends. The world wants us to be a perfect vanilla caramel, but the girls of the world aren’t coffee and don’t give a shit about your close-minded taste in women. 



08.25.16- journal update!!

i keep going back to the first 4 pages and editing them omgg 😵 Tomorrow i’ll be leaving to baltimore to visit my sister and the bus ride is pretty long so i’ll most likely end up making more spreads on my way there. 🌺


This spring I got in a car and followed the precise migration path of a young snowy owl named Baltimore. Thanks to cutting edge tracking technology, I was able to visit the exact perches Baltimore chose: a piece of driftwood on the Jersey coast … the top of a Manhattan skyscraper … the roof of the smallest radio station in Canada. Along the way, I got to meet the people touched by Baltimore’s migration, and I learned I learned a little about owl biology and behavior. We’re learning so much new info about this mysterious species. I hope you enjoy!

Dear Mr. President,

8 years ago, I was a 16 year old high schooler who couldn’t vote in the upcoming election so I spent my time going door to door canvassing for a Democratic candidate in a historically Republican state. That election year, history was made when Indiana turned blue for the first time in over 40 years, and I was proud of you and the people running your campaign and glad that I was a part of it.

Your presidency had a lot of ups and downs. The challenges you have faced in these 8 years were probably greater than you even imagined to face. People said you were all talk and no action. And although you couldn’t keep all your campaign promises, I wanted to let you know that that 16 year old who was so inspired by your words, is now 24 and still does not regret her decision to support you.

Yesterday, you visited a Baltimore masjid and said a few words that really needed to be heard. As a Muslim American practicing hijab, I realize more than anyone the impact hateful rhetoric has on people who are ignorant and don’t know better. In the past few years, more people have been comfortable with passing comments to be than ever in my life. I’m an adult so it doesn’t affect me as much. But I couldn’t imagine being a young kid being bullied about being Muslim in school, and more than anything, your words were important for those kids who are struggling with their identity because of what a few “leading” candidates have said.

So thank you, for always being vocal for what’s right. And thank you for being the best you could be in these last 8 years. I cannot imagine anyone else in your place. Also, you’re cool af.

Best wishes to you and your family,


President Obama traveled to Springfield, Illinois today, nine years after announcing his candidacy for President. Watch his speech at the Illinois Capitol, and share where you were in 2007 using #WhereWereYou.

i managed to get onto an open network (idk how long it’ll last…), so i’m opening up sketch commissions! they’ll probably be cleaner than these to be honest.

i’m starting off with sketches before working my way up to lineart and so on, i want to start off simple. but i really need to start making money to contribute at home and to prepare for my visit to baltimore. lest i suffer consequences…

they are set price at $10 for headshots/busts or chibi, $13 for full body, and $15 for a couple. i’ll be taking 10 slots, so i’m not too overwhelmed. one commission per person till all are complete, then i reopen.

my only rule for now is that the commission request stays safe for work. i am willing to do “fluffy” things with personal characters, or oc’s in general. undertale is my best suit though.

Loring Cornish exhibit. Baltimore. No. 9.

I paid a visit to West Baltimore artist Loring Cornish today. Moved to tears after the shooting death of Walter Scott by a South Carolina police officer, Cornish mounted an exhibit outside of his studio on Parkwood Avenue – painting dozens of baby dolls black, and hanging them from a tree outside.

“I hung them from the tree to let people visually see what we feel. We’re feeling this,” he told WBAL-TV. “This is not something we should just gloss over. We’re actually feeling death in our community. We are being lynched, killed, and murdered legally in the United States.”

Cornish told me he has been overwhelmed by the attention and controversy his exhibit has received. He invited me to photograph it, but declined my invitation to pose for a portrait.

“I’m too tired,” he said, shaking his head. And with that, he retreated inside.

Obama is playing the long game against structural racism

President Obama’s rhetoric on police killings and protests has been mostly reserved. He chose not to visit Baltimore or Ferguson, nor take sides in the State of the Union. But lately there have been signs that he’s interested in addressing structural issues in the United States’ criminal justice — and real concrete ideas to solve these problems.

Wale visited a Baltimore high school to give the students a vital message 

Wale didn’t announce his visit to Baltimore with any fanfare. He came with a friend, the Rev. Jamal Bryant, who had delivered Freddie Gray’s eulogy, and together they went to those who need encouragement the most: Baltimore’s youth.

Wale offered anecdotes from his own life to show students they aren’t alone. “I’ve been harassed by police,” he told students, according to NPR. “And even in my state now, I’m a millionaire — they harass me regardless.” He went on to offer advice about the media using words like “thug” and “hoodlum”