Black Panther (2018) Review

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Dear Quiet Minds,

Last weekend, I went to watch Black Panther (2018) directed by Ryan Coogler and it was absolutely inspiring! Since I hadn’t watched the trailer or Captain America: Civil War, I went into this movie blind so I didn’t know anything about the Black Panther prior to seeing the film. Luckily, he needed no introduction because the film sucked me in from the start. This Marvel movie starts with T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returning to Wakanda, a futuristic African nation, to become king after the death of his father. However, his rise to the throne is threatened unexpectedly by Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). Although this synopsis sounds like a power struggle, it goes beyond power and focuses primarily on maintaining the integrity and morals of Wakanda. Both T’Challa and Erik seek a different future for Wakanda.

Recently, I haven’t been fond of the Marvel movies. They’re all competing on who can be the funniest, ultimately using comedy to undercut the dramatic and sincere moments in a hero’s journey. Black Panther; however, was funny at times, but did not undercut the moments of sadness and confusion that T’Challa was going through. We watched T’Challa struggle internally and externally without having it downplayed by unnecessary moments of comic relief. For once, the hero’s journey was serious and important. One thing I really loved about Black Panther was the fact that its villain wasn’t really a villain. Erik Killmonger had redeemable qualities. When we look at other Marvel films, most of the villains are evil and that’s it. In Black Panther, Erik Killmonger could have well been the hero. He felt that Wakanda needed to move away from isolationism and start helping the African people in other areas of the world. The only thing that turned him from a hero to a villain was how he wanted to execute his plans. In the end, T’Challa learns from Erik and Erik feels regret for seeking revenge. His redeemable qualities definitely shifted the dynamic in Black Panther and demonstrated the human behind the villain.

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Another aspect of the film that I loved was the female representation and the costume design. Whenever T’Challa went on a mission, he chose women to accompany him. Throughout the film, Okoye (Danai Gurira), a general of the Dora Milaje warriors, and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), a Wakandan spy, are by his side. These two women were able to take down men with the determination of their gaze and their insurmountable skill. They did not need provocative attire or armor to get the job done, which brings me to costume design. Mostly in films like Wonder Woman, the woman are given short skirts to enhance their sex appeal, but in Black Panther, the women wore armor that was practical and protected their bodies. These costumes were designed by Ruth E. Carter who focused on creating an Afrofuturistic design. She incorporated the stacked neck rings worn by Ndebele women, the amazing prints of Lesotho blankets and other traditional African patterns in all her costumes. Watching this movie was a very beautiful experience because it expressed open-mindedness and acceptance through its celebration of different cultures. It made me feel so happy to be alive because diversity was finally being displayed on the big screen like it should have been displayed years ago.

In the end, Black Panther brought so much enrichment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe by touching on issues like colonization and power distribution. Even though it was a shame to imagine that Africa could have become something just as powerful as Wakanda in the future if not for colonization, I’m very glad director Coogler evoked this image. It can open people’s eyes and show them that every culture deserves space to grow and develop into something beautiful. Although history can’t be changed and movies can only do so much, I’m glad that the superhero world is becoming a more colorful place. With the majority of Black Panther‘s cast being African American, we are moving in the right direction. Hopefully, Marvel will start creating deeper and richer films that integrate superheroes from the Asian, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ communities into this expanding cinematic universe.

Here’s to a new era of film!




Oleta River State Park Documentary


Dear Quiet Minds,

This past month I have been working long and hard to complete my first ever documentary. It’s been a long process, but I finally finished it. At the beginning of this semester, my professor told me that I needed to make a documentary for my writing for video class. It could be a piece on a person and how they overcome their struggle, maybe a small business owner, but it had to have meaning. Since the passing of Hurricane Irma and her lasting impact on homes and businesses in Miami, I wanted to focus on how this hurricane impacted a state park. Near my university there is a state park called the Oleta River State Park and during the hurricane, it suffered flooding and damage to its trees and cabins. I wanted to talk to the park’s staff and visitors to see how the hurricane had impacted them and how they recovered.

This gave me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and do things I never thought I would do. For one thing, I went to the Oleta River State Park and kayaked while filming. Luckily, my dad was there to maneuver the kayak as I held the camera with all my might, but I never imagined myself doing something so out-of-the-blue. In that moment, the only thing that mattered was getting the perfect shot. I allowed myself to get my hands dirty and let my creativity roam free. I also had to approach strangers and ask for interviews so that I could get their opinion on the park. Many people turned me down, but after several rejections, I found some nice park visitors who were willing to contribute to my documentary. I felt very proud of this achievement because I feared that my shyness would hinder me during this process.

