Background: The Twitter Account, Yes, You're Racist, revealed who some of the protesters in Charlottesville were. One of them was a student from the University of Nevada, Reno, who in sum, and according to various news sources, stated that he was not a racist and just wanted to preserve "white European culture." The letter below is my response to his statement.
Dear young, white nationalist from the University of Nevada - Reno, who attended the rally in Charlottesville,
What exactly do you mean by “white European culture?” I read that you are not racist, thank goodness. Lord knows we could do with one less racist out there. I understand that you just believe that “white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture.” What does that mean???
If you mean that we need to preserve riverdancing, then I’m all for it! I freaking love me some Irish folk music and getting my jig on. Just ask all the confused French people at my wedding. Perhaps you feel these white nationalists and supremacists would like to march around in wooden clogs? Seems like that would be uncomfortable and you might not really march very far, I don’t think. I don't know, I haven't tried it. We could also build more IKEAs and indulge in more Swedish meatballs after we high-five ourselves for putting together lopsided furniture ALL BY OURSELVES! Nothing like building furniture to make you feel independent and badass. Am I right or am I right? How about we make Frank Hvam famous in the States to spread and preserve more of that European humor that most middle-Americans don’t even understand. He is one of my favorite comedians, and white as the Danish snow he made snow angels in as a child. Ooo I know. We can all call ourselves Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, drink like we’re Irish, and celebrate an Irish holiday the Irish don’t even celebrate. Oh wait, we already do that.
However, I get the feeling, you are not referring to all the awesome things aforementioned, which really bums me out, because I totally just got so excited thinking about Finnish spas becoming a regular thing around here. I believe what you are actually referring to, no matter how hard you try to lie to yourself, is preserving what we call, F-A-C-I-S-M. Perhaps you missed this in one of your history classes, but facism is an ugly part of history that killed millions of people and not considered something we want to resurrect, or preserve for those who still feel okay waving around the Nazi symbol which is banned even in the country that initially spread it.
I mean, if you want to preserve aebelskivers and make them as popular or widespread as baklava, by all means, I’d be down for some more Danish pancakes in my life. Of course, having to trek to Solvang to get my fill is probably better for my waistline, but hey, I agree, aebelskivers have just as much a right as baklava to be here.
May I ask you something, young white nationalist from the University of Nevada - Reno...can you even pronounce your own last name?
BIG LOVE & HUGS
(American-Asian woman and native Angeleno, who loves churros, Jane Austen, tea time, trampolines, and people not asking me where I'm from knowing they won't be satisfied with Los Angeles as the response.)
P.S. It would totally make my dreams come true if we could make Christmas markets a thing here in the United States. Thanks.
P.P.S. I asked my white European husband what white European culture is, and he hasn't a clue either.
I love my name. It's not particularly uncommon, but it's not particularly common. It comes from the Latin, Justinus, and means righteous, fair, and just. However, the name "Justine" has also caused me a lifelong set of griefs to which I'm sure all Justines can relate. Let me just give you a quick glimpse:
Despite all the woes of being named Justine, I wouldn't trade it for anything.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I lead the Children's Liturgy at my church about once a month, and part of me was thinking of giving up because often times when there's a big group, the kids get out of hand and I struggle to get them to listen to me or not speak and scream over each other. I spend more time trying to get them to be quiet and listen to one another, teaching them about respect and how to show respect, than doing what I'm actually supposed to be doing. I don't how teachers do it. Honestly, I have so much more respect for pre-school and elementary school teachers now.
It's only 20-30 minutes each Sunday though, and I always just think that if I can make even the slightest impact in these kids' lives, then AWESOME. Children's Liturgy is meant to go over the readings with the kids in a way that their developing minds can understand, and let's face it, the Bible can be complicated and boring if you're just reading it straight. So, I try to try to relate it to their lives, and also try to make church less boring for them. I also have them help me read it and sing the psalms and alleluias, so it's more fun for them for sure.
