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    Melanin Mix-Up

    In an entertainment industry where lack of diversity remains a prominent issue, films such as “The Hate U Give” carry a lot of weight. Within the last month, actress and model Amandla Stenberg released the official trailer for the new movie on her Instagram and was immediately faced with criticism on many social media outlets.

    The #1 New York Times best-seller, which follows the rise of protagonist Starr Carter to activism after she witnesses the police shooting of her friend, is a Black Lives Matter-inspired story that has won several awards. Fans of the book were quick to point out that Starr, who in the book is raised in the predominately black community of ‘Garden Heights’, should not have been depicted as a lighter-skinned woman in the screen adaptation.

    Stenberg has received backlash before for her complicity to colorist ideals – in an interview, the actress admitted to stepping down from auditioning for the role of Shuri (Letitia Wright) in Black Panther because it wasn’t her place.

    Audiences were quick to point out that Stenberg hadn’t even landed the role, therefore rendering her commentary on representation useless. It seems that this same attitude is being held towards the actress in ‘The Hate U Give.’

    Although author Angie Thomas defended Stenberg, the fan backlash stems from a very valid issue – colorism, which is the discrimination against individuals with a darker skin tone, typically among individuals within the same ethnic/racial group. Colorism affects the black community deeply, with influential artists and philanthropists either admitting to or actively making colorist statements/business decisions. We see it in the “light-skin versus dark-skin” arguments, under-representation of darker-skinned individuals (especially women) in the beauty and entertainment industries, and even in the overwhelmingly positive portrayal of lighter-skinned black people as more likely to be “successful” in society. With the origins of colorism buried deep in traumatic history, including the creation of preferential treatment during enslavement to segregation, individuals have every right to critique it in the industry today.

    It’s also 2018 – shows such as ‘Dear White People’, ‘Grownish’, ‘On My Block’, ‘The Get Down’, and others are seen as breakthrough and progressive shows featuring mostly (if not all) POC casts. However, most of the protagonists followed are indeed lighter-skinned, which stems from imbedded racism in both the beauty and entertainment industry. It’s dangerous to introduce black narratives with only one type of face – this allows for censorship of many underrepresented narratives and a critical misunderstanding of the ones that reach the big screen. Characters who struggle through very real issues – police brutality, gentrification, gangs, affirmative action, etc – and grow to create beautiful things because of it – hip-hop, podcasts, rallies/protests, scholarships, relationships, etc – deserve to be represented by real faces.

    There are many, many facets of the black community that need to be properly represented. It’s dangerous to do it with only a few.

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    A Look At A New Wave of Eco-Friendly Policies

    Plastic straws have been the target of many environmentalist’s attacks recently, as they serve very little purpose, and can only be used once before being disposed. Companies and cities have been responding to consumer complaints by banning the use of single use plastic products, and providing a more environmentally conscious option.

     

    This Monday, Starbucks announced it’s decision to eliminate the use of plastic straws throughout their thousands of stores worldwide by the year 2020. This decision mimics that of other companies and cities all over the U.S. and internationally.

     

    Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks said, “For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways,” in a statement.

     

    Starbucks’ change follows the ban of plastic straws, spoons, forks, and knives, in Seattle, where their headquarters are located, which will be in effect starting July 1st of this year.

     

    However, Seattle is not the first city to implement this kind of ban. As of June 1st, 2018, the city of Malibu banned the use, distribution, and sale of all one time use plastic straws, stirrers, and cutlery items.

     

    City policies like these are important first strides in the reduction of plastic usage in our country. In America alone, over 500 million plastic straws are used in a single day, according to Be Straw Free. Movements like the Starbucks campaign will hopefully help to put an end to the disposal of such large amounts of plastic on a daily basis.

     

    Starbucks is one of many companies to put an end to the usage of plastic straws. On the same day Starbucks announced their straw free initiative, Hyatt Hotels also announced their shift away from plastic straws.

     

    Hyatt claims that by September 1st of this year, plastic straws will only be distributed upon request, and more eco-friendly alternatives will be provided.

     

    In response to consumer complaints and petitions, McDonalds will also be removing the controversial plastic straws from their locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland. There are approximately 1.8 million straws used in McDonald’s restaurants each day in the U.K.

     

    McDonalds will switch to using paper straws at their locations in the U.K. and Ireland after a petition with nearly half a million signatures was drafted to the company.

     

    Plastic straws aren’t the only environmental hazard to be getting banned- recently, certain counties have been taxing plastic shopping bags.

     

    In Suffolk County, Long Island, a five cent tax on plastic shopping bags has been placed in many stores, so whenever customers leave a store using a plastic shopping bag, they will be charged an additional five cents per bag.

     

    This tax has inspired a lot of customers to bring their own recyclable bags to stores, which greatly decreases the amount of plastic bags used.

     

    While the greater impact of these bans and taxations is yet to be determined, it’s definitely a step in the right direction for reducing the amount of pollution and trash in our world.

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    Bringing ‘The Bold Type’ Down To Reality

    Don’t get me wrong–I love The Bold Type. It’s a fearless-ahem, bold- show that tackles important issues ranging from sexism in the workplace to sexual assault and even American immigration policies. The show is written in a way so that it feels genuine when tackling such heavy issues, while also keeping the characters from coming across as too serious or emotional. It’s a so-called ‘social justice’ show that wears it’s humor and love triangles like a charm.

    Still, episode two and three of season two, “Rose Colored Glasses” and “The Scarlet Letter,” have left me pondering the issue of privilege. Spoiler alert ahead: Jane gets fired from her job at Incite, yet she’s able to bounce back more easily than a normal person would. She has a ton of connections in the world of journalism, and despite being turned away from any long-term positions, she’s still able to land a freelance gig at a medical journal. It’s not much, but it’s enough for Jane to keep searching for a job while also paying the bills.

    Therein lies the problem: Jane lives with two of her best friends who work at an upper-class magazine. Jane has connections in the world of journalism to keep her weekly pay afloat. Jane doesn’t really have to worry about her being fired. She has the luxury of relying on her circle of friends to dig herself out of a jobless hole. She has a privilege not many common New Yorkers do.

    If The Bold Type prides itself on exposing issues in society, from sexism to, indeed, economic privilege, it needs to reflect on it’s own characters. Granted, Sutton’s economic troubles were exposed in Season One: She grew up with a single mom in a relatively poor household, and “worked hard” to become an assistant at Scarlet before applying for a job in the Fashion Department. She went to business school at Penn State because she couldn’t afford higher-end schools. Despite these aspects, not enough info is provided about Sutton. How did she “work hard” to get to where she is? How can one really live in New York on an assistant’s salary and be able to afford basic living necessities and more? Surely, two roommates isn’t enough to offset the heavy bills of a New York apartment.

    According to Financial Samurai, in New York a person can afford basic necessities on a salary of $100k per year, though they won’t have much leftover to spend or save. According to Indeed, the average salary for an Editorial Assistant at a magazine in the city is $36,311. The pay for a Fashion Assistant is even less, at just under $23,000. Respectively, the average cost of a two bedroom apartment in Manhattan is $3,895, plus an additional $127 for utilities. Factor in the cost of cabs and public transit, food, clothing, etc–There’s no way for any fresh-faced journalist or fashionista to stay afloat in the city with their salaries, even with roommates.

    There’s an aspect that explains a lot about Kat, Sutton and Jane. They’ve been with Scarlet for quite a while, and have risen through the ranks to be making more of a respectable salary. With Kat working as a department head, Sutton assisting one of the biggest fashion designers in the world, and Jane writing groundbreaking articles, surely they are all making enough money to live comfortably. But they’re all still quite young. They made it in the city–I’d just love to see how.

    The Bold Type constantly inspires me, and each and every episode reinvigorates my dreams of moving to the city to become a successful journalist. I just hope I can get there despite the lack of connections, friends to room with, etc. I hope I can make it in the city without such privileges.

     

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    A Fist Full of Reaction

    A note before reading: This is just like an actual book, meaning that it will be updated in chapters. Keep a look out for my next update!

     

    I stare at Nick. He’s inches away from me, and as he steps closer, my heart start to race. Everyone around us is staring. His eyebrows are furrowed, and I know I have to make the first move because he said what he just said and I need to. I feel it so deep that I know I can’t just stand here. So, after a few seconds, when I’m sure that he’s not going to, I let my fist connect to his face, and I can feel his skull under his skin.

    It was all slow motion before, but now it’s like we’re fast forwarding through this fight. There’s chanting and everything’s a blur until I feel two hands pulling me back. I turn around and Dr. Easter is staring at me, fuming. Her eye makeup is smudged under her dark brown eyes, blending into her brown skin. She’s looking at me like she expected more from me. I can see the depth and what she really wants to tell me in her eyes, and it makes it impossible for me to look in them. I pull away from her grip, and walk a little bit further so that I don’t have to be near her.

    “Aiden, get back here,” she says. I turn around, but I stay where I am. My fist is pulsing and I can feel my heart beating in my chest. I need to get away from everything. I feel like running farther and farther away, running until I can’t breathe anymore. Running until my legs can’t carry me any further. But the crowd that was chanting just a few seconds ago (or what feels like just a few seconds ago) is dispersing, and Dr. Easter is staring at me. Nick is walking away with Mr. Miller. I can’t run while Dr. Easter is staring at me like that. I start walking toward her. Fuck.

    “What the hell, Aiden?” She says as we walk to the principal’s office. “What the hell were you thinking?”

    I don’t say anything. I’m not in the mood for talking.

    She stops and turns to me. “Aiden. Tell me right now, or else you have no chance of getting let off easily this time. He might expel you.”

    I sigh. “He called me a dyke. It was the last straw.”

    She puts her head in her hands. “Of course he did.” She turns and lightly hits her hand against the wall of the hallway. “These kids never get better, do they?”

    I shrug. My adrenaline is wearing off and my face starts to hurt from where he punched me.

    “You know, they did this shit to me in high school too, Aiden. They called me names, girls would hit me, people would push me down stairs and stuff. They were afraid of me being brown and gay.”

    I’ve heard this a couple times before. She gets like this when she’s upset. She talks about how bad she had it because she was a teen in the 80s with all the homophobia and racism. Not like there’s not any of that today.

    Whenever I talk to her about how kids bully me for being gay, she always tells me to not let it get to me. And for the most part I listen. It’s not really worth it to get into it with these assholes. And I trust Dr. Easter. She’s the only person I can talk to about any of this. Which is why it pisses me off so much that I snapped today. She’s been the only person that’s been here for me through everything, and it’s hard for me to disappoint her like this.

    “Aiden, you know how hard it is for me to have to do this to you?” She asks. I stare at my feet, kicking them together, hoping they’ll work some magic and take me home. I start actually feeling the blood running from my nose, and I use my sleeve to try to stop some of it. She sighs. “Come on,” she says. “Let’s get you cleaned up before taking you up there.”

    I came out to my parents a year ago. They won’t talk about it with me. Like, they didn’t disown me like they said they would, but they still don’t like it. I’m not even lesbian either. I’m bi. I like to say queer, but if I had to put a label on it, I’d have to say bi. Maybe that’s why they didn’t kick me out. Because I still have a chance of ending up with a guy.

    Ever since I came out, life has sucked. My parents have avoided talking to me about my love life, which may be nice, but they won’t let me talk about it either. Then, someone at school found out about me dating some girl. Which they spread around school. It’s so dumb though, if they found out about me making out with a girl at a party or something they’d think it’s hot. But since it doesn’t give them any pleasure, they think it’s gross. I hate my school.

    We’re in the nurse’s office now, and the school nurse is telling me to pinch the bridge of my nose. She hands me a box of tissues to stuff up the bloody nostril. Dr. Easter is waiting for me by the door.

    “Let’s go,” she says, and I follow her to the principal’s office where my punishment is waiting for me.

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    Can You Measure “Wokeness”?

    Almost every day we see men in power take advantage of and continuously harass women just because they can.  Not only that, but it seems like everywhere you look, instances of abuses (especially of minorities) are often present. You may see people defending and coddling them and their actions for whatever reason they make up, but luckily, feminism has become more widespread and accepted in society.  While there are still alt-right trolls, being a feminist, or ‘woke’, is usually associated with being correct. You can see those labels in online bios being flaunted like badges of honor or things that grant moral ascendancy, which begs the questions: do people use these labels because their beliefs are aligned with them, or because not doing so will make them more prone to being disliked and detracted? Furthermore, how can one prove that a person’s social awareness is genuine or all for show?

    One’s ‘wokeness’ may be measured by the amount and gravity of the issues they address.  Sure, people get confused with the definition of feminism, and you’re free to tell them that it is ‘the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes’, but first, you’re probably stuck in 2013 if you think you can just do that and call it a day, and second, in this political, economic, and social climate, wouldn’t it be apt to use more inclusive descriptions of feminism?

