7 "Helpful" Tips From A White Guy

7 "Helpful" Tips From A White Guy

Navigating the world we live in is tough. Here are some things I have learned.
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There has been a lot of talk recently about how us white folks should address sensitive issues around racism, free speech, and triggers. Up front, I am a white guy whose main faults are introversion and pending unemployment, so if you're expecting truly important or revolutionary writing, I'd advise searching elsewhere. This article represents nothing more than my way of working through highly sensitive issues, but here are some tips I've come up with in the past 22 years:

1. Trust Your Peers

A lot of the criticism I've heard about trigger warnings or being conscious of language has come from those who assume that what another person feels and experiences is somehow made up or disingenuous. I'm not sure if that assumption exists as a product of our cynical world or just hegemony, but it makes me sad to see that people jump to such an unreasonable conclusion. People have no reason to lie, so why would they?

2. Don't Assume Someone Else's Hurt Is About You

The perverse sibling of White Guilt is a tendency I'll call "White Paranoia." Here's an example I recently passed by: Person A says that they feel unsafe around white people recently. Person B, who identifies as a caucasian male, gets defensive because he likes to think of himself as a pretty reasonable dude. The argument gets heated, but why? Person B was never directly insulted, but he did feel implicated in the statement because of his own identity, and reacted acerbically. What he failed to recognize was that statement was not about him; it was about his friend, who felt hurt and unsafe. Dwelling on personal offense in that situation is like complaining about a sprained ankle in a car crash.

3. Don't Not Assume Someone Else's Hurt Is About You

To directly contradict my last point, sometimes Person B would have to realize that yes, they personally are actively participating in and benefiting from a system that is causing the hurt. While focusing on Person A first is important, swinging around after the fact to challenge what about Person B can change in themselves is just as key.

4. Civility Is Nice, But It Sure Doesn't Change Much

I am still 100 percent convinced that if we as Americans continue on our current trajectory, there will be an internal revolution in the next 25 years. Personally, I believe America needs to be challenged into relatively nonviolent change before that happens. Simply put, acting nicely and going through proper channels is conforming to an oppressive system, and a diplomatic protest could be considered an oxymoron. Disrupting the status quo and making things that seem a molehill to some into a mountain to rally around is absolutely necessary for society to advance; we never change unless we're uncomfortable. Take for instance the classic debate: #BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter. Some argue that the latter could appeal to more people, but that's missing the entire point. Movements are meant to change the world, not please the masses.

5. Empathy Is Essential, But Understand That It Only Goes So Far

The great secret (that is no secret, really) is that I will never experience what it is like to be Black in America, and to think I do would just be arrogant. While I do try constantly to empathize with my peers and understand what I can do to reduce my own transgressions, at a certain point, no one can exit their own identity completely. I am no different.

6. Don't Apologize

OK, yes, if you personally have acted like an a**hole, be a human and apologize to the person or people you have offended. But to focus all your energy on constant show-stealing apology instead of either actively helping or just stepping back when your effort is not needed or desired is selfish. Again, another person's struggle is not about you feeling better about yourself.

7. We Are All Human

Everyone on all sides makes mistakes constantly; to assume you are any different is a strange flavor of naïveté. I consider myself a fairly progressive person, but that doesn't mean I don't constantly make offensive mistakes (in fact, I'm still somewhat convinced that this article is one of them). Recognizing that you are a flawed and evolving thinker and that you will never not be is the first step toward improving what you can.

Cover Image Credit: i.huffpost.com

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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Ilhan Omar Is at Best Foolhardy and at Worst, Yes, Anti-Semitic

Her latest statements seem to lack substance, motivation, or direction.

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I find the case of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to be a curious one.

Specifically, I am referring to the recent controversy over select comments of hers that have generated accusations of anti-Semitism. In all honesty, prior to doing research for this article, I was prepared to come to her defense.

When her comments consisted primarily of "Israeli hypnosis" and monied interest, I thought her wording poor, though not too egregiously deviated from that of most politicians in the current climate of bad behavior. After all, Israeli PACs surely do have a monied interest in the orientation of United States policy in the Middle East. Besides, if President Trump can hypothesize about killing someone in broad daylight and receive no official sanction, I don't see the need for the House of Representatives to hand down reprimand to Rep. Omar for simply saying that Israel may have dealt wrongly, regardless of the veracity of that position.