This Sunday, I was hoping there would be a small group, and what do ya know, it's like God heard me and only three little kids ran up to the front when it was time to lead them out of church and into the children's room. Well, two kids ran up, and one, very timidly led by his grandmother, also came to join.
The timid child, who we'll call A, was new to the group and he is just four years old. The other two are brothers, one eight and one five. The eight year old, whom we'll call G, as much as I adore him, is usually the one that drives me nutso; however, while not much less rambunctious today, he really surprised me in a way that reaffirmed what an innately sweet child I know him to be.
As I finished the first reading, I looked up at A and noticed he looked terrified, so I asked him if he was okay. He said, "no." So, I asked him if he was scared. He said, "Yes." I asked if it was because of the reading and he shook his head yes. The reading talked about fires and earthquakes and so I told him not to worry, Jesus was just showing us that no matter what, he will be there for us and he will protect us, even when we can't see him. We have nothing to fear.
What really impressed me and warmed my heart was that G noticed, too, and tried to comfort him and show him there's nothing to be scared of, too. He said his first time in this class, he was scared, too, because he had no idea what was going on and didn't understand anything. The protective brother came out and I just wanted to hug them all.
This occurred throughout the rest of our time together this Sunday, and it was a reminder to me that there is a reason I'm here with them every few Sundays. As much as I hope to touch their lives, they also very much touch and teach me so much. By the end when I was walking them back inside the church, A clung to me, held my hand, and almost wouldn't leave me. After mass I saw him and his family at donuts and coffee, and the way he lit up when he saw me just melted my heart. I wouldn't have been surprised if there was a puddle of heart at my feet. He kept wanting me to go back into the class with him, and had I not also signed up to volunteer to help serve the coffee and donuts, I would have ran in there with him. When he was leaving with his family, he ran up to me and gave me the biggest hug.
He has no idea how much his love meant to me, and I'd chase all the beetles and lions and everything else that scares him away if I could. G also has no idea how big his small gestures to make A feel safe were today. Kids, when you nurture them, they in turn learn how to nurture. They need to feel safe, because when they feel safe, they also learn to be free.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
It feels weird to say this, but I'm really proud of you. Thank for being everything everyone needs to witness right now. You inspire confidence and strength.
I met my friend Marquis less than a year ago, but he has become such a great friend and important person in my life, because he is one of the kindest and most real human beings I've ever met. He treats everyone with the same kindness and care, takes time to ask how people are doing, and cuts up fruit every day to share with his colleagues. He's truly inspiring.
Recently, Marquis decided to leave Los Angeles temporarily to spend time with his grandparents while he studies for the GMAT, but who knows where life will take him! So when he said he wanted to try Handel's, the ice cream place in Redondo Beach that I always rave about, I said, "Let's go!" We drove down to Redondo, and since we were down there, stopped to visit my parents. Little did he know he'd get sucked into a unique Chang experience.
After we had ice cream, I was thirsty for a cup of green tea to wash down all that sugar. As I was boiling water, my dad said, "Why don't I make some tea for you." That meant bringing out his full tea tasting set. And when dad busts out his tea set, it's an experience beyond just sipping tea and quenching your thirst. He likes it, because in the way mini zen gardens are for people, he finds the rituals behind pouring tea very relaxing. Moreover, the social side of sipping tea is always stimulating, because you're sitting around, having good conversation, and enjoying your company. And with dad, he's always full of history and knowledge it truly feels like an enlightening experience each time. At least for me it is. It was such a lovely afternoon, and for once someone else cut up fruit for Marquis, because my mom started cutting up a buffet of fruit as soon as we arrived.
Something that struck me and warmed me, was that Marquis had quickly taken to my family and noted that they remind him of his family. The thought tickled me, because my family is American-Chinese, with origins in Taiwan and China, and his family is American and Bermudian. And it's just amusing to me, because in the end people are people. It doesn't matter where you're from. People from the same place can be so different from each other, while people from different places can be so similar. Of course, Marquis' family is very different than mine, but where there are similarities, it's simply the effects of being human.
