Category: Uncategorized

A post about trigger warnings that will probably trigger someone who says triggers are trash

There’s nothing like the holidays to bring about political debates and my family was no exception. While I was back in town, I took my own advice and talked to some of my family members about why they support Trump. I did my best to keep emotions out of it and hear them out. We had a relatively productive conversation, which is a good start, but I do have to admit to my own hypocrisy. Previously, I argued for doing the research before holding a position and when the safe space/trigger warning example came up of my generation’s fragility, as it seems to every time I talk to an older person about literally anything political, I took a position without understanding the definitions. Bad Kristen. So, here we go, it’s time to dive into the dreaded “safe space” rhetoric in order to better understand its existence.

I will freely admit that in the past when someone brought up safe spaces, my first response would be how I didn’t understand why people constantly try to find ways to hide from their problems. I think my, and many people’s, mistake was in thinking of a safe space only as a concrete place, as if there is a special room on all college campuses full of fluffy pillows and blankets where easily offended students hide to have a pity party. Obviously, once I took my own advice and did my research, I learned that most definitions are more abstract, but most importantly they vary university to university. Kent State University has a broad definition, saying a safe space is a way to provide a forum to “highlight the part of KSU academic culture that recognizes and researches interactive and oppressive social patterns and invite students and the community into an ongoing conversation.”[1] Cleveland State University, on the other hand, has a narrower definition, saying a safe space is a way to “improve visibility and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) students.”[2] Generally speaking, a safe space appears to be a place for discussion, be it an online forum or in-person meeting, of topics that people are often persecuted for, such as sexual orientation or religion.

This argument, that college students are hiding, seems to be the main talking point when people discuss safe spaces. If the definition were the concrete one, I would agree that a safe space is potentially harmful. However, that is not what every safe space is, so I must disagree. I find it paradoxical to say that college students are running away from that which frightens them while knowing how KSU and CSU define safe spaces. How can one be hiding when they are actively pursuing a place for discussion? Safe spaces are a place for free and fearless discussion, which is important for LGBTQ students, students of color, and students of non-Christian faiths, particularly Muslims. One of my friends had been secretly living as a gay man for many years because he feared his family’s reaction if they knew. This year, he couldn’t keep the secret any longer and finally told them. Their reaction? They told him that if they ever saw his face again, or his boyfriend’s, they would shoot them on the spot. If his parents were willing to engage in discussion within a safe space, perhaps they wouldn’t be so willing to murder innocent people for the way they were born. A safe space would also be a place to seek help in dealing with that type of reaction from one’s parents. As I have said before, I believe education to be key in improving a large array of problems, so if safe spaces are a way to learn from one another, wouldn’t that be a good thing?

One of the biggest arguments against safe spaces, and one that intensely bothered me before I did my research, was that it seemed like a place, not only to hide, but to get reassurance from those who only tell you what you already believe. To me, it appeared to be a place full of “yes-men,” where you would only hear what you wanted to hear and never that which opposes your preexisting views. If true, this can lead to the psychological phenomenon called “group think[3],” which is dangerously common and happens to a certain degree to everyone that uses social media, particularly Facebook.[4] When people are only exposed to others with similar views, the group overall tends to become more extreme, more polarized than an individual would be privately.[5] But, the nature of proper discussion is that there will be someone who disagrees with you in at least one aspect. As long as the discussion is kept truly free, open and amicable, there should be few to no problems with safe spaces. The world is an imperfect place, though, and this may not be how safe spaces are actually managed. Yet, the theoretical problems that can arise in discussion does not mean that it shouldn’t happen, nor does it mean that a safe space is pointless. On the contrary, I think it means that safe spaces are even more important because they could provide a place to learn how to debate civilly and kindly disagree without resorting to violence or derogatory language.

I would be misleading those reading this if I did not include at least one example of instances where the definition of a safe space became, in my opinion, too literal. An article in the New York Times discussed a safe space that emerged at Brown University where a room was set up with “cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma”[6] because there was to be a debate that day about campus sexual assault. As I have come to know the definition that I can agree with, the true safe space in this article was the sexual assault debate, not the room with food and snuggles. The search for understanding, both receiving it and giving it, is the only way to create lasting and growing safety for the persecuted communities; running away from uncomfortable or painful situations will only worsen their treatment. So, yes, this is an example of a safe space. But, from a sociology professor I had at Carolina, I learned that one group’s definition of a term does not mean it is the true and final definition. One group may define a safe space widely, saying it is for opposite sides to debate, whereas another group may say it is a room to return to childlike tranquility. Neither is wrong nor right, because these types of social constructs can never have one final definition, like a word in the dictionary. Therefore, I cannot say that one definition is right and the other wrong, I can only say that I agree with one and disagree with the other.

Would it help you get on board with the idea if the name was changed? How about we call it “forums for understanding” or just a support group? I do think the naming could be better; it sounds a bit wimpy to me. However, that doesn’t detract from the fact that safe spaces are actually beneficial and crucial at a time when people are still being persecuted for being transsexual, black, or Muslim.

And what about trigger warnings, the phrase that most makes me think of a hipster yelling at the barista of an indie coffee shop that the bad latte he got triggered the memory of his recent breakup? Without looking up the definition, I assumed trigger warnings were used by people as avoidance mechanisms, a sentiment it seems two writers for The Atlantic shared when they argued trigger warnings are part of a movement to “scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.”[7] Well, it looks like Lukianoff, Haidt, and I are all assholes because it turns out trigger warnings were originally developed to help people with PTSD as “statements at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc. alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material.”[8] They are a way for those with PTSD to be prepared for what they will be engaging with so they are not blindsided by materials that could induce panic attacks. People with PTSD can have panic attacks induced by certain triggers, such as a war veteran hearing fireworks and thinking they’re back in a war zone being shot at. A trigger warning is for those with PTSD as a road sign is for drivers; you’re not going to turn around and go on a different road just because you see a warning sign, but you need to be made aware that it could be potentially dangerous to go full speed ahead through it.

road sign[9]

In an academic setting, there is no way to automatically know whether any one of your students have PTSD, so it’s best to assume there is at least one, as a professor at Cornell argues. She explains that she adds trigger warnings to her syllabi for this exact reason; she does not do it so that students may be exempt from reading distressing materials, but so that those who may be dealing with PTSD can prepare themselves. Reading this type of material and discussion of it is mandatory in her courses, so if a student doesn’t read it, they won’t get a good grade and that’s on them. Therefore, the argument that trigger warnings are used as a way for feeble-minded students to avoid difficult conversations is invalid, and I think the key word there is student. In a non-academic setting, I could understand the annoyance felt when people use the term as avoidance mechanisms; they are being given an option to engage in conversation and are refusing it. But, academically speaking, where I think understanding this term is most important, I see no problem with a warning as long as the students must still engage with it, though it may be difficult.

