It’s All Fun and Games..

Until someone gets hurt. Sports are a way of life, a source for entertainment for those who are playing as well those who are watching. There is a love for the game, whether it is basketball, football or even golf there seems to be something for everyone to get a hold of and admire.

For Valeria Lopez, it was a way for a brighter future, a way to push herself to her goals and dreams while enjoying the sport she fell in love with at a young age. Now about to go into her final year playing volleyball here at Florida A&M it is hard to believe that her journey began nine years ago when she started playing this game at 12.

It began with her parents, both played the game and both loved it. They seemed to pass the traditions on to Lopez who began to pursue her outlet for happiness. At first it was simply a game to play in her past time, a game for fun and enjoyment nothing more and nothing less. She grew for the sport, fell in love with the teams she had and the places she would travel to but soon came time for her to make a decision.

When her final year of high school came around, she decided that the sport she grew to love would lead her to her second love; architecture. Valeria Lopez became enthralled with the structures around her, how they were made and what went into the buildings that stood so tall and beautiful. It was then that she decided to make her way to America, using volleyball as a way to pursue her education and nourish her dream of becoming an architect.

 

“Playing at FAMU is fun, I came with a goal of learning English and thanks to my coaches and teammates I have gotten better.” says Lopez.

Through the hardships of learning to balance school work and volleyball and personal relationships, she made connections that will hopefully last a lifetime. It was worth it, for her the levels of stress she went through were worth it, until the day when it seemed like everything would be taken from her in one second.

“I thought it was broken,” were Lopez’s first initial thoughts that horrible day. ‘I have had a total of three ankle sprains but this one was the worst by far.”

It was during a practice, the drills going on with an urgency only the Florida A&M team could manage until there was silence followed by Lopez’s cries for help. She lay on the ground, cradling her ankle as the team formed around her watching the athletic trainer rush to her side.

Before this incident, the volleyball team seemed unstoppable in conference play and Valeria Lopez herself had earned MEAC Setter of the Week.

It would be later that it would be decided that Valeria gained a severe inversion ankle sprain. An athlete’s worst nightmare when it comes down to the end of the season.

There are three types of ankle sprains, “they are usually graded from one to three with one being the least severe and three being the most severe” says Kyle Gaines an Athletic Trainer here at Florida A&M.

Grade one can last merely days or it can last weeks. Grade two can last from 2-4 weeks while a grade three ankle sprain which can be a complete rupture of an ankle ligament may require surgery and if they do not require surgery they can last from 4-6 weeks.

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getting ultrasound to relax tight muscles 

Lopez had a grade three, “there were moments when I could see myself playing again in the season, but there were some sad moments that made me realize that the injury was really bad.”

The transition from star to bench was a hard one, followed by the stress of catching up in classes was hard on her. Every day though she would take herself up to the athletic training room and work for an hour to two hours on strengthening and healing the muscles determined to get back out there and play in time for the MEAC Championship.

Her exercises consisted of stretching, getting her ankle used to holding weight, and ice, lots and lots of ice. Some days the workouts would end with a relaxing stem and ice treatment.

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learning to put weight on the bad ankle

After 4 weeks, Valeria Lopez was able to walk without the boot originally placed upon her leg and a week after that she was able to hop on one leg. Her progress was fast due to her determination and strive to finish her season strong.

When MEAC Championship came around she was rewarded for her efforts playing in the finals against Howard. Unfortunately, the volleyball team lost 3-1 taking second place in MEAC.

“I’m honestly just ready for next year. I am looking forward to getting back out there.”  says Valeria, refusing to dwell on the past and instead focusing on the future.

Like many athletes that go through injuries playing the sport they love, Lopez won’t let this stop her from becoming the best that she can be.

 

check out my video on ankle sprains here! – Ankle Sprains

If You’re Black, Stay Back

If you’re black, stay back

Or so the children’s nursery rhyme goes. The words continue to perfectly portray the ideas regarding the different shades of a person.

if you’re black, stay back; if you’re brown, stick around; if you’re yellow, you’re mellow; if you’re white, you’re all right.”

