Joe Biden's inauguration marks the beginning of a time of healing for America.
The day finally arrived. Joe Biden has been inaugurated and is now the 46th president of the United States of America. Kamala Harris has been sworn in as our country's new vice president. She is the first woman and the first person of color to fill the role. After years of fighting, frustration, and fear, this is a day of celebration. It's a day of hope as we look to the future. It's also a day of healing, as our collective wounds are still very fresh.
When rioters stormed the Capitol building, it was the day Congress was meeting to certify Biden's election win. This was an important moment because Trump was still pushing the lie of voter fraud. It's hard to know whether this was a move of extreme narcissism or extreme embarrassment. Was Trump so egotistical that voter fraud seemed like the only possible answer to his loss? Or was he aware that he lost fair and square but couldn't bear the blow as such a powerful man?
Something tells me the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Trump himself continually expressed his outrage on social media and at a rally before that fateful day at the Capitol. In his speech, he called on his supporters to march at the Capitol that day and to "fight like hell." This definitely sounds to me like incitement of violence but it will be up for the Senate to decide. Trump has become the first President in history to be impeached twice.
The second impeachment was due to the House's vote that he incited the riots that day. Not only that, it took forever for Trump to condemn the violence. He didn't make any statement until much later in the day, after the damage was already done. He also spent much of the time before the House vote defending his speech at the rally. It wasn't until after the House vote that he posted a video message condemning the violence.
By that point, it felt so insincere it was almost laughable. It sounded more like he was saying, "I don't want to get indicted, so I'm making this statement my advisors wrote for me." It was posted to the White House's Twitter account because Trump had been permanently banned from the platform. His years of ranting and divisive tweets finally led to what many had long been calling on Twitter to do.
This move didn't go over well with many Republicans and Trump supporters. The understanding of Twitter being a private company and, therefore, being allowed to ban anyone it saw fit was lost on them. There was also a lack of understanding of the First Amendment. It actually says Congress shall not pass a law stripping freedom of speech. The most ignorant of the reactions would come in the form of Holocaust comparisons.
A mass genocide that killed 6 million Jewish people and millions of others is not the same thing as being banned from a social media app.
I can't believe that's something that even needs to be said, but I guess that's the intelligence level we're dealing with. Making such nonsensical comparisons is antisemitic and blatantly disrespectful of Holocaust education. We can't minimize and cheapen the severity of the horrors of that tragedy.
Yet, that's exactly what these politicians are doing. And it's not just on the right. No — the left has committed its share of sins as well. For the record, imprisoned children at the border, as terrible as it is, isn't the same as Jewish people being rounded up in concentration camps. And not everyone who disagrees with you is a Nazi. Even the rioters at the Capitol aren't Nazis, they're Neo-Nazis. That term exists for a reason. Use it.
It should come as no surprise then, when we see a rioter at the Capitol wearing a shirt that says "Camp Auschwitz." Not to mention an Israeli news reporter that got harassed during live coverage of the events. I have no doubt this was an attempted coup and insurrection. Everyone who participated in it should be held accountable. And yes, everyone who incited it should be held accountable as well.
The white supremacy that was displayed at the Capitol didn't just include antisemitism. It was littered with racism as well. There were sad, yet unsurprising photos of a man walking into the Capitol carrying a Confederate Flag. There was also an alarming display of white privilege when compared to the Black Lives Matter protests.
Last summer, peaceful protesters were shot with tear gas, beaten up, and in some cases, driven into. Yet, police at the Capitol were nowhere near as aggressive, with some even posing for selfies with the rioters. Windows were broken, people were beaten up, and several people died. But people who wanted to march outside peacefully got more pushback. Make it make sense.
The reaction to such a monumentally terrifying occasion wasn't one I hoped for. Instead of a real attempt at unification, people were either feeling sorry for themselves or infighting. The Twitter feud between Ted Cruz and AOC over who was more antisemitic was particularly amusing. It left me feeling like a mother whose kids were fighting and both needed to be put in time out for misbehaving.