In certain aspects, I could see how safe spaces and trigger warnings could be useful. As long as they are used as tools for discussion and understanding I see no problem with them. When they are abused, however, I cannot respect the abuser because they are then hiding. Discussing difficult topics is a part of life and hiding from them because of their nature will leave you weak, defenseless, and unprepared when you no longer have a choice but to interact with them. And, to be honest, this piece was inspired by my hatred of unpreparedness, especially my own. When these terms are once again brought up, I refuse to be caught unprepared again. While I’m not going to be using these terms regularly, largely because I feel like they sound silly, I believe in the concepts and stand behind them. I’m not a professor so I don’t have syllabi for trigger warnings and I already engage in safe spaces, in terms of my engagement with free and open discussion with diverse people, so this piece is for those who were like me before, those who failed to do the proper research. Just because the terms may sound silly and you saw some articles saying they are a way to hide from your problems doesn’t mean that’s what they are actually meant to do. As long as they are a means to support education I will support them in return, a belief I hope you will hold with me.

Get your marshmallows, ‘cus it’s time for a roast.

Normally when I’m on Facebook and see posts from conservatives I’ll read them, think about their points, and occasionally I can see where they’re coming from; I’m not an unreasonable person. I’ll largely disagree with them but I don’t usually find them completely ridiculous. This post on the other hand, so perfectly gave me an outline to what I have been thinking lately that I couldn’t let it pass.

Here is the original post:

“This post goes out to the 30: Contrary to popular or unpopular belief, I didn’t vote for the Republican presidential candidate in the last election. I voted for a pragmatist. To those of you who take exception to that and are posting your discourse regularly, here is my Counterpoint: You lost. You lost because the Democrat Party no longer stands for what America stands for. Do you want proof? After 8 years of the fecklessness and incompetence of Barack Obama, the Democratic Party has collapsed as a national political force. They’ve become a joke and it’s reflected by the whining in the “MSM”. Here are the facts: Since 2008 and under Democrat party “leadership”, the National Debt has gone from $8 trillion to $20 trillion. The Democrats have lost the White House, the Senate, the House, and they’re going to lose the Supreme Court. By 2020, it’ll be 6-3. Everything but gas is more expensive. They’ve lost over 1200 State seats since 2008. They’re only 1 state away from losing 2/3 of the State Governorships thereby giving Republicans the ability to convene a Constitutional Convention. The DNC had to lie, cheat, and steal in order to keep the Democratic Nomination away from a 74 year old white socialist (whose entire message was nothing more than a vote buying shill) just so they could shove the most morally and ethically corrupt, disingenuous political candidate in history down everyone’s throats…and they got slaughtered and yes…it was a slaughter. Without Los Angeles County and New York City, the popular vote would have swung by millions. Why did this happen? Because America finally woke up. Because the Democratic Party has been hijacked by a cabal of uber-wealthy elitists who deem themselves to be intellectually superior to the rest of us. It’s true. I see it every time I turn on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, etc., and I do watch them. I know “Parent to Child” when I see it. I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but I’m tired of being told how I should think and what I should believe by tenured, secular, public sector plutocrats and their patronizing minions in the media who are so full of themselves they can’t see the forest for the trees. The Democrats have no platform that isn’t based on taking advantage of those they consider to be inferior socially and mentally. Obama the Great ran on “hope and change”. Well, hope isn’t a strategy and change requires leadership. Too bad. He delivered nothing but more debt, a divided country, a wealthier richest 1%, twice as many people below the poverty line than in 2008, an insurance program that was in the process of collapse almost from day 1, and the rest is subjectively debatable. When John F Kennedy was elected he proclaimed “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” The Democrat party message today is “vote for us and we’ll give you stuff.” That’s it. Period. If you can’t hear it, you’re not listening. Beyond that there’s no message that doesn’t include throwing a tantrum: insults, violence, blocking traffic, grown women dressed as vaginas, pepper spraying those with opposing views, and burning college campuses. They’re not interested in helping mainstream America. They’re interested in helping themselves. They expect the government to serve as a prosthetic. They are the real racists because they only see race as something they can take advantage of for votes. They are the real bigots because they see themselves as being intellectually superior to those who are governed. Worst of all, they have no concept of servitude. They have no real vision for those they would govern other than to subjugate and divide for the sake of lining their own pockets. Worst of all, they still haven’t figured out that anyone capable of objective thought can see it. The election of Donald Trump proves it. That ridiculous press conference yesterday proves it. It’s not stupidity. It’s arrogance. No wonder their base is shrinking like a medicated hemorrhoid as Trump proceeds to fix what they’ve broken. Here’s the bad news for the left wing faithful: until the “leadership” of the Democrat party acknowledges that they have been and are the problem and not some vague phenomenon that doesn’t’ exist or an excuse that’s just an empty bucket and recognizes that accountability is a personal choice, they’ll sink further into insignificance. Quite frankly, they deserve it and it’s about time.”

Grab a snack and a drink because this is going to be a long one.

 “This post goes out to the 30: Contrary to popular or unpopular belief, I didn’t vote for the Republican presidential candidate in the last election. I voted for a pragmatist. To those of you who take exception to that and are posting your discourse regularly, here is my Counterpoint: You lost. You lost because the Democrat Party no longer stands for what America stands for. Do you want proof? After 8 years of the fecklessness and incompetence of Barack Obama, the Democratic Party has collapsed as a national political force. They’ve become a joke and it’s reflected by the whining in the “MSM”.”

I would agree that the Democratic Party has strayed from what it was intended to be. It was supposed to be the party of the people but, as Thomas Frank explains in his book Listen, Liberal, a decision was made in “the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s where they convinced themselves that they needed to abandon working people in order to serve a different constituency: a constituency essentially of white-collar professionals.”[1] These professionals (i.e. big business) give them a lot of money and that money talks. But are you really going to sit here and tell me that the Republican Party is so innocent? Even in more recent politics you see the evidence in how much Betsy DeVos, possibly the least qualified individual on Trump’s Cabinet, paid Republican senators for their support. In case you need a refresher, here’s a list:

devospayments[2]

If you’re going to sit there and try to say that the Republicans are so much more representative of the people, I’m going to have to call bullshit. All I see here is the preference of partisanship over truth, even if the truth is that both parties have a similar problem.

“Here are the facts: Since 2008 and under Democrat party “leadership”, the National Debt has gone from $8 trillion to $20 trillion.”

I am so glad you brought this up. Indeed, the national debt has increased since 2008, and this is due to the government spending more than it’s making, which is obviously the definition of debt. To decide how to lower the debt we have to figure out why exactly it’s increasing. This is believed to be due to four main factors:

  1. Military Spending – Following 9/11, the “War on Terror” nearly doubled the money spent from “$4 billion in 2003 to a peak of $855.1 billion in 2011.”
  2. Mandatory Spending – This refers to payouts for government programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. and has exceeded “$2 trillion a year since [fiscal year] 2011.”
  3. The 2009 Economic Stimulus Package – The 2008 recession necessitated government intervention to push the country out of the recession, which it successfully did in the second quarter of 2009.
  4. Recession Reductions – Because the economy tanked, so did the revenues. It wasn’t until 2013 that the government revenue was able to recover to $2.78 trillion.[3]

So, if you think we need to cut the deficit, these are the four biggest places to look at. I’m going to take a wild guess and say you don’t think military spending should be decreased. America at large is obsessed with the idea of militarism and the prowess it seemingly entails, but I can assure you that murdering people for the name of America isn’t patriotic, it’s just murder. I am grateful to those who have served our country, but I see many young men who go into the military because they see no other means of providing for themselves. Military service should be an active choice, not one made because no other option exists. But, let’s assume the cuts won’t come from there.