    Feminism is for all women, most especially those part of other minorities, but while ‘support all women’ is a good notion at first sight, does that mean we’re supposed to coddle privileged women who have exploited the less privileged? Conversely, can someone automatically be right in an argument just because they’re part of more minorities? The term ‘Oppression Olympics’ is often used to poke fun at the constant infighting within the ‘woke’ community, and while the term is usually used to mock minorities, one can’t help but get tired of the seemingly endless debates on who’s the most oppressed.  The ‘woke’ community’s essential reason for existence is arguably to welcome and uplift all minorities, but it doesn’t always serve its purpose. At times, it is an arena for the aforementioned oppression Olympics, an echo chamber for fallacious yet widely accepted views, and a place that encourages violent call-out culture and overt public shaming. This doesn’t mean that the idea of calling someone out should be abolished. In fact, in a society where fake news and problematic ideologies thrive, it should be encouraged. However, if and when one abuses the necessity of call-out culture by making it an excuse to start petty fights for clout, then they’re doing more harm than good.  Moreover, the concept of problematic needs to be more nuanced and we need to accept that all of us have been problematic one way or another. What sets us apart, however, are the ways we learn and grow from our wrongdoings, and how we let others do the same. Most importantly, we need to draw the line between one-time problematic and borderline abusive.

    In conclusion, the woke community is more complex than whether or not someone’s problematic or socially aware.  Intersectionality makes it thrive, which we can prove through the issues the community focuses on. Since it thrives on intersectionality and complexities, there has yet to be perfect criteria to measure woke.  Probably the most effective way to measure it is to stop focusing on being the best feminist and start creating, doing, and saying things that’ll make the world a better place, whether it be going out to the streets, putting your thoughts into words, or informing yourself/others.  With the appalling events happening around the world, we need less petty infighting and heartier fights for what we believe is right.

     

    Image via https://www.litmusbranding.com/blog/indian-brands-activating-activism/

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    How To Deal With Anxiety During Exams

    Exams are never fun. The atmosphere in the room, the pressure put on you by your school and yourself, the fear of failing or doing badly… They can all add up to create an extremely stressful time, for anyone. But something that makes it even worse is when you struggle with anxiety, like I do, among many other people.

    Having anxiety during exams means that everything I just mentioned is heightened, especially the fear of failing. Over the past few days, I’ve begun to have exams at school, and my anxiety has constantly caused me to worry that I am going to fail all of the exams, even though I know that I’m a good student, who works hard and tries their best. So, how do I deal with this feeling, and what can you do if you deal with it too?

    1. Breathe. Breathe in and out, slowly, both before and during the exam. I like to inhale, counting for five seconds, hold for five seconds, and then exhale for five seconds. This means that your breathing will become more regular, stopping you from being more likely to hyperventilate. You don’t have to count for five, though, you can count for however long you feel necessary.
    2. Remember that this is not the end of the world. Yes, your exams are probably important on some level, but doing badly in it will not be the end of everything. In the UK, even if you fail your actual GCSEs, you can re-do them so that you can pass them, so if you try your best, and still fail, you have another shot.
    3. Remember that you cannot do anything more than your best. You literally cannot do anything more than try your hardest – if you are trying your best in that exam, and doing everything that you can do, and you get a low grade, it’s okay. Your best is all you can do, in any situation.
    4. Close your exams and distract yourself for a minute. If you’re in the exam and you feel like you’re starting to panic over a question, put your pen down, close your eyes, and just focus on something else for a minute, like your breathing, or fiddle with your hands. This will stop you from over-thinking the question, and help you ground yourself in the moment.
    5. Look after yourself, mentally and physically. In the lead up to your exams, make sure that you are not neglecting your health in order to get a good grade. Make sure to eat proper meals, and drink fluids, particularly water, and get a good amount of sleep. Take rest breaks during any revision that do, and stop working if you feel yourself getting too stressed.
    6. Work out what helps you calm down and feel relaxed. Whether it’s a particular song, show, book, food, or even a particular person, work out what calms you down, even when your stress levels are through the roof. Knowing this is good, because you can use that knowledge to help yourself relax if you feel like you are getting too stressed.
    7. Talk to someone. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling; keeping it bottled up will not help you at all. Someone like your best friend, or even a teacher will want to listen and make sure that they can help you in any way. If you’re feeling panicky in the exam, speak to an invigilator to let them know that you might not to leave the room if you’re feeling unwell.

    These things have all helped me in the exams that I am currently undertaking, so I hope that they can help any of you that may also be going through a similar situation, or even just help you at some point in the future. Good luck!

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    Angry Cry

    How To Make a Difference In Local Gun Control Laws

    On Thursday, June 28, five employees of the Capital Gazette: Wendi Winters (special publications editor), Rebecca Smith(sales assistant), Rob Hiaasen (assistant editor), Gerald Fischman(editorial page editor), and John McNamara(staff writer) were killed, among others who were injured, in a shooting inside the newsroom, in Annapolis, Maryland. The suspect is Jarrod Warren Ramos, a 38-year-old man.

    Unfortunately, this is yet another chapter in this oddly familiar narrative for Americans, as mass shootings are something that has happened 154 TIMES ONLY THIS YEAR. The latest one, the Capital Gazette massacre, follows the exact same pattern: an armed man opens fire on a group of unsuspecting victims. This should have raised questions over the current state of gun laws for more politicians and made it clear that what America needs is gun reform. It is heartbreaking to wake up and read about yet another senseless tragedy and feel helpless. Now, the slew of gun violence HAS brought together over a million students in a march called ”March for Our Lives” in response to the Parkland shooting where 17 people were killed, however, there are things that everyone who has become fed up with this recurrent narrative can do to help bring about a gun reform.

    1. Call, Email, & Tweet At Your Elected Representatives
    Here’s a list of phone numbers for every office of every single senator, organized by state. You can also find your House representative and get their contact information using the government’s own database.

    2. Support Local & State Politicians Who Are Pro-Gun Control Reform
    Believe it or not, local and state laws matter just as much in our fight for gun control as anything coming from Washington. You can find out who your local and state politicians are by clicking here.

    3. Participate In Marches & Protests
    Even though March for Our Lives in an annual event, protests against gun violence are an almost daily occurrence in the United States. For instance,

    4. Donate To Gun Control Organizations
    Prominent gun control advocacy groups include Evertown, Brady Center, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV).

    For those who are sick of feeling helpless in the face of such tragedies, there are plenty of ways they can make sure that their voices are heard.

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    Cute Love

    Have You Encountered These Planets?

    Profiles on someone you probably know and have fallen (are falling?) for, but out of this world.  Literally.  At least for the most part.

    The One Hopelessly Out Of Your League / The Exoplanet

    An exoplanet, by traditional definition, is a planet orbiting a star that is not the Sun.

    An exoplanet can also be the girl you locked eyes with for two seconds, and are convinced that she’s bound to sweep you off your feet.

    The Exoplanet unintentionally forces you out of your comfort zone and you let yourself get pushed out anyway.  She knows that you desperately want to be pulled by the same orbit.

    Desperate attempts only make you look like a joke, but despite all the laughs serving as background noise, she won’t join in.

    When she speaks of her favorite things, you hear a foreign language.  Soon, you find yourself googling what art materials she uses. Or Fahrenheit 451.  Or her favorite obscure vacation spot. Through your extensive research, fragments of her stick to you.

    The Exoplanet (with your developing talent in writing) makes perfect, poignant poetry about topics you thought you’d only encounter in books and movies, like the perfect girl, or unrequited feelings.

    She remains warm yet inexplicably distant, but for good reason.  The Exoplanet is art in a museum surrounded with velvet rope, and the R-rated movie you’ve been wanting to see but can’t since you pass as a child.

    The Exoplanet indirectly tells you to get a better personality.  And somehow, you do.

    But where’s that gonna get you?

    The One You Could Actually Be With (But Won’t, Anyway) / Earth

    The first thing you’d think of when you hear the word “Earth” is probably home, and things you already know.

    You’ve probably met Earth when you were still pining for the Exoplanet and considered her a friend.  It’s not hard to bond with Earth, given the vast amount of things you share: tastes, age, interests, friends.

    You and Earth share the same world.  She probably hates the things you hate and loves the things you love, but not because she’s trying to impress you, rather since you two are that in sync with each other.

    You don’t need to pretend to be someone else for Earth, because she already likes you for you.

    Earth is the carefully curated playlist based on your newfound favorite thing you guys bond over.  She is ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’ greetings, your first thought when you wake up and last one before you fall asleep.

    Earth isn’t a distant fantasy; she’s reality with the right dash of magic.

    (But reality nevertheless.)

    The Clever and Elusive Mix of Both / Mars

    Mars is the fourth planet from the sun.  Named after the Roman god of war and a possible home for humans in the future, the big red intrigues and intimidates.

    Intrigue strikes you when you properly see her for the first time.  She’s a familiar face, a familiar name, but there’s too much waiting to be unraveled.

    Intimidation fills your insides when you realize she’s everything you want and beyond, but deep inside you know she’s another star out of your reach.

    Except, she isn’t?

    Maybe if you knew how to act normal around girls you liked, you could get a tad bit closer to her platonically?

     

    Try harder.  No, no, try less.  Don’t try at all. Not like that! Jesus Christ.

    Keep your mouth shut.  She doesn’t have to know you fell for her the second time around solely because of a sweet, but ultimately harmless remark.  Why did you fall that easily, anyway?

    Go, tell your friends about your newfound muse.  Or about how she finally greets you in open and closed spaces.  About how you know that she finally knows that you exist.

     

    Mars has always been someone whose good side you want to get on, and doing so makes you feel you’ve done something right.

    Secrets are always waiting to be discovered with her, and unraveling them affirms the notion that you two aren’t incompatible and polar opposites.

    Mars can radiate warmth, but it should be noted that it’s in her nature to be cold—if not colder than—as ice.

    She is the epitome of the lover’s most common tragedy, the state of being so close yet so far away.

    Tread with caution all throughout because as much as you think you’ve figured Mars out, she has miles and miles of unchartered territory.

    And nothing’s scarier and sadder than the great unknown.

     

    Inspired by the articles Have You Encountered the Softboy & Have You Encountered the Starboy

     

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    Why There Shouldn’t Be Catholic Private Schools In Canada

    In some provinces of Canada, our tax dollars fund both the Catholic and Public school boards. In the last few years, education reformers have been pushing to change this system. With increasing diversity, lack of funding and ethical issues, why should we have to pay to fund two separate boards instead of just combining them?

     

    In Ontario, most of a school’s funding comes from the “per pupil” law. Just this year, one school rushed to enroll more kids of non-Catholic faith in a push for funding. There are still three school boards in Ontario allowed to deny students admission unless they have a baptism certificate. Is it really right for the public to fund schools who are not open to the public? In addition, Catholic schools have resorted to bussing students short distances in hope of increasing enrollment. This is a huge waste of money, and it is estimated that between 1.2 and 1.6 billion could be saved annually if we decided to ditch our current system and introduce an integrated school system. If Catholic schools turned private, without our funding they could remain open to those who are dedicated in the faith rather than those who need to take advantage of short distance bussing.

     

    Furthermore, shouldn’t our money go to school boards who are willing to embrace the diversity of Canada? Sure, Catholic schools teach kids about faith — but only about the faith that has written history. Since the beginning of time, Catholics have fought bloody battles over their religion. From the Counter- Reformation in light of the rise of the Protestants, to the Witch Trials and Colonization, Catholic history has been nothing but clean. If this were any other religion, these atrocities would have not been forgotten; However, since Catholicism generally has been the biggest western religion we seem to make an exception. It’s 2018, we’re too old and too wise to continue to push a religious agenda, especially in our schools where we are tampering with young minds.

     

    On the same topic, why are we trying to teach our kids a certain set of religious beliefs at such a young age? In elementary catholic schools we introducing a bunch of kindergarteners to something far beyond their comprehension. Putting these ideas into their heads will lead to nothing but spiritual confusion as the child grows older. Even though the class time and mass may not be that bad, it’s the heard mentality that ruins the atmosphere in the school. If your kid is going through that weird, sixth grade emo phase, to their classmates that means they’re a devil worshipper. If your child is questioning their sexuality it’s hushed up and silently scolded by their peers. These things also happen in public school, but when putting in the aspect of religion, it makes a much more sensitive and scary topic. Also, since certain topics are still taboo in the Christian religion, some of these ideologies are brought into the schools themselves. For example, in 2011 a girl got sent home for displaying her pro-choice stance at a local Catholic high school. Then, around a year ago, pictures of anti-abortion posters were floating around on the walls of that same high school. This is a toxic mentality that antagonises the choices of pregnant or at risk girls, especially when their schools are supposed to be safe spaces for them. Again, these are examples of the Catholic agenda being introduced to impressionable minds, but shouldn’t we be advocating for empathy and freedom of choice?