After much editing and narrating, I finally completed my first documentary. I wanted it to depict the park as a symbol of hope and resilience, and I was very pleased to see that I had succeeded. I’m very proud of my documentary and hope you all enjoy watching it. To see the full documentary, click the video below.


The Face Behind the Words

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Dear Quiet Minds,

One year ago, I started “Dear Quiet Minds” and it has changed my life in a very subtle, yet powerful way. For starters, it has given me the opportunity to write and be creative every week. Although there were many times when I couldn’t think of anything to write about, I’ve found a way to publish content. Even though it’s been a difficult journey, forcing myself to write weekly has really allowed me to create a habit that has not only facilitated my creative processes, but has given me something that I can look back on. Blogging has allowed me to create a space that is completely mine and with this being my 51st blog post, I have accumulated enough memories and photographs to the point where I’m surprised at how far I’ve come. I’ve finally built something that I can proud of.

Up until this point, I have never posted a picture of myself. Mostly, I did this because I wanted my blog to remain anonymous, so that I can write freely without being judged or criticized. Anonymity has given me an invisible shield of protection between me and my readers, not because I want to distance myself, but because I don’t want perceptions to become a barrier. However, in this past year, I have grown and learned to own my words. I have gained confidence and feel that putting a face to these words is the next step I should take to fully own what I’ve created.

Thanks to “Dear Quiet Minds” I’ve been able to take more photos and learn a lot about my thoughts and opinions through these posts. Now, it’s time for me to put aside my fear of criticism and stop hiding behind the mask of anonymity. I am proud of every word I have ever typed in this blog. Even though some blog posts are better than others, each one represents a day that I could have quit but decided to keep writing. I’ve come to love the feeling of placing my fingers upon the keyboard and waiting for that small push of inspiration. Whether the words I write are misplaced, sloppy or perfectly chosen, they have all given me a reason to be proud of my achievements.

I’m happy to be the creator of “Dear Quiet Minds” and be able to reach so many other amazing minds!

So, I’ll leave you with this picture and remind you once more that you should never be afraid to own your words!




Why is it so Hard to Change?

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Dear Quiet Minds,

We are all creatures of habit.

When you go into a classroom and choose your unassigned assigned seat, you will remain in that seat for the entire semester. When you take a certain route to work, you will constantly take that route until forced to choose another. In no more than a week, we create a habit, whether good or bad. This habit causes us to live out our days in repetitive motions that become familiar, so much so that, after doing it more than once, we refuse to change routine. We transform into robots, going through the motions at school and work because the familiarity has facilitated our day. Even if this routine has made you suffer, you prefer it because it will get you through the day calmly and without anything spontaneously disrupting the peace. In the end, we’d rather face the evil we know than explore the unknown.

However, once you make a conscious decision to change the habit and prepare yourself for the change, there’s still a factor that’s pulling you back and that’s judgment. I remember when I started trying to get fit, my grandparents would see me trying to do the exercises and laugh. I know that they weren’t trying to put me down or insult me. They just found the notion of doing exercise and being on a diet funny. This, however, really hit me because I felt like I was being judged or called out for my actions. This fear is what usually stops me from successfully making the change. It’s so much easier to do something alone than under the critical eyes of the people you care about. Even when you’re trying to do something as simple as be more positive or nicer to someone, your friends or families might see you acting differently and start bringing up the past. It causes you to retreat into your safety bubble and revert to your old ways.

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It’s hard to adapt when the people around you are so critical and uncooperative. So, you just return to your robotic state because it’s comfortable and no one can disrupt your peace with their unnecessary comments. Unfortunately, crawling back into comfort is not the way to change your life for the better. When you want to improve yourself, you need support and encouragement. Sometimes you want to change, but don’t know how. When people bring up the past, they completely destroy our hopes of becoming better people. We may be creatures of habit, but, more importantly, we are sensitive and emotional creatures, and when we feel attacked or brought down, our instinct is to retreat to a place where we feel safe.

Changing, however, is the only way you are going to obtain what you want in life, so the best thing to do is start improving yourself slowly. Choose one thing you want to improve on and start doing it over and over again. In a week or so, it’ll become a habit, just like that.

Sometimes change is just an opportunity to create better habits so that improvement becomes a lifestyle.