Of the last three items, I’m going to take another wild guess and say you’re looking at number two, thinking “look at all those handouts! Medicare?! Medicaid??! Oh, but wait Social Security… I want that…” Well, not only do these programs help people who can’t afford the astronomical cost of good health insurance, which averages $321 a month for individual care and $833 a month for a family plan,[4] but politicians know that any attacks on these benefit programs is political suicide, so it’s probably not going to happen, especially if they want to get re-elected.[5] Plus, these programs help people who are in need, including the elderly, not just the poor young, so cutting them hurts Americans more than it helps your misguided sense of how economics works. They may be called “entitlement programs,” but to those who desperately need them to survive, they are not hand-outs. Arguing we shouldn’t have these programs because some people might abuse them discredits all the hardworking Americans who have fallen on hard times and really need help. You would really take away their assistance just because you want to punish a few? So much for being for the people.

The final two items sort of speak for themselves, so I will instead discuss a different area, discussed by Forbes, which talks about wasteful spending. Congress spends billions of taxpayer dollars completely idiotically, including:

  1. “$1.1 billion on projects including an Army research study on the ability of elephants to detect bombs, puppet shows in Vermont, a dog-bite prevention website, and others.
  2. $294 billion on expired programs.
  3. $3,590,313 in travel expenses alone for the Obama family’s 2015 Christmas vacation to Honolulu.”

So, where is your outrage about this wasteful spending? Why are you so obsessed with the so-called “handouts” when our government is spending money on puppet shows? And that money Obama spent on his vacations, I agree is ridiculous. But if you’re angry about Obama’s trips you should be mindfucked over how much Trump is spending just a few weeks into his presidency on his trips to Mar-a-Lago. And no, it’s not free just because he owns it; it’s costing the taxpayers $3 million just for one trip.[6] Since his inauguration he has been three times, totaling over $10 million, a bill which the taxpayers will have to pick up. (Also, just a side note, Obama may have spent a total of 230 days on vacation but Bush spent 530 days.[7] Just saying.) And how about the cost of Melania Trump staying at Trump Tower in NYC? That’s going to cost $183 million per year.[8] Now keep in mind these are estimates so that actual costs will probably be much greater. Where is that outrage again?

“The Democrats have lost the White House, the Senate, the House, and they’re going to lose the Supreme Court. By 2020, it’ll be 6-3.” 

Want to know why? It’s partly due to a clever combination of gerrymandering and voter suppression. The whole idea of gerrymandering is that the districts will be drawn in such a way that the party will lose a few districts massively, but win the majority comfortably. It’s common practice for both parties to redraw the district when they are the majority, but that doesn’t mean it’s just. Take North Carolina, which has been accused of “political apartheid” in the morally corrupt ways it has drawn its voting districts. In 2010, the Republicans took control of both the NC House and Senate for the first time since 1870[9] and continued to used gerrymandering as a tool to keep their majority. I mean just look at these districts from 2014:

ncgerrymandering

[10]

Looking at the top maps compared to the bottom map, you can’t possibly try to say you don’t see anything wrong. If you think your party has so much support, why are they so afraid to have a fair election? It’s because even if they do have the support, they don’t want to take a chance on losing. They would rather sacrifice the principles of a proper election than not be the majority.You have to realize that your “victory” comes with a pretty intense asterisk next to it. The second map shows that the Democratic party could do the same to the state, should they have the majority, and both should be illegal.

Voter suppression has also helped keep people who vote Democrat from reaching the polls. Those who vote Democrat are largely black, Asian, religiously unaffiliated, post-graduate women, Jewish, Hispanic, or from the Millennial generation.[11] The Republicans argue their laws are for the reduction of voter fraud, but when voter fraud is about as common as claims of alien abduction[12], is it really that much of a threat? No, it’s just a distracting claim they make so that they can sneakily create laws that attack those who would vote against them. Referring again to North Carolina, a recent court case ruled the actions limiting voting access to be unconstitutional and that they targeted African-American voters with “almost surgical precision.” How did they do it? By collecting data on what demographic voted when, where, and with what ID. In various emails to the DMV, University of North Carolina, and other organizations, Republican party representatives asked question like:

“Is there any way to get a breakdown of the 2008 voter turnout, by race (white and black) and type of vote (early and Election Day)?”

“Is there no category for ‘Hispanic’ voter?”

“Can I get a breakdown, by race, of those registered voters in your database that do not have a driver’s license number?”[13]

The GOP in North Carolina then proceeded to make laws based on the data they received, eliminating same-day voter registration, seven days of early voting and out-of-precinct voting, all of which were protected under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[14] Their addition of what they said were “common sense” voter ID laws were not intended to be common sense at all, but rather to directly target liberal voters whose information they obtained directly from their inquiries to the DMV. Now, perhaps an ID requirement isn’t such a bad one, but to ban the use of IDs that are carried by people who predominantly vote democratic, is unconstitutional. Any state, university, or government-issued ID should be acceptable, and yet they have not been in North Carolina. So, don’t try to tell me Republicans represent the will of the people until they ensure elections are fair and open.

“The DNC had to lie, cheat, and steal in order to keep the Democratic Nomination away from a 74 year old white socialist (whose entire message was nothing more than a vote buying shill) just so they could shove the most morally and ethically corrupt, disingenuous political candidate in history down everyone’s throats.”

I have no problem with people thinking Bernie was too far left. He is a very progressive man and I think he has a lot of great ideas but I can understand when people are hesitant about him, being that they think the US isn’t already leaning toward socialism. It’s not a dirty word, people, and surprise, surprise, it already is. However, what I do have a problem with is the complete hypocrisy I see here. Hillary Clinton was painted as this massively compromised, unethical, baby murderer and spawn of Satan, who only wanted the presidency because it was supposedly her turn. Well, maybe the last part is true, who knows. What I do know is that if you think HRC using her private server created a national security problem, how about when Trump LITERALLY DISCUSSED A NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DINING ROOM AT MAR-A-LAGO????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The security breach here is so obvious people were able to post on Facebook about it! Even the damn nuclear football was photographed! Where is your outrage at these security breaches? Oh, right it’s only an issue when a Democrat does it.

ntlsecuritymal [15] 

Is that staff member using a cell phone light to illuminate the papers? Wow, I bet that private cell phone is completely secure and doesn’t have a camera that could be hacked. Oh, and how about Trump and his very own staff using a private server still?[16] Right, right, it’s fine when Republicans do it. My mistake, I keep forgetting these rules only apply to one side at a time.

And even if these facts weren’t enough, what about Trump’s cozy relationship with Russia? I’m still waiting on the outrage over the literal three separate scandals[17] that have been unfolding in regards to Trump and Russia.

