A Completely Apolitical Assessment Of Hillary And Donald

A Completely Apolitical Assessment Of Hillary And Donald

Politics aside, are either of them actually likeable people?
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Before you jump to any conclusions, this is not going to be one of those many opinion articles that make an argument for or against Democratic or Republican policies or ideologies. I enjoy reading my fair share of those, but quite frankly there are more than enough of them saturating the interwebs.

This is just one person's opinion of the types of people that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump seem to be, based on what we've seen of them before, during and after the 2016 Presidential campaign. And let me just start by saying, both of them are far from perfect.

Let's begin with Donald. He was an incredibly successful businessman and a celebrity even before he jumped into the American political arena. I think we can all agree that business is important -- I mean, to some extent, it makes the world go 'round -- but we can probably all relate to the feeling we get when rich, successful people brag about their wealth rather than being humble about it. This is 100% the vibe I get from Donald J. "Sick of Winning" Trump.

And don't even get me started on the nasty things he did and said during the campaign. He was actually really rude to so many people, from reporters to everyday Americans that he hadn't even met. He also had (and still has) an awful habit of saying whatever the heck he feels like saying, without regard for whether or not it is cruel or just plain untrue. I think we can all agree that, even if this hurtful or dubious speech is protected by the First Amendment, that doesn't automatically make it professional, polite, or even decent to say. There is a difference between saying the hard but necessary things and just spouting unfiltered nonsense, and I don't think Donald has ever fully grasped that difference.

Even though Hillary doesn't suffer from "foot-in-mouth disease" in the same way that Donald does, she has still made her fair share of mistakes. This could partially be a product of the hillary-ous (pun intended) way she is characterized on SNL by Kate McKinnon, but there's just something about Hillary's behavior that seems so ungenuine. One minute she claims to care about improving the lives of middle and working-class Americans, and the next minute she refers to a significant portion of the electorate with very deplorable language that does not need to be repeated here.

I must admit that I disliked her instinctively; it felt like she was grasping for power rather than actually acting out of concern for the people of this country.

Now, this is not to say that Donald is always entirely genuine either. But I must say, despite his near-constant stream of problematic tweets, some of his actions as President have struck me as incredibly heartfelt and sincere. The most recent one that comes to mind is his brief speech at the US Capitol when Billy Graham was honored there earlier this month. Although he's not as moving a speaker as Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan, his short remarks seemed very personal, especially when he talked about his own father had gone to hear Billy Graham speak.

There's just something about Donald that seems like he has really risen to the occasion and wants to be a good and effective President.

Of course, I'm sure Hillary also would have been capable of similarly magnanimous behavior had she been elected. But as it is, her post-defeat actions have seemed to cast her as the victim of a sexist society, as she lists off the various parties that are to blame for her loss in her infamous book What Happened.

Lest we forget Donald has played his fair share of the blame game, I don't think I've ever heard so much about a "rigged" and unfair system than I did before this election. I suppose we'll never know for certain whether Donald would have been a sore loser or not. He has not always been a gracious winner, but at least he seems to be moving on to more pressing national issues at hand.

Overall, it is undeniable that both candidates, like all the rest of us, are flawed, fallible human beings. At times, they are both selfish, disrespectful, dishonest, and worse. But both do have their virtues, and both had every right to participate in the American political system, and have the right to do so again in the future.

While I think that ideological and political issues should ultimately be the deciding factor in an election, there's no denying that it is vitally important to pay attention to the type of person that you are voting for (or against, as was the case for many Americans in 2016). I only hope that this tumultuous political climate can lead us to closely examine ourselves as well as our politicians, and hopefully to demand the same high standards of our society as we do of its leaders.

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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Filipino-American Mental Health: It Starts with a Conversation

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When it comes to talking about mental health struggles, I feel like a lot of Filipino-Americans share a similar attitude—sure, it happens, but not with my family. Whether it is because the language is still inaccessible to our communities, or we refuse to approach the topic because of fear, or a little bit of both, a lot of us have yet to really contextualize and express how this particular topic shows up in our daily lives. So you can just imagine how radical it was when a group of Filipino-American health professionals, academics, student leaders, nonprofit leaders and more participated in the first ever National Forum on Filipino American Mental Health held at the Philippine Embassy. On that day, members of our community said yes, mental health struggles absolutely happen, and they are experienced by our families too.

I participated in the forum as an EPYC Ambassador for the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). The EPYC Program, in its sophomore year, hopes to empower the next generation of Fil-Am leaders across the country by assisting in the personal and professional development of students and young professionals. As an ambassador for the Capital Region, I was quickly introduced to the scene in the D.C. Metro Area. I made my way from one community event to another, increasing my networks and learning about the resources that I wished I knew when I was younger. But it was, ironically, the topic of mental health that made me very anxious to attend the forum. At the time, I was going through one of the hardest college semesters of my life, and I was afraid to participate in an event dealing directly with this very topic. I woke up that morning with every intention of fading into the background to listen rather than to speak.

But that is not what happened. The hosts made it clear that they wanted to hear what the young people had to say. Jon Melegrito, a local community pioneer known fondly as "Tito Jon" said that that day was about sharing our stories, because we rarely have the opportunity to do so. The room had prominent scholars like Dr. Kevin Nadal (who sat next to me!) and Dr. E.J. Ramos David, but their eyes were focused on us. And so we spoke. We talked about dealing with stigma both inside and outside the community. We talked about the structural barriers (like costs) that make it hard for anybody to get support, regardless of their ethnicity. On the topic of collaboration, I mentioned that it was important for us to address that Filipino-Americans are not a monolith, and that we must always strive to center the most marginalized among us.


