Cornell Mourns For PULSE Victims

Cornell Mourns For PULSE Victims

Tears streaked many cheeks in a candlelit circle on Ho Plaza.
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A circle of people gathered on Ho Plaza before sunset, surrounding 49 squares of paper with a single name on each one, and a candle resting on top. Soft music singing gentle melodies of love and mourning played in the background as we all sat down on the still-warm cement. People of all ages, ethnicities, sexual orientation, and genders were present to mourn the victims of the PULSE nightclub massacre. This was a circle of love, grief, and confusion, but no hate was present. The vigil was organized to mourn the victims in Orlando, and not to put more hate into a world with too much already.

Before we lit the candles in remembrance of the victims, members of the circle were encouraged to speak. One student spoke about the privileges that being at Cornell provides the LGBTQIA+ community. She said that here she is able to be herself, and not worry about what might happen if she holds her girlfriend’s hand or kisses her in public while being on campus. We spoke about how PULSE was also supposed to be a safe space for queer people; a place for people to be themselves, but that was shattered when Omar Mateen opened fire. Some expressed that this shooting is detrimental to LGBTQIA+ youth, who might have been thinking of coming out, but now may be too scared.

One student talked about how he has never been to Florida and doesn’t know a single person in Orlando, but he cried until he fell asleep after hearing about the shooting. It took him a long time to realize why he was so upset. He realized that this explosion of violence was directed at such a central part of his identity. Not a year after gay marriage was legalized and during the month of Pride, the LGBTQIA+ community has been torn apart by an assault rifle shooting 13.3 bullets per second.

As a white, cis-gendered, straight woman I’ll never be able to fully understand what my queer friends are experiencing at this moment of time. However, one student was able to help me. She explained that she made a list of every queer person she knew, and the list was a little over 100. She imagined if 49 of those people were dead, and the rest critically injured. Her life would be irreparably changed. I also thought about 49 people I couldn't live without in my life. I thought about if I had been shot, how many people would be affected, and I thought about the families of the PULSE victims.

Another straight student spoke about what being a straight ally means to her now in the wake of the shooting. She realized that she needs to take a stand against hateful behavior towards her LGBTQIA+ friends by discrediting false prejudices and standing up to hateful language used by her friends and family. Straight allies need to use their privilege to stand up for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Though the United States has made decent progress in achieving equal rights for any and all peoples, the fight is far from over. Until people can go to nightclubs to dance, kiss in public, practice their faith, and be wholly and truly themselves, the fight is not over. As one student said at the vigil, if we are not actively fighting for what is right, we are merely being complacent in the oppression of others.

As we lit 49 candles and read 49 names, I hope that I never gather on Ho Plaza to mourn the senseless slaughter of innocent people again. I hope that the violence and hate will stop. In the wake of Orlando, I hope that the LGBTQIA+ community will be proud of who they are and hold their heads high.

As the vigil ended, the most brilliant sunset of the Ithaca summer so far shone over the slope and I remembered one very important thing. Life is gift that should be treasured above all else.

Peace and love.

Cover Image Credit: Kelly Crandall

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Past Legal And Modern Social Apartheid

An opinion piece on past legal Apartheid in South Africa and how it is socially reflected in the United States.

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When stepping inside of a solitary cell at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, I felt a tightness in my chest and wanted to leave that small space immediately; imagining a Black South African who broke the pass laws during Apartheid being in there is beyond disturbing. Due to laws such as the Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923, the Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951, and the Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970, Black South Africans during Apartheid were extremely limited in where they could live, detrimentally affecting their economic and employment opportunities. When touring the former Constitutional Hill prison, the guide told us that, when Black South Africans were caught without passes permitting their stay in Joburg for the day and/or night, they spent 5 days in prison, along with murderers and others who committed serious crimes. If caught multiple times breaking these pass laws, they would spend 5 years in this prison. Most of those who violated these pass laws were unemployed or sought better employment in Joburg; this is understandable, as a person has a better chance of having a job by being there physically. When thinking further about the lack of opportunity they suffered from due to the aforementioned laws creating this effect, this legal repercussion becomes further and further disturbing. Additionally, this also directly led to the creation of "White" and "Black" areas, where Whites lived in areas of better opportunity (ex. cities, suburbia), and Blacks were subjected to living in poverty and townships where there was limited economic and employment opportunities.

This lack of opportunity is echoed in the U.S. when looking at socially designated "White" and "Black" areas. Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman essentially because he thought Martin "was not where he belonged", which was in a nice suburban area. As a person of color myself, I have been stared at in museums, followed in stores, and once at 12 years old kicked out of a shop (I did not do anything wrong), because I "stuck out". In this way, society told me (and violently told Martin) that we don't belong in those areas, that we "belong" in ghettos or prison; the racial demographics of populations in U.S. prisons will support me here. Therefore, by society socially designating where people "belong", not only do they bind themselves in their own ignorance, but also prevent people of color from sharing the same access to plentiful life and economic opportunity.

References

Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923: Prevented Black South Africans from leaving designated area without a pass. The ruling National Party saw this as keeping Whites "safe" while using Blacks for cheap labor.

Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951: Allowed Black South Africans to enter the building industry as artisans and laborers. Restricted to "Native" areas. Prevented competition between Whites, Coloureds, and Blacks. Could not work outside a designated area unless given special permission.

Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970: All Black South Africans would lose their South African citizenship/nationality over time. Would not be able to work in "South Africa" due to being aliens. Black South Africans would have to work inside their own areas and could only work in urban areas if they had special permission from the Minister.


South African History Online. "Apartheid Legislation 1850s-1970s." South African History Online, South African History Online, 11 Apr. 2016, www.sahistory.org.za/article/apartheid-legislation....

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