Colorism exists and has existed since the beginning of slavery. Ideals on what is beautiful to the eye causing strong stereotypes to form that would last even till today. When it comes to the definition of beauty, to everyone it may be different but there seems to be a consistent pattern when it comes to colorism and beauty in today’s society.

The harsh reality being that beauty that is defined through colorism hasn’t even started to fade or become less prominent throughout the years although slavery itself has been abolished over a hundred years ago.

What is colorism? Surprisingly enough, a lot of people do not know the answer to that question nor do they know that colorism exists. It is based off the belief that those of the lighter or fairer skin were presumed prettier or better off than those with darker complexions. These beliefs derive from the times when white masters who slept with the slaves would give benefits to their mixed children, allowing them to preside in the house or do easier chores than those in the field.

The slave owners had what they would call the “paper bag test” According to Marita Golden, author of the Don’t Play in the Sun: One Woman’s Journey Through the Color Complex, “The paper bag would be held against your skin. And if you were darker than the paper bag, you weren’t admitted”.

It seems harsh, that a comparison would be made with the use of something as useless as a paper bag. It may seem like it is better to be a lighter skinned women in today’s world but it is almost as if they are held in a higher expectation. Being lighter or fairer in skin leaving no room for mistakes.

Life is hard, that much can be agreed upon. For a young woman growing up trying to find her inner beauty, her self love and herself in general it can seem almost impossible especially considering the shackles of “have to’s” and “musts” that a woman must obey brought upon them by society.


Women must have children.

Women must obey their husbands.

Women must wear this, clean that, cook this. It can be exhausting and on top of all of that, it seems being an African American woman in a world where the lighter someone is the ‘easier’ they have it can almost seem like too much at times.

The most interesting part in regards to colorism is that it is prominently featured within the african american society. Black men are more likely to marry a woman outside their race. People with lighter skin are granted more jobs than people with fairer skin. The idea of having a lightened, or biracial child becoming a thing of the future.

Pew research stated that as of June 2015, “Fully a quarter of black men who got married in 2013 married someone who was not black.” which means that 25% of the black male population has decided to marry outside of their race. This doesn’t even count the ones who are dating, or simply attracted to women of a different shade.

Why is this true?

What the pop culture portrays as beautiful is enough to plague the minds of the audience that watches it. Beauty today is the lighter skinned woman with the curves in all the right places. It is possible that one of the reasons for this ongoing trend is because the stereotypes of dark skinned women have become too real.

Maya Jean-Charles, who proudly classifies herself as dark skinned, said that, “I don’t affiliate with any stereotypes. People be like dark skin girls are ugly, or look ashy and stuff but I think I’m pretty so I don’t care.” colorism – the hard truth

Upon speaking to her it was shown that she loved herself regardless of the stereotypes placed on her based on her skin color. Along with her on that high confidence rating was Nyeja Warner another student here at Florida A&M.

“Basically I’ve gotten I’m stuck up, rude, I think I’m better than other people, that I’m more better off than others. I don’t think I fit any of those stereotypes but people place them on me because that is how they view me and that is not my fault.” says Warner.

A lot of these stereotypes morph women into who they think they should be instead of who they want to be or should be. Although the physical chains of life seem to have been shed it seems there still lingers a lock upon African American society that does not seem able to be removed.

Colorism goes deeper than beauty, deeper than what men and women find to be attractive and flock to. Sadly enough it seems to have become a strong part of life that many rely on to guide themselves.

Upon research done, a “Villanova University study of more than 12,000 African American women imprisoned in North Carolina found that lighter-skinned black women received shorter sentences than their darker-skinned counterparts.”

It is a cancerous thing that has been deep rooted in the hearts of many so greatly that a change cannot happen overnight. A thing such as colorism can only be fixed when it becomes a conscious thing that both whites and African Americans can become aware to what is happening and fully comprehend their impact.

Yet, in some instances it may seem like the world is aware of the struggle that colorism brings and they turn a blind eye towards it all. “Skin-whitening cosmetics are a multi-billion dollar industry pushing the idea that beauty equates with white skin and that lightening dark skin is both achievable and preferable” according to a recent post in The Guardian”.

There are cosmetics out there to help gain the look needed to be deemed beautiful. It is as if the world has simply accepted what it cannot changed or what it feels does not need to be changed. Beauty is not defined by anything more than a mindset.