Life is beautiful like that. People are beautiful like that. Wherever we go we bring our customs and perspectives, and we gain new ones, marry some together, and even create completely new traditions. And when we open our homes to each other...just think of all the beauty that happens!
Plus, sometimes when you see your family through other people's eyes, you get a chance to see them through fresh eyes. For me, that often is a reminder of how much I appreciate and respect my family, and that I am incredibly blessed.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Does your mom like to momsplain everything? Momsplaining is explaining how to do something you already know, often accompanied by "life lessons" you've heard many times. My mom loves to momsplain EVERYTHING under the freakin' sun. It can really annoy me and get under my skin while I am enduring the momsplanation, but it actually makes me laugh after the fact, because it's kind of pretty funny. Sometimes the things she momsplains are so ridiculous all you can do is laugh. From life lessons, to beauty and health regiments, to household chores, to driving directions, mama covers it all!
Here are my top 6 momsplanatations from my mommy dearest:
It's important to remember that, unlike mansplaining which is an act of egocentric patronization, momsplaining is an act of love...and probably a need to still feel like mom even when her children are grown ass human beings. The truth is, I find myself turning into my mother more and more. So, to any future children I may have, I apologize ahead of time for any momsplaining you will have to endure.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Remember Martina McBride's song, "When God-Fearin' Women Get The Blues?" Fun song right? Sort of kickass, too, yeah? What I never understood was the phrase "God-fearin'." I still don't, because frankly, I don't fear God and I don't understand why I should? I mean, sure, when I was kid, sometimes my grandma would try to get me to stop doing something by telling me if I don't stop, God will be mad at me. But she also told me if I whistled at night ghosts would come out. Clever grandma I must say, clever indeed.
My God is loving, he protects me, and guides me, and he sure has been good to me in life, so I really love him. I'm not afraid of him. I think if we fear God, then we act out of fear instead of love as we're taught. I think pushing people to act out of fear is a very old school way of just trying to get people do what you want them to do and believe what you want them to believe. Of course, there are certainly bible versus that talk about fearing God, but let's face it. I'm bible illiterate, as apparently many Catholics are in general. So I can't say I remember the context of that notion off the top of my head, and there may be a modern interpretation of that phrase. Of course, there are also non-literal interpretations and modern interpretations of what it means to fear God, but let's talk about it in its literal sense, because I do feel there are a lot of question who behave according to a literal sense of the notion. Frankly, while the bible is a beautiful love letter from God to us, there are also certain parts of the bible I just don't agree with.
Some Christians may gasp, and call me crazy or something or other now. However, I think it's important to question and challenge our faith, question the church (or other religious institution depending on your faith, or even if you're atheist), question people, question everything. Maybe that's the lawyer in me speaking, who knows. No matter, questioning our faith strengthens our faith, because when we question and challenge our faith we are able to realize what we truly believe.
Ultimately, a lot of what we hear and know is interpreted by man. So, for example, when I'm at mass listening to the priest give his liturgy, sometimes he speaks right to me. Other times, I don't necessarily agree with what the priest says, because I may have a different opinion or interpretation of what he's discussing. And other times, I'm just totally zoned out, but that's a different story.
Our relationship with God is very much a father-child relationship, and I don't agree with everything my daddy tells me either, smart as he is. Who ever said that we have to agree with everything anyone says? I believe that's called tyranny. Don't be afraid to challenge your faith and challenge the institutions of religion. Challenging your faith opens up your mind and creates greater and deeper understanding. Disagreeing with someone or something never made anyone a "bad" person.
