#FridayReads: Race and Justice Syllabus

I’ll be honest. Whenever there are discussions about race and justice, I really don’t know what to say other than “why is this happening?”  Sometimes, I might even say “this is unfair,” but I never have anything to backup why I think things are unfair. Most of the time, I just silently observe and take in what other people are saying or writing.

If you are like me and need a place to start, perhaps the links below can help you in understanding the complex topic of race and justice.

The Public Archive has a “summer list of recent books engaged with both the predicament of Black city life and the history and practice of pan-African protest.”

On City Lab, “a group of professors have created the #Charlestonsyllabus to illustrate the histories of faith, race, and violence that collided in a mass murder.”

On City Lab, a group of Harvard students in response to lack of classroom discussions on justice, created a syllabus for a course that would consider race and justice.

Sociologists for Justice, created a syllabus for “understanding the multiplicity of factors that contribute to the criminalization and marginalization of black and brown communities.”

If you have any other resources, please share in the comments!


A geography PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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The number one resource that helped me learn about blogging

Over six years ago, I created a blog. I didn’t know anything about blogging, branding, marketing, or web design, but I knew I enjoyed writing and sharing stories with friends and family. Like with any new hobby I pick up, I totally immersed myself in the craft of blogging. I checked out tons of books from the library about building websites and businesses, and I read everything I could about how to be a great blogger.


The number one resource that helped me learn about blogging was Darren Rowse of Problogger. I read all of his articles and purchased his workbook called 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (31DBBB). Problogger is where I gained a lot of knowledge about the dos and don’ts of blogging. I learned how to make money off of blogging and so much more. I have evolved over the years in terms of how ‘hardcore’ I am about blogging, but I still read Problogger posts. And it is great to see that Darren Rowse has continued his 31DBBB tradition.


If you are new to blogging or an online business, I highly recommend following Problogger. You don’t need to buy the workbook to gain knowledge. The blog posts and podcasts are filled with information to help you reach your goals.  Also if you follow the hashtag #31DBBB, you will get some great tips.


And nope, this isn’t a paid advertisement – I would tell you – I just like sharing good stuff!


What helped you become a better blogger?


A geography PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Haiti 5 Years Later: Compiled Commentary on the 2010 Earthquake

January 2010 was a strange time in my life. It was a time of reflection, excitement, and grief. Summer 2009, I graduated from my Masters program with no job in sight. After months of job searching, I decided to travel to Haiti in hopes that an extended stay would allow me to reflect upon my career and life. My good friend, Ashley was also in need of a soul searching journey, thus began our plans to travel to Haiti for three months. We both were excited; it would be Ashley’s first time out the country and it would be my chance to really explore my family’s culture. Originally, Ashley and I planned on traveling on January 12, 2010, but my grandmother who was to arrive on January 11th, wanted time to prepare the house for our stay, so she urged us to switch our flight to January 17th. A couple of weeks before Ashley and I were scheduled to travel, I started have two reoccurring dreams: that I was at the airport with Ashley and our flight was delayed and that my grandmother and people in her neighborhood were hiding in a basement because of chaos outside. I dismissed these dreams as nervousness about my first extended stay outside the United States.

On January 12, 2010, I was sitting in my den watching television, when my brother said “Lisa, an earthquake hit Haiti!” My heart dropped, I quickly changed the channel to the news and just felt sadness for the country and worry for my grandmother. I have no memory of what I was watching or wearing, all I remember are my feelings. I was frantic, anxious, and obsessive in the hours following the earthquake. My heart pounded and stomach flip flopped, as I kept watching the news and refreshing my news feed on Twitter and Facebook. I had a morbid sense of longing; I wanted to be in Haiti with my grandmother and I imagined myself helping people. After searching and many phone calls, we eventually were able to get in touch with my grandmother. My grandmother luckily was outside when the earthquake hit and her house suffered minimal damage; just a crack along side the house. She was going to be evacuated out the country along with other American citizens.  Unfortunately, many in the country were not so lucky to experience minimal damage or have the opportunity to leave the situation. The physical and psychological anguish is one that still lingers to this day.

After my grandmother’s evacuation to the United States, my sisters and I went to visit her at her house. There was so much I wanted to ask her, but I was hesitant. I wanted to know what she did with all the food, clothes, and supplies she brought to Haiti and I wanted a visual of what the country looked like from her perspective. There was much I wanted to ask, but all I really got out of her was  a lesson on why children should always listen to their elders (a reaction to me not scheduling my flight for Jan. 12), relief that Ashley and I were not in Haiti, because we could have been hanging out in the neighborhood and gotten hurt, and a brief mention on the destruction. Underneath her commentary, I got a sense of fear and sadness. During that visit, she would randomly say, “Can you feel that?” After hearing her say things like that, I never probed deeper into her experiences; I could only imagine.

