And Other Questions I ask Myself. A Note to Self upon turning 25.

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Dear Self,

Birthdays are supposed to be days of celebration and joy, but when you turned 25, how did you spend your birthday?

The same way you try to celebrate all of birthdays: by pretending they are just like every other day. You do your best to pretend that your birthday doesn’t matter, only celebrating it when friends and family force festivities upon you. But why? Why don’t you celebrate your own birthday?

The truth is: Birthdays, for you, have long felt like something other people celebrated. Even your own birthday feels like an event that’s less about you and more about the people around you, but what other feelings can you expect from the child of a divorce? …

On Voting, Change, and Political Freedom in the 21st Century

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Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash

If you told the Founding Fathers that by 2020 the United States would have an aspiring dictator for President and be teetering on the brink of failed state status, they would have been distraught and dismayed.

But here we are.

At the root of the problem, the foundation of our democracy has been eroding away for decades. Partisan politics, voter suppression, gerrymandering, disinformation campaigns, and corrupt corporate influences — all underscored by white supremacy and patriarchy — have distorted our democratic process. To top it off, our democracy is faced with the monumental challenge of voter apathy. People are giving up their power because they believe their vote doesn’t matter. They believe they lack the power to change things for the better, so they surrender whatever power they could have held. Voter apathy means that the president is regularly elected with less than a third of eligible voters consenting to their presidency. …

In a time of crisis, Black Radical Environmentalism is my gift to the World.

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A 2014 forest fire burning in my home state of Washington. (Source: Yale E360)

Happy Birthday to me.

Today marks a quarter-century spent discovering the man I’m meant to be. 25 years chiseling at the stone of my soul has begun to uncover the art underneath, the statuesque marvel of man that will one day serve society as a great leader. You may conceive of that statement as egotism or narcissism; I call it recognizing my gift, my responsibility, my destiny, and unabashedly declaring it to the world.

I am a light in the dark, and it is my mission to join with the other lights of the world to shine on and expose our path forward through the turmoil, the trials and tribulations, that we now face and will endure in the years ahead. I intend to use the knowledge that I have amassed over the years, and continue to accrue daily, to show the world the alternative ways of being and knowing that we need if we are to survive, if human civilization is to persist, past the end of the millennium. …

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Photo by Cooper Baumgartner on Unsplash

Urban environments are engulfed in flames, the images flash before my face, and I sit reading in my apartment. Demonstrators flood the streets, shutting down highways, and occupying whole neighborhoods, and I sit reading in my apartment. Protestors are beaten bloody and bruised, and I sit reading in my apartment.

I have sat reading in my apartment for months, since the coronavirus pandemic and resulting quarantine began. …

Strategies based in fear won’t lead us to greener pastures.

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We can feel the climate crisis beginning to unfold around us. We feel it in the extreme storm systems that are pummeling countries and communities around the world with a frequency and intensity never before seen. We feel it in the heat from the wildfires that have torn across Australia, the Amazon, and the American West. We feel it in the warmth that is turning large parts of the world to desert as others are flooded by record rainfall and rising seas.

The climate crisis is all around us.

The world is quickly being turned on its head as we hurtle towards and past a series of climate tipping points, each triggering an onslaught of unnatural disasters which are far beyond our ability to control or even predict. …

What follows is an edited journal entry, originally written on June 27th, 2019, after a visit to the Door of No Return in the Maison de Esclaves (House of Slaves) on Gorée Island off the coast of Dakar, Senegal, in West Africa.

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Today, among other things, I returned to the Door of No Return. While I’m doubtful that my ancestors passed through this specific door, it was, nonetheless, a deeply symbolic, emotional, and spiritual return for me.

Out of the 20 million enslaved persons who were stolen from the shores of Africa and shipped across the Atlantic, only 30,000 left through this door. So the chances are slim that I am linked to one of those unfortunate souls that experienced the horrors and traumas of Gorée Island; however, even if my Ancestors did not leave through the door that I solemnly stood in, they nevertheless experienced a similar nightmare somewhere else along Africa’s long Atlantic coast. …

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Image Source: The Economist | Minds like Machines

Technologists push blindly forward with such pace that many of the problems that demand innovative solutions were produced by a previous innovation.

Technological innovation has become synonymous with progress throughout much of modern society. Technologies are created through the application of knowledge; thus, ironically unlike the act of knowledge creation, they produce tangible impacts — hence society’s present obsession — but it is simply naïve to assume that all innovations and improvements result in societal progress. This misconception stems from a poor interpretation of the reality that technologies regularly alter societal structures through the creation of new opportunities, but these opportunities are inescapably accompanied by new — largely unforeseen — problems. For a technological innovation to truly contribute to societal progress the collective benefits must outweigh the detriments. …


Tyler Valentine

Black Radical Environmentalism is the name of the game.

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