  1. Scandal One: Collusion against Hillary Clinton during the campaign
    1. Intelligence gathered by the FBI, CIA, and NSA concluded with “high confidence” that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.”[18]
    2. Why does Putin care who wins the election? Likely for various reasons, including and certainly not limited to, revenge on Clinton and money.
    3. If this had happened in reverse, the right would have rioted by now. But of course, when it happens to the Democrats, the means aren’t considered the best but the outcome is so wonderful, who cares?
  2. Scandal Two: Trump likely knew about the conversations Flynn had with Russia
    1. That Flynn would call the ambassador at all isn’t illegal or even unusual. What is illegal is him promising to lift the sanctions Obama placed on Russia on December 29th for their role in manipulating the election. This promise would be a sort of gift from Trump’s team to Russia for helping him win.
    2. Two separate sources confirmed that “Flynn had strongly implied that the Trump administration would be taking care of the sanctions,” therefore Russia need not retaliate by implementing sanctions on the US in return.
    3. In his mess of a press conference, Trump called Flynn a “wonderful man,” saying his treatment was unfair by the media, which means that he doesn’t see what Flynn did as wrong, nor does he think he should have had to leave his post because of it. This implies that Trump either knew about the calls because he told Flynn to make them, or upon finding out about them, didn’t have a problem with the deal Flynn was making.
  3. Scandal Three: Russia is likely blackmailing Trump
    1. Yes, this part has very little support, so I won’t go into it too much. What I will say, however, is that I would wager a guess that it’s less of a blackmail thing and more along the lines of both Putin and Trump finding monetary gain in lifting the sanctions (hint[19], hint[20]).

Don’t try to say Clinton was “the most morally and ethically corrupt, disingenuous political candidate in history” when this is our current administration. You have to either be trying really hard not to see it or just don’t care.

 

“Because the Democratic Party has been hijacked by a cabal of uber-wealthy elitists who deem themselves to be intellectually superior to the rest of us. It’s true. I see it every time I turn on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, etc., and I do watch them. I know “Parent to Child” when I see it.”

Look, I’ll be the first to say I think the media can be incredibly biased, but when you watch only FOX or only MSNBC you have to know you’re going to get the story from an angle. And there is no problem with having an angle. This piece has an angle. This difference is that within my angle are indisputable facts that I use to form the basis of my world view. I make sure I accurately represent quotes and the spirit of an article to the best of my ability. The problem comes when quotes are misrepresented, parts of a story are left out, or a million other ways opinions are swayed in an effort to force the angle on the viewers. There is no problem with an angle as long as all of the facts are presented, but historically this hasn’t been the case and I can see your frustration. But calling the media “fake news” when they don’t fall in line with your opinion is what dictators, not presidents, do. If you want your media to be better, demand they be better. Don’t disenfranchise them and listen only to the twitter ramblings of a jackass.

  

“I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but I’m tired of being told how I should think and what I should believe by tenured, secular, public sector plutocrats and their patronizing minions in the media who are so full of themselves they can’t see the forest for the trees.”

I have bolded “secular” because having a problem with the government being secular is like having a problem with hamburgers being made of meat. That’s literally how it’s supposed to be. Making government religious is like having a tofu burger; that’s not what it’s supposed to be made of and no one wants that shit. (Come at me vegans; your food tastes like sadness).

You’re opposed to plutocracy, as you should be, but think Trump is fine? He’s literally the definition of what you’re saying you dislike. So, I’m confused; do you hate plutocracy or do you just use it as a reason to hate others while thinking it’s okay when your side does it?

“The Democrats have no platform that isn’t based on taking advantage of those they consider to be inferior socially and mentally.”

Wow, you bring up mental inferiority a lot in one post. Are you projecting or what? But that’s beside the point. The point is that you think only the Democrats will take advantage of people. Do you honestly think that the Republicans aren’t taking advantage of you when they construct pipelines and abolish the EPA? You might enjoy cheaper gas prices if DAPL is completed, but you’re going to be paying an unbelievable amount of money to doctors from the poisoning you get from oil-polluted water, which is almost a certainty without the EPA to protect you. Imagine the horrors of watching your child seize from the lead found in water in Flint, Michigan, or the Bronx. Now imagine that’s happening to someone you actually know, actually care about. Imagine that on a national scale. That’s why the EPA and similar agencies exist and that’s how you’re being taken advantage of. The members of this administration will make a fortune while you choke on smoggy air and eat tainted produce.

“Obama the Great ran on “hope and change”. Well, hope isn’t a strategy and change requires leadership. Too bad. He delivered nothing but more debt, a divided country, a wealthier richest 1%, twice as many people below the poverty line than in 2008, an insurance program that was in the process of collapse almost from day 1, and the rest is subjectively debatable.”

Obama is argued by the right to be a horrible president, one that did next to nothing to help Americans. Well, it’s hard to push a progressive agenda when your Congress is a majority of the opposing side for most of your presidency. The only time there was Democratic control of both the Senate and House was a span of about four months from September 24, 2009 until February 4, 2010.[21] The rest of the time he had to deal with Republican majorities, leading to the 112th Congress (January 2011-January 2013) being the least productive in terms of bills passed since 1973.[22] You blame him, yet he is not the one completely at fault. He wasn’t perfect by any means but the blame falls not only on his shoulders, but Congress, too. And even with his imperfections, he is still ranked the 12th best president in US history.[23] But, I bet you’ll just say this is “fake news” from liberal propaganda because this is how Trump is priming you to think; the second something isn’t in line with what you already believe it’s obviously a lie, so we’ll just keep moving right along.

And now we come to my personal favorite topic: The Affordable Care Act. The lack of understanding around how insurance works at a basic level leads people to make sweeping assumptions about the efficacy of the ACA, simply based on what their side is saying. While I am still doing my own homework, and will explain how it works in more detail in another piece, what I know for a fact is that the ACA is indeed a money suck. As it is set up currently, it’s economically unsustainable. And even so, it still needs to exist in some form. As an important member of the UN, there is a consensus that the U.S. has a “moral obligation and responsibility to act as a leader on the world stage.”[24] Therefore, the expectation is that we will abide by the same laws of morality and ethics outlined by the UN. This means that under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the removal of proper access to healthcare would be a human rights violation, under which the United States could face penalties.[25] Not to mention taking away access to healthcare because of your own selfishness is unethical. So, to have a stable (and cheaper!) healthcare system, it has to be set up as a single-payer system. As I said, I’ll explain more in a later piece, but just know that I believe you’re both right and wrong.

“Beyond that there’s no message that doesn’t include throwing a tantrum: insults, violence, blocking traffic, grown women dressed as vaginas, pepper spraying those with opposing views, and burning college campuses. They’re not interested in helping mainstream America. They’re interested in helping themselves. They expect the government to serve as a prosthetic.”

You want to know why people are angry? It’s because they are having their rights taken from them left and right, but because it doesn’t affect you or change your world, you either don’t see it or just don’t care. Protesters block traffic because that roadblock you face just trying to get to where you’re going is emblematic of the roadblocks they face just by existing as they are. Women dress as vaginas because this government would take away their rights because they were born XX instead of XY. If you remember correctly, it was the police who pepper sprayed the protesters, not the other way around. And if you want to talk free speech on college campuses, which I’m sure you do, then explain to me why liberals wrong for shutting down Milo Yiannopoulos, but when Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks was blocked from speaking by conservatives, there was no outrage. Why is shutting down the right-wing troll bad but doing the same to a progressive is allowable? If you truly cared about free speech you should be angry in both instances. But you don’t, so you aren’t. Or how about when Elizabeth Warren was silenced in Congress? Why is blocking free speech a punishable offense when a right-winger is blocked but when a liberal senator is blocked, it’s perfectly allowable? I could go for days on the hypocrisy I see. Instead, I will implore you to think critically about your beliefs and what you see happening around you, and wonder whether you’re allowing your party to speak for you, rather than speaking for what is right.