You know it's bad when you feel the only way to get through to politicians is to talk to them like children. However, I felt a very strong feeling of hope at the same time. In the 24 hours before the riots, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock were declared the winners in their Senate races in Georgia. This helped flip the Senate and give Democrats control. It was particularly comforting to see a Black man and a Jewish man win on a day where so much racism and antisemitism unloaded on our country's Capitol.
It was comforting because it signaled the future. It signaled the fact that, no matter how big of a hissy fit these Trump supporters throw, they have no power. Yes, their hatred is very real and still exists in the world. We should pay attention to it and do everything in our power to rid this world of such hatred. However, the democratic process of our country will go on no matter what. And by the looks of it, we're headed in a much better direction.
The unified front Ossoff and Warnock showed during their campaign should serve as an example to many. There is still much infighting in marginalized groups. Being part of an oppressed group doesn't absolve you of being bigoted yourself. In the past year, many seemed to forget the history of the Civil Rights Movement and how Jewish people marched with Black people.
We lost John Lewis last year, who worked with the Jewish community to fight antisemitism. Lewis served as a mentor to Ossoff and was very supportive of him. Warnock is the pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. was once pastor. King was also a friend to the Jewish people and supported Israel. These connections aren't merely coincidence. I believe this signals our country is headed in a brighter direction.
And so, here we are on Inauguration Day. Unlike some social media users, I wasn't convinced that everything would restart once the clock struck midnight on January 1. But I still believe this year and new administration has the potential to be a time of healing. I have hope for actual unity and progress.
As cheesy as the following saying is, it's true. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I believe we're getting closer to it.
Regardless of who is president, let's celebrate these huge victories for LGBTQ representation in various states' governments.
The presidential election was extremely stressful for us all, causing us to worry about who will win and what it means for the future. For many of us, this can mean the difference between life and death, especially for BIPOC and members of the LGBTQ communities who are at the mercy of homophobes and racists — many of whom are proud supporters of the color orange.
Instead of worrying whether I'll be sent to a conversion camp next year or not, I'd rather celebrate the much bigger and more important wins. There have been six representatives added to state governments this past election who are all a part of the LGBTQ community.
1. Michele Rayner-Goolsby
Michele Rayner-Goolsby made history as the first Black queer woman to become a state legislator in Florida. According to her website, "Michele comes from a long line of service — her mother is one of the first Black social workers in St. Petersburg, Florida."
She's won over five awards for civic engagement and has become an emerging voice on criminal justice reform, education, health, economic disparities, race, and gender issues.
2. Taylor Small
Taylor Small has become Vermont's first out transgender state legislator. Her current advocacy role is as the director of the health and wellness program at Pride Center of Vermont. Small is also a well-known drag queen in her area. She plans to discuss issues on addressing health care, transportation, and internet access.
3. Jabari Brisport
Jabari Brisport made history as the first LGBTQ person of color elected to the New York State Senate. Jabari is a third-generation Caribbean-American from Brooklyn who has spent his life working as both an activist and educator. As a public school teacher, Jabari is part of the movement of working-class New Yorkers fighting for his state. He is backed by the Working Families Party, New York Communities for Change, Democratic Socialists of America, and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.
4. Shevrin Jones
Shevrin Jones is Florida's first openly LGBTQ+ state senator. Jones is an activist for justice and equality for the people of District 35 and all of Florida. His policies include "expanding funding for public education to make sure our kids can compete in the 21st-century economy," "protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination in housing and employment," and "supporting Florida's network of small businesses, the lifeline of our economy."
5. Kim Jackson
Kim Jackson has become the first openly LGBTQ person elected to the Georgia State Senate and became the first openly LGBTQ person elected to that chamber. To put it into perspective, there are currently just three openly LGBTQ Black women state senators in the entire country.