     

    This article isn’t demonizing Catholic schools, it is meant to question why the public has to pay for something that does not necessarily benefit education. Shouldn’t we work towards an efficient system where the boards do not need to fight for funding? All this wasted money could go towards resources that will enhance learning. It’s time to quit trekking in circles to preserve people’s feelings, and make a change in the right direction.

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    Love happy nice fun

    Why We Should Celebrate Juneteenth

    Juneteenth, a holiday on the 19th of June, celebrates the end of slavery and the newfound freedom. It’s mainly observed in the United States and not very well known among races outside of African Americans. Also known as Freedom day and Emancipation day, it honors the day that Major General Gordon Granger, who was part of the Union, announced to Texas the abolishment of slavery. This holiday is celebrated all over the country through parades and events. Juneteenth is significantly recognized in the Black/African American community and is even celebrated instead of the Fourth of July in some communities due to the belief that they are very similar holidays, just focused on different views of U.S. freedom.  In Phoenix, there was a Juneteenth event in Eastlake park. Many black entrepreneurs and businesses were present, which was nice since you don’t find that a lot in Phoenix, Arizona. Many people of all races were shopping, eating, and enjoying the atmosphere. My cousin was there with his food truck serving delicious BBQ that was selling out fast and right next door was desserts by two really sweet ladies. It was really great to see all of the unity and enjoyment from the attendees and to celebrate this day with people who feel for it as much as I do. I hope to bring more recognition to this hardly recognized, yet very important, historical holiday that has been around for many years and will be around for many more.

     

     

     

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    cool happy nice

    Five Minority Female Characters That’ll Make Your Life Better

    Whether it’s clamor for a healthy same-sex relationship or demands for more people of color, you’ll often see people asking for better representation on TV and other media forms.  These calls are completely valid because there have been countless times I had to watch something solely focusing on the reused, cliché narratives of the majorities, but barely remember the instances wherein I’ve seen myself and stories like mine on screen.  However, I’m lucky enough to find some exceptions. In no particular order, here are five of my favorite remarkable minority female characters.

    Amy Santiago, Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Melissa Fumero)

    It’s common knowledge that Brooklyn Nine-Nine is God’s gift to humanity.  With whip-smart jokes that aren’t at the expense of anyone, well-written scripts, personalities like Mark Hamill and Lin Manuel-Miranda demanding that the short-lived cancellation of the series be reversed, and unique scenes that set the show apart, the “B99 is so underrated” tweets weren’t lying at all.  One of the aspects that make the show remarkable is the characters that breathe life into it. Probably the best example would be Amy Santiago, the 99th Precinct’s driven and meticulous sergeant. Though she’s seemingly the dead serious antithesis of goofy detective Jake Peralta, she quickly captures the hearts of many, including his.  Santiago takes pride in both her ambition and nerdiness, making her a role model for girls of all ages.

    Rosa Diaz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, again (Stephanie Beatriz)

    In case you didn’t get the memo, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is that great of a series that you don’t get just one, but two women of color to idolize! Rosa Diaz comes off as the witty motorcycle-riding, leather jacket-wearing badass trope embodied by a Latina at first sight and you’ll eventually find yourself switching between “God, she’s scary” to “I want her to run me over with her motorcycle!” more times than you could ever expect.  However, underneath that tough and cold exterior lies an undiscovered soft side solely reserved for her closest friends. As secretive and aloof she may appear, there are numerous times where she’s portrayed as empathetic and supportive. Did I mention that she has one of the best coming out arcs on TV?

    Diane Nguyen, Bojack Horseman (Alison Brie)

    When people claim that 13 Reasons Why is a good portrayal of mental illness, I become the Will Smith showing off his wife meme, but instead of Jada Pinkett Smith, it’s the animated Netflix original Bojack Horseman.  It chronicles Bojack and his friends’ misadventures, their character development (or lack thereof), and tackles taboo issues like Hollywood’s sexual misconduct, depression, mental illnesses, existential crises, feminism, and a lot more without showing unnecessary and triggering scenes solely for shock value.  However, we won’t be focusing on Bojack here. The spotlight is shining on one of the few human leads on the series, Vietnamese-American (ghost)writer Diane Nguyen. A bookish third-wave feminist with an unsupportive family, Diane is usually aloof and enveloped in writing, but makes bold stances and ensures that her voice is heard when she feels it’s necessary.  Diane, with her multifaceted personality and character arcs that make you empathize with her, is a realistic and well-developed character you can’t help but admire.

    Zoë Rivas, Degrassi: The Next Class (Ana Golja)

    For those of you who don’t know, Degrassi is a Canadian franchise that has spawned different installations of TV series throughout generations.  It is the longest-running Canadian drama, with over 600 episodes throughout all its incarnations. Degrassi can be considered a pioneer of teen dramas, especially due to the way they tackle and talk about taboo issues other shows would usually shy away from.  Zoë is first introduced in the Next Generation series, but I only get to know her in the franchise’s latest installation, The Next Class. Played by Canadian actress Ana Golja, Zoë Rivas embodies the HBIC trope at first sight, but her character becomes stronger, more empathetic, and more accepting of her homosexuality throughout TNG and TNC’s run.  A sexual assault survivor and a victim who overcame the compulsive heterosexuality her homophobic mother has forced onto her for far too long, Degrassi’s Class of 2016 Valedictorian and Student Council President is the epitome of a character that’s been through enough and deserves better.

    Elena Alvarez, One Day at a Time (Isabella Gomez)

    Last but definitely not the least is the protagonist of Netflix’s original dramedy based on Norman Lear’s 1975 series with the same name.  One cannot possibly find enough words to appreciate and describe the legend that is Elena Alvarez. Growing up in a Cuban household with her mother, grandmother, and younger brother, Elena is an outspoken activist eager to let the world know what she has to say.  Late in season one, she comes out as gay to her family and is accepted by everyone except her estranged father (at first). Though she doesn’t speak Spanish and has relatively fairer skin than most of her family members (hence, the “Blanquita” and “wonder bread” nicknames), Elena takes pride in her Cuban culture.  As a gay Latina, Elena is seen facing struggles and prejudice, overcoming them, and further endearing the audience that’s been rooting for her since the beginning. Minus the Cuban roots, watching Elena Alvarez onscreen makes me feel like I’m staring at my own reflection.

    There is a tinge of tragedy and a dose of wonder in the fact that I and probably dozens of other people have to go looking for stories like ours in places we’ve probably never been to.  My country’s (the Philippines) media fails to represent me and tell stories that resonate with me and other minorities, making me dive head first into foreign entertainment. None of the aforementioned characters share my nationality, ethnicity, or race (probably with a slight exception of Diane Nguyen), but I still see more aspects of me in them than the characters from my local TV series.  More often than not, people think that representation is only limited to race and skin color, and while those are important factors, young women in minorities need more multifaceted characters with relatable personalities that go beyond the stereotypical archetypes that have been recycled countless times.

    All series mentioned above are available on Netflix.

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    An Increase In Female Candidates For November’s Primary Elections

    After one of the most arguably obscure, insane, and frankly unbelievable first halves of a presidency America has witnessed, change might be upon us come the November midterms. And this change will be driven by women.

     

    This female push follows the highly controversial reign of 45th President, Donald Trump. After seeing his administration implement atrocious and unjust policies, such as the latest immigration policy of separating children of undocumented immigrants from their parents, women have decided it’s time for a change, and it’s time to take action.

     

    As reported of April by the Associated Press, a record breaking 309 women have filed paperwork to run for the House.

     

    A shift in representatives this dramatic could bring about serious changes in  the way our country is run and the overall treatment of women in America.

     

    Following the Me Too movement, the potential that having women in seats of political power has is incredible. For years, women have been taken adavantage of, raped, and brutally treated by men. And these horrific actions were met with little to no reprimand from our justice system. In cases such as that of Brock Turner, where he was found guilty of three counts of felony sexual assault, he only served three months of  six month sentence. The fact that this man was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and only had to serve three months in jail is beyond disgusting, and one of the reasons we have not seen advancement in the ending of rape culture. The Me Too movement has provided the momentum, which we now must harness and use to make a difference. As wonderful as awareness is, we need to do more. We need change that provides results so that no other women have to face the awfulness of sexual assault.

     

    With women in power, we might be able to see a more progressive stance on rape and sexual abuse. Although electing women will not solve every issue surrounding rape culture, having women who have lived through the discrimination, prejudice, and harassment first hand will hopefully enforce stricter laws and harsher punishments in regards to sexual assault.

     

    Currently, women only hold only 19% of the seats in the house of representatives and 22% of the seats in senate.

     

    It’s unjust that a group that represents 50% of the American population only gets at most 22% representation in our legislative branch. To create a more equal and opportunistic society, we must be open to having more women in places of power. It’s not right to let the men handle all the issues without female input, especially when it comes to gender specific issues like abortion or wage gap.

     

    Electing women this November, or even having the option to, marks such a fundamental moment in our ongoing fight for gender equality. Although having female candidates doesn’t ensure that they will be elected, or that they will implement all the policies and change that we need, seeing their name on the ballot provides a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak presidency/administration.

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    Everything You Need To Know About Trump’s Cages

    This is America.

    New photos have surfaced of immigrant children separated from their families living in cages at the hands of customs and border patrol agents, and it’s stirring up quite the heated storm among the public. Outrage erupted over social media, as well as on several news outlets, including CNN. Indeed, several protests against ICE’s detainment methods are being organized across the country.

    Still, many are confused and lost over the entire situation, which is why we’re breaking it down here piece by piece.

    The Report That Started It All

    Earlier this month, Senator Jeff Merkley claimed children were kept in cages. MSNBC reporter Jacob Soboroff claimed he saw the travesty himself. Then, over the past weekend, the Associated Press reported: “Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about were bottles of water, bags of chips, and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.” The image described can be seen below.

    A view of inside US CBP detention facility shows children at Rio Grande Valley Centralized Processing Center in Texas(The Atlantic)

    After dozens of media outlets perpetuated the terminology, “cages”, to describe what the kids were being kept in, the U.S Border Patrol struck back. As reported through CBS This Morning, “Border Patrol has reached out to @cbsthismorning and said they are ‘very uncomfortable’ with the use of the word cages. They say it’s not inaccurate and added that they may be cages but people are not being treated like animals.”

    Right.

    A cage is a cage, and despite what Border Patrol claims, from the looks of the photo above these kids indeed are being treated like animals.

    But perhaps the heart of the matter isn’t the fact that children are being kept in cages–though that is an extremely upsetting aspect, the point is that kids are being forcefully separated from their families just to be cooped up in a dystopian-like facility. Indeed, some of Trump’s cabinet members’ past discussion over the matter proves how purposeful keeping the kids locked up in cages is.

    “If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.”-Jeff Sessions

    “The laws are the laws. But a big name of the game is deterrence. It could be a tough deterrent–would be a tough deterrent.”-John Kelly

    Even White House Advisor Stephen Miller stands by the border policy, claiming the U.S has to be of “zero tolerance” when it comes to immigration.

    “No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement. It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period.”-Stephen Miller

    At the end of the day, the Trump administration has implemented a border policy that aims to separate children from their families, locking them up in cages and throwing them scraps of resources. This isn’t a sci-fi dystopian film. This isn’t another “lie from the media”. This is America–even Trump’s advisors admit so.

     

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    Joyous Night

    On May 25th, I finally saw Vance Joy live and it truly was a joyous night (pun intended). I have been a massive fan of his since 2013, aka when he first released his album titled God Loves You When You’re Dancing. His music fits under the indie folk genre and he’s the main reason I fell in love with indie musicians. That album contained the song Riptide which was soon playing on the radio non-stop. I mean, Riptide currently has 618,249,300 listens on Spotify so you can tell it was a very popular song. Usually, I always get anxious when attending events with large crowds of people, however, this was different. The concert was filled with a large variety of people: kids, teens, adults, and elders. Everyone was excited to hear him live, and let me tell you he did not disappoint. He was telling the audience jokes and stories to explain the songs he wrote on his newest album. Hands down, This concert was the best concert I’ve been to since Adele. If you’ve never listened to Vance Joy, I totally recommend checking out his music!

    Featured Image: Julia Danielska (myself)

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    An Interview With MTV Lebanon Star And Fitness Icon: Maya Nassar

    GLUE: How did you get started in the fitness industry?