“They are the real racists because they only see race as something they can take advantage of for votes. They are the real bigots because they see themselves as being intellectually superior to those who are governed.”

Again, with the intellectual inferiority complex. Dude, come on.

This part reminds me of Tomi Lahren’s appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah when said that she doesn’t see color because “true diversity is diversity of thought, not color.” If you saw that video and thought “oh yeah, she’s right,” you are part of the problem. Diversity is diversity of color and culture, as well as thought, sure, but pretending to ignore the other aspects of diversity isn’t realistic. The “real racists” are people who commit racist acts or those who fail to stop racist acts when they see them. They are the people who let injustice unfold in front of their eyes, but say nothing because “they don’t see color,” so whatever is happening to this person must be deserved. Did Rev. Clementa Pickney, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders, Sharonda Singleton, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Susan Jackson, Ethel Lance, and Myra Thompson deserve to be murdered by an American terrorist? (And don’t be mistaken, that’s exactly what this murderer is: an American terrorist.) Of course, not. But by your argument, the murderer isn’t a “real racist” because he didn’t do it for votes, just to try to start a race war.[26] What about Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha, who were treasured members in the community of my alma mater, murdered because of a man’s bigotry toward Muslims? Was he not a bigot because his act was done out of hatred, instead of an attempt to get votes? The “real racists” are the ones using the threat of terrorism to capitalize on a nation’s fears so they can ban entire countries. The “real racists” are those who feel no sadness when a Quebec mosque is blown up because those who died were Muslim. The “real racists” are the people who, when discussing the murder of Sandra Bland, think it’s relevant to mention the that she was pulled over for a traffic violation. Is death the appropriate punishment for failing to signal properly? The “real racists” would say, for a black woman, it is.

The right frequently accuses the left of wielding race as a sword with which they attempt to cut down their opponent. Don’t do as we are accused and use it to try to make your weak argument. It reveals your own discomfort with race and feelings of intellectual inferiority.

 

“That ridiculous press conference yesterday proves it. It’s not stupidity. It’s arrogance. No wonder their base is shrinking like a medicated hemorrhoid as Trump proceeds to fix what they’ve broken. Here’s the bad news for the left wing faithful: until the “leadership” of the Democrat party acknowledges that they have been and are the problem and not some vague phenomenon that doesn’t’ exist or an excuse that’s just an empty bucket and recognizes that accountability is a personal choice, they’ll sink further into insignificance. Quite frankly, they deserve it and it’s about time.”

Well, at least we’re on the same page about that presser: it was ridiculous. It was a nauseating disaster that made Trump look like an idiot and, by that, I mean it made him look like himself. If you listened to that press conference and heard anything more than an insecure man making national issues about himself, you weren’t being objective. Nothing about that press conference should have made you feel proud of Trump; he made a fool of himself and gave no information to the people about how he’s going to “make America great again.” He is still stringing you along with vague promises that you’ll eat it up like candy, not realizing you know nothing more now than before.

This year as we celebrate our last President’s Day before we become a full-on oligarchy, let’s realize this administration is a fumbling mess. This holiday was originally created to celebrate the birthday of George Washington, who believed in respect, accountability, love for your fellow man, and holding firm to a set of guiding principles. Trump and his swamp people believe in none of these traits. If you step back and look for even a second at what I’ve argued I think you’ll see truth in at least some of it, and that’s all I ask. Shatter this image you have of Trump and you’ll see what he is doing is unconstitutional, immoral, and un-American. I ask nothing more than for you to hold off on being a triggered snowflake for five minutes to actually ask yourself could some of these things be true? I know that your world may need some hope and you think he is it, but I guarantee you he is not someone you should trust. Find another source of hope and light and fight back against the wrongs he has already committed against the people of this country and the world.

[1] http://inthesetimes.com/features/listen-liberal-thomas-frank-democratic-party-elites-inequality.html

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/betsy-devos-donations_us_5893bd80e4b0c1284f251c5f

[3] https://www.thebalance.com/current-u-s-federal-budget-deficit-3305783

[4] https://resources.ehealthinsurance.com/affordable-care-act/much-health-insurance-cost-without-subsidy

[5] http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikepatton/2016/04/28/u-s-government-deficit-is-rising-again/#20a8115f7146

[6] http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-mar-lago-taxpayers-234562

[7] http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-mar-lago-taxpayers-234562

[8] http://www.businessinsider.com/cost-of-protecting-trump-secret-service-2017-2

[9] http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-north-carolina-southern-progressivism.html

[10] http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/10/27/1579905/-These-three-maps-show-just-how-effectively-gerrymandering-can-swing-election-outcomes

[11] http://www.people-press.org/2015/04/07/a-deep-dive-into-party-affiliation/

[12] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/29/the-smoking-gun-proving-north-carolina-republicans-tried-to-disenfranchise-black-voters/?utm_term=.99697f671fb3

[13] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/inside-the-republican-creation-of-the-north-carolina-voting-bill-dubbed-the-monster-law/2016/09/01/79162398-6adf-11e6-8225-fbb8a6fc65bc_story.html?utm_term=.713698223e41

[14] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/29/the-smoking-gun-proving-north-carolina-republicans-tried-to-disenfranchise-black-voters/?utm_term=.99697f671fb3

[15] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/us/politics/mar-a-lago-north-korea-trump.html

[16] https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/25/trumps-most-senior-staff-use-a-private-email-server/

[17] http://www.vox.com/world/2017/2/15/14620560/trump-flynn-russia-campaign

[18] http://www.vox.com/world/2017/1/6/14194986/russia-hack-intelligence-report-election-trump

[19] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/12/world/europe/rex-tillersons-company-exxon-has-billions-at-stake-over-russia-sanctions.html

[20] https://thinkprogress.org/putin-helped-trump-exxon-oil-deal-sanctions-6f169c4a4cd0#.jgkc9oq8f

[21] http://www.ohio.com/blogs/mass-destruction/blog-of-mass-destruction-1.298992/when-obama-had-total-control-of-congress-1.332977

[22] http://members-of-congress.insidegov.com/stories/6829/most-and-least-productive-congress-in-history#6-112th-Congress

[23] http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/320134-barack-obama-takes-no-12-spot-on-c-span-survey-of-presidents

[24] http://www.unfoundation.org/news-and-media/publications-and-speeches/religion-americas-role-world.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

[25] http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

[26] http://www.newsweek.com/dylann-roof-confesses-church-shooting-says-he-wanted-start-race-war-344797

I’m a nasty woman.