Although a change has begun to happen. Role models like Michelle Obama standing up and embracing their skin color and showing the world that beauty is in each and every person that believes it to be so.

Colorism is no doubt a problem, so it would only make sense to begin looking for a solution. “I feel like a solution to colorism is not looking at color, or looking beyond color.” says Ebony Ivey “being able to identify a woman as just a woman or just a black as opposed to the lightness or darkness of her skin I feel like would be a solution to colorism.”

img_9155Maya Jean-Charles said that a solution would be “women coming together and loving one another. I love women I think everyone is pretty regardless.” She continued to state that “I’ve seen gorgeous light skin women, gorgeous brown, caramel, all different flavors.”

The solution for colorism starts at the very core, for people to learn to love themselves along with loving one another. It will take time, as everything does, but it is possible to erase colorism and to embrace beauty from all different places.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you are beautiful.” – Michelle Obama

Embrace You

Shimg_8131e looks in the mirror, her chocolate eyes trailing along her tight, unruly curls in disdain and almost defeat. Her eyes move down to the hot straightener on the desk and then to the picture of the pretty blonde girl that has been cut from a magazine. Her impression of the air brushed model is that she is the ultimate idea of beauty, with her long, blonde, straight hair and fair skin. In her mind, the belief is that the only way she can become that form of beautiful is to damage those already beautiful curls with bleach products and heated tools. “That’s just the way it is”, or so they say, and for now she believes that.

“She” represents the other African American women that feel this way towards themselves. This is not the case and will not be the case. It is the norm for the African American women of today to spend a large amount of money on products such as hair to create weave to simply fit in or feel beautiful. According to a writer in Essence Magazine, She spent 800$ and six hours in a salon and still felt some type of way with the finished product. Is it worth it? Society would say so, forcing generation after generation of African women to become what they would believe beauty could be.

They have the wrong impression of what beauty truly is. The woman with the bodacious curves and the thick dark curls is magical. “Curly or nappy hair hasn’t always been accepted in society but now it’s becoming something that white Americans seem to be adopting and now it’s finally accepted as beauty” said Alexis Gosha, a first year Pre Med student here at Florida A&M University.

The goal here is to embrace the beauty behind the natural look and to also embrace change. If someone desires to make a change to themselves hopefully it is based off of personal want and desire and not based on what is found to be beautiful in the magazine or what is perceived as beautiful in someone else’s eyes. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

There is so much pressure to simply be an African American woman in this day and age. If she speaks proper she speaks “white”. If she speaks improper, joining her culture with ebonics she is “ratchet” and has no class. Judgments constantly being made regardless of who is doing what and what is being done so why not go all out? Why not embrace it all and leave them speechless with confidence and self love?

From Gloss Magazine, an article states that the the “black” spending habits stem from wanting social acceptance. African American women spend 80 percent more on cosmetics annually and nearly twice as much on skin care products than general market women do annually. The goal? To be beautiful.

Perhaps it is a subconscious action in what African American women do to feel like they meet the needs of society. For after conducting interviews during a classroom with at least six African American women, it was safe to say that they felt that they do what they do to protect their hair, allow hair growth, or to simply please themselves. Some would even grow irritated with the question of why being asked.


Where do these insecurities stem from? Another study from singleblackmale.org states that it is a high possibility that the African American woman could be attempting to please the African American man. This article shows that women might subconsciously feel as if they aren’t “enough” for the man and feel they need to do more.

What is it that deems African American women “ugly” or “not enough”? Perhaps the idea of such a thing started in the slave times but a thread by Harvard MBA students has their own ideas on the matter. “attractiveness is generally communicated via popular culture”. Which could mean the personal preferences of what society deems worthy of attention.

The women looking in the mirror and seeing something she feels is not enough should not be the women of today. African American Women of today should feel confident in the skin they’re in and the hair they have. It is not “just the way it is” simply because society says so. African American women have come a long way, their strength a thing of beauty that demands to be respected and admired. It starts with them though. Time after time America proves that change cannot be forced.

Finally, it’s your life, it’s your body, it’s your hair, love yourself and have fun. Embrace you.