    MAYAI actually had no previous background in fitness, I had only discovered my passion several years ago. I was unhealthy and overweight, I knew very little about eating healthy and the benefits of exercise. I suffered heavily from asthma, it got to the point where I would have trouble breathing just from climbing the stairs! Sickness was also very frequent. Eventually I hit rock bottom as I continued to gain weight and remain unfit. I knew that there was something that had to change. I did my research thoroughly, began to change my diet, and joined a gym. After losing weight and getting into shape, I discovered that I had a passion for this lifestyle, and wanted to change the lives of others the same way I changed my own life.

     

    GLUE: What is your favorite thing about being a fitness influencer?

    MAYA: I enjoy connecting with others through our passion for fitness. I enjoy helping others through advice and multiple tips that I learned throughout my own journey. The most important thing is that there are many scams out there such as supplements, that promise quick results with zero effort like diet pills. I enjoy being able to educate people on the proper way to diet and exercise in order to see true results.

     

    GLUE: Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

    MAYA: My idol is Tom Venuto, an author of a weight and fat loss book. He inspired and continues to inspire me through his words and his book. He played a major role in my body transformation as well. I read his book and his words have personally helped me believe in myself enough to take my fitness to the next level.

     

     GLUE: What advice would you give to your fans and followers who are looking to become active bodybuilders as well? – Maybe even compete?

    MAYA: My advice would be for them to do as much research as possible before getting started. The first step would be to choose a category that they would like to compete in as there are many different categories to choose from. The next step is to find a bodybuilding federation to compete in. Finally they would need to choose a show date and find a proper coach to help them train for their competition. I think a good starting age is to be at least 16 or older.

     

    GLUE: What is your opinion on supplements which have become extremely controversial in recent years? Do you take any as well?

    MAYA: I believe supplements are fine as long as they are natural and pose no threat to someone’s health. Though, I have seen many bodybuilders use harmful supplements and drugs, which personally, I am strongly against mainly because of the health risks that they present. I rarely take any supplements anyhow except for protein powder or natural multivitamins.

     

    GLUE: If, when, and how will you allow your son to become involved with fitness?

    MAYA: I would let him start working out with weights at the age of 16, however, I will be encouraging him to be active and fit from a very young age. Exercise is so important for children and I want to make sure my son is involved in sports and outdoor activities.

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    Trump’s New Immigration Policy Is Cruelty

    The Trump administration’s brutal policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border has instigated numerous protests where human rights took to the streets in cities across the U.S. President Trump’s administration confirmed that it had split families who crossed the southern border without immigration documents. Refugees and asylum seekers were cruelly separated from their children, without being told where their kids were being taken, or even when they were going to see them next.

    As a consequence of the painful local news stories that highlight the oppression that parents and children face, brought to light a New York Times piece from a month ago, that looks into the disappearance of 1,500 children that were placed in foster care after attempting to cross the border unaccompanied. According to documents reviewed by the American Civil Liberties Union, those children were the victims of emotional and physical abuse, and the U.S. government ”has failed to provide adequate safeguards and humane detention conditions for children in CBP custody.” Customs and Border Protection denies the allegations, claiming that the ACLU report is ”unfounded and baseless”.

    Trump’s own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is the one who implemented this inhumane child-separation policy. Sessions claims that“If you’re smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.” This would, according to the Trump administration, put an end to the ”catch and release” policy, that allows families that seek asylum to stay together while they wait.

    This outrageous policy has been widely criticized, not only by Democratic lawmakers like Kamala Harris but also by civil-rights advocates. In spite of all the concern regarding this uncalled-for measure, Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, nonchalantly brushed off all concern, saying that the children separated from their families would be taken care of and ”put into foster care or whatever.” While I understand that illegal immigration is not an answer and should not by any means be accepted as there are immigrants that bring children with them and claim to be the parent hoping that this will spare them from detention, there is NO excuse for brutalizing children and tearing families apart.

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    What To Do If You’re In A Toxic Friendship

    At some point in your life, you may find yourself in what would be called a “toxic friendship”. Or perhaps you’ve already been in one. What I’ve found is that a lot of people know when they’re in a toxic or abuse relationship, and realise that they need to end it, but a toxic friendship may not be as hard to identify or end. This may be because this person, this “friend” has been here for you through a lot of things, or you have been friends for a long time, or just because friend breakups can hurt a lot more than romantic breakups sometimes.

    It can be hard to notice that someone in your life is toxic, but here are a few things that could be a sign:

    • They constantly put you down, about your appearance, weight, personality etc
    • They talk about you behind your back
    • They’re resentful or openly jealous of your successes
    • They lack empathy
    • Their criticism isn’t constructive, it’s just to put you down
    • They’re self centered
    • They don’t put effort into the friendship – you’re the only one trying
    • They judge you for anything
    • They’re stubborn and won’t compromise
    • They don’t commit to plans or let you down last minute

    It can be hard when you realise that one of your friends, or people that you hang around with has one or more of the traits on this list. But if/when you do, you need to sit down with yourself and remember that it is completely okay for you to let go of this person, that it isn’t selfish – it’s healthy. You don’t need toxic people in your life, you need people that support you, and lift you up.

    So, how do you let go of this person? It can be hard, but these are some steps that you can follow, to make sure that you are getting rid of anyone that you don’t need in your life.

    • Remove them from your social medias.

    I know that this one can be a really hard thing to do, especially as everyone is so interested in their social media nowadays. But if you keep following that person, when you see their posts, you will miss them, or want to message them, and if they’re bad enough for you to need to cut them out of your life, then still keeping up with their social media is not a good idea.

    • Stop talking to them in person.

    This can be especially hard if you’re at school or work with this person, but you need to stop talking to them in person, otherwise you will never stop them being in your life. Stop hanging around with them, whether that’s at school/work/whatever, or outside of those activities.

    • Surround yourself with positive people who care about you.

    You need to make sure that all the other people who are still in your life support you and want the best for you. When you are hurting, you need people who lift you up, not shoot you down.

    • Talk to other people – your healthy friendships and relationships.

    You’re going to want to talk to this person and tell them that you’re hurting, because you’re most likely fairly dependent on them. But you need to talk to the other people in your life who are not toxic for you, or hurting you in any way, to make sure that you’re not running back to this toxic person. Let another friend or family member know how you are feeling, and have them remind you how good this is going to be for you in the long run.

    • Know that it is in no way selfish.

    It is not selfish or wrong to take care of yourself and make sure that you are being treated how you deserve to be treated. You have most likely been made to feel pretty bad about yourself by this toxic person, so you need to remind yourself that you are wonderful and deserve to be happy.

    • Know that it’ll hurt, but you will be okay.

    It’s going to be pretty awful, letting go of someone who you really care about, but if you’re doing it, it must be for the best. I had to do it a few years ago with someone who meant a lot to me, and it really really hurt at the time. Now, I thank my past self for doing it, because otherwise I would have been stuck with this person in my life, when they weren’t good for me.

    If you are needing to cut someone out of your life, have strength, and remember that you deserve happiness, and to be treated like you are an amazing person, because you are.

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    Developing Countries Should Not Be Punished for Global Warming

    With every tree cut down, the world is growing more and more concerned. We are slowly starting to realize the unavoidable price of destroying mother nature. The conversation around global warming is getting more and more substantial among us with each passing day. The Paris Climate Accord is one of the most common examples of global initiatives taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is a global action plan designed to reduce climate change by keeping the global warming average below 2ºC. So far, 195 countries have signed onto it.

    Another example is the carbon tax. There are a lot more disputes when it comes to this. Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada to not sign onto it, although the federal government has refused to let Saskatchewan back away from the carbon pricing plan, and the efforts of the government to enforce this will see the province fight the carbon tax in court. According to Premier Moe, “If we want to address what is a global challenge […] in climate change, we need to start talking about carbon emissions on a global basis.”

    He is not the only one pointing his finger at other nations. I have heard many who believe countries with higher emissions should pay more for global warming. The common argument is always: why should we be paying more when countries such as China have a greater carbon dioxide emission? This portrayal of victimization from developed countries such as Canada and United States not only diverts attention from the main issue but also hurts developing nations.

    China and India were among the top ten emitters of greenhouse gases in 2015. Does that mean they should be held accountable to the same standards as the United States and Canada? Definitely not. A crucial detail that is many times overlooked in simple tables like these is the population of these countries. China and India have the highest population in the world. Compared to the U.S. and Canada’s population, these countries are bound to have a higher emission rate.

    This portion of the numbers is usually ignored by people who aim to avoid gaining credit for their own choices. Per capita, we have a much higher carbon emission rate. China’s per capita rate is half of Canada and America’s. Should India have to pay more because their emission is high? Their per capita rate is 10% that of U.S.

    North America should be held to higher standards when it comes to global warming simply because they have contributed more to global warming. Since 1850, the U.S. and the countries currently making up the European Union have been responsible for more than 50% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

    There’s a fundamental inequality when it comes to global emissions. A lot of wealth in richer countries has come from burning fossil fuels, yet as the poorer countries are trying to do the same to grow their economy, they are being looked down upon.

    Outsourcing is also a critical issue. During the early 2000s, these “emissions transfers” were growing at a stunning pace, nearly 11 percent per year, as more and more Western manufacturing was shifting to Asia. Factories making computers, electronics, apparel, and furniture would close in the U.S., open up in China, and then ship their products back home to the U.S. The Global Carbon Project found that wealthy OECD countries consumed more than they committed within their borders.

    Complaining about how everything is made in places like China and India do not justify the want to not owning up to damaging choices. Don’t just look at where the product is made, look at the brand and where it is based.

    Photo credit: Pexels

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    Waiting for Summer

    After two long weeks of finals and AP test, I am more than ready for summer vacation. My summers mostly consist of eating as much ice cream as possible, hanging outside in the 115 degree Arizona heat, and watching new summer blockbusters. I’m especially excited for Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom and Ocean’s 8. The end of the year cannot come quick enough!

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    From Hate to Love

    The things i hated

    were just because you liked them.

    I gave up my opinions,

    just so you wouldn’t argue with me

    over something so small.

    I don’t want to think of you when I see

    something I used to hate

    because after all, you’re the one that

    made me see the worst in everything..

    and eventually in the one person that was my everyone.

     

    Image courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/majorlazor/17000199192

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    On the Intense Gender Norms That Support the Korean Music Industry

    Feature Image: TWICE top, iKON bottom

    K-Pop is seen by most of the outside world as the South Korean take on the Western fad of boy and girl singing groups (see NSYNC, Destiny’s Child) during the 90s, while in fact that is truly not the case. In fact, having that sort of mentality is extremely toxic in and of itself. No, K-Pop groups are not American-wannabes; while influence in the west is all well and good, it is not the final goal of any group.

    That’s besides the point, though. What I’d much rather get into at this time is the nature of said music groups, that being the reluctance of Korean artists to form co-ed groups, straying from the norm of girl/boy groups. For girl groups, what is typically received best by (primarily male) audiences is a cute, childish, and soft theme among their songs, dances, and music videos. As for boy groups, just about the opposite is what’s popular among their (primarily female) fans, that being a more dark and sexy, if not cool and laid-back concept.

    We’ll look at two examples. Two of the most popular groups in Korea at this time; girl group TWICE and boy group iKON.

    jy-park-twice

    TWICE released their first album, THE STORY BEGINS, in October of 2015 with title track “OOH-AHH하게”. The music video for the song features the nine members dressed in up in varying degrees of cuteness, ranging from a cheerleader to a schoolgirl. They dance around and in a grotesque-looking building resembling a school, countless zombies scattered about. Their bubbly dance moves contrast the intense setting, as well as their glowing smiles.

    (A/N) As mentioned, this video does send extremely conflicting messages about it being either cute or sexy (as seen in their random costuming), but the undeniable fact is that the song sounds, plainly, cute.

    ikon

    In May of 2017, seven-piece iKON released their first mini-album, NEW KIDS : BEGIN with title track “BLING BLING”. The music video begins with a sweeping shot of the dark outlines of the seven members standing, feet placed uncomfortably far apart in an ultra-masculine stance. Their dancing begins with them thrusting their bottom halves towards the camera. In fact, most of the dancing in the video involves forceful mo

    vements of their hips in all directions. The bulk of the video features a number of the members (every member, as far as I could tell) rapping or singing from the hood of an expensive-looking car.

    In all honesty, the only way to truly understand the overwhelming masculinity of the video is to watch it yourself. I don’t think I, or any writer, could do it true justice. Overall, the song’s heavy beats and raps leave you with the impression that it is by boys.

    It all boils down to what the market wants; if what the Korean market wants is intense  and distinct gender themes and roles, then that is what it wants. But, that speaks to much deeper problems in South Korea.

    Korean culture can be considered more conservative than that of the United States; being gay is extremely taboo and resented, primarily due to unfamiliarity; openly gay Koreans are few and far between.