I was ten years old in 2004 when Ronald Reagan died. As my family and I sat silently in the living room watching the funeral procession, the only noise being the television and my mother’s sobs, I got the sense that Reagan was someone that she respected. Why else would my mother weep over the loss of someone she had never met, if not for the fact that she must have considered him an exceptional man? I obviously knew by that age he was a former president but I knew nothing of his policies or legacy. I only knew that my mother was so distraught by the death of this man she so revered that she considered his death a great loss to the world.

The first year I was old enough to vote in an election was in 2012 when it was Obama and Romney. In both men, though they each had their shortcomings, could be found something to respect, some redeeming qualities. In this knowledge, I think many people felt that Obama was the better candidate but if Romney won it wouldn’t be apocalyptic; the country would live on and in four years the democrats would try again. As we all know, Obama won his bid for reelection and remained one of the most respected men in the world and just left office with an approval rating that peaked at 69% during his last week. Though it may seem morbid, I couldn’t help but think that decades down the line, millions would weep as they watch this great man’s funeral procession, likely myself included.

Now, however, we enter uncharted territory. Last Friday at noon, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Somehow, a conman has managed to worm his way into one of the highest and most respected offices in the United States. His supporters wanted an “outsider,” a businessman who would run the country as a business, because business practices and businessmen in the U.S. are certainly never shady. Over the years, Trump has amassed “at least 3,500 official complaints for failing to pay employees, contractors, and other business affiliates money owed” and 60 lawsuits related to his failure to properly pay employees. He runs business by screwing over the little guy for personal gain. How can anyone look at this man’s business strategy and think he is suddenly going to become an altruistic president? It baffles me the simultaneous disdain people have for corporations and their influence on government, while oxymoronically saying they think this is how the country should be run and allowing Trump to fill the Cabinet with these people. I fail to see how he will “drain the swamp” when his entire Cabinet is essentially a bunch of low IQ alligators. But, of course, the damage is done; Trump is the new president and unlike him, I will not spend the next four years perpetuating any type of conspiracy (but I will say show me the CarFax on those tax returns. Whatcha hiding Donald?)

The question is no longer about how to stop a Trump presidency. Rather, it’s about how to stop a Trump presidency from destroying faith in our government, its ability to uphold human rights as outlined in our Constitution, and stopping the inevitable attack on human rights. It became apparent that Trump and his administration were planning on gutting these things on his inauguration day. Apart from appointing a Cabinet full of billionaires who hate the departments they represent, essentially setting these departments up to be dismantled, everything they scrubbed from WhiteHouse.gov on Inauguration Day is also on the chopping block. Removing all information on healthcare, civil rights, and climate change sends a clear message: these concerns are no longer going to be handled in the interest of the American people.

One would think it goes without saying that these issues should matter to everyone, even if you’re not directly impacted. But, I have come to find that people lack perspective. In some aspects, I certainly do as well and I’m working to fix that, but on these issues, I seem to see clearer than others. I have spent the last five years studying the molecular basis of how the human body works, and in the last six months have focused on preventative ideology in patient care. The American healthcare system, as it stands, is one of treatment only after an illness has presented, rather than prevention of said illness. Prioritizing healthcare as a human right and properly teaching health management to young people could save $3.7 billion on personal health. So, even if you’re in perfect health and think the Affordable Care Act isn’t something your taxes should have to go toward, realize that prioritizing healthcare for all could ultimately save taxpayer money. Not only is the monetary benefit in the long-term extant, there is also the respect of human dignity. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act would take away 18 million people’s right to healthcare. Dismantling Planned Parenthood would take away the human right of 2.5 million women and men to have proper health access. Disregarding your personal religious beliefs on any type of healthcare access, there is no constitutional or scientific reason the ACA and Planned Parenthood shouldn’t exist and be funded. If you don’t believe contraception or abortion is morally right, that is your prerogative. But don’t take away another woman’s right just because it isn’t in line with your personal beliefs. That would be like taking away the right to be Protestant because you’re Catholic.

And why is it that civil rights legislation is so terrifying? When thinking on this, I am reminded of Martin Luther King Jr.’s words in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. He discussed his protests not creating tension, but rather bringing forth the already present and underlying tension. I saw this happen in my home state when Charlotte, North Carolina passed an extension to its anti-discrimination ordinance in early 2016. The law, originally passed in 1968, covered race, color, religion, and national origin, but the 2016 extension added marital and familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. The law was widely accepted in the city because why wouldn’t it be? It’s for anti-discrimination and was addressing the underlying tension. But when the state noticed the tension being brought to the surface, even though it was peacefully done, former governor Pat McCrory decided to make it his personal mission to see this extension repealed. He even went so far as to earmark $500,000 to be redirected from disaster relief (just in time for hurricane season) to pay court fees for his infamously known “Bathroom Bill.” Once you prioritize where you believe people should pee over the lives of the 2,300 who had to be rescued and the 22 who died after Hurricane Matthew alone, you are no longer fit to serve public office and I am proud McCrory was ousted by Governor Cooper. To those who face discrimination, civil rights legislation can be the difference between life and death, thriving and failing, the American dream and stagnation. It is important that you care; if you let inhuman acts go on without interfering, you are just as guilty as those directly committing the acts.

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-1-43-20-pm

It baffles me that people think they can deny climate change. Even the Republican Party supported laws to help regulate climate change, right up until they figured out it wasn’t personally beneficial monetarily. The 2008 Republican Party platform stated that they sought to “address the challenge of climate change and continue our longstanding responsibility for stewardship over the environment.” This statement is a massive departure from the modern dialogue, where Trump claims climate change is a hoax. The GOP only uses the phrase “climate change” seven times in their sixty-six page 2016 platform, never referencing what they would do about it, and only discussing it in terms of how it is not believed to be a national security issue and how they think scientists are not credible sources of scientific information. Sure, because when I want to get my car looked at I go the dentist and when I want information on environmental science I talk to my accountant. The point is, climate change isn’t debatable; it’s real and we are really causing it, in addition to the natural factors. If we reduce the climate regulations imposed on companies, we are going to see a lot more oil spills, irregular weather patterns, hurricanes, tornadoes, and on and on. So, even if you don’t care about living on a better and cleaner planet where water looks like water and not tar, once again think of it in terms of economics. Preventing disasters means not as much money will have to be spent on fixes. Accepting climate change and environmental responsibility is a win-win for the tax payer. The ones telling you it’s not are those who are doing the damage and making money off the destruction of our planet.

trumptweet

So here are all these problems. What can we do about them? Well, as I see it, Trump and his administration are acting in ways that echo the totalitarianism of 20th century Europe. Generating distrust in the media by claiming “alternative facts,” obsessing over and encouraging racialist struggles, and making the government less transparent are acts that all parallel the past. We can learn from history. In an effort to do so, Yale historian Timothy Snyder elucidates twenty lessons to take away from his work, which I believe are key in determining our actions going forward. Of the twenty, I believe the following five will be the most beneficial to follow, but I encourage you to read them all here:

  1. Do not obey in advance. Taking actions, such as the March for Science or writing and speaking out, are essential in not allowing a status quo of hate, censorship, and false information to be set or furthered.
  2. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. Though it may be satisfying, punching the neo-Nazi in the face won’t make him any less of a neo-Nazi and violence will not make our government any less violent toward us.
  3. Believe in truth. When Kellyanne Conway says that Press Secretary Sean Spicer is simply presenting “alternative facts,” that’s an eloquent way of saying that he is lying. And when scientists, who have devoted their life to environmental studies say we’re causing a global crisis, it’s smart to believe them over someone who benefits from said crisis.
  4. Hinder the one-party state. Vote in mid-term elections, damn it. And contact your representatives. An app called Countable allows you to see what bills are being debated and gives you the ability to directly email your representative, though calling is always the best option. countable
  5. Be reflective if you must be armed. Governing bodies can and do enact unethical and immoral laws, which police officers and other public figures would be expected to follow. If you are told to do something you believe is wrong, you need to be prepared to refuse action, otherwise you become a part of the problem as someone who was “just following orders.”