Pictures of Oleta River State Park

Dear Quiet Minds,

Last weekend, I went to Oleta Rive State Park in North Miami to film a documentary for my class. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. I was able to see the tops of buildings over green trees and immerse myself in the never-ending nature. I got a chance to ride a kayak along the shoreline and explore the long trails. Of course, I could not resist taking photos, so down below are some of my favorites! Enjoy!

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Hope you guys have a great week!


Let’s Talk About High School


Dear Quiet Minds,

Recently, I’ve been thinking about my high school career and a sense of frustration overcomes me as I realize how little it prepared me for the future.

I spent most of my high school career with my head in a textbook or my eyes frying in front of a computer screen. I rarely enjoyed any of my classes because every class began and ended with a series of new items added to my to-do list and another reason for anxiety. I was so stressed to the point where every time my alarm went off I felt the urge to cry. I walked through the halls of my school like a zombie, completely lifeless, moving from one class to the other in a robotic state.

Since the beginning of the school year, every student was told about the list of exams, essays and projects they would need to complete. An immense amount of pressure was unloaded on you the first week of school, causing for an unbearable sense of dread that never disappeared. It laid there in the pit of my stomach, day after day. All the homework possible seemed to be strategically assigned so that all the deadlines coordinated with one another, leaving me with no free weekends or social life.

It’s amazing how what was once a great opportunity for learning, friendship and creativity became an endless misery filled with conformity and fear of failure. For some people, school might have been fun, but for me, I lived in constant fear of not doing well. I had this consuming feeling that something horrible was going to happen. I had no time to read for fun or write or even realize that I had a passion for photography to begin with. All those discoveries happened after. All my friends from middle school found other friends and throughout my high school career, I watched the amount of people at my lunch table diminish until it was only just me and my sister eating alone.


It’s sad when I think about it, but also very enlightening. I realized that people rarely make an effort to get to know you, so I was glad to sit with the only person that cared rather than a million that didn’t. Ultimately, school really drained my creativity and love for learning. Now in college, it’s hard not to see school as a nuisance. It’s been a constant battle every day to remain positive about the day ahead since I’ve become so accustomed to dread school. Luckily, I feel like I’ve gotten better, but I fear that the school system will never improve. Children need to feel happy, curious and alive when they go to school so that they can learn their hobbies and career paths. They should learn to welcome failure as a chance to learn and right their mistakes. Instead, schools are pressuring students to excel academically and depend on a grade rather than learn to think critically and creatively.

High school made it very difficult for me to decide on what career path I wanted to take and it stopped me from doing the things that made me feel at peace like writing, reading and taking photos. If you are currently in school, try not to let the stress and pressure overwhelm you. I know it’s easier said than done but you should always try to make time for the things that inspire and motivate you.

Don’t ever look back and regret all that time you spent existing rather than living. Just look forward and live.


Do What Liberates You


Dear Quiet Minds,

Recently, I got my first project for one of my Broadcast Media classes, which consisted of taking photos of a location. Never in my life have I gotten an assignment that I was genuinely excited for. Time after time, school has just been the bane of my existence, filled with memorizing information you’ll forget the day after the test and doing projects with impossible deadlines. For once, it was nice to have an assignment that I was actually looking forward to completing.

On a Saturday, I decided to go to the park, but unfortunately, that day I was getting especially anxious because the sun was almost setting and I hadn’t gone outside to do my assignment yet. I didn’t understand why such a sudden wave of panic washed over me. Luckily, I was able to get to the park on time despite the day being so cloudy and gloomy. The minute I started taking pictures, the anxiety I was feeling went away. It felt very therapeutic, walking around the playground and seeing it from an entirely different perspective. I got a chance to get down and close to my subjects and really capture the park in another light. It was nice to see all the carefree children running around and playing, letting their imagination run wild. One little boy even asked to have his picture taken and even wanted to take a picture himself so I taught him how to use the camera.

I didn’t understand why I felt so liberated until I started thinking about it.

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One thing that can be challenging about going into a major driven by creativity is that you often feel like you aren’t meant to be pursuing this career if you’re not artistic enough or haven’t learned all the programs yet, like Photoshop or InDesign. You feel like you’re at a disadvantage and sometimes, you’re even ashamed of saying that you are a photographer because of your lack of experience. Maybe, that was one of the factors that led to my sudden panic. I didn’t want to end up taking pictures and seeing that I do, in fact, lack the talent and knowledge to go into this career path. Even though this assignment only consisted of taking pictures, I felt that if I couldn’t succeed in something this simple then I wasn’t cut out for it. However, once I went to the park and started taking photos, I felt free from all those doubts.