Pictured: Austin Chavez, Kevin Nadal, Andrew Bartolome, Jon Melegrito, and Janis Manalang. Photo by Lia Macadangdang


There was one topic, however, that we kept circling back to: the disconnect between parent and child, between first gen and second gen, between the homeland and the diaspora. I often find these conversations to be very interesting, because as someone who identifies as 1.5 gen (someone who immigrated to this country as a child), I serve as a good example that those conversations are not black-and-white. If there is anything I learned from being pushed into the diaspora it is that this life is very hard. No amount of Filipino resilience can prepare you from dealing with so much loss when you are away from your people. What diaspora asks of us is to rebuild and re-envision a new life without having much of a blueprint to borrow from. So who should we be? What kind of life should we have? These are some of the broader conversations our communities will need to have for some time.


Quezon City, Philippines. 2003.


And what we are seeing now is that more and more of our people are willing to have them. Recently, Instagram hired Filipino-American student Jazmine Alcon (@pettyofcolor) as an Instagram Ambassador. Alcon uses her platform to create online spaces for youth, specifically Filipinx youth, to talk about mental health issues. Malaka Gharib of NPR has published a heartwarming multimedia piece on Filipino-American Mental Health with the help of Ryann Tanap of AARP. Academics like Nadal and David have been making a name for Filipino-American psychology for some time and still continue to make breakthroughs.

And we should not stop there. We also need to take a look at what Ruby Ibarra is doing, what Bambu DePistola is doing. We must engage with Elaine Castillo and Jose Antonio Vargas. We have to ground ourselves in the work of Dawn Mabalon and Carlos Bulosan who did so much work for our people when they were here. We also have to be humble enough to look at what other communities have done that help paved the way for us. Fil-Ams, especially non-Black Fil-Ams, need to be just as dedicated in reading their bell hooks and Audre Lorde and James Baldwin and Kimberle Crenshaw and Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston, and so much more. Inclusivity, intersectionality, and solidarity should be the heart of our many conversations. Kapwa (connectedness) must not come with any conditions.

As I unpack my own struggles with mental health, I often look back on the day of the forum. I often have to stop myself from feeling like a hypocrite because I was talking about a topic that I have yet to fully resolve on my own. And then I realize that perhaps the bigger problem was that I thought I had to resolve it alone. As I get closer to graduation, I am beginning to understand that I should not beat myself up any longer, because life in the diaspora already does a good job of doing that. What I should do is be more gentle and give more grace for those are the more radical things to do in the face of what we are dealt with. The business of being free is hard work, but to echo Dr. E.J. Ramos David—this is because "this is the heart's work."

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Irish-American History Is Just As Important As Any Other Culture, You Can't Prove Me Wrong

I cherish being Irish and I will not let anyone let me feel bad for that.

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Depending on when you're reading this, Saint Patrick's day has either just passed or is around the corner. For me, Saint Patrick's day is tomorrow. I've been debating this article for some time now because I didn't know how it would be perceived. At this point, though, I feel it's important for me to get out. No, Irish people were never kept as slaves in America, and I will never be one to try and say they were. However, Irish people were treated tremendously awful in America. A lot of people tend to forget, or just try to erase entirely, the history of the Irish in America. So much so that I felt shameful for wanting to celebrate my heritage. Therefore, I want to bring to light the history that everyone brushes under the rug.

In 1845, a potato famine broke out across Ireland. This was a big deal because the Irish lived off, mainly, potatoes. They were cheap, easy to grow, and had tons of nutrients. So when the famine struck, many people either died of starvation or fled to America in seek of refuge. When the Irish arrived in America they were seen as a threat to the decency of America. People viewed them as drunk beasts, sinful savages, barbaric, violent, belligerent, stupid, and white apes. When the Irish would go to look for jobs, many times they found signs that read "Irish Need Not Apply," even when the job was hiring. Therefore, the Irish did the jobs no one wanted, and even jobs African slaves wouldn't do. The biggest example of this is when Irishmen built canals and drained swamps. They were sent to do these things because of the enormous amount of mosquitoes; in the swamp, they would get bit and ultimately die of malaria.

Also, during this time, Irish people were poor and therefore lived in the same neighborhoods as the free African Americans. A lot of the Irish people were friendly with their neighbors of color and even got into interracial relationships. Because the Irish lived in these neighborhoods they were seen as dirty and even a lot of people at this time put African Americans higher on the totem pole than Irish. One person during the time even said, "At least the black families keep their homes clean."

The main reason American's outlook on Irish people changed was that most Irishmen took up fighting for the Union in the Civil War. I make this argument, not because I think the Irish suffered more than African slaves. I don't say this in means of trying to erase the struggles of the African slaves. I do not think that any of our ancestors should have been treated the way they were. I mean to say that the Irish did in fact suffer. Irish people were treated wrongly on the basis of...nothing. Simply because my ancestors hailed from the shores of Eire, they were treated with malice. And I write this simply because I want people to remember. I want people to understand what happened.

On Saint Patrick's Day this year, next year, and for the many years to come, I want people to embrace the Irish culture. I want the folks of Irish heritage to not be ashamed of where they come from; to not be ashamed to share their culture the way I have for many years. I want everyone to have a beer, wear some green, eat a potato or two, and dance the Irish step; to celebrate the history of Irish people with a bit more understanding than before.

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