About Andrea

http://un-edited.com

Andrea is a native San Franciscan raised on a heaping dose of colorful truths and beautiful stories. A freelance writer at heart and a public health social worker by trade, she makes the truth look pretty even when it isn't. Her work has been featured on The Guardian, Huffington Post, JETmag.com, Clutch and xojane to name a few.

Posts by Andrea:

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3 Possible Reasons For Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

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The fall season signifies shorter days and longer nights, falling leaves, apple and pumpkin pies, and for 15-20 percent of American families who suffer the lose of a baby, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day observed on today, October 15.

Black women are more susceptible to stillbirths, miscarriages, low-birth babies and pre-term labor compared to other women, and are thereby likely to account for a large percentage of the 15-20 percent of families who will remember their loss on October 15.

Causes and reasons for Black women’s increased risk of pregnancy loss include several variables: high levels of stress, access to adequate health care and coverage, and the following health conditions to name a few.

1. Blood Clotting or Antiphospholipid Syndrome(APS)

APS is a syndrome characterized by a combination of symptoms, signs and/or test results.  One sign or symptom of APS is pregnancy-related complications, including first trimester miscarriage and second or third trimester stillbirths. APS affects pregnant women in multiple ways. In some women, APS antibodies can prevent a pregnancy from proper implantation in the womb. In other women diagnosed with APS, blood clots in the placenta can lead to reduced blood and oxygen supplies to the baby. In both cases the pregnancy can result in miscarriage or stillbirth.

Testing for APS is usually done by taking blood samples to check for the three specific APS antibodies.  Once diagnosed with APS, medical treatment usually involves taking low doses of aspirin beginning in the first trimester of pregnancy, or as an early preventative measure, before conception.  In some cases, a doctor may advise that injections of a blood-thinning drug, called heparin, be administered to help prevent blood clotting. Treatment for APS drastically increases the chances of having a healthy pregnancy.

Read the full story on BlackDoctor.org

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The Art of An Apology Is A Prerequisite For Adulthood

Everyone does a little dirt. It’s the American way, and learning the art of an apology, albeit phony, forced and insincere, is about as American as apple pie.

Admittedly, I have dirt on my hands. I wouldn’t go so far as to label myself dirty, but on a scale of Meryl Streep slave shirts to Donald Trumpmy shortcomings barely register on the Dirty Meter.   I have just enough dirt on my hands to know that somewhere out there is, or should be, a support group for the people I’ve wronged. It’s the dumped boyfriends, the acquaintances whose could-be friendship I never watered, the husband I didn’t show enough affection to, the guy I led on, the ones I took for granted and the ones who deserved an apology or reached for an olive branch that never came. It is they who deserve a seat at the support group session that will never convene. But in honor of being honest–#truthnobackspaceI am the one who’s in need of their counsel and support.

I’m not skilled at apologizing. In fact, of all the deadly sins, pride will certainly be the one that keeps me from entering the pearly gates. Blame it on growing up with more than enough first cousins and extended family to make me believe that I had no more room for friends.  Or blame it on my nothing lasts forever, so why try attitude that has kept me in the “no new friends” zone.  Whatever the cause of my unsharpened skills, I’ve only dished out a few apologies and saved the others for when I’d inevitably offend a close friend or relative deserving of a Grade A apology. Thankfully, I don’t score high enough on the Dirty Meter and have little use for practicing my apology skills because I don’t routinely offend, not counting drivers, bike riders who don’t ride their bikes on the sidewalk, biking trail or park, and my uncooperative eyebrows that are never on fleek. 

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Though I consider myself an overall good person and a very loving and supportive friend, I’ve also been accused of being guarded and shut off. At one point I coveted the idea that I was some mysterious girl, a real life Rubik’s Cube—a quintillion moves and only one solution.  Now I realize that being guarded and shut off isn’t a novelty, it’s the equivalent of the nearly unsolvable cube: difficult, frustrating, and after a few moves, abandoned.  It may be the Rubik’s Cube effect that has led me take inventory of my friendships and could-be-but-never-given-a-chance friendships and conclude that while I love my friends, I have robbed myself and others from forming beautiful long lasting bonds at best, and at worst an opportunity for growth.

via GIPHY

I’m not sure if it’s my feelings of self-induced abandonment, my age and growing sense of maturity and self-acceptance, or the love I’ve always had for others but often missed the mark on how to express, that has directed me to a place of responsibility and remorse. Now, more than ever, I want to hone my apology skills. I figure these steps are a good start.

Be honest. If the sole purpose of apologizing is more about repairing a stained reputation than it is about owning responsibility and feeling remorseful, stop and return to sender.