In fact, my husband and I were discussing a multitude of topics one night, and he turned to me and said, "You know, a lot of what you say and believe goes against the Catholic Church." I laughed and quickly responded, "I strongly disagree. Maybe it goes against what people in and of the institution say, but what I say and believe most certainly does not go against my Catholic faith." My faith, and Catholicism tells me only one thing--to love. That is all I know. Love. So as long as I act out of love, then how can that be un-Christian?
So remember all, act out of love not fear.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
For some reason, we've developed a culture of consistently comparing girls against girls based on appearance. Just look at Fashion Police and fashion magazines with their segments on "Who wore it better?" Does Fashion Police still exist? I don't know, because I stopped watching when it simply became a façade for bullying. That's a whole different blog though.
My mom used to do it to me all the time. She'd compare me to other girls--not maliciously, but it was always things like "look at her nice long legs, too bad you didn't get those genes." It sounds horrible, because it is horrible. But that's probably how my mom was raised, whether it was her mom that did that, or other people and the society she grew up in, who warped her brain to thinking like that. It's not like she ever said to my brother, "look how nice and smooth his hair is, too bad you didn't get the nice hair genes." I always think to myself though, if I ever have a daughter, I never want to speak to her like that. I never want my daughter growing up thinking she is inadequate and should match herself up to other people who are completely different than her.
Recently, I posted a photo that was meant to be funny and inspiring. I bought a beautiful, sexy, chic, red one-piece bathing suit from "For Love & Lemons" and it had sold out twice before I knew I had to just buy it and stop drooling over it. I carefullly checked the sizing chart to be as sure as possible that it would fit, because you never know with online shopping. And there were no reviews yet to help me out.
When it arrived I wa so excited, I tore apart the plastic wrap and slipped it on, clumsily figuring out how to tie it. Then I ran to my full length mirror and started laughing. It fit me like a wedgy--literally. I turned to my husband and told him that in future, I'll need to remember that my butt is twice the size of the model's. It's a good thing to note, because I see some swimsuits online and think, that one will look like a diaper on me...when in reality it would likely actually fit just right!
I took a photo and sent it to a few of my close girlfriends, along with the one on the website so they could see how it was supposed to fit and how it fit me. I couldn't decide if I should size up or keep it and flaunt it. If I size up, there's a chance it won't fit well in other places--a common issue with buying clothes for a small waist and big bum. Besides, I thought, thong suits seem to be more and more a regular thing, and I was planning on taking this to Europe with me where they bare their bosoms on the beach, so what's wrong with baring my bum on the beach? Besides, I've been really coming into my body and truly loving and embracing every curve, I was kind of feeling the whole wedgy look. Plus, if you think about it...tanner butt! So, I decided to keep it and couldn't wait to wear it on the beach.
As one does these days, I contemplated sticking this on Instagram and writing a positive, inspiring post. I was really scared to put my butt on the worldwide social media monster--not so much for fear of haters, but for fear of sickos. Let's face it, there are a lot of sickos out there so it's best for all of us to be smart on social media.
When I got back from Europe, I finally mustered up the courage and words to accompany this photo. My intention was to poke fun at a common problem many of us ladies face when it comes to online shopping...or shopping period. Then I thought, why not take the opportunity to also send some positive body image messages out there? Because what's the point of putting your butt out there if you're not going to do both? I'm proud of how I take care of my body, and proud of the educational journey puberty and womanhood thrust me into to learn to embrace every bit of my womanhood. My intention was not to compare myself to the model. Of course, I put our photos side by side so it inately looks like a comparison. However, that was just so people could see that I probably wasn't supposed to wear it like a wedgy, and it was a funny moment for me so I thought I'd share the funny moment. I'm sure we've all had moments like that where we had one beautiful, sexy expectation, only to find you fit like a bulging potato sack.
I received a lot of positive feedback, which is wonderful. I also received several comments on how it looks better on me, which is really sweet and flattering, but I wanted to tell everyone to "stop!" That's not the purpose of this post. It's not a "who wore it better" competition. How the suit looks on me, as opposed to how it looks on the model is irrelevant. The model is beautiful, and the suit looks sexy as heaven on her, which is why I was so in love with it in the first place. Her modeling it is what helped attract me to it.