    A few Korean music companies have ventured beyond the norm with co-ed groups such as K.A.R.D and Triple H, both of whom are received with rather mixed feelings in Korea, but both have respectable followings in countries such as Indonesia, Mexico, and the United States.

    The immediate future of K-Pop groups seems bleak, the idea enforced every time a company debues another cute, bubblegum pop girl group or another hip-hop boy duo. Until the current co-ed groups experience an explosion in popularity, the norms will remain the same.

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    Dreams

    Think about the life you wanted to live

    When you were young and had a dream

    A dream that seemed so mesmerizing

    So great

    So peaceful

     

    But imagine yourself now

     

    Laying in bed

    Laying on the table

    Lying

     

    You’re lying to yourself

    That dream you wanted so bad

    It’s gone

    This isn’t the dream you had

     

    No one dreams about laying awake at night

    Hoping that god will finally look out for you

    Especially when you never even talk to god unless you have no one else to ask

     

    No one dreams about crying about relationships

    When heartbreaks turn into

    Something that really can’t be fixed

     

    And somehow you live with the anger

    Someone lit inside you

     

    So now you live with hopelessness

    And dreams that are void of existence

     

    Oh baby

    You are so much better than that

     

    You had so many dreams

    Don’t let them slip away

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    Dancing In The Rain

    Thunder claps in the distance as an audience

    while the rain keeps a beat on the ground and my soul,

    My ghagra, a river of a thousand unspoken words

    twirl around the starts and dust specks of outer space,

    Waiting to be heard by the ears of the divine

    gratitude and grace accompany my movements,

    The wind and my ghoomar an indestructible force

    weaving patterns so melodious even the gods’ blush,

    As devotion takes over my body and my heart my dance

    I hope the goddesses who blessed me with the gift are watching . . .

     

     

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    Pac-Man Café in Hawai’i

    Starting from March 20 to May 31, Bread & Butter Island Café teamed up with Bandi Namco Entertainment, the makers of Pac-Man and transformed the whole café retro. I decided to have a look at it myself and it was amazing. The whole vibe of this theme will have Pac-Man fans shaken. There are about eight main dishes that incorporate Pac-Man and the Ghosts. For every Pac-Man dish ordered, a special token is given to them which allows them to play the actual arcade version of Pac-Man. The whole set up was full of color and the vibrant lights worked well together. Bred * Butter Island Café is located at 1585 Kapiolani Blvd #110, Honolulu, HI 96814. From now on to the end of May, the Pac-Man theme will remain. So, head down there and get a bite of this excitement before it’s too late!

    Pac-Man Garlic Shrimp 

    Ghost Loco Moco

    Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

     

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    How To Be A LGBT+ Ally

    It’s 2018, not being homophobic no longer deserves a gold star. It’s time for the people who identify as straight (myself included) to step up and help in the LGBT+ communities fight for equal rights. If you’re interested in being a better ally (which you should be) read on

    To start with one of the most important and obvious thing is that you try to stand up against bullying and discrimination towards people in the LGBT+ community face daily, in being straight we have a privilege that many just do not have therefore we need to use it to make our LGBT+ friends, family and every member has a safe, happy lifestyle.

    We also need to listen and happy to listen, as someone who identifies as straight, I do not have the same discrimination a LGBT+ person this means I have never experienced the vile homophobia LGBT+ people have therefore I need to learn and try to understand the problems LGBT+ people face without passing them off as unimportant or lesser than my own

    It’s vital that we are totally inclusive, invite you LGBT+ friends to do activities with your friends and family, if you have friends and family that are homophobic stop using it as an excuse to not invite LGBT+ people and start using it as a reason to make new friends or try to help them form new, intelligent opinions. Make sure to tell people who use accidental or purposeful homophobic language how wrong it is

    To conclude, we must use our privilege for power and stand with all LGBT+ members in the face of discrimination, you can also try to find out more about LGBT+ charities and donate or volunteer your time!

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    Loss

    What is a loss?

     

    Is it a friend you lose as distance crept into the relationship?

    Is it the boy you love who up and leaves?

    Is it your grandparents leaving you without a warning?

     

    A loss is a loss

    A friend

    A significant other

    A family member

     

    And even

    A house

     

     

    It is 4 am

    And instead of sleeping

    You are looking for passports

     

    Because instead of waking up

    To the pounding of an alarm

    You woke up to the pounding of the cops

     

    1 minute

    You have 1 minute to leave this house

    You have 1 minute to leave this home

     

    The flames

    They are coming

     

    And they are showing no mercy

    They are burning anything in their path

     

    And while you want to surrender

    And tell the flames that they win

     

    That losing a home

    Is just as bad as any other loss

     

    The flames did not come to listen

     

    It is 7 am

    And you are calling your daughter

     

    With tears from defeat

    For the flames have won

     

    And all she can do is

    Listen

     

    Listen to the tears of a man

    Who has been burnt out

     

    Because not only did the flames

    Take away a house, but a home

     

    A home with memories

    That took hard work to be able to happen

    When your loved ones are 700 miles away

     

     

    What is a loss?

     

    It is a person

    It is a tangible item

    It is memories

     

    It requires recovery

    Time

    Strength

    It is unfair and brutal

    And it will beat you to the bones

    Until you are so fragile

    All you can do is break

     

    So remember

    A loss is a loss

     

    For everyone breaks

    Whether you lose

    A friend

    A significant other

    A family member

     

    Or a home

     

    ~Tubbs Fire, 2017~

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    This Man’s Story Proves That Prejudice Still Exists

    Rory McGuire is 24 years old, and from Ayr, in Scotland. For practically all of his life, he has experienced bullying because of a facial deformity – a vascular birthmark that covers his lip.

    At the young age of 6, Rory felt he was “different”, and even as a child was subjected to comments such as “sausage face”, “how can you look in a mirror at that?”, “you’re so ugly”, “you look like an alien” and even “kill yourself”. However, he says it reached its worst during his teenage years, saying, “this is it – this is how life is going to be and I just have to deal with it”.

    He says that his friends didn’t realise the extent of the torment, and he didn’t tell his parents about a lot of it.

    Rory has survived over 20 surgeries to try to correct his birthmark, as well as blogging his experience of the abuse, and now has gained enough confidence to stand up for others with a facial disfigurement, in the hope that they won’t be treated the same way.

    He supports the Changing Faces campaign, which began in 1992, and works to help those with a facial disfigurement to live the lives that they deserve, without living in fear of being verbally or physically abused, harassed, restricted or rejected. He hopes that through this campaign, and through hearing his experience, people will become more accepting and less prejudice of others because of their looks.

    He said, “I am happy to be the face of a campaign that is all about making a difference and stop other people having the experience I had when I was younger. If I can help as many people as I can then that is my goal. For me, none of it is acceptable and if someone is being put down to the point they just can’t cope with it any more than they should feel there is help out there.”

    He encourages anyone with a facial disfigurement to report any abuse towards them or others as a hate crime, in the hope that the police will respond.

    Rory’s story is heartbreaking, and shows that in this world, people are still not fully accepting of others. Prejudice still exists, but we need to break it down, so that children with a facial disfigurement do not receive the same treatment that Rory McGuire did. No one deserves to feel worthless because of others, and especially not because of their appearance.

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    This Famous Rugby Team Is Supporting The LGBT+ Community In An Amazing Way

    While the sport definitely isn’t as popular here in the states, rugby is by far the most dominant sport in New Zealand. It’s kinda like NZ’s version of soccer and football, combined into one. Needless to say, the commercials for rugby teams is widespread and exciting for viewers throughout the country. Two of the top rugby teams in the country, The All-Blacks and the Black Ferns, are using this platform for good.

    Earlier today, the All-Blacks and Black Ferns teamed up with their popular sponsor AIG Japan to start a campaign that challenges discrimination against and promotes acceptance of the LGBT+ community.

    To mark this campaign, the rugby teams released a two-minute video with an important message. The clip starts with the teams entering a stadium in Osaka, Japan, preparing for what seems to be just another ordinary rugby match. Then the narrator reveals the twist:

    “The next battle is different.

    The next enemy is truly formidable and deeply devious. It is discrimination – an enemy that cannot be fought alone and must be defeated together.

     It will take more than 15 – it will take thousands – millions”

     

    The All-Blacks and Black Ferns are then shown linking up together on the field as a united front, with a rainbow appearing on their jerseys (the camera also cuts back and forth to fans in the stadium waving pride flags).

    What’s even cooler is that the rainbow’s appearing on the jerseys isn’t just a fancy video effect; rather, the All-Blacks and Black Ferns have actually adopted a uniquely designed jersey that reflects a rainbow when the fabric is stretched. The jerseys were created by using ribbed material and painting the rainbow stripes on both sides.

    “The result is a fabric that maintains its black appearance when at rest, but when stretched, reveals the deeper grooved portions of each rib and the colours underneath,” TBWA/Hakuhodo (the agency that helped develop the campaign) explained in a statement.

    The campaign surfaces in the wake of a rugby player’s homophobic remarks. Earlier this month, Israel Folau of the Australian International Rugby Union Team commented on his Instagram page: “[God’s plan for gay people is] HELL…Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”

    Folau has since denied he is homophobic, but rather he was “trying to save gay people from eternal damnation”whatever that means.

    Watch the All-Blacks and Black Fern’s campaign video here.

     

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    Compare and Contrast

    All people do with writing is compare love to beauty or sadness to disaster. Why can’t we include contrasting feelings with objects or moments? Why is it so uncommon to be the one to write about “comparing” someone or feelings for someone to something that it actually isn’t? Why don’t we write about not only what is, but also what isn’t? I can tell you that you are not the heat of the flame’s tip, but the burning of the base. I can tell you that the way I feel about you is new, unlike the past of all individuals, unlike the history of this world. You are not the war and the violence found within the textbooks we read in school. In fact, you are peaceful, beautiful, like the fields of flowers from all over this place in which we live. Our lives are not meant for others, they are, though, meant to be lived to the fullest. We are not meant to throw our lives away stressing over jobs and politics. We are meant to love hard and laugh loud. We are meant to waste small moments and live in bigger ones. We are not meant to only compare, because not only is everything similar to something else, but it all has its own opposite.

     

     

    Image courtesy of: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/343681015307039693/?lp=true

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    Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” – What It Means and Why

    Released on Saturday, May 5th, Childish Gambino’s new single “This Is America” has become an online sensation. Packed with messages and commentary regarding mass shootings, police brutality, white supremacy, gun violence, and pop culture, Gambino sends a message to audiences to “not be caught slippin” and remain undistracted from America’s unreconciled issues with gun violence and willful ignorance.

    The video starts with a Black man sitting down to play the guitar in a warehouse before it cuts to the same man being shot by Gambino, his body quickly discarded as Gambino begins to dance. Although the person is dragged away, the gun is cradled immediately and carefully removed from the scene. Gambino continues to dance, ignoring the bloodshed behind him. As the camera focuses on him, he freezes at times and looks at the audience with “crazy eyes”, exaggerating his movements as he positions his body in peculiar angles and widens his eyes. This is an imitation of a Jim Crow caricature, implying that black people are still only recognized in pop culture as dancers and entertainers rather than multifaceted individuals. It’s important to notice that none of the dancers get killed, and as they continue to act on popular dances (from BlocBoy JB to the Gwara Gwara), various youth pull out their phones to record their dancing rather than acknowledging the various acts of violence going on around them.

    The video continues as more and more chaos unfolds, with references to the Charleston shooting and Black Lives Matter protests; Gambino pulls out a semi-automatic rifle and guns down an all-Black church choir without blinking an eye, and ignores the burning and explosion of a police car.

    Every single time someone is killed, the same thing happens – a gun is carefully discarded (by unseen individuals) as the bodies are left behind. By now, multiple cars have been set on fire and policemen have arrived on the scene. Men and women continue to flee the warehouse as the violent acts increase, however the black dancers remain unbothered and continue to distract themselves (and the audience) from the reality around them.

    One theme that remains absent is that of expensive foreign cars and mixed-race models like most hip-hop music videos – instead, the parking lot is filled with old, used cars, representing the reality in which most Americans actually live in and how “wealth” is subjective. The only woman we see on the hood of the car is SZA, who watches Gambino dance towards the very end of the video.

    The lyrics: “You just a Black man in this world, You just a barcode, ayy” repeat as the video cuts to Gambino fleeing the scene with a frantic look on his face.

     

     

     

     

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    Learning Languages – Here’s Why I Think It’s Important

    A lot of high schools now have made learning languages mandatory, at least for the first few years. My school, in particular, is a language school, so for the first three years of high school, I had to study two languages, and I studied Spanish and French, and later chose to continue Spanish to a higher level.