The following days and months after the earthquake, I naively thought I would still travel to Haiti and my flight would not be cancelled, just rescheduled. I had this strong desire to go and help. Despite my flight being cancelled, I found a way to help the country, through the Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad. For three months and many sleepless nights, I assisted in sending medication and health professionals to the country. Though I did not travel to Haiti for my soul searching adventure, I was able from afar to realize as part of the Diaspora, I wanted to do all in my power to help Haiti reach its full potential. I have kept that promise and spread news of Haiti via social media, classroom presentations, and charitable involvement. I continue to stay connected to the country by my travels to Haiti in October 2010, December 2011, and January 2012. I also am using Haiti as a case study for my dissertation and have hopes to travel to the country in June 2015. With collective and collaborative efforts, the country will improve. 

January 12, 2015 at 4:53pm marks five years since the earthquake. I wanted to write something inspiring and thoughtful, put I could not put words to paper. So I decided to compile recent information about the earthquake from around the web. Below you will find general commentary about what happened on January 12, 2010, non-profits and NGO updates, newspaper insights on the recovery process, information on donation questions, and more. Hopefully as you browse through the commentary, you can gain more insight on what happened five years ago and what needs to happen in the future. Feel free to share in the comments any additional links or thoughts. 

note: click on the titles to go to the websites

What Happened on 1/12/2010 at 4:53pm?


New York Times: Haiti Earthquake Multimedia 

New York Times: Perspectives on Haiti’s Earthquake

New York Times: Surviving the Haiti Earthquake  Part I (video)

New York Times: Surviving Haiti’s Earthquake Part II (video) 


Commentary from Organizations


Reed Smith Law Firm: Mobile Clinic in Haiti Delivers Hope

Catholic Relief Services: After the Haiti Earthquake, CRS’ Mountains to Market Program supports Haitian Farmers (video)

World Vision Youth: Haiti Earthquake – 5 Year Update (video)

Global Communities: Five Years Later: Haiti’s Progress Before and After the Earthquake

UN World Food Programme: Haiti: 5 years after earthquake, UN warns progress threatened by poverty, inequality 

Save The Children: After the Earthquake, Fostering Young Leaders Through Education in Haiti

USAID: Earthquake Overview 

United States: Haiti – Reconstruction : $4 billion U.S. assistance in 5 years

Amnesty International:  Haiti: Five years after devastating earthquake ten of thousands still homeless and desperate 

World Bank: What Haiti Taught us all  

World Bank: Infographic: Haiti Five Years after the Earthquake

World Bank: Voices of Haiti  (video)

Goal Global: Haiti Five Years On: Empowering Communities (video)

ATD Fourth World: Nonstop, we keep up the struggle  (video)

USAID Health Finance and Governance Project: Haiti Takes Steps to Rebuild Its Nursing Workforce 

Catholic Relief Services:Haiti Quake: Photo Then and Now 

USAID: Out of the Rubble: Haiti Neighborhood Gets Ultimate Disaster Makeover (video)


Commentary on the Recovery


Lisa-Marie Pierre (I wrote this last year, but I still have same thoughts): 11 Things to reflect upon on the 4th anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti 

Reuters: Haitian Learn to Live with Disaster Upon Disaster 

Miami Herald: Tens of thousands still living in tents 5 years after Haiti earthquake

Miami Herald: Building permanent housing remains Haiti’s biggest challenge following the 2010 earthquake

Miami Herald: Haiti: Emerging from the rubble

Miami Herald: Haiti: 5 years after the earthquake (video)

Yahoo- Canada: Haiti quake’s effects still felt by Canadians on anniversary of disaster

The Star: Business steps into Haiti where government aid has departed

NY Daily News: 5 years later: Remember the 2010 Haiti Earthquake

Associated Press: Haiti better off 5 years after quake, though still troubled

Center for Economic and Policy Research: Haiti By the Numbers, Five Years Later 

ABC News: 5-Year Anniversary of Haiti Earthquake Approaches

Haiti Then and Now: Haiti: Five Years After

USA Today: 5 years after quake, Haiti still on shaky ground

Huffington Post: Lessons Unlearned in Haiti As Memory of the Earthquake Fades

Global Research: Haiti’s Promised Rebuilding is Unfulfilled as Haitians Challenge Authoritarian Rule

Catholic News: Five years after quake, Haiti makes slow but noticeable progress

The Independent: Five years after the devastating earthquake, Haiti begins to rise from the ruins

US Department of State: Haiti Still Needs our Help 


Twitter Commentary 






Haiti Earthquake search results

Haiti search results


Where Did the Money Go


The Wall Street Journal: Five Years Later: Where Did All the Haiti Aid Go?

NBC News: What Does Haiti Have to Show for $13 Billion in Earthquake Aid?

The Guardian (this is an old article from 2013): Haiti’s earthquake generated a $9bn response – where did the money go?

Washington Examiner: Former Haiti official: We have no idea where all that recovery money went

UNICEF: The five things your donations did to help children after the Haiti earthquake 

New York Times (this is an old article from 2012): Where did the money go?