When you are surrounded by strangers and nature, it’s refreshing because they don’t know if you lack talent or if you have never held a camera in your life. All they see is someone who’s passionate about photography and wants to get better at it. I didn’t have to feel self-conscious about talking to strangers, instead I could be myself. I could be as creative and social as I wanted to be without being judged. It gave me the courage to get down on the ground and capture those creative and unique shots. The more I take photos and the more I go to these broadcast media classes, the happier and confident I feel about my major. Just because I’m not as advanced as everyone else doesn’t mean I shouldn’t give myself the chance to do what I love.

So, if you are just beginning a hobby and feel like you won’t fit in, start by doing it for yourself. Don’t let fear of judgment stop you from ever trying.


Why is it so Hard to Take a Compliment?


Dear Quiet Minds,

Why do we push away compliments?

An easy answer would be that modesty is the motive behind this action, but I don’t think it’s that simple. When someone says you’ve done a good job, many people respond with a dismissive “no, anyone could have done it”, shooing away the compliment and downgrading their accomplishments. I think I’ve always done this but recently, it feels like I’ve been doing it constantly. We could say that societal norms are the core of the problem rather than modesty alone. We’ve been taught that by accepting the compliments we are given, we exude hubris and arrogance, which is frowned upon by society. Since society upholds modesty, we are programmed to always smile shyly and dismiss the compliment as innocently as possible. This, of course, shows everyone that we are not conceited and therefore, good people. However, this doesn’t explain why some people respond negatively to a compliment.

I believe that the true answer to this question lies within the construct of ourselves. Our perceptions of who we see in the mirror is very much a factor in how we reply to compliments. Social constructs have a place in the matter because we cannot define who we are without acknowledging the roles and values that have been forced upon us. In my eyes, society is a snake that wraps around you, not allowing you to think a different way or see a different path. It squeezes you so tight, trapping all those roles and values inside of you. However, the stereotypes and destructive thoughts that you internalize are the true venom of the matter. I believe that how we respond to compliments has to do with how we value ourselves.


Although many people dismiss compliments out of modesty, there’s a portion of people who are thankful and appreciate those compliments. They confidently accept those positive feedbacks from others by knowing their self-worth, but at the same time, refusing to let the compliments fuel arrogance. This shows that it’s not a problem of modesty or social norms, but rather your internal thoughts. Whenever people say “good job”, I either smile shyly or get sad and passive-aggressive, but this all depends on how well I think I did the task. If I did the task perfectly, I smile shyly, never fully accepting the compliment with confidence. However, when I did the task incorrectly, I get passive-aggressive because it feels as if the person’s compliment is empty and mostly out of pity. The compliment leaves me feeling sad rather than valued. I feel as if I don’t deserve the person’s kind words and, ultimately, internalize that feeling.

Recently, it’s come to my attention the fact that I am a human being. I know this sounds obvious, but when your mind is constantly putting you down and telling you that you’re not worthy, a compliment sounds like a complete lie. Your inner thoughts make you believe that people are pitying you and that elicits an angry response. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our heads that we forget about the world around us. We are all human beings. Not invisible pieces of glass that are only remembered when someone accidently steps on them. No, we are humans that deserve compliments because we are worthy of them, no matter how good or bad of a job we’ve done. Even when people say “you look so beautiful”, I cringe because it’s been drilled into my head by society that the way I look is not “pretty,” but why not? I shouldn’t need someone to tell me I’m pretty or that I’ve done a good job because I should confidently believe that, but at the end of the day, a compliment, even a shred of kindness, is needed to keep going.

 That’s why when you receive a compliment, thank them for it confidently and believe it in your heart because we are human beings worthy of every kind word.


4 Signs You are An Introvert


Dear Quiet Minds,

I know for a fact that I’m an introvert. There’s no question about it.

As a refresher, introversion means that you look inward, meaning you look into your thoughts and feelings. Extroversion means that you look outward. Social events and a plethora of people are what stimulate you. To know if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, here are four signs that can help you decide. Read through them and if you relate to all of them, then you, my friend, are an introvert.

1. Feeling excited when plans are cancelled

When you’re with friends and make plans, you often get caught in the moment and agree to everything. If you’re an introvert, you’ll notice that on the day that you planned to go out, you’ll start to close off. Most of us prefer to stay at home in bed surrounded by a myriad of pillows and watching Netflix all day rather than going out and being forced to socialize. Being alone is quite comforting because you have the freedom to be in a peaceful space without anyone disrupting the serenity. That’s why when your friends call and cancel the plans, you sound very sad on the phone, but immediately start positioning yourself for another episode of your favorite show.