    However, something that I’ve noticed is that a lot of students at my school don’t enjoy learning another language, or think that it isn’t important. I thought I’d share why I think it is important, but before I start, I’m not saying that it has to be mandatory, I’m just saying that I think people should realize how speaking another language can be really important sometimes.

    Firstly, we live in a multicultural society, in which many people leave their home countries, for various reasons. This means that just because I live in England, it is not guaranteed that everyone I meet will speak English fluently, or even know English. A study shows that in 2015, foreign-born people made up 41% of inner London’s population – and that’s just one city. There are up to a few million people living in the UK who weren’t originally born in the UK, or their family wasn’t originally born in the UK.

    Another thing is that speaking a different language can make going on holiday to a foreign country much easier, and more interesting. If you travel to Spain, for example, but don’t know Spanish, of course, you can still have a great time, but it’ll be easier if you know the language. If you know the native language of the country that you’re visiting, you will be able to communicate with workers in shops and , restaurants, and ask people for directions, etc. This will overall mean that your trip is easier, as you will know how to talk to people, and so will probably more fun!

    And lastly, learning a language can be really fun! I love learning about how different languages structure their sentences, or how their grammar works. I think it’s really cool that I can say things like “Hello, my name is Phoebe” (“Hola, me llamo Phoebe”) or “I don’t like Maths” (“no me gustan las matemáticas”) in Spanish. I also find the culture parts of my Spanish lessons really interesting – in England, we don’t have festivals other than music festivals, but in Spain, they have really interesting festivals that take place every year, and I think they’re really beautiful. Without learning Spanish, I wouldn’t have known about these festivals in detail.

    So, overall, I think everyone should try and learn at least one language other than their native language in their lifetime, as being bilingual can have lots of benefits!

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    What is Rape Culture? An Examination on How Our Society Works

    Trigger warning: mention of rape and other sexual violence.

    As we look at what’s going on today, there’s no question that our society is a society of rape culture. With the victim-blaming of women that stand up for themselves after they’ve been sexually assaulted, we know that our society does not treat men and women equally. Of course, we say that, but what does rape culture actually mean, and how does it make its way into our own lives?

    Rape culture is a term created by feminists in the 1970s to show the ways in which society blames women for sexual assault and normalizes male sexual violence. According to Emilie Buchwald, author of Transforming a Rape Culture, rape culture is defined as “a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm… In a rape culture, both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable… However, much of what we accept as inevitable is, in fact, the expression of values and attitudes that can change.”

    So, now that we have an understanding of what rape culture is, let’s focus on the next question: how does rape culture affect us?

    Rape culture begins with a normalization of sexist attitudes. There are the comments of “boys will be boys”, victim blaming, rape jokes, “locker room talk”, and unequal pay. Then, the aggression goes up, moving to degradation with stalking, unsolicited nude photos, catcalling, revenge porn, and non-consensual photos. Then, there’s the removal of autonomy by threatening, dosing, sexual coercion, groping, safe word violations, and condom removal during sex. Explicit violence is the next phase, which includes gang rape, murder, molestation, rape, and violence.

    So how can we get rid of rape culture? Well, it’s not going to be easy. We have to create an environment that treats victims of sexual assault with respect and dignity, but how do we do that?

    We have to become educated on women’s issues. We have to educate other people on women’s issues. We have to talk to each other, even if it’s uncomfortable. As a society, it is our responsibility to become aware of what’s happening with the people who are being attacked daily. We have to care about what happens with women. If we don’t, then rape culture will survive, it will thrive, and women will continue to not be believed and face even more sexual violence at the hands of men.

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    8 Reasons Why Standardized Testing Is Not a Fair Measure of Brilliance

    For more than 6 months, each Wednesday my ACT tutor has sat with me at my dining room table teaching me to guess the same letter when I run out of time, and how to get around reading passages by looking at the answer choices first. In other words, how to beat the test at its own game. On one hand, this strategy is what is getting me closer to the score that will get me in the running for my top schools. Yet, at the same time, I spend my free time figuring out how to beat a test rather than learning anything that will benefit my life.

    1. “Winning” this game is based greatly on economic status. Tutoring companies can cost upwards of $200 for a single session. Prep Scholar reports that “ACT scores correlate strongly with parental income. This means that students with wealthy parents are more likely to do well on the ACT.”

    2. The test requires a regurgitation of information that will never be used again. This expands on this reoccurring idea that this test is simply spewing out information, that students with the “best” tutors will excel on. Not only does this add to discrepancies in test scores, but it shows colleges who is most capable of spitting out information- information that does not measure a student’s success.

    3. The tears never end and often, this does not lead to desired scores. On top of AP and honors classes in which success is measured based on hard work, which translates into positive grades, time junior year is limited. Students spend an absurd amount of emotional energy being put down repeatedly by scores that do not reflect practicing every day and doing all that is in their power.

    4. Upwards of one million student’s take the exact same test each year. If the human brain is not fully developed until age 25, and still then no two people are alike, how can two utterly different students be expected to think and respond to the same questions and both reach a level of success? Student 1 wants to be a doctor. Student 2 wants to be an artist. Both need to know if line 4 should be placed before line 3, after line 5, or stay where it is.

    5. I am creative. This test does not test creativity. I am “street smart.” This test does test smarts outside of the ability to fill in a small bubble with a number two pencil. Standardized tests do not test anything outside of English and Mathematics, denying millions of students with alternate strengths the opportunity to excel. Too many colleges preach that at their core, they look at the “whole student.” However, in reality, letting a score on a standardized test define one’s worthiness and acceptance into a college is belittling and inaccurate.

    6. There is a large difference between knowledge (what we know) and wisdom (the application of what we know). Standardized testing focuses simply on knowledge, but does not include any form of wisdom which is eventually what will lead to success. After I will have taken the dreadful test four times, I can guarantee both colleges and my tutor, that knowing how many hamsters Juaquim tested in his experiment, will no longer cross my mind. Ever again.

    7. The word “standardized” is too often construed. As a result of extra time and some student’s ability’s to even take these tests over a course of several days, scores are skewed and different students are given advantages,  creating a highly uneven playing field (something these tests preach). While extra time is a necessity for some that I do in fact believe should be offered, those with learning disabilities even with extra time find great difficulty in these formats of the test.

    8. Test anxiety is a very real thing. I know that I know how many different outfit options Shawn has (a classic math section question). However, under the stress of sitting in a room with more than a dozen other nervous teens where the kid in the front row won’t stop shaking his leg,  Jackie in the left corner has bronchitis, and Jole won’t stop sniffling, I may very well be distracted, and circle B when I really know the answer is C. There is a different kind of air when walking into one these test centers, where the level of stress being omitted from every corner truly reflects scores and the ability to properly think.

    I do not have another “good” means of testing students nor a form that is necessary for colleges to limit the number of applications that can be read. I do however know for a fact that me, and the people I surround myself with, are a hell of a lot smarter than any number can reflect.

     

     

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    Interview with Instagram’s ”Catcalls of NYC”

    I’ve been following Sophie on @catcallsofnyc through Instagram for a year or two before deciding to reach out to her for an interview. She willingly and happily agreed to a set of 6 questions answered through email. My thanks to Sophie for being kind enough to allow this interview to happen!

    What is @catcallsofnyc?

    @catcallsofnyc is an Instagram account that collects stories of street harassment and circulates them through public spaces — the street and social media — by turning the words into colorful chalk art on the sidewalks of NYC.

    When did you start @catcallsofnyc?

    I started @catcallsofnyc on March 29th, 2016 — a little bit over two years ago.

    What drove you to start @catcallsofnyc?

    Growing up in New York City, I experienced catcalling from a young age and I hated it. Most of the comments I received were so-called “compliments”— like “Hey, Sexy,” “Good morning Beautiful” and these made me extremely uncomfortable because I had no idea how to respond. Should I say thank you? Or smile? Usually, I just kept walking with my head down.  As I continued to grow up in NYC, I became more and more frustrated.  No one was talking about catcalling, and if they did they would mainly chalk it up to an annoyance — something you just have to deal with.  But for me, it was more than just annoying. It affected how I felt walking down the street — sometimes it made me feel like not even going outside, or avoiding all men on the street (which is impossible) or changing what I was wearing to not provoke any comments (but that never worked either).  I decided to start @catcallsofnyc as a way to draw attention to this problematic behavior and how prevalent it is. I wanted people walking down the street to see the words that were being used to catcall. I also wanted to give the people facing harassment a place to share their stories to help them feel that they are not alone.

    What was your first experience with catcalling?

    My first experience with catcalling was at 15 years old. I had a job downtown at a bakery.  It was my first day and I had decided to get dressed up in a lavender dress and sandals.  On the half mile walk from the subway stop to the bakery, approximately 10 men catcalled me. I was so taken aback by each comment. I had no idea how to respond. These comments made me feel so uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt like everyone was watching me and judging my appearance. Each block felt like a new hurtle and every man felt like a threat. The worst part about this experience was that I was completely unequipped to deal with it. No one had told me about catcalling so I didn’t know what was going on.  I felt like it was my fault — I thought my dress must be too short, or too low-cut. I didn’t realize that this happened all the time so I assumed I was the one provoking this behavior.

    What is it like when you’re chalking? Do you experience negativity or positivity?

    I experience both positivity and negativity when I’m chalking. I often have women come up to me and say things like “Wow, this is really powerful” or “This sounds really familiar, thanks for drawing attention to this.” These responses are extremely encouraging. I’ve had men come up to me, and they are often so surprised that people actually say these things. It’s hard for them to believe how vulgar and extreme these comments are because they’ve never heard anything like it before. I clarify that these comments are very real — as unbelievable as they might seem. I try to talk to them about how widespread the issue is and encourage them to intervene if they see something happening.

    The most negative responses I’ve received are from people who are appalled that I would be writing such disgusting things on the sidewalk — sometimes people even call it vandalism. They are upset that I am writing inappropriate words in spaces where children might see them. Sometimes, they say what I’m doing is disgusting.  They don’t realize that I am trying to raise awareness about what has already been said. In my opinion, we should teach children about catcalling, rather than shielding them from it. If we teach young people about catcalling, they will be able to deal with it in better ways when they get older.

    Ironically, I’ve also had men catcall me when writing the chalk. One man even persistently tried to get my number and got angry when I walked away. He certainly didn’t get the point of the project. Overall, chalking can be exciting and a great way to talk to people about the issue of street harassment. But it can also lead to these complicated situations.

    Do you have any future plans or goals for your Instagram page?

    One of my goals for the Instagram page is for it to prompt people all around the world to start “catcallsof” accounts — and that’s happening right now. People are starting accounts all over the world — from Massachusetts to Mexico to Morocco. I’m so happy that my account inspired people in other places to raise awareness about street harassment.

    Another goal I have for the Instagram page is to start collaborating with other feminists, activists, and artists.  I want to start new collaborative art projects about social issues — not limited to street harassment. There are many other contemporary issues — like gun violence, sexual violence, police brutality etc. I would be interested in teaming up with other people to draw attention to these issues in creative and public ways.

    What advice do you have for women and men being catcalled in the streets?

    Know you’re not alone. Being catcalled can feel like an isolating experience. To combat this, it’s good to talk to friends about your experience or message me on @catcallsofnyc. Sharing your story of harassment is a powerful thing. At the moment, it can be hard to respond to the person who catcalled you. It’s easy to feel powerless and silenced.  By sharing your story, you have power to slowly change the normalization of catcalling. By speaking up, you can contribute to changing the culture that has accepted catcalling for so long.

    Who is your biggest activist inspiration?

    I am inspired by so many activists. Tatyana Fazlalizadeh started the art series Stop Telling Women to Smile to combat street harassment. She draws portraits of women with a caption that speaks directly to the offender. This project was part of my inspiration in starting @catcallsofnyc. Emily May started the global nonprofit, Hollaback!, that seeks to combat harassment worldwide by sharing stories and conducting bystander intervention training. These women are just a few who inspire me with the amazing work they’re doing.

     

    Featured Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bg_v_B-H-6c/ (@catcallsofnyc Instagram page)

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    Cambridge- A City of Aspiration

    This month, I was lucky enough to visit the City of Cambridge with my school. As well as being home to the 31 colleges of Cambridge University, one of the most renowned and prestigious universities in the world, the town is steeped in centuries of rich history and famous figures, from Stephen Hawking to Lord Byron. If you are lucky enough to join the tourists, or even the students, below are my recommendations for the best things to do, as well as some of my photos where I tried to capture the city’s stunning, ancient architecture.

    Go on a guided tour- For a town with so much history, much of it is tricky to spot. Every other wall likely housed a scientific discovery of huge importance in the past. The only way to truly discover Cambridge’s hidden secrets is to invest in a town tour. For example, this golden clock on the main street is actually an art installation, designed to hardly ever read the correct time- in order to remind us of our impending deaths. Cheerful. But hey, it’s British history- for anyone taking a tour who lives outside of Britain, I’d say prepare yourself, our history can be pretty wild!