Where to Donate

Haiti Then and Now: Where to Donate: Haiti Relief Funds




New York: We Remember Haiti: A full day of events, Jan. 12


General Information on Haiti


New York Times: Haiti 

USAID: Haiti

World Bank: Haiti

Haiti Embassy: Haiti 



An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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6 things you need to know about the mosquito transmitted Chikungunya virus

Since I plan on conducting my dissertation research on Haiti, I tend to keep up on local Haitian and Caribbean news. One thing that has been a very popular discussion topic, has been the introduction of the Chikungunya virus into the Americas. After reading many articles on the virus, I thought I would compile an overview of the virus, its symptoms, treatment, prevention, and further resources. Chikungunya is not life threatening, so don’t start panicking, but it is discomforting and painful. Hopefully this information helps you or someone you know prevent contracting the virus. 

Please be mindful that I am not a doctor or expert scientist. With that said, before implementing any of this information, do your research, contact your doctor, or read the instructions on the materials.

1. The Disease

The name Chikungunya is derived from the African Kimakonde language and it means to become contorted. Chikungunya is a virus that is spread from mosquitoes to people. There is no person to person transmission. The particular species of mosquitos that carry the virus tend to bite in the daytime. These mosquitoes also happen to spread the Dengue virus as well.

2. The Geography

In the past, the Chikungunya has mostly occurred in Southeast Asia, Southern Europe, Africa, and islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. However, recently it has been spreading across the Caribbean, with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) estimating 250,000 cases, half of which are in the Dominican Republic. As for the United States, there has been an increase, but not as alarming as in the Caribbean. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), between 2006 and 2013, an average of 28 people per year in the United States tested positive, all of these documented cases were travelers coming from Asia. Since January 2014, 129 cases have been reported, 110 of the travelers were coming from the Caribbean, 3 from the Pacific Islands, and 1 from Asia. Every Tuesday the CDC updates news on the Chikungunya virus, and to date the contraction of the virus has not been through local transmission. This means all of the cases are from people travelling into the United States are who already infected.

3. The Symptoms

It is important to know that Chikungunya is not fatal, however high-risk individuals run the chance of having health complications. After being bitten, it takes about 3 to 5 days for symptoms to show. Here are some symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Intense joint pain
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Pink eye
  • Swollen glands
  • Abdominal pain

It takes up to one week to recover, but it can last several weeks up to a month. Some articles I have read said, once a person has the virus, they cannot get it again, but I have also seen accounts of people who have been getting it more than once. Perhaps they have something else? At any rate, it is best to see a doctor if you have these symptoms and if the symptoms are increasingly getting worse.

4. The Treatment

There is no vaccine.

However, if you are in pain, you can take paracetamol, Tylenol, and acetaminophen. Avoid using ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen because it can increase bleeding if a person has been misdiagnosed and they actually have Dengue fever. In addition, it is important to drink a lot of fluids and get plenty of rest.

5. The Prevention

Despite there not being a vaccine for Chikungunya, there are some measures a person can take. The main one that is suggested by the CDC is as simple (or not as simple) as avoid getting bit by mosquitoes. Some steps that might help you avoid the mosquitoes:


I don’t know how accurate this is for the larger population in the Caribbean, but when I told one of my Haitian friends who lives in Haiti about Chikungunya, how to prevent it, and the symptoms, he said he heard the government talking about it, but none of his friends believe it originates from mosquitoes. If this belief is widespread, it can be problematic in terms of trying to get people on board with utilizing preventative methods.  Communication and education are vital.


  • Use Repellents that contain – DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus, Para-menthane-diol, Permethrin, Citronella
  • Herbal Armor insect repellent spray (alternative to DEET) 
  • Natural remedy that I saw on a listserv: 1 teaspoon of moringa powder in the morning with water or juice, 2 capsules of glucosamine twice a day, 1 capsule of turmeric 3 times a day.
  • Massage with oil. Those from Haiti might want to use Palma Christi (aka luil mascriti) or ricin oil
  • Catnip

Home preparation

  • Air conditioning
  • Window and door screens (wire-mesh/nets)
  • Mosquito bed net
  • Empty standing water
  • Long sleeved shirts and pants
  • Cover water barrels
  • Clean canals and standing pools of water
  • Plant Lantana Camara (big sage, wild sage, red sage, white sage, tickberry)
  • Burn anti mosquito coils
  • Removing weeds and grass from immediate perimeter of house

Something to note. Governments will probably be inclined to do mass spraying, but the environmental and health concerns should be considered and if possible keep things as natural as possible.

6. The Resources

Early in the post I said not to panic and that sentiment still stands, but it is better safe than sorry. Below you will find information on mosquitoes, making mosquito traps, growing natural mosquito repellents, and information from various health departments.  

Videos on Making Mosquito Traps 

Videos About Mosquitoes

Planting Natural Repellents

Health Organization Information 

How to create proper drainage



Have you had experiences with Chikungunya? Write a comment if you would like to add anything to the discussion



An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo Credit: Prasanth Chandran