The arc of history doesn’t always bend naturally toward justice, so it is our responsibility to fight to get the curve back where it belongs. We cannot treat progress as inevitable for then it becomes impossible. It is time for us all to become better citizens and make our voices heard. Attacks on healthcare, civil rights, and climate change will not be tolerated. I didn’t spend four years studying biology, chemistry, and the history of totalitarianism for the first two to be disregarded as rubbish and the latter to come to fruition. If pointing out fallacies means being a “nasty woman,” I will wear that title with pride and I hope you’ll join me.

When they go low, we must all go high

Three months ago, my mother, stepfather, and I came to Cleveland, OH so I could hunt for an apartment. We toured place after place, trying to find the perfect one within our forty-eight-hour window. As we stepped into one particular complex and looked around, the immediate thought I had was that it was gorgeous. The entrance was made from rich chestnut, arched at the top, with glass doors paneled in the same wood and adorned with elegantly winding wrought iron. We waited in the foyer, which was carpeted with rugs, the gold and burgundy patterns effortlessly intertwining across the floor, and furnished with plush sofas of similar colors. After a few minutes of waiting, we joined another small family to tour some of the units, which were as lovely as we expected after seeing the foyer. We were finally led into the ballroom where the ceiling appeared to touch the sky and the floors still had the original tiles for the 1920s, with colors of ivory and maroon. This place was opulent to an almost offensive degree. As our group lingered in the ballroom, our families separately discussing their opinions, a Muslim family walked through. They obviously lived in one of the apartments and I wouldn’t have even really noticed them had I not heard the father of the other family tell his wife that there were too many Muslims in this complex and that they’ll have to find another place. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Especially since he prefaced his sentence with “I don’t mean to sound racist but I’m going to sound racist.” How could someone not want to live somewhere just because people of another religion live there? When we read stories like this one, we are quick to judge. Xenophobe! Idiot! Must be a Republican! I know this because that’s exactly what I thought upon hearing this man’s words and it’s the same type of responses I see all over social media. But we must ask ourselves why this man thinks this way, and I’m going to bet that all of you reading this have fallen into this trap as well.

Generalizing is so easy. The human mind seems to prefer organizing the world into neat boxes with crisp labels into which people easily fit. Muslims? Potential terrorists, so ban them from the country. Democrats? Jobless free-loaders looking for government handouts. Republicans? Evangelical, ignorant xenophobes. Men? Disgusting creatures who grope women because they think they can. Feminist women? Bra-burning, man-haters who want to be the dominant sex. These generalizations are so quick and easy; they require almost no thought and are perpetuated by one platform or another. But the reality is that the world is a messy place and there will never be easy compartments to stick entire groups of people, no matter how much we want to do it. We accuse others of being lazy in actions or morals, while we sit arrogantly lazy in intellect. Even as I write this piece, every fiber in my body wants to tear down everyone I know who voted for Trump. I want to call them ignorant, misogynistic, and just plain idiotic, but I would be wrong. There’s simply no way the over 59.3 million people that voted for Trump fit into the neat little box I want to shove them all into. Are some of them as I accuse? Of course. It goes without saying that the KKK, which supports Trump, is racist. No shit.

But, as I said before, the world is a messy place and describing the average American that voted for Trump is even messier. The majority of his supporters aren’t actively racist, sexist, or xenophobic but they justify their vote by saying they support his economic policies, not his social ones. All this argument tells me is that you don’t understand that for women, people of color, the LGBT community, or those of non-Christian faiths, economic and societal issues are inextricably intertwined. Or maybe you do, and in that case, you have chosen to be neutral in the face of injustice. You have chosen personal gain at the expense of others’ life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. For a person “may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.” You may not call Mexican immigrants rapists, but you elected a man that does. You may not grab women by the pussy, which is assault in case you didn’t know, but you elected a man that does. You may not call a competitor a “nasty woman” because she points out your flaws, but you elected a man that did. Even though you aren’t out committing these acts, you are not stopping those who do, making you equally culpable. In fact, you’re lifting up the embodiment of racism, sexism, and xenophobia, so you’re even worse than neutral; you’re active adjacent. I only ask that you stop gloating about your win for long enough to listen to understand, not listen to respond, to our fears, our wishes, and our goals because perpetuating stereotypes and generalizations will get us nowhere that we want to be.

By generalizing we miss the important nuances of the world, becoming hateful and violent in our ignorance. After Trump’s election, there have been spikes in hate crimes, ranging from Muslim women being attacked for veiling to hateful graffiti, such as what was done in Durham, NC, a city I know very well, which stated that “black lives don’t matter and neither do your votes.”

durhamgraffiti

Image taken from WNCN’s report

These acts show the ignorance of the attacking parties. If they had even tried to understand, they would have learned that the veil is used as both an expression of religious devotion as well as a cultural extension. For Muslim women, “wearing hijab is a personal choice that is made after puberty and is intended to reflect one’s personal devotion to God.” The hijab is to Muslim women as not dressing like a Kardashian is to the general population; they do it because it is their personal choice to be modest in that manner. Yet, because we have been intellectually lazy, the veil has become synonymous with oppression and potential terrorism. Likewise, ignorance on what it means to be African-American is so unbelievably widespread and complex I couldn’t even begin to address it in this piece, beyond saying that the concentration of melanin in your skin has no determination on who you are as a person. Every human being is deserving of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as long as the means by which they attain these goals does not infringe on another’s rights to these same intentions. Therefore, they sure as hell matter and so do their votes.

I was given a glimmer of hope this week when my university sent out an invitation to the entirety of the staff, faculty, and student body, inviting us to come together for a few hours and discuss the election and its results. The idea was to get opposing sides to have an open dialogue about what each side believed and what they think of the outcome, in hopes of “provid[ing] an environment where we can engage in constructive, meaningful conversations that enable us to learn from one another and deepen our mutual understanding.” When I received this invitation, I was ecstatic. This is exactly what is needed: a place where the two sides can come together and learn about each other and plainly become less ignorant, less divided. And then the typical response happened. A man responded by email (to every single person invited, a bold move I must say) accusing everyone involved of being childish, as if seeking understanding is naïve.

caseemail

These types of responses are what divide people further apart. The assumption here is that non-Trump supporters are unhappy because they lost, and since this is my blog, I can say that from the discussion I’ve had with others who believe like I do, we’re unhappy not because we lost, but because the person who won is someone who intends to take away rights like they’re a knife in a baby’s hands. And I can guarantee you the only people I have seen hiding under their “highbrow, collegiate ivory tower” are those who don’t believe that racism, sexism, and other “isms” still exist. As a woman in STEM, I can tell you numerous times I’ve been asked if I’m sure I want to go into medicine, whether I am going to become a pediatrician, or why would I want to be a doctor when I could just marry one? Apparently, I’m useful only for having children, caring for them, or sitting still and being pretty, sentiments a classmate once made abundantly clear when he told me that my input was not needed for a group project because I was just a “cum dumpster.” So, no we aren’t hiding, because we don’t get to hide. The means of our discrimination are painted on our faces and bodies and I for one will not attempt to hide myself as I used to, nor should anyone feel they must in order to be safe and respected. We are merely showing our willingness to seek out answers, an attitude I am desperately trying to get everyone around me to have.

