4 Movements to Keep Discussing In 2018

4 Movements to Keep Discussing In 2018

Our New Years resolution is to keep raising our voices.

One of my favorite professors once said to my class that we are responsible for making a change. That is was up to us to use our voices and influence to make a difference in the world. She also said that it was our job to take news and keep the momentum going, to keep people talking and thinking. So, when I thought about what I wanted my new year's resolution to be, I realized I wanted to make sure things I feel are important are not forgotten in the new year. It is a time where people need to come together and use their voices against discrimination and hate. It is also a time where we have discussions where people might not always agree. But, this is also a way for us to learn from one another. So I wanted to discuss some of the most controversial movements of 2017.

1. Taking the knee

There has been a lot of controversy over athletic players choosing to kneel in protest during the National Anthem. Some say it is a symbol of freedom of speech. Others say it is a sign of disrespect for the men and women who fight for our country. Many people have joined in this protest that seemed to have stemmed from racial injustice.

Started by Colin Kaepernick, a former 49ers player during the 2016 - 2017 season. Kaepernick isn’t the only athlete to start a movement like this but his gesture started a chain reaction. Even high school/college teams have joined in, during a time where the Black Lives Matter movement was running in full force. These players risked being benched/not being resigned to raise a message. With researching more about this, I can see both sides. Some feel like it is horrible to ignore something that is meant for the people who are risking or have risked their lives for our freedom. Yet, I also think that this protest is showing that not everyone feels free. In the U.S., we often pride ourselves on being the land of freedom, free speech, and possibilities. But that’s not the case for everyone. Especially now where our differences are being magnetized and used to break us apart.

Being born in the city I grew up with people of all nationalities and backgrounds. I miss the days where I didn’t wonder if someone was going to judge me or my family based on the color of your skin, the accent in our voices, or where our ancestors were born. Growing up you begin to learn that a social construct like race can define you and sometimes can even be used to determine your value. I feel like protests like these bring very real worries to light at the risk of confrontation. But like I said, this isn’t the first of its kind and I don’t believe it’ll be the last.

2. Pro-choice/Birth control debate

One, if not the scariest moments for women this year was the actions Trump was taking to prevent women from obtaining birth control. This makes it possible for people to deny selling birth control due to religious purposes. This is still an ongoing battle as the rollback has repeatedly been blocked but is still being brought up in court. Some say Trump is fighting for religious freedom. It is very hard for me to look at both perspectives. Woman have fought, and are sadly continuing to fight for our rights to OUR bodies.

I feel like there needs to be a huge sign that states unless you are a woman, stay the hell out of our business. I do not understand why men who have no idea what we women have to go through feel they have the right to take away our choices. Men who stopped plans for male birth control because they didn’t like the side effects- there aren’t even words to express how I feel about this. At a time where stories of sexual assault were/and are still coming into light, knowledge of how women take part in unhealthy abortions, and the fact that birth control isn’t only used to prevent pregnancy were presented. The argument has come up that if people are worried about getting pregnant, they should just not have sex.

People are focusing on the idea that birth control is an excuse for people to be able to have sex without worrying about pregnancy when they need to realize who else this decision affects. It is used for women who have severe PMS pains or migraines, endometriosis, or woman who need to regulate their period or control acne. Religious health organizations say having to provide birth control goes against their beliefs; what about the people who need this medication for their health and well being?

3. Deporting citizens

One of the most talked about events recently is, what is happening to DACA the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”? This program allows undocumented children to be protected from deportation and allows them to obtain workers permits. This program has been fought against, and currently is not taking any applicants. This organization helps children who were brought to the U.S. before their sixteenth birthday. Individuals who wish to go to school and to work to support themselves/their families without fear of being deported. One of the scariest things about 2017 was that it was a time where diversity was seen as something wrong. Our differences were brought out and used against us.

People who came, or have come to the U.S. illegally are trying to make a healthy and safe life for their families. Those who do so are at risk of being sent somewhere that is no longer home. They are sought out by people who accuse them of stealing their jobs (the lowest paying jobs that no one wants to do). Children who were brought here by their parents are terrified of being discovered, and loved ones are separated. Children who are citizens are at risk of having their parents and guardians ripped away from them.