6. Mauree Turner
Mauree Turner is the first non-binary state lawmaker in the United States and the first Muslim in Oklahoma's statehouse. Turner is the first non-binary person to be named to a state legislature. Turner identifies as non-binary, which the National Center for Transgender Equality defines as gender understood as neither male nor female. Turner uses both they and she as pronouns.
A hilarious and frightening game of who said it: Donald J. Trump or a villain from "Avatar: The Last Airbender" or "The Legend of Korra."
Have fun guessing whether outgoing President of the United States Donald J. Trump or a literal anime villain said each of these 26 quotes. To keep the answers a surprise (not being able to see the answer right below the quote), I will have all of the answers at the bottom of the page.
Ready? Here we go.
1. "Trust is for fools."
2. "So this is your girlfriend. No wonder she left. She's way too pretty for you."
3. "Well, I don't know how you could possibly know more than our national history book."
4. "I am the solution."
5. "Please don't feel so stupid or insecure, it's not your fault."
6. "No human can stand against me."
7. "In life, you have to rely on the past, and that's called history."
8. "These hooligans are part of an anarchist cell."
9. "There's no use fighting. Let go."
10. "Don't tell me it doesn't work; torture works."
11. "Don't they understand that they are destroying themselves?"
12. "What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening..."
13. "That's the scent of losers."
14. "Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes."
15. "The answer is there has to be some form of punishment."
16. "I don't have sob stories like all of you."
17. "Your era is over."
18. "And, by the way, I know it doesn't sound nice. But not everything is nice."
19. "And they're going to do things that people will not even believe are possible."
20. "We're talking about sand and death. That's what we're talking about."
21. "Nothing could stop this moment."
22. "Right now, you're lost, but pledge your loyalty to me, and I'll give you a new purpose in your lives."
23. "But we will turn our grief into action. We have to have action."
24. "We have to fight these people whenever we can, wherever they are, with any means necessary."
25. "Who knows what's in the deepest part of my mind?
* * *
For the purpose of making this easier to read, I will write ATLA in place of "Avatar: The Last Airbender," TLOK for "The Legend of Korra," B for book, and E for episode.
1. ATLA — Azula: B3 E20
2. TLOK — June: B1 E15
3. ATLA — A Fire Nation School Teacher: B2 E2
4. TLOK — Amon: B1 E9
5. Trump — Twitter: 09/05/13
6. TLOK — Vaatu (literally the spirit of Chaos/evil): B2 E8
7. Trump — Celebrity Apprentice
8. ATLA — Long Fen: B2 E17
9. TLOK — Vaatu: B3 E13
10. Trump — Town Hall event in Bluffton, South Carolina: 17/02/2016
11. Trump — Twitter: 23/03/20
12. Trump — Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention: 24/07/18
13. TLOK — Tahno (on Wolf-Bats): B1 E5
14. Trump — ABC News: May 2020
15. Trump — MSNBC: 30/03/16
16. ATLA — Azula: B3 E5
17. TLOK — Unalaq: B2 E12
18. Trump — 60 Minutes: 27/09/15
19. Trump — Meet the Press: 04/10/15
20. Trump — Cabinet Meeting: 01/02/20
21. TLOK — Vaatu: B2 E13
22. TLOK — Kuvira: B4 E1
23. Trump — 2018 White House Business Session: 28/02/2018
24. TLOK — Hama: B3 E8
25. Trump — BuzzFeed: 13/02/2014
Scotland Is The First Country To Make Menstrual Products Free, And The Rest Of The World Should Follow
The idea that they are a "luxury" that should be paid for (and taxed) is absurd because nobody chooses to have a period.
Scotland recently became the first country in the world to make menstrual products free to anyone that needs them, and the rest of the world needs to follow their lead. It is honestly sad that in the year 2020, there is only one nation that has passed a law to make period products free. The idea that they are a "luxury" that should be paid for (and taxed) is absurd because nobody chooses to have a period. It should not be seen as a luxury to have access to products that are a basic necessity.