And yet, seemingly discontent that she had not drawn enough ire, Omar continued firing. She questioned the purported dual loyalty of those Americans who support the state of Israel, while also making claim that the beloved former President Obama is actually not all that different from the reviled current President Trump.

In short, the initial (mostly) innocuous statements about the United States' relation with Israel have been supplanted by increasingly bizarre (and unnecessary) postulations.

Those latest two controversies I find most egregious. Questioning the loyalty of an American citizen for espousing support for a heavily persecuted world religion and in defense of a refuge for practitioners of that self-same religion that has existed as an independent state since 1948, seems, in really no uncertain terms, anti-Semitic.

After all, is it not her own party that so adamantly supports persecuted Palestinians in the very same region? Is it not she and fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (who is not without her own streak of anti-Semitic controversy) that have rejected challenges to their own loyalty in being ethnically Somali and Palestinian respectively? Is her claim not akin to the "racist" demands that Obama produce proof of his birth in the United States, and the more concrete racism that asserted he truly was not? And (if you care to reach back so far) can her statement not be equated to suggestions that President John F. Kennedy would be beholden to the Vatican as the first (and to date only) Catholic to hold the presidency?

From what I can discern amongst her commentary, in Omar's mind, the rules that apply to her framework on race, ethnicity, religion, and culture as sacred idols above reproach do not extend to her Jewish contemporaries.

Oh, and may I remind you that over 70% of Jewish Americans voted for Hilary Clinton in 2016.

And yet, beyond even this hypocrisy, is the strange disdain Omar suddenly seems to hold for Barack Obama. Even as a non-Democrat, while I can find reason for this, it is still largely perplexing.

To begin with, I recognize that Ilhan Omar is not your prototypical Democrat. She would scoff at being termed a moderate, and likely would do the same to being labeled a traditional liberal. While she doesn't identify as an outright democratic socialist, one would have to be totally clueless to avoid putting her in the company of those who do, such as Tlaib or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

As such, she's bound to have some critical evaluations of President Obama, despite the lionizing that the Democratic establishment has and continues to engage in. Two points still stick out to me as obvious incongruities in her statement, however.

First, Obama and Trump are nothing alike. Again, this coming from someone who does not regularly support either, I can at least attempt to claim objectivity. While Obama might not have been faithful to all the demands of the far-left during his presidency, his position on the political spectrum was far from the extreme bent that Trump has ventured into.

Secondly, there is the style of the two men to consider. While Obama had his share of goofs and gaffes (I still think it somewhat juvenile that he often refused to say "radical Islamic terrorism" when referring to Islamist extremists) he pales in comparison to Trump. Every week Trump has his foot caught in a new bear trap. Obama is enormously tame in comparison.

And in addition to all of that, one must beg the question of Omar's timing. With Republicans emboldened by her controversies and House Democratic leadership attempting to soothe the masses, why would Omar strike out at what's largely a popular figure for those that support her most? There seemed no motivation for the commentary and no salient reasoning to back it up, save that Omar wanted to speak her mind.

Such tactlessness is something that'll get you politically killed.

I do not believe Barack Obama was a great president, but that's not entirely important. I don't live in Ilhan Omar's district; her constituents believe Obama was a great president, and that should at least factor into her considerations. Or maybe she did weigh the negative value of such backlash and decided it wouldn't matter? 2019 isn't an election year, after all. Yet, even if that's the case, what's to gain by pissing off your superiors when they're already pissed off at you?

You need to pick your battles wisely in order to win the war, and I'm highly doubtful Omar will win any wars by pitching scorched-earth tactics over such minute concerns.

Her attitude reminds me not only of that of some of her colleagues engaging obtusely and unwisely over subjects that could best be shrugged off (see the AOC media controversies), but also some of my own acquaintances. They believe not only in the myth of their own infallibility, but the opposition bogeyman conjured by their status in a minority or marginalized group. As the logic goes, "I'm a member of x group, and being so gives me the right to decimate anyone who has any inclination to stand against me in any capacity, tit for tat." So much for civility.

I initially came here to defend Rep. Ilhan Omar, and I still do hold to that in certain cases. The opposition to some of her positions is unwarranted. She is allotted the freedom of speech, as are all Americans.

And yet, in certain other cases she has conducted herself brashly, and, one could argue, anti-Semitically.

All I can say is that I am content living adjacent to Minneapolis, not in it. You'd be hard-pressed to find me advocating for leadership that makes manifest in such impolitic fashion.

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