I don't resent anyone who made that comment/compliment, because I'm grateful if that's what they really think! Plus, I know I've done the same before, probably more times than I realize, which is why it made me think about how and why we are so wired to compare girls against each other, we don't even realize we do it, because often times we don't mean to be malicious about it. In this case for example, I know everyone meant to be encouraging and loving. And I definitely felt all that encouragement and love. I love that women are more and more embracing bodies of all shapes and sizes now, too. And I don't think anyone was saying that the swimsuit didn't look good on the model, I think people just more and more appreciate seeing someone that isn't your average sample size modeling clothing, because we're not all 5'10" and a size 2.
So, if you're reading this and you told me the swimsuit looked better on me, THANK YOU! It always feels good to be encouraged and empowered by the support of others. Keep that positivity coming, because your positivity fires me up and I hope we can always fill each other up with positivity! Let's also all make the effort to remember that comparing girls against girls makes no sense and doesn't help to create a positive road forward for us. It's also irrelevant when we're all different and meant to be such! We probably have centuries of social stigmas and customs to undo this behavior that has become so natural to us, but let's raise girls who know their stand alone value.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I just watched the first interview Amanda Bynes has done in years, and it has to be one of the most painful 5 minutes I've forced myself to sit trough. I love Amanda Bynes and will likely always root for her the way I do for Britney. "What a Girl Wants" is still one of my favorite movies, and I'm happy to hear she seems to have her life back and is planning exciting and productive projects. But seriously. This interview is everything wrong with society.
First, the initial remarks made about fashion and pointing out Amanda's "lace, ready for summer" look, was so inspired, I believed none of the interviewer's enthusiasm. I imagine this interview must have been exciting and nerve wracking for Amanda and you can see she is trying to remain utmostly composed and poised. Her responses felt very manicured, so I don't feel like I really know how she is doing. I don't think that was her fault necessarily though--the whole interview felt very contrived and superficial.
What really made me want to blow my brains out was the "hot or not" nonsense. Somebody please tell me what was the point of that? This was her first interview in years and that's how we want to reintroduce her? Frivolously judging her former co-stars and people they didn't fact check to see whether she really knew or not? "Oh, not every Disney and Nick star knows each other?" *FACEPALM.* Lord, have mercy. Based on the intro, I thought the interviewer was at least some kind of superficial acquaintance of hers, but clearly their relationship is exactly that--superficial.
When I was a kid and a teen, I loved seeing a girl close in age to me, on TV, who was just funny and silly. It made me feel like it was okay to be a goofball. That's what I loved about Amanda. Who knows if we'll ever see that spark and life back in her eyes. Maybe the drugs and the industry took it out of her. However, is this all we cared to see of her on her great return to the public eye? Nothing more than a few humdrum comments, reminiscing on her drug infused days, and mindless teenage games? Did we really have to make her repeat and explain "murder my vagina?" I know she didn't mean it to be offensive, and I guess it's good she's owning up to her past drug use, but the language is offensive and uneducated. As someone who regularly speaks out against sexual assault, I'm going to flat out say that that kind of language is not okay. So what was the significance in even bringing that up?
When Amanda says that she's doing "great, really great" and the interviewer responds with "you look beautiful," it's as if she has run out of vocabulary or could really care less, because she already opened the show with, "First of all, you look GORGEOUS." No matter, it feels like such repeated compliments are simply overemphasizing the focus on physical appearance. It's as if it's a thing we just do with girls--tell each other how good our hair looks, how our skin glows, and all that nonsense--just to say something. I remember as a kid, and even to this day actually, people would tell my mom how pretty and well-behaved I am, but no one would ever talk about how smart or talented I was. Why do we hyper focus on physical appearance? Sure, it's the first thing we notice, but when we don't move past that to notice everything else about a person, we are completely missing the person. And that is my frustration. There is nothing wrong with noticing someone's physical beauty, but when you can't move beneath the skin it feels meaningless. Why not ask her more about what she is loving about fashion school? Why not ask her about what TV shows she is loving and would love to have a guest spot on? Why not ask her about her experience with feeding the homeless?