Growing up, I believed that we were a giant mixing pot. Going to college I realized that wasn’t the case everywhere. After the election, I realized that being “American” seemed to come with a set of rules. You had to be born in the U.S., you had to speak English (only), you couldn’t be too dark, and you didn’t have as many choices as you might have thought-- especially if you are female. When the reality is we are all immigrants, and in various cases, some might have forgotten that the land people are so scared of being taken over wasn’t ours to take in the first place. This was the Native Americans land, so who are the real illegal immigrants here?

4. Power over consent

Recently in the media, a lot of people have been coming forward-- especially in Hollywood about sexual assault. Every day it seems we are getting another story about a man or woman who was sexually harassed or assaulted by someone who is viewed as “powerful”. Whether it be a famous director, a team coach, or a coworker. A lot of people are asking the question, why is this only coming out now? In one of my classes, my professor talked about the first time he had kissed his wife when they had just started to date. He told us that after the kiss, he had asked her if he had overstepped his boundaries. Of course, it was awkward to ask that, but he made the argument that instead of going through the discomfort of checking with others, we have decided that this “assertion of power” over someone is the norm.

We don’t often like to feel uncertain, but we become lost when you assert this “power” over someone else, you are taking away their right to choose. These “powerful” people use reputation, status, and assertiveness to push themselves on others and convince them of things they did not choose to take part in. All of these stories we are reading today show how “normal” these tragedies are becoming.

As my professor so amazingly put it, we should take part in the “slow burn of intimacy”, where going through the discomfort of “checking” is the normality, not these acts of “forcing” others. In another one of my classes, we talked about women being attracted to men who display chivalry. We also talked about what we associate chivalry with; a man who does things such as opening doors, dissolving conflicts, etc. Then we discussed how the women in these types of situations look. The woman was described as weak, stereotypical damsel, and more. This made me think because of course, we don’t want to have to be weak to deserve to be treated nicely, but that didn’t change the fact that it was synonymous.

These are just a few of so many movements that took place in 2017. Now as we enter 2018 I am anxious to see what is in store for us. I feel that the new year will be a time for people to use their voices to empower others. A time for us to stand together against injustice and negativity. It is the time for us to take our future into our own hands. Also, a time for us to reflect and see other people’s viewpoints. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me just like how I don’t always agree with everyone opinions, but I will continue to try to see where others are coming from. So here's to a new year full of possibilities.

Cover Image Credit: StockSnap.io

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4 Times I Took A Punch From My First Career Job

You need to take a few punches before you learn their strategy.

I took a job that felt like the next best thing. It offered more salary than I’ve ever made, more responsibilities than I’ve ever held, and the opportunity to grow in skill and status. An excited novice in the company, I began with bright eyes and the highest of hopes. This was my first job in a career that I had dedicated my entire college education in. I was willing to continue to learn, even though I felt more than ready to start applying my textbook knowledge.

Life never hits harder than when we think we show up prepared. Here are four things that punched me in the face of perception and helped me realize my own potential and value in a new workplace.

1. You are your own boss of success.

Be your own worst critic. Evaluate yourself and be attentive and faithful to integrity. Make a conscious decision to act in benevolence, and practice honesty and principle. Instead of taking the energy to formulate excuses, own up to failure or flaw and build off of it. If you want to succeed, manage yourself closely.

2. Ask questions to learn your way up.

Ask Questions. While you are training (and even after!) be that kid to raise your hand and ask the questions the rest of the students pretend to know. Let your brain be a dry sponge: observe, and soak in. Learn the systems to start out. Be that as it may, also do not assume the processes and functions in use are always the best. Make notes and don’t be afraid to want to improve systems once you are familiar with the ropes. Take advantage of being the fresh eyes.

3. Workout and sweat the insecurities.

When we put ourselves in different environments with different stimuli, we learn about ourselves in new ways. We find out what makes us uncomfortable. We figure out how we work most productively. We learn our strengths and weakness. Weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and insecurities are like parts of our body we need to strengthen with exercise and good posture! If we want to grow out of them we need to start lifting the weights that will build mass and cultivate ourselves into willing, innovative, and confident workers. I’m learning my strengths, but more importantly, I’m learning where I’m weak.