Forgive self. Apologies, in a perfect world, end in hugs and kisses, an invitation for drinks that may or may not come to fruition, and forgiveness from the person on the receiving end of a sincere apology. Ironically enough, to get to the point of asking for forgiveness, it’s necessary that one forgive oneself. It may very well be the only forgiveness one will receive.

Acknowledge wrongdoing and accept responsibility. Woman up! Accept responsibility for negative behaviors and actions. When accepting responsibility the words “I apologize for” must be present and in that order. If not, stop. Return to sender. For the record, “I apologize that you feel that way” is some bullish from way back and even if it were on sale at the dollar store, no one is buying it.

Provide an explanation.  I know.  “I don’t have to explain myself!” comes with the “growing up a black girl” handbook. However, we’re women now. A sincere apology comes with an openhearted explanation for past behavior. The truth is the vaccine to many chronic-and-acute illnesses, dead, dying and on life support friendships being one. A truthful explanation has the power to heal and increase immunity against future foolishness.

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black_college

5 Life Lessons From Hollywood’s Fictional Colleges and Universities

Over the next several weeks college and university students across America will be celebrating homecoming: home to football games, tailgating parties, steps shows, Greek letter organizations, drunken nights followed by drunken days followed by more drunken nights and all of the irresponsible subsidiaries of alcohol and underage drinking, camaraderie, alumni mixing and mingling, and for many, a healthy dose of nostalgia.

In celebration of my 10-year anniversary as a Hampton University graduate, Class of 2005, I am beginning to feel uncharacteristically nostalgic–longing for my foregone waistline of early millennium years and questionable morals that could be blamed on and overlooked due to young age and presumably not knowing “any better” (Way to catfish young ‘Drea!).

Before attending college we all have preconceived notions of college life that have been shaped by parents, siblings, guidance counselors and teachers, and for a lucky few, college tours. But for high school students like me, who thought themselves invincible and only half listened to the advice of the ill-advised advisors, none of whom attended college, nothing molded the ideas of college more than that of fictitious colleges and universities seen on television and movies! I all but graduated summa cum laude from Hillman College.

In honor of college students past, present and future, here are lessons learned from our favorite fictitious  educational institutions from A Different World’s Hillman College to Dear White People’s Winchester University.

#truthnobackspace

A Different World, 1987-1993 – Hillman College introduced us to student prototypes we hadn’t yet seen on television. In the primarily black cast we saw ourselves, or who and what we hoped to be, in the bougie southern belle, the future doctor, the musician, the bohemian future attorney, the poetess, the mathematician and a host of other students and staff who made up our hopeful college experience. We learned that college wasn’t merely a four-year vacation where all we’d accomplish was a trial of independence and freedom and meeting friends of diverse socio-economic status. It was a place to learn and explore. The students of Hillman College were thinkers who were shown participating in cram study sessions, eating crappy food and begging for an assignment extension—you know, the real stuff that college is made of.

School Daze*, 1988

We learned that although Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) nurture a sense of camaraderie, belonging and greatness, the traces of America’s dysfunctional racial history and divisiveness shows its face even among a sea of brown faces. Spike Lee’s School Daze put a lens on the fact that while at some point there may have once been a single black America with one shared agenda, that ship had sailed.   We learned that the black experience, the college experience, is not heterogeneous.  Mission University is where we stared our issues of colorism in its face—who could forget the “Jiggaboos” versus “Wannabes” scene?  

*Talk of a School Daze sequel, School Daze Too, is said to explore “the same issues that students faced in the late ‘80s, while taking on new subjects such as the pledging process and homophobia at historically black colleges.”

Higher Learning, 1995 – Here, at Columbus University, we learned about diversity and multiculturalism in ways that previous films and television shows based on college life hadn’t explored. We were warned about date rape. We witnessed extreme racism and how the need to fit in could kill or drive you insane, or both. However, a less obvious, but very significant lesson we learned from some of the students at Columbus, was that in order for a black person to be seen, he has to work harder than his non-black counterpart. By the time we entered college we’ve probably heard from loved ones that black people had to be “ten times smarter and work ten times harder” than anyone else to receive our “just due.” It’s been 20 years since Higher Learning was released, but only recently did I learn from Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the best-selling nonfiction book “Between the World and Me,” journalist and one of this year’s recipients of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation genius grant and a once Howard University student,  that working “harder” to receive a reward or payment that amounts to the same as the person who knew less and did less isn’t considered “just due.”  It’s a travesty and theft. Consider that gem as a continuing education credit.