I don't know if it was the interviewer, the editors, the producers, or even Amanda and her team who didn't thoroughly think this through, but all of us need to start valuing people more. That is what frustrated me about this interview--the seemingly lack of human value and dignity. When I saw the headline come up on my Twitter feed that Amanda Bynes is back and has given her first interview in ages, I was excited. Then I watched it and I don't know how she is really doing. I hope she truly is "really great," and I wish her all the best and am looking forward to what we'll see from her.
Amanda, girl, welcome back!
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I am not a perfectionist. Sometimes I feel like that's a bad thing to say, but there was a time I tried very hard to be, and then eventually I realized it's just not me. Back in middle school, I remember I would sometimes spend more time re-writing my notes just so they looked just perfect, than actually studying my notes. I'm not sure why it was so important to me to make sure my handwriting was just right, and my notes organized just right, but I wasted a lot of time, ink, and paper writing and re-writing for Lord knows what reason. I had a friend I often studied with, who had impeccable handwriting and she was all-around a very smart, studious, and diligent girl, so maybe I was afraid to look like a slob next to her. I don't know.
Eventually I got over that, and eventually I came to understand that we each have our own way of doing things and what works for others might not work for me. It wasn't until more recently, let's say the last year or two that I've really learned, accepted, and embraced the true mess I am. Say what you want about personality tests--I take them all with a grain of salt and amusement--but I took a couple, which articulated well what I had come to know of myself. I'm the kind of person that likes to dive in and learn as I go. I'm a do-er. Sitting idle and planning out every detail makes me very antsy. When I travel, I pick out a few things I really want to see or do, but there's never a set plan or itinerary. I hate being confined by strict schedules when you're supposed to be enjoying and getting to know a new place. That's why I don't do tours. It's more of an adventure, it's more exciting when you kind of just go with the flow and see where you wind up.
Don't get me wrong, certain things require excruciating levels of planning and exacting--like sending someone into space. No, you definitely don't want to mess that up. However, most things in my life, and probably nothing in my life, requires that level of planning and exacting. Even babies don't require "perfect planning," because you can do all the planning in the world, and you still won't be ready nor will you be a master.
I realized, if I waited until I was absolutely ready to conquer all the things I want to conquer in my life, I might not ever get to conquering. What I have had to teach myself is patience, which is not easy and I'm quite terrible at it. However, when it comes to things that really matter, I know that I can't rush things and need to take it step by step. Sometimes that winds up being me being too eager and needing to take a step back, which is okay, too. It's better to take one step back than too many incorrect steps forward.
As I've been vlogging for Insights, doing "Tea with Justine," and other projects, this understanding has been hammered home even more. For me, it's all about the journey, what you learn from it, and how you grown. For example, with "Tea with Justine," the idea randomly came to me, and 3 weeks later I posted my first episode. I'm learning to edit as I go, learning what works and what doesn't, and learning to double check my hair looks alright. What I've learned, especially through my professional career in the entertainment industry is that above all else, people appreciate and gravitate towards authenticity.
So, don't worry about perfection. Perfection is subjective in my opinion. My husband laughs at me sometimes, because I like to take crooked pictures, but to me that's as perfect as any other picture some might take...maybe even better! My life experiences have taught me that very few things workout as you plan them, and at least in my life, a lot of things tend work backwards or out of order for some reason.
Just do you. Life is too short to worry about whether your eyeliner is done perfectly or not, when your eyes are different sizes and shapes so they'll never actually be "perfect."
BIG LOVE & HUGS