2. Feeling drained after a social event

Why do we feel so excited when plans are cancelled? Well, it’s because of this point right here. When an introvert has to socialize, they are forced to open themselves up to people they don’t feel comfortable with. Finding topics to talk about and being a friendly person is not an easy task and can easily get us exhausted. Introverts have to make sure not to close off, especially when they’re in the middle of a social event. For me, I usually know I’m closing off when I feel myself spacing out and becoming stoic. I forget to react to what the people around me are saying and start to gradually isolate myself. I start to become quiet and forget to incorporate myself into the situation. Unlike introverts, extroverts are stimulated by these social events and feel very alive and awake. For introverts, they start getting drained. Often times, after a social event, I need a full day to recover where I’m not forced to talk to people or go out.


3. Being asked, “Why are you so quiet?”

One thing I know for sure is that introverts are the most observant people you’ll meet. We look at the individuals around us and the situations that are unfolding. I know that every time I’m at an event I look at people conversing, exchanging information and building relationships around me. Because I am so engrossed in what is happening, I forget to become a part of it. It feels like you’re on the sidelines watching the game and forget to step onto the court. I usually get asked the question “why are you so quiet?” It’s not that I’m antisocial, but more like I’m trying to capture all the movement around me so I forget to speak and contribute. That’s why introverts are often described as reserved and quiet, but it’s not always because they are shy, but sometimes because they get wrapped up in observation.

4. Having a small, but close group of friends

Because it’s very hard to open up, it’s even harder to make long-lasting friendships. Most of the time you do have “friends,” but they’re more like acquaintances that you only see at school or at random social events where you just happen to run into them. They usually don’t invite you out with their friends and barely ever text you. Needless to say, finding friends is about as hard as eating soup with a fork (yep, I went there). But in those rare instances where you get a surge of courage, the small amount of people you do open up to become loyal friends and never leave your side.

Please comment below if you are an introvert and tell me any other struggles you encounter because of introversion. I would love to know!


Boredom or Brilliance?


Dear Quiet Minds,

Winter break has come to an end and to be honest, 2017 had a pretty uneventful and boring conclusion. Most of the days I spent doing absolutely nothing, reaching a point of excruciatingly endless boredom. However, after browsing through Youtube (as one does when one is bored out of their minds), I came across a Ted Talk by Manoush Zomorodi called “How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas.” In this video, I learned how when we are bored or doing very monotonous, repetitive tasks like folding laundry or taking a shower, our mind goes into auto-pilot, allowing us to slip into our subconscious. We usually enter the subconscious when we are dreaming in our sleep; however, when our mind enters auto-pilot or the “default mode,” we start to daydream.

This video finally started to answer so many of my questions as to why my best ideas come in the shower and why we daydream to begin with. It seems that once we’re in that “default mode”, we start to connect random ideas. All of a sudden, a light switches on and two ideas that were stored in two different corners of our mind combine to create the perfect solution. However, the video also made a point in showing that we often stunt our own brilliance. Instead of thinking more deeply, we turn to our phone every time we’re bored. I realized that every few minutes I would check Instagram, my email, Twitter then my email again because, of course, someone must have messaged me in the five seconds I was checking Twitter. All this is done in hopes of being more productive, but in the end, it made me even less productive. I’m multitasking and instead of investing myself in each task, I’m just depleting the nutrients of my brain which ultimately results in a waste of time and a really bad headache. All that multitasking could have been spent reading a book or writing a blog post or simply thinking of more ideas.


This Ted Talk definitely solidified one of my goals to be more creative this year. Creativity and brilliance in my eyes are two sides of the same coin and one can channel the other. Because of this, I want to use my boredom more efficiently. How one can use boredom more efficiently is definitely an ironic concept for me. Initially, the whole point of being bored is that you do absolutely nothing, meaning no efficiency whatsoever, but after watching that video, boredom has become a valuable gateway for something unexpected and innovative. We need to find a way to use our boredom to be more creative. When you’re bored, go out for a run, stare out the window or even read a book. Try to find a way to open your mind and keep it active so that once the brilliance starts flooding in, whether it be a solution to that problem at work or a perfect idea for a novel, you are ready to invest your time in building it. This year I really hope to use my own mind to create ideas and make something that I can be proud of.

We spend so much time staring at our phones and seeing the brilliance of others that we forget to step back and find our own brilliance.