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Welcome back, friends! After careful consideration and internal debate, I have decided to continue writing my personal lifestyle/music blog column. For those of you who are new here, I consider myself a playlist connoisseur, if you will. Music has been interwoven into my life since before I could comprehend lyrics. My parents are big jazz fans, and my dad in particular raised me on prog-rock and an endless loop of all of The Beatles’ albums. Growing up, I expanded my musical palette beyond the oldies and let myself have my Billboard Top 100 phase and eventually move on to my alt-indie "you've probably never heard of them" phase (which still isn't over, in truth). Last semester, I challenged myself to create a new playlist each week and write an article describing the events in my life and emotions which inspired each curated group of songs. That experiment turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences, since I ended up realizing that I had gone through a mini evolution of sorts over the course of the year. I'm not saying I'm a whole new woman or anything like that, but I noticed a few nuanced changes in my style that showed growth in terms of my confidence as a writer and as a person.

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This whole project began as a bit of an open journal to let anyone who's curious see inside this crazy brain of mine, but it also gave me the excuse to shout from the rooftops about my music taste. I admit, it was mostly self-serving, but by my last entry in May, I found that these articles were less about me and more about creating little lovely moments with friends and strangers. Sometimes it would be a quick message from someone who I'm friendly but not close with telling me they loved a song on my playlist or from a good friend who lives far away bonding with me over old memories. Their sweet gestures and kind words went a long way and have inspired me to keep up this column.

Let's dig in, shall we?

May seems like eons ago, but in reality, it was only a few months back. I remember finishing up finals from my childhood bedroom while trying not to panic about the impending summer of gloom. I was not too enthusiastic about being home—I had no job or internship lined up, and, generally, I was feeling pretty unmotivated. I was lucky enough to snag two remote internship gigs which ended up fleshing out my schedule a bit, but honestly, most of my time consisted of desperately refreshing Slack until someone finally sent me an assignment. I tried reading more, but my attention span was not having it, so I ended up finishing a single book over the course of the summer (Beloved was a classic I never got around to, and I cannot recommend it enough). I was painting up a storm at the beginning of June, but eventually, I lost steam and resorted to spending a majority of my free time scrolling through articles and binging Pose. I also spent a lot of time delving into our country's racist history and reflecting on my own personal biases while engaging in meaningful conversations with friends and family. These discussions were not always so easy, and I certainly have a lot of unlearning to do, but I am realizing more and more that there are so many opportunities every day to chip away at systemic oppression and white supremacy.

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In honor of the fact that I’m entering my twenties today, I put together a list of 20 things anyone reading this caption can do to support the #blacklivesmatter movement and supplement their anti-racist education. This year celebrating my birthday feels different—aside from the obvious quarantine—and I’m glad it does. Birthdays are first and foremost a celebration of life, and I have had the privilege of taking 20 whole trips around the sun without ever once worrying or fearing that I wouldn’t make it to the next year because of the color of my skin. It’s something I hadn’t even considered before now but after years of taking this for granted, I believe it’s time for me to face this simple truth. These past few months, I have learned so much about the interconnected systems of oppression and interpersonal practices that uphold white supremacy than I have in my entire formal education. I recognize how much of a privilege it is to absorb this knowledge now at 20 years of age as opposed to experiencing racism directly my entire life. My one and only birthday wish is that if you’re reading this now, you choose to do at least one of the things from this list today—and maybe another thing tomorrow, maybe two the next, and so on. The best way to keep up your anti-racist work is to consciously commit to practicing it in everything that you do. I recently read a quote by Rachel Cargle that summarizes this best: “Anti-racism work is not self-improvement work for white people. It doesn’t end when white people feel better about what they’ve done. It ends when Black people are staying alive and they have their liberation.” Happy reading, listening, watching, and (un)learning! ???

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This past summer turned out to be entirely different than I expected—and in the best way possible. Despite the pain and heartbreak and fatigue and stress and anxiety and every other draining emotion that most of us experienced this summer, a lot of people finally took a stand and decided that this was as good a time as ever to demand actual change in the way our country's flawed system operates against marginalized communities, particularly Black Americans. All Black lives matter, and that is a message that we will keep chanting until everyone hears it loudly and comprehends it clearly.

As we prepare to Zoom into this next semester (see what I did there?), I hope that anyone who is reading this takes the momentum that was built this summer and continues to contribute their blocks of empathy and wisdom to the movement. We are all learning and unlearning together (even if we are physically apart), and there’s a powerful beauty in that that does not go unnoticed.

Switching gears a bit, I made this playlist in honor of my first week back on campus, and it's full of the late summer jams that I've been grooving to recently. There's a bit of alt-indie and a bit of neo-soul, which is essentially my current music taste in a nutshell. Click here to check out my playlist.

I'll see you all back here, same time, same place. It feels good to be back, and I can't wait to get this semester rolling—no matter how bumpy the ride may be. To the unknown!



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Emma is a senior at BU studying Journalism and Gender and Women's Studies in the College of Communications. She's originally from sunny Los Angeles, California. She is an avid fan of local bakeries and making oddly specific Spotify playlists.
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