Generalizations, whether they’re about veiling, being African-American, or the intentions behind dialogues, are symptomatic of our intellectual laziness. We’ve separated ourselves along intensely demarcated party lines with the attitude that if you’re not with us then you’re against us. I am certainly not innocent and have tried to step off my high horse. As an equally guilty party, I come forward with the hope that we can start realizing when we are generalizing and when others are doing it to us. We must stop our intellectual laziness, otherwise we will truly be as divided as every news outlet seems to be declaring we are.

We all have a personal stake in generalizing less and I am no exception. The majority of my family supports Trump, who I am less than a fan of if you all can’t tell. But my family has given me everything so I can be safe, happy, educated, and independent. They have sacrificed so that I can thrive and for that I will never be able to repay them. They certainly don’t fall into the generalizations with which I so badly want to label Trump supporters, yet I still want to shove them in the “idiot” box with everyone else. There’s a reason they believe what they believe and only by asking them, educating myself, will I begin to understand why. And only by opening a dialogue will they know how I think, why I fear a Trump presidency. So, I dare all of you reading this to ask a Trump supporter why they feel what they feel and really dig deep. Don’t give up after a few seconds with a shrug and an “I tried.” That’s not good enough. I dare the Trump supporters who may be reading this to do the same in return. I encourage all of you to continue your personal education in all areas you don’t understand, whether it’s anything regarding LGBT, other cultures or religions, or economic policies. Just make sure what you’re reading is scholarly (hint: Facebook “news” stories don’t count. Try Google scholar at the very least or pick up a damn book). I truly believe that it is only through education that we will be able to heal the divides in our country.

 

UPDATE: This website ranks sources based on their trustworthiness to help you decide if your source is fake. I recommend using this for every article you come across, especially if you get your news primarily from social media (something I do not recommend).

Least Biased

You chose wrong, America.

I remember as child being dragged to church by my father when I was with him for visitation (my parents divorced when I was one). Every Sunday began with Sunday School where simplified versions of bible stories were taught. I remember none of them now. While the teacher waited for all the students to arrive, us early birds would play. Some would color, others played tag, but I always spent the whole time twirling. I wore the same dress every Sunday, my favorite dress. It was a deep seafoam green with white lace around the neck, a fitted bodice, and a skirt that flared out and came down to my knees. I would stand in an open space, arms stretched out with my eyes on the skirt, watching it billow as I spun. I wouldn’t stop spinning unless I got too dizzy and stumbled. I remember feeling distinctly feminine in this dress, like I was exactly who I was supposed to be. It was a powerful feeling. I was in complete control of who I was and who I could be.

As I got older, I began to feel the sense of power I experienced with my youthful femininity vanish. I quickly learned that being girly was inherently weak and only with masculinity came true, lasting, and impressive strength. So, I would play football like the boys, bike like them, talk like them, but yet I was never one of them. I knew I played my part perfectly; I was naturally athletic and boyish looking when I was young, so I should have been able to fool them, yet I never could. I figured out that the problem wasn’t that I didn’t play the role well enough, but rather those who knew gave me away in how they treated me. At dinner, my father, brother, and step-brothers would all get their food first while the girls ate last. When my father played video games with my brother, I was not allowed to join them because girls didn’t play video games, girls stayed in their rooms and painted or played with dolls. I would watch out of my bedroom window as they threw a ball outside because girls didn’t play ball, girls stayed in their rooms and were quiet. I began to see that being a girl meant being limited and powerless.

On my fifteenth birthday, my father told me that if I didn’t want to keep visiting him I didn’t have to, so I immediately stopped. I usually tried to avoid him when he came to pick up my brother, who still enjoyed visiting him; so when I saw him again, it was months later. On this day he arrived early and I wasn’t ready. He walked into my mother’s house and looked surprised to see me standing there, as if he had forgotten I existed and only upon seeing me remembered. He began attempting some lukewarm conversation, the substance of which I hardly remember. I assume it was something to do with how school was going and what my future plans were, because he told me “you’ll be very successful.” Wow, a compliment that isn’t backhanded, I thought, surprised to hear these words from this man. “Because you are very pretty.” Oh, of course. My success is wholly dependent on my appearance because that’s all women are useful for, right?

For years throughout high school and college, I fought with my subconscious and the sly lessons of my youth that told me what girls should and shouldn’t be. I knew theoretically I was equal to men, but my whole life had taught me differently. My trained subconscious told me to hide my intelligence, minimize myself, not be too opinionated. It guided my choices for years without me realizing. It told me that I could either be feminine or powerful (to the small capacity I thought I could be), but never both. Clawing my way through the depths of my subconscious, I worked to reconcile my femininity with my strength. Gradually, my intensity came to work in conjunction with my femininity, not despite it. I am no longer afraid nor ashamed to be a woman, despite the tumultuous environment of my youth. I no longer minimize myself, limit my mental growth, nor stifle my opinions.

It shouldn’t be such a fight for a woman, person of color, LGBT person, Muslim, or anyone to be respected as a human being. Discrimination based on that which we were born with opens us up to all types of discrimination. If we hate based on one unchangeable metric, we might as well hate based on them all. Therefore, we should judge others based on none. A person should not be judged because they were born Latinx, a woman, or gay. A person should be judged on their actions. It is for this reason I judge Donald Trump.

I watched last night as the votes were tallied. My heart felt like it was ripped from my chest as I watched my home state, North Carolina, turn red in support of Trump. I wept as the final announcement came that a man who discriminates, and promotes discrimination, based on uncontrollable features is the new leader of the United States of America. I bawled my eyes out knowing that the fear my LGBT friends felt just beginning to subside came rushing back and will worsen over the next four years. I sobbed knowing that women’s healthcare rights will be reduced under the guise of protection. I mourned knowing that young women growing up under a Trump presidency will feel the exclusion I felt in my youth and will have to fight as I fought, just to be seen as equal. I cried as I realized immigration will decrease, because who wants to wait for years to move to a country that will only ostracize them? Watching the stock market fall and the value of the dollar plummet only made the night that much worse. I wept for the impending pain this country will feel because what we feel now is nothing compared to the damage that will be done by a Trump presidency with Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

I may be but one person, but I have fought all my life to get where I am and I sure as hell still have fight left in me. As long as I can read, hear, or write I will be fighting against the policies of this monstrous presidency and all this sad excuse of a man stands for. Donald Trump will ruin America. I plan on making it great again.