The Great Debaters, 2007

 

Wiley College is not a fictional institution, but a longstanding HBCU in Marshall, Texas. Though the movie about Wiley’s debate team was inspired by true events, like most other nouns in Hollywood, it is embellished and dramatized. The Hollywood-effect of the movie does not distract or take away from the incredible heights the Wiley debate team achieved, including the defeat of the USC debate team at the national championship depicted in the movie as the defeat of Harvard University.   At Wiley, we mentally and emotionally immersed ourselves in the Jim Crow era. But like a diamond is formed under extreme pressure, we surfaced from Wiley bright and shiny, flawed, but unbreakable. We learned that we—black students, black people—are a people whose minds are so incredibly valuable that they were stolen, suffocated and drowned.  And for that reason we must always be on a deliberate quest to “…find, take back and keep [our] righteous minds.”  We learned that despite the many adversities that we as a people have faced and continue to face, our voices and minds will not be silenced.  Much like the #blacklivesmatter movement and its leaders, the act of Deebo-ing politicians’ platforms who ignore our reality with attempts to criticize and attack the legitimacy of the movement, and our call for ownership of our righteous minds and bodies, we cannot be silenced.  Lesson learned.

Dear White People, 2014

When we were granted admission to Winchester University, a fictional Ivy League school where white students entertain themselves by painting themselves hues of brown and black while sipping “purple drank” from Katt Williams-esque pimp cups and black students turn a blind eye to the overt racism and white privilege and accept their place as second class. Go along to get along.   The film was in direct parallel to real life current events. Like our matriculation at Mission University, Winchester University shatters the once held idea of a singular black America. Here we received our master’s in self-identity.

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#MasculinitySoFragile

#MasculinitySoFragile: ‘And That’s Why They Call U A…’

There are so many ways for a woman to be called a bitch without the word ever escaping the lips of the accuser.

Before Twitter confirmed what I already knew about being called the “b-word,” I learned all about the endless ways of being referred to as everything but a child of God by the boys and men on the streets of San Francisco. From being soaked with water guns to having my purse taken and held as ransom for my “real name and number,” I’ve seen what it means to be called the “b-word” without an actual parting of the lips.

Today this type of behavior goes by popular terms like shaming and street harassment and the streets have expanded to include virtual pavements by way of social media and texting, but the lesson is still the same: Wielding the word no in response to a man’s advances is a capital offense punishable of up to 100 ways of being called a bitch, with at least 99 of those problems not using the actual word.

Despite Jay Z’s avouchment of having “99 problems and a bitch ain’t one,” even his wife, thee Queen Bey has, and is currently experiencing the punishment of brandishing the weapon No. In a recent interview, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, responded to Beyoncé’s independence, her beauty and her choice to bare cleavage with a public criticism of her wardrobe choices and her husband’s perceivable agreement of her independence. Minister Farrakhan charges Beyoncé and other women with being the keepers of the sanity of men. He asked, “How can a man think straight, looking at the beauty of Beyoncé? Help us to be more sane.” Because…#MasculinitySoFragile.

It amazes me how some respectable men can genuinely love and respect their mothers, sisters, daughters and most any other blood related female, but can so easily scroll through their timelines or woman gaze on Any Street, USA (and beyond) and proudly declare their lust or abhorrence—usually a hybrid of the two–accentuated by the “b-word” towards someone else’s daughter, sister or mother. Reject a man’s unwanted attention or disregard his demands, and while he may not call a woman the “b-word,” his lust may quickly turn into abhorrence trying to question you with, “Who do you think you are?” and convince you that “You’re not all that cute anyway.” Women keep walking, ignoring both his advances and his misguided assertion. A woman’s polite silence is usually the key to stave off further comments. Because…

Women generally exercise a great deal of decorum in the face of male insults because the oppressed are always taught to love and respect the oppressor. But this isn’t just true for women. It’s also true for the black lives that are devalued by people and systems that oppress but expect a thank you sir and ma’am while unjustly flexing their authority. It’s true for the boy wonder who demonstrates ingenuity, but due to his cultural makeup and religion, is racially profiled and oppressed. It’s true for the aging population who have paid into a system that places them on an unlivable fixed income and demands that they be satisfied with the poor conditions. It’s true for the homeless and mentally ill veterans. It’s true for every oppressed person and group of people who consistently find themselves on the wrong end of right.

#MasculintySoFragile is a reminder that the war on racism, xenophobia, and homophobia is a war fought alongside sexism. We’ve made great strides in how far we’ve come, but we may still need a few more decades, catchy hashtags and newly coined terms for those strides to be long enough to make us a nation of equals.

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‘Orange is the New Black’ Has Plenty Real Life Material to Use in Season 4 & I Hope They Don’t Muck It Up

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A second chance is one of the most coveted opportunities, especially considering that the next opportunity—if there is a next–could be the third and final strike.

Hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black (OITNB) delivered in its first season and over delivered when given a second chance with Season 2.  The third season of OITNB was yet another success, raking in accolades, sexy headlines and reviews that dubbed the show as “must see TV,” “captivating,” and “some of the finest television to date.”  The show has been heralded as one of the most, if not the most diverse television cast.  No squandered second chance, no third strike. 

Since its inception, OITNB has been some of the best binge-worthy television shows since The Wire (I double-dare anyone to argue that fact–“Omar comin’!“).  Viewers have laughed, cried, laughed some more and maybe, just maybe, have been reminded that the show is a loosely based narrative from the brilliant mind of creator Jenji Kohan and the misadventures of Piper Kerman.  That reminder serves as a “pinch-me-is-this-real” moment to nudge viewers into the real world where the growing rate of imprisoned women isn’t at all funny or sexy.

So while OITNB doesn’t need a second chance to improve its ratings, as the excellent writing, magnificent acting and throes of loyal fans have pretty much ensured that the show doesn’t need a boost over the proverbial fence, Season 4 will hopefully serve as a second chance for the show to delve deeper in exposing some of the growing challenges women face in America’s broken prison system. 

Okay, so OITNB is just a dramedy whose goal is to entertain, not necessary enlighten, though I think it does a pretty decent job at doing both.  And it’s not lost on me that Season 3 highlighted the prison-industrial complex and some of the consequences of privatization, like the hiring of correctional officers whose only “professional” experience is that of slanging donuts, or the Litchfield prisoners competing for the lucrative opportunity to earn $1 per day to stitch the crotch of lace-trimmed underwear. 

oitnb

These fictional scenes didn’t just manifest from Kohan’s mind to the screen; these scenarios mirror real life events.  Many companies and consumers benefit from the sweatshop-esque work of prisoners who likely will not receive a job offer from the very companies they slave for while incarcerated, rehabilitation and second chance be damned.  Just ask the 4,000 male inmates who fight California wildfires for $2 a day, their compensation for saving lives and California dollars.  The chances of them being hired as a firefighter once they’ve “paid their debt to society” is about as good as my voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election—hell nah, neva, nope, c’mon now…in case you were wondering where I or the state of California stands on the matter. 

Difficult issues of race, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status and even age are addressed in OITNB.  Many viewers were introduced to the concept of compassionate release when one of the members of Litchfield’s “Golden Girls” began showing signs of advanced dementia and was released from prison and taken to the bus station.  That particular episode had viewers Googling the validity of compassionate release and questioning the legality of the concept.  Now that, my friends, is some good TV!  It entertains, it educates, it advocates and it inspires its viewers to educate themselves. 

Departing from the Season 1 theme of Piper’s white privilege and moving on to highlighting the struggles, however vague and in some cases grossly embellished (it’s TV, what are you gonna do?), that women prisoners face has seemingly been a growing theme for writers of OITNB.  In order to maintain its popularity, modest credibility and relevance, OITNB needs to continue to mirror the problems emblematic of a truly effed up American prison system.  Art imitates life.  That said, in the much anticipated 2016 premiere of Season 4, I look forward to OITNB highlighting some of the cruelties female prisoners have and continue to face. Here’s a start (you’re welcome):

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Just Another Black Girl Trying To Be Free

I just don’t give an eff.

That has been my silent mantra and daily affirmation for the past five to seven years of my life when I have given the most effs. My use of “eff” in lieu of fuck is a pretty clear indication that despite my once daily affirmation, I still give an eff. I’m less benevolent in the effs I have to give, but I’m still generous with the remaining few.

On paper I am raw—unedited, unabashed and largely unashamed. I’m like the ghostwriter for your favorite MC: I write venomous ish with all the braggadocio of a miniature pinscher, or again, your favorite MC. In person, I’m mostly an introvert editing my words and image, working diligently to fit a square inside of a circle, appropriating common pleasantries and using them to become a part of the norm; or worse, too uncensored, too much of myself for fear of appearing inauthentic.

Un-edited is me reconciling who I am with who I’ve become with who I want to be—free. Free to remember history.  Her-story.   Free to tell the story exactly how it is and how it was, not as it’s been written or how it’s been told. Free from the prison of my mind that shackles my feelings, esteem and the unbridled truth. Free from the prison that awaits black girls embodied with the spirit of intelligence, indignation, and the omnipresent spirits of the many free black girls who have come before her and will come after her. Free to be wild-haired, braless, makeup-less…just less so that we might become more.

Kenya, my literary crush and one half of Un-edited, and I welcome you on the journey to becoming unedited and unloosed. Your comments, your cheers, your understanding, your misunderstanding, your story, your journey is solicited.

Let us be free. It’s a demand. Not a question.

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