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    The cheerful death clock

    Be an early bird- My favourite memory of the trip was waking up too early and deciding to head out with some friends for a walk. Strolling by the silent river as the sun rose, surrounded by towering chapels and rolling green spaces gave us all a sense of peace and space to stop and breathe in the hectic two days. Also, for any other photographers, its the perfect time to snap some photos minus the crowds of tourists. If you’re lucky enough to head out on a warm summers day, the early morning is the best time for it.

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    Early mornings by the riverside
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    Quiet punting boats

    Visit the colleges- Of course, as well as punting down the river, touring the colleges is the main attraction for Cambridge tourists. This doesn’t mean that it’s overrated, however- standing in the grounds of such genius can increase your IQ by up to 20 points (citation needed). Beautiful architecture is another attraction of the colleges- in the main tourist colleges, King’s and Trinity, the great Gothic chapels and towering libraries never seem to end. I would recommend visiting King’s College Chapel for the whole classic Cambridge experience. But be wary where you walk- the vast majority of grass inside the colleges is forbidden ground except for Cambridge Professors!

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    The twilight interior of King’s College Chapel
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    King’s College Chapel
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    King’s Gatehouse and Chapel
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    King’s Gatehouse
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    Inside King’s!
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    The walls of King’s College Chapel
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    Down by the river!

     

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    King’s College, feat. some Forbidden Grass
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    The intricate ceiling of King’s College Chapel
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    St Johns College Gatehouse

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    Punters on the river

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    Goodbye King’s!
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    Avengers: Infinity War (2018) REVIEW

    Ten years ago, I recall gazing up at the screen where genius-playboy-billionaire-philanthropist Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) was set to the task of navigating himself out of a hostage situation in Afghanistan in Iron Man (2008.) Stark, who canonically has a heart condition and anxiety, was a new breed of character. Despite his arrogant bravado, it was important to see the representation of physical and mental illness on the big screen. At a young age, it was thrilling to see a superhero that suffered a heart disease. I had received open-heart surgery at five months old, and noting the similar scars on his chest was comforting, even if I didn’t have an ‘arc reactor’ of my own. In 2013, I remember sobbing into my hands as Stark had undergone a panic attack- one quite resemblant to the ones that my own anxiety had caused in the past. I knew this character was more than a character to me. A decade later, Marvel released their most ambitious crossover to date: Avengers: Infinity War (2018.)

    *SPOILERS*

    Picking up from the aftermath of Thor: Ragnarok (2017,) the confrontation between the Dark Order, headed by The Mad Titan, Thanos (Josh Brolin,)  looks pretty grim for the “brothers” Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki Laufeyson (Tom Hiddleston.) Loki, who had possessed the Tesseract, one of six Infinity Stones, is pressured to overturn his power in exchange to spare Thor. At first, it seems like the Frost Giant is willing to comply, as the Jotun pronounces himself as “a God of Mischief, son of Odin, prince of Asgard and rightful king of Jotunheim.” The line alone is certainly a drastic character arc, as Loki’s remorseful, loathing nature is displaced for one more resigning and guilty. When he attempts to stab Thanos in his bout of deceit, he is seized and swiftly killed off. The sound of his neck snapping is chilling. We see Thor grieving profusely over his lifeless body, which sets the tone for the film. Hold on tight- this is only within the first five minutes.

    Thor is cast away from the scene, sent to hurdle through the vastness of space before slamming against the windshield of the beloved Guardians of the Galaxy’s ship, where he is quickly harbored in and examined. It’s a pretty enjoyable scene, as Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista,) Gamora (Zoe Saldana,) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) swoon over his physique, despite the jealousy from Peter “Star-Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt.) Pratt is one of the most memorable in this film as his performance ranges from astounding bouts of anger to carefree, waggish nature- which includes his contesting with Thor for attention.

    Cut to Stark and Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow) chatting casually about their “future,” though it doesn’t seem like the couple is on the same page of their engagement. There are hopes that the whole ordeal could fall through.  The scene is short, however, as Dr. Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme (Benedict Cumberbatch,) makes his appearance and demands that Stark come with him. There’s evident between the pair from their get-go, as two intellectuals butt heads continually. It’s amusing, of course, as their similar personalities clash. Dr. Bruce “The Hulk” Banner (Mark Ruffalo) has returned to Earth after his conflicts on Asgard during Thor: Ragnarok. It seems that he’s struggling to harness his anger that produces The Hulk, as his alter-ego refuses to take over on multiple accounts.

    Stark, Banner, and Wong (Benedict Wong) are regrouped with Strange at the New York sanction, where clarification of the rising chaos is made sense of.  The flip-phone in which Captain Steve “America” Rogers (Chris Evans) had given Stark at the end of Captain America: Civil War is put into use, though Tony can’t make the call. Perhaps there’s guilt that hinders him or supposes it may be a trigger for his anxiety. It isn’t clear, but the phone is overturned to Banner, who contacts Rogers in the time of need. Despite his title of “Captain,” Rogers resembles his second alter-ego, Nomad, sporting thick beard, long dark hair, and starless suit. His shield has been replaced with a Wakandan prototype instead of his iconic red-and-white Vibranium one.

    We catch a glance of The Vision (Paul Bettany) and Wanda “Scarlet Witch” Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) as they grow weary of the fate of the Mind Stone that is prominently displayed in The Vision’s forehead, serving as his life source. The use of the thick, Sokovian accent has been abandoned from Maximoff’s character, as her Rumney heritage seems to be erased. It’s obvious that The Vision will die, but it was a surprise to see him die at the hands of his partner.

    As greater teams are assembled, don’t expect to see Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (Jeremy Renner,) Scott “Ant-Man” Lang (Paul Rudd) or Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson.) They’re nowhere to be found, nor even mentioned once. It’s odd, that former partner Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff (Scarlet Johannson) refuses to acknowledge this. The Russian spy is still boring, but this time, with platinum blonde hair chopped into a sharp bob.

    Peter “Spider-Man” Parker (Tom Holland) is thrown into the mix as he is announced to be an Avenger. Innocently, he’s only a child, and his heartbreaking “death” is Holland’s most impressive scene executed yet. It spears into the heartstrings as he turns to Stark, pleading that he wasn’t ready to die, begging for help as his mentor scrambles to save him. It’s a haunting sight when Stark collapses over the ashes that are Parker’s remains, and Downey delivers enough that you can feel the grief, blame, regret, and self-hatred. It’s one of the most emotional and devastating scenes in the movie as a whole.

    The country of Wakanda is opened to outsiders as King “The Black Panther” T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) allies his nation with Rogers and other heroes as they come to retrieve James “Bucky” or “The White Wolf” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) from his rehabilitation. He is rewarded with a new arm as he suffers his second amputation. The arm is impressive, crafted from black Vibranium and accented with flecks of gold. It’s heartwarming to see the reunition of Barnes and Rogers as they reconnect. Don’t cross your fingers too hard- Barnes “dies” once more as he reaches out towards Rogers hopelessly.

    The Russo brothers take an interesting perspective with their villain as Thanos’ angle is more humanized. They include the backstory on the relationship between Thanos and Gamora, which details her adoption and her upbringing by The Mad Titan. Contrary to the in-depth feel that is splashed into the plot, Gamora ends up dead at the hands of her “father.”

    The final battle scene is unfathomably painful. It results in a high body count, as fatalities are surprisingly numerous. When Ruffalo said that “everyone dies,” he wasn’t playing around. There isn’t a “happy ending” for this Avengers film, though it is riveting from start to end-credit scene. Strange, after evaluating every possible outcome in which the war for the gems could end with, which leaves him to self-sacrifice and leave Stark to live. His sacrifice triggers others’ “deaths” as they fall to dust.

    This disheartening film is one of the most impressive installations in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it conquers expectations and claims triumph over filmgoers’ emotions. While it marks the near end of the Avengers, it isn’t a movie to miss as it plays a vital role in the future of the MCU.  It’s powerful, it’s draining, it’s fantastically harrowing.

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    Why You Should Give Instagram a Break, and Soon.

    I don’t remember the last time I met a young person who didn’t have an Instagram account, yet I can recall just yesterday overhearing a group of friends discussing how to get their feeds to “look better”, whatever that means. About three billion people have social media, and it feels like most of us are totally preoccupied with it.

    Now, I’m not bashing Instagram, or any other social media platforms for that matter. I actually find the app quite fun (No matter how irritatingly time consuming it gets…), and most other people would agree! It is almost therapeutic seeing the photos accumulate on your personal page, showcasing the very best moments of your life. Personally, it makes me smile knowing I have such a valuable memory bank in the palm of my hand. I really do like having this highlight reel, but it is the same “highlight” reel concept that is the foundation of all of our potential jealousy. No matter how seemingly embarrassing it is to admit it, Instagram is so very toxic to our self-esteem. How often do you catch yourself mindlessly scrolling through feeds, but secretly wishing you had what they had, looked how they look, traveled where they traveled, be with who they were with, etc,…? The list could almost go on forever. It is sadly ridiculous.

    We can deny it all we want, but the jealousy we accumulate through this app is unbelievable. The Huffington Post wrote that, “…almost half of 18-34 year olds said their various social media feeds made them feel ugly or unattractive, while 30% said it also made them feel lonely.” in an article talking about the negative effects social media has on us. We constantly see artificially perfect things online, but process it all as if it is completely real. This is not okay. The cycle of spending too much time obsessively looking at other people’s pages and then getting unhealthily jealous is draining and alarming.

    I advise all of us to take a break from the Internet community of Instagram because I believe a quality of life is redeemed once you have nothing to compare yourself to. You suddenly have room to finally be content, and this is freeing. So very freeing. Try it out for yourself. Delete the app for a week and see where your mind takes you. Will you continue unnecessarily comparing yourself? Or will you spend some extra time on yourself? Remember, self care is the best care, so make sure to pamper yourself for a change. Forget about the highlight reels you’re bombarded with, and remember life is difficult for anybody, and never perfect, despite the illusions we see online.

    I hope we someday learn to use social media as a tool to see all the good in life, rather than have it as a source of jealousy.

    Featured image via thepinthemapproject.com

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    Red for Ed: Arizona Teachers Protest

    On Thursday, April 26, Arizona educators marched in a sea of red to demand more funding for schools and pay increase. In 97-degree weather 10,000s of teachers, students, and supporters marched to the Arizona Capitol. The movement started a few weeks back. Arizona teachers wore red shirts to school to show their involvement and support towards Red for Ed. They staged walk-ins before school, protesting before 1st period starts. Over these past weeks, teachers organized a strike. So far, many school districts in the Phoenix area have canceled school for the next few days. There is no telling how long this will last.

    Governor Doug Ducey has so far refused to meet with the leaders of Red for Ed, just as he refused to meet with young March For Our Lives protesters weeks prior. He has recently proposed a plan for a 20% teacher pay increase by 2020. However, that proposal has not been acted on in 2 weeks.

    Noah Karvelis and Dylan Wegela are leaders of the Red for Ed movement and listed off these 5 demands at the Thursday Rally:

    1. Education funding to be restored to 2008 levels;
    2. Support staff to receive competitive pay;
    3. Arizona teachers to receive a 20% pay increase;
    4. A permanent salary structure that includes yearly raises;
    5. No new tax cuts until student funding reaches a national average.

    Arizona educators and students will return to the Capitol on Friday to continue the fight for funding.

     

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    Cute Love Cry

    Alone

    How I have missed you,

    solace,

    sweet peace,

    subtle moments of rest,

    nights with enough sleep,

    afternoons of meditation,

    mornings of sun salutations,

    and shady spots under magnolia trees.

    Energy –

    radiating from me

    in shades of violet and navy blue –

    Comfort.

    Unstained.

    Unseen.

    Untouched.

    Sweet peace,

    How I have missed you.

    © Siera Carpenter

    Photo by myself • Siera Carpenter

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    the neighbor’s dog

    0

    For the past week, the dog from across the street has been coming over to my house to play with my three dogs. I’ve seen this dog before, and I haven’t had an issue with him, because my dogs love him and are glad to have another friend to play with. But I go out and meet this dog, and even though I’ve seen him a few times, I have one of the cutest and sweetest dogs I’ve ever seen. Meet Auggie.

    (As of April 27, 2018, Auggie tragically passed away. Rest in peace.)

     

     

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    Paul Ryan: A Frail and Ineffective Leader

    Come next Congressional term, Speaker Paul Ryan will no longer serve in the House of Representatives. Disregarding his reasoning for leaving, Ryan’s tenure as speaker can simply be described in one word: failure.

