When Luvvie Ajayi moves to America in the 5th grade from Nigeria, she is misunderstood. Many Americans think of Africa as one place and not 54 separate countries with different cultures and issues. I loved when she answered a question from another elementary school student and essentially said: “Yes, you are right I used to live in a hut with lions in our backyard and we had nine bedrooms.”
During my travels, I have noticed many misunderstandings of other places. I have many myself. On my first day of college in Philadelphia, Monica from across the hall in the dorm looked at me and said, “I do not believe you. You are not from Los Angeles.” I looked at her and said, “Really?” She said, “You don’t have blond hair. Everyone in LA has blond hair.” That was an enlightening day for me. I did grow up in Los Angeles but she did not believe me.
Luvvie shares many ways in her new book, I’m Judging You, that we can Do-Better. Monica could have used this book. She also told me I could not wear my white boots. When I asked why, she said, “It is after Labor Day.” I said, “I have no idea what you are talking about.” We were from the same country but did not have a common experience or understanding of hair color or shoe color. As Luvvie says: “Clearly we need a playbook, a guide to help people get a bit of common sense and some behavior as they navigate today’s hyper-obsessions with pop culture, social-media sharing, and outright navel-gazing.”
We have all seen times when people behave badly or even atrociously in front of us, around us and on social media. Luvvie is here to explain how to Do-Better. She is judging you for your actions and many of us need a manual to change our behavior. The book will make you laugh and cry at your own bad behavior and the shocking things that sometimes seems acceptable in our society. As Luvvie says: “Humans are flawed beings. Some flaws are mere wrinkles, some are cracks and some are the Grand Canyon.” I recommend this book to you for the humor that will help you see where you need to grow and change and for the ideas that may help you in a hard situation when someone asks you the equivalent of if lions live in your backyard.
Luvvie’s book addresses everything from types of Dinner Scrooges to friends who are really terrible and more like a Lannister from Game of Thrones. I loved the chapter “When Baehood Goes Bad,” about men who aren’t good enough for you. Ajayi writes: “I can be loyal but loyalty isn’t blind commitment to cosigning on stupidity and bad decisions. Once my life starts being affected by your tomfoolery, I might have to moonwalk out.” From now on when someone asks me about my divorce, I might just say, “I had to moonwalk out.”
Talking about plastic surgery, weight, and expectations, Ajayi writes for more compassion: “We’re all walking around being told we’re not enough, whether big or small, short or tall. It is exhausting, and we have got to be gentler with each other.” She also tells dirty people to take a bath! Ajayi tackles topics of racism, rape, feminism, homophobia and how we need to Do-Better. One chapter title tells it all, “Nobody wins at the Feminism Olympics.” Ajayi is judging us and we need it.
The sections on social media and fame offers ideas on how to Do-Better with this new digital world. Ajayi writes: “We’re living in a viral culture, and everyone has the fame flu. Folks are so thirsty to be know for anything that I just want to offer them a bottle of Gatorade and a seat. They are parched, and the things people will do to become a big deal on the Internet boggle my mind. The level folks will go just for page views leave me floored.” Some of her examples were truly shocking. People really do need to Do-Better. As she says, “There is no blue ribbon for “most interesting life,” so what are we competing for?”
I was honored to meet Luvvie Ajayi at the BlogHer 2016 conference in Los Angeles August 5, 2016. I interviewed her and you can see the video below. She gave me a signed copy of her book which you can pre-order now and it will be available September 13, 2016. I recommend you buy one for yourself and several for your Lannister friends as well as others who have the fame flu.
Remember what Ajayi tells us: “I am challenging people to not stay silent as the world crumbles. You do not have to yell. Even a whisper of truth matters in an echo chamber of lies.” You do not have to yell but you do have to Do-Better and you can start today.