4. Be appreciative.

Thank the people who train and challenge you. I’ve never heard of anyone disliking appreciation; let your gratitude be the buffer between who you are/where you’re at and who you want to become/where you want to go. After all, Gertrude Stein said “Silent gratitude isn't very much to anyone.”

It only took a few punches, but I believe I’m better for it. I was scared at first, because I was taking the next step in my career. Working a position in my desired career was a huge challenge because I had not yet learned to apply my education to the real world, which is forcing me to learn patience with myself. It’s new and exciting and I always look forward to what tomorrow may bring.

Cover Image Credit: www.pexels.com

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Foreign: A Short Story

As the water drips down my body, I lean my head back so the flow of the water can gently rush on to my face. I attempt to open my eyes but the water overtakes my vision. And then I hear it.

“MOM!!!” I take my head out of the shower and in a moment of panic, I shout

“What? Is everything okay?” When I don’t hear their voices call back, I turn the knob of the shower and finish getting out. Wrapping the towel around me, I rush into the room.

“What’s going on in here?”

“Mom, tell her to give it back.”

In a teasing manner, she mimics him “tell her to give it back.”

“Stop, it’s not yours!”

“Guys! Stop! I haven’t even left to go to work yet and you two are already arguing! How am I supposed to leave you alone? And whose is that? Where did you guys get it? We can’t afford anything like that!” And then they do that thing, where suddenly I don’t understand my own children.

“Es porque te lo rejalo la novia verdad?”

“Deja me en paz, Y damelo!”

“Como se llama? Pa-ula… verdad?”

And then I can’t take it anymore… “STOP! Give me the game. None of you are getting it, and for the last time, we speak English in this house, you guys know I don’t understand you!”

“But mom—“

“But nothing, now tell me whose is this?”

“Carl has a new friend at school and she’s a gir—“

“STOP! She just let me borrow her gamegirl, no big deal!”

I begin to calm down. “Carl, I don’t want you borrowing anything from anyone at school. If you break it, we can’t replace it, so please give this back to her first thing Monday morning, understood?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Alright, now I’m gonna go get ready for work, I want you both in bed by 10.”

And then I wait for it… In unison they begin their choir of complaints, “but mom!”

“But nothing! Bed at 10, and I’m asking Mrs. Fernandez from upstairs to come down and check on both of you to make sure you're asleep!” Defeated, they agree.

As I go back into the bathroom to get dressed, my steps seem to get more sluggish every time I walk. I look at the clock on the wall and it reads 5:15, 5:15 and then I plead asking the clock not to change and then 5:16. In a little less than an hour I’ll be back at the gas station, cleaning off the gum from the doors of the restroom. Watching as truckers pass by saying things that are supposed to creep me out but only leave me asking what the words they were saying meant, and then it’ll be 3am and I’ll be home again.

I kiss my kids goodnight, hopefully not goodbye, and they promise to behave. I go outside and see the landlord on the porch sipping on her coffee.

“Hey Susan!” She says in her thick accent

“Hi Mrs. Fernandez. Enjoying the beautiful day I see.”

“Yes of course, going to your second job already?”

“Yes, I told the kids you’ll be down to check on them to make sure they’re asleep by 10.”

“Of course! Don’t worry about it, you stay safe. What time will you be home?”

“Around three.”

“Ay, Dios I’ll be praying for you! Good thing there is no school tomorrow so you don’t have to go to work.”

“Actually, I have to be there at 7am. The janitors have to clean the kitchen at the school since the inspector is coming on Monday.”

“Ahhh well mija, in this world we have to do what we can to survive.”

“Don’t I know it! Well, thank you again Mrs. Fernandez. Hopefully I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Si gringita! See you tomorrow!”

I walk to my car, each step forward feeling as though I took ten steps back. As I approach my car, I see an officer hovering right over it and so I run.

“Excuse me! No, that’s my car! Please don’t give me a ticket!”

“Perdon? Es que senorita no se puede estacionar aqui, alli esta el rotulo”

“I’m sorry, No puedo- hablar.. esapnol.” He sees me struggle to get the words out and with a face of disgust, he looks at me.