    I still recall my relatives describing Ryan when he was only beginning to rise the ranks in the House. The combination of Ryan’s young, blue-eyed face and verbal support for family values caused them, along with millions, to admire him. He was viewed as a possible moderate and a nice conservative. Ryan created a reputation for himself as someone who understood normal people.

    On top of that, Ryan’s fiscal-conservative ideals, which sought to slice a large chunk of the country’s debt, aided him drastically in rising to power. He was seen as the “numbers guy.” In 2013, when he was the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan created a 10-year plan that sought to improve the country’s deficit.

    Ryan was seen as an effective, bold lawmaker, something uncommon for politicians to be viewed as. He was golden in so many’s perspective, but now, as the Speaker is spending his last months on Capitol Hill, his actual effect on America has been counter to everything he claims to uphold.

    Under Ryan’s leadership, Republicans were only able to pass one major piece of legislation: their tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. This bill is projected to implode the country’s deficit.

    In view of that fact, Ryan has not had a single achievement in his time as Speaker. The tax cuts he gave away to the rich certainly cannot be looked at as one; it is sinking the country when it comes to the national debt, while barely helping rank-and-file employees.

    According to Newsweek, only 4.3 percent of workers will receive a one-time bonus or pay bump from the bill. Moreover, according to an official from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), foreigners will ultimately receive a large majority of the tax bill’s economic gains.

    When then-candidate Donald Trump won the 2016 election, I was frightened. I thought that with control of both the Executive and Legislative branches, Republicans will surely pass streams of bills. I presumed that, with Ryan’s leadership, the GOP would gut programs that aid the poor and ensure reproductive rights for women.

    But, as I see now, that is not what came about. The Speaker’s incumbency has been everything the Democrats could have dreamt of. Ryan was unable to pass a vast majority of his agenda — even with Republicans controlling all of D.C.

    To the Speaker: I express my gratitude. His frail captaincy is the reason many conservative ideals, which attempt to disadvantage women, the poor and minorities, are not intact. Let us only hope that a future Republican Speaker will be as fruitless as he was.  

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    Finding Yourself

    They always tell you how easy it is to find yourself,

    but what about those kids that search and search and search,

    coming up with what they see as disappointment

    and what we see as an unfinished finding?

    How can we let them think they aren’t someone?

    How do we allow them to walk around with that weight on their shoulders,

    that constant pressure to fit into a certain group or category just so they can have their own label, just so they can announce that they found themselves, even if it isn’t truly what they are meant to be?

    Accept all those on their journey, whether it be finding themselves or enhancing who they already are.

    There is no shame in improvement or in change.

    There is only shame in shaming others.

     

    Image courtesy of: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/finding-yourself-darren-mulvenna-.html

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    How Stormy Daniels Is Trumping The White House

    It is in recent times that the GOP’s greatest opponent is no longer rival nations, and harsh leaders, but one woman who stands up to fight Trump and is clearly winning. Stephanie Clifford, an adult film star known by the name “Stormy Daniels”, has stated that she had an affair with President Trump, and was paid to keep quiet by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen. The story with a plethora of twists and turns has lead to our society being turned into a satire, where the president’s biggest fear is now a woman who spanked him with a magazine.

    Daniels has said that she came out with her story not to play the victim, but to be able to defend herself in a tale where Donald Trump yet again, plays the victim. His resolve can be seen over many tweets regarding Daniels, even going as far as to say the police sketch of the man who threatened her and her child to not release the story about her and Trump, was of a “non-existent man” and a “total con job”. Trump’s irresponsibility and immaturity can be seen by reactions to the scandal as details continue to be released to the public.

    What has resulted from the scandal of Daniels and Trump is public backlash against the both of them, the endless political commentary, as well as the raid of Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels $130,000. Michael Cohen had his office searched by the FBI on April 9th, 2018, to investigate the details of Mr. Cohens Payments to Clifford. The public awaits the result of this search and will sit anxiously awaiting new details on this story until we can finally learn what transpired between the two.

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    How #DenimDay Has Taken Los Angeles By Storm

    Photo credit: cbv.org
    1. In April of 1999, the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing skinny jeans. The justices came to the conclusion that she must have helped get the jeans off, thus implying consent.Women in the Italian Parliament started the movement the following day by wearing jeans in support of the victim. This quickly spread to the United States – more specifically Los Angeles, California. Denim Day has continued ever since.

      The 25th of April is the day where everyone breaks out their pair of skinny jeans or bell bottoms and wears it to work or school, or just out on the town. People have gone from decorating jeans to having full-on parades in solidarity of the victim.

      Denim Day falls in the same category as the #MeToo movement, which has caused a lot of uproar online recently. However, Denim Day is not as widely known. Let’s change that! Spread the word and support all victims of sexual assault by wearing jeans on April 25th. You can even take it a step further by posting about it on social media or peacefully protesting with some friends.

      So, will you be participating in Denim Day?

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    My Journey with Anxiety & Self-Esteem

    For as long as I can remember I have been dealing with anxiety. I have always worried about the tiniest of things and overthought even the most irrelevant stuff. If you’ve ever experienced a full-on panic attack where you felt like you were drowning and couldn’t breathe, or choked on your words because the anxiety was getting the better of you, you know how frustrating and scary it can get. I have constantly tried to hide it, to pretend like it wasn’t there. The fear of failure, of not being able to meet people’s expectations, of not being good enough or smart enough, made me constantly doubt myself and my abilities to accomplish amazing things. It has held me back from being the best version of myself, the one who doesn’t freeze when she’s talking in front of a crowd and the one who is not afraid to voice her opinions loud and clear.

    A lot of people deal with anxiety, some are better at concealing it than others, or, some people, are not even aware of the fact that they are suffering from it. In fact, approximately 18% of the adult population of the United States has it, making it the most common mental illness. I know how hard it can be to admit to it, and it can be even harder to seek help. However, suffering in silence is not the best way to go. I know first hand how awful it can be to have to put up with anxiety, especially as a young adult who is still going through school, which can be particularly confusing and stressful if you’re suffering from it (my anxiety is thriving during exam season.) Dealing with sweating, muscle tension, a fast heartbeat, and hyperventilation during stressful times is no fun, so here’s a couple of things I have personally tried in order to manage my anxiety that have proved to be really helpful:

    1. Talk to someone

    It can be scary to open up to another person and confide in them about something as personal as this. Talk to a parent, a friend, a sibling, a counselor, etc. Anyone. Bottling up your feelings and emotions will only lead to intense breakdowns in the future, so
    try to avoid suppressing your emotions as much as possible.

    2. Meditate

    Find a quiet place where you feel safe and try to quiet your mind for 15-20 minutes every day. Meditating helps lower anxiety, however, it is harder than it sounds, or at least that’s how it was for me. It took me a while to be able to completely be able to free my mind and let go of any negative thoughts running through my head, even if just for a couple of minutes. These are a few meditation techniques that I personally found very helpful.

    3. Write, write, write!

    There is nothing that I find more liberating than writing my feelings down. If you don’t have someone to talk to about how you feel or are not ready to do so, write down your thoughts. It can help put things into perspective and enable you to think of possible solutions.

    4. Get active & go outside!

    Going outside for a walk or a run is bound to lighten up your mood even if you are feeling really down and anxious. Exercising has been scientifically proven that the repetitive action of activities such as running, cycling or walking produce a calming effect that helps take your mind off things.

    I have gotten better, throughout the years, at dealing with my anxiety and low self-esteem, which only fueled my anxiety. I have learned to cope with stressful situations more efficiently and be surer of myself. I have gone from comparing myself to others in my life and feeling like I wasn’t good enough, to realizing that in fact, I am enough. We are all on a journey with twists and turns, rocky moments, and unpaved paths that are only meant to make us stronger. Anxiety can get the best of us, but, we can conquer it. Remember that you’re not alone, ask for help, and trust me, you’ll get through it.

     

     

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    Why You Should Be Allowed to Vote at 16 in the UK

    In most of the UK, the voting age is 18, apart from in Scottish Parliament and local elections, where you can vote at 16. The Welsh Assembly is also considering allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections there, but in England, the government is continuing to keep the voting age at the legal age of adulthood – 18 years old. Personally, I believe that the voting age should be lowered to 16 in all of the UK, and here’s why.

    In the UK, the legal age to consent to sex is 16. This means that you are considered old enough to create a child and become a parent, but not old enough to have a say on what the country that your child will grow up in will be like. Another point that links to this is the idea that 16-year-olds “aren’t mature enough to vote” – if you are mature enough to be allowed to raise a child, another human life, surely you are mature enough to be in a ballot box, right? Maturity levels would most likely rise if younger people were given an opportunity to act like adults, and have a responsibility, instead of being treated like children.

    Also, 16-year-olds can get jobs and work, meaning that they can earn money, and then have to pay taxes. This means that they are contributing to the economy, but they have no say in who decides how their taxes are being used. I don’t know about you, but I think this is kind of unfair. If you’re paying taxes, you should be allowed to have a say in what the government is doing with your money.

    At 16 you can also join the army, risk your life, and train to kill people. At the age of 17, you can learn to drive, and be in control of a potentially dangerous vehicle, which could also kill someone. You can have other people’s lives in your hands, but you can’t say “This is who I want to vote for as Prime Minister”. Where’s the logic in that?

    If you were allowed to vote at 16, it would give more young people a reason to become interested in politics, as well as giving schools a reason to teach politics. A lot of younger people don’t understand what politics is, and how it all works, and I’m not afraid to admit that there are parts of it that I don’t completely understand myself. But if 16-year-olds were allowed to vote, there would be a reason for younger people to learn about it, and decide what they want to happen in the future of their country.

    Overall, it is our future too. Whatever adults vote for, we will most likely live through it for longer than them, and it affects us too. The next generation should have a say in what the future of their country will be. To quote someone I talked to about this recently – “We’re growing up in a country we can’t have a say in”. To me, that’s a scary thought, and I know that it’s a scary thought to many other young people too.

    We’re the next generation, and we want our say.

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    Being Mixed in a World Divided by Race

    I see race and ethnicity as an important aspect of who we are as people, however, notably, not our end-all-be-all. Nonetheless, I do see it as an essential part of our society. Absolutely not for drawing distinctions; simply a part of who we are. Another sense of identity for those lost in the world.

    I was born to a father of Scottish descent and a mother born in South Korea. My mother was adopted from Seoul at a young age, less than two weeks old. Her adoptive parents are Irish and have a close connection to our culture there. My mother’s younger sister was adopted in Germany. The two of them and their parents, my grandparents, spent time in a number of European countries as my grandfather’s stationing in the Army changed, every year or so. To name a few, they stayed in Helsinki, Moscow (in the Soviet Union, interesting tidbit), and Budapest.

    Plainly, my family is white. European, if we’re being technical. But my mother is not. The last time she was in Korea, she was nine. Nor does she speak a single word of the language. As I am my mother’s daughter, I am Korean as well. Are my mother and I still able to call ourselves Korean, then, by any sense of the word? I certainly identify as Scottish and Irish, but would I be able to identify as Korean if I so wanted to? If not only one, then both?

    “You’re basically white.”

    I’m given a lot of pressure from my peers (at a majority white school, I may add) to choose. More often than not, I’m pressured to choose to be white.

    “You look more white, though.”

    It doesn’t take a fool to realize that assuming that my default identity is white is extremely ignorant and borderline racist. To assume that my European genes take precedence over my Asian genes is to say that Europe and white take precedence over other races and ethnicities. This is something mixed-race people experience on the daily, unfortunately.

    In my opinion, we shouldn’t be forced to choose. Because I am both. It is genetically impossible for me to be more white than Asian.

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    Inspiring The World

    I decided that for this article, I wanted to put some photos of a couple of amazing people who inspire me! These inspiring people are named Karl Johnson and Taylor Phillips. Throughout 2017, leading into 2018 I’ve definitely had some hard trials I had to go through. Throughout those trials I am so glad I have had these 2 lovely people, to help me push through these hard times we all have in our life. We’re living in an amazing time in history, but sometimes I don’t think everyone seems to know it, or even see it. That’s why I am so glad to have these 2 inspiring role models here with me at this time in my life. They turn my weaknesses into strengths, show me how to push through hard trials, make me braver, and have taught me to find hope within all things, and in all places. They are some of the most accepting people I have seen in this world today! They don’t care what race you are, what gender you are, what your sexuality is, they’re not judgmental, and that to me truly is something. They have made an everlasting contribution towards creating a better, more positive world. They bring laughter, and smiles along with them wherever they go. Having knowing these people for quite a while now, I can tell you how easily you can see them fill a room with accepting and happy feelings.  I am so glad to be able to call these two exquisite human beings, my friends.

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