“You no espeak Spanish? This isn’t America! Learn Spanish! I will let you out with a warning pero, the sign esays no parking okay?”

“Si senor, I’m sorry.”

And then he talks into his walkie and leaves. As I get into my car and turn on the ignition, I begin to drive as quick as I can. I look at the clock and it reads 5:45. As I turn into the gas station, I park the car in a secluded place and I close my eyes. As I feel the tears run down my face, I remember being back home in New York. The year was 2019, Carl and Kristin were only five years old at the time.

“Honey! Are you still asleep? I dropped the kids off at school, you should of seen their faces. They were so excited about their first day of kindergarten!”

“Babe, we need to talk.” It surprised me that he was already up and dressed. Usually he doesn’t get up until I have to leave to the clinic to meet my first patient of the day.

“Everything okay?”

“I got drafted.”

“What? But, I don’t understand I thought you weren’t likely to get drafted?”

“I know but there is so much going on and they’re trying to take anyone they can get.”

I took a deep breath. I understood that this wasn’t our choice and besides, he always comes back. He must have seen the worry in my face because then he adds, “but, don’t worry everything will be okay, I always come back.”

“Yeah, you better,” I say as lean my head on his chest.

“Can’t you take the day off? Let’s go do something just you and me!” He says

“Honey, I have a bunch of patients and you know I don’t get paid like I used to. We already lost our first house, we can’t lose this one too.”

“I know. Things are going to get better, don’t worry.” I laugh and then he laughs and for a moment it feels as though nothing is wrong. And then I look at the clock on the T.V. stand and it reads 10:00am.

“Well I don’t have my first patient until 1. What do you say I make us a big breakfast and we eat on the couch as we watch cartoons?” I ask in a convincing way

“This is why I love you,” he responds

As I’m cooking we’re both talking and laughing and he decides to turn on the radio.

“Let’s see if I can find any of the classics on here.”

“Honey, you could just put on Spotify or something.”

“Now you have been hanging out around the kids too long. Come on, the radio’s static noise brings back memories. Remember, when we used to hang out after school and listen to the radio until your mom called, yelling for you to get home?”

“Yeah, and that’s why my parents didn’t like you at first.”

And then our song comes on. As we’re singing along, we get interrupted.

“This just in. New attacks have been reported on parts of New York and New Jersey. We advise all residents of these two states to please remain alert of any attacks, and to not let anyone you do not know into your home. This has been a message from the U.S. federal government. Any further questions please visit us at www.-

And then he gets that call. “I have to take this, turn that off and try to relax before work.”

I nod, then go to the television and turn it on. I think about the twins, but then I remember they’re safe, the guards are all around the school. As soon as the T.V turns on, I regret ever looking. There were a lot of things I regretted that day. The gunshots on the television are so loud that it feels as though it’s coming from outside and then I realize it is…

My phone goes off and just like that, I’m back to reality. The days that followed were even more intense. My husband left and said goodbye for real this time and I kissed him on the lips not knowing it would be the last time. I took the kids to Texas to see my mother and even she told me that running away was the best option. We were always afraid to step foot outside and the kids had to stop going to school. I knew that if I left I would never be able to see my family again but I also knew that my children didn’t have a future there. We left, we left and seven years later we haven’t returned.

I scrape the gum off the floor and hear footsteps come closer and closer.

“Mira quien es, la gringa” I try to ignore him and then he kicks me.

“I’m talking to you, vieja tonta regresa a tu país, nadie quiere alguien de un país podrido”

And I knew this was just the beginning of our worries and this was going to be our new norm, because truth is I don’t belong but, I will keep fighting because my children do. As he walks away and goes back into his truck I release the tears and they gently run down my face. País podrido. Rotten country. The truth hits me and although I shouldn’t, I feel offended but what else can I do?

After that, the gas station is quiet and I hear the static noise of the radio and then our song comes on, but this time I don’t sing along.

Cover Image Credit: https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/04/29/immigration-detention-center_wide-cee013baaa0e724d9f5c333e1bc458f305c1d303.jpg?s=1400

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