There are far too many stories of people that have had to go without period products because they were too expensive. People with periods are going to bleed every month whether we have period products or not, so it is about time that our world is starting to realize how ridiculous it is to prevent someone from being able to have these products.
We are sick of periods being treated as something we need to be embarrassed about and punished for having. It is a normal, biological function that we cannot control, so we should not have to pay for the products we need during our cycle.
I am sure someone reading this might say, "Well, then toilet paper should be free too!" And I agree! Defecating and urinating, just like having a period, is a biological function that will happen to us whether we want it to or not. Toilet paper and period products are basic necessities.
I will even take it one step further. Food and water should also be free. Humans need both in order to survive, and it is unethical to put a price on these items. There are millions of people around the world dying of hunger and from a lack of access to safe, clean drinking water, and that is unacceptable.
When the argument is being made for period products to be free, it is not a "gotcha" to say in return that toilet paper, food, water, housing, healthcare, and other basic human rights should be free too. You are not proving the "flaw" in my stance by saying this. All people must be able to live with dignity and have access to these products that keep us alive. Scotland making period products free is a step in the right direction, but we should not stop there.
Candace Owens thinks men wearing dresses are damaging to civilization, but it's her ideas that are the problem.
Androgyny is something that has always been part of culture. Since the beginning of time, gender expression has always been varied and expansive. However, as time went on, society forced particular roles onto certain genders. These sorts of gender roles have caused many to rebel against them, including artists and rock stars. Harry Styles seems to be the next one in line to rebel in this way.
On the cover of Vogue's latest issue, Styles is seen wearing a dress. Whether it's a move of rebellion is uncertain, but it certainly makes a statement. This also isn't the first time Styles has worn clothing not typical for men in modern-day America. However, as progressive as we've become, there's still a swarm of controversy that awaits a man who dares to step outside his assigned gender role.
The latest triggered conservative snowflake is Candace Owens. Owens garnered attention when she tweeted that "no society can survive without strong men." She went on to call it "an outright attack." Owens further spoke in an Instagram video, where she lamented the past gender roles assigned to us. She claimed to long for the days where men were the providers and defenders, while women were nurturers.
First of all, not every human being is the same. To assume that people are all alike because they share the same gender is ignorant, to say the least. With that in mind, it is inevitably going to place a lot of pressure on men. Expecting all men to fight in wars and be the only source of income for their family is asking too much for some. There are also women who don't want to be stuck in the kitchen cooking and doing housework all day. Lots of women want and deserve a more exciting life.
This is reality. There's a reason things have changed since the 50s. People shouldn't be categorized by their gender. Everyone is an individual. You can't expect all members of a group to think, feel, or act the same way. That is a fantasy and an unhealthy, unrealistic one at that.
There are many ways to be a man. Men can wear dresses and high heels. Men can wear makeup and paint their nails. This is something Owens herself should understand. After all, she is seen wearing pantsuits most of the time.
Owens might be nostalgic for a time she wasn't alive to experience. However, that period of time wasn't healthy for men as a collective whole. The highest rate of suicide in America is among men. I believe the issues men developed as a result of these gender roles are a big reason for this.
Men were taught that they had to be physically strong and fight in the army. They were taught they had to be providers and work all day to feed their kids. With this responsibility, men were also taught they couldn't show any negative emotion. They couldn't cry or expose their vulnerability. Anything that dared defy that notion of strength wasn't allowed in men.
This led to toxic masculinity, where a key component is to suppress one's emotions. That toxic masculinity still exists today and people like Owens are perpetuating it. This doesn't say all masculinity is toxic, however. It merely states that masculinity can be taken to a toxic place. This not only harms women and LGBTQ individuals but straight men themselves.
When it comes to strength, it comes in many forms and exists within many different types of people. I believe emotional strength is just as important as physical strength. Men need to allow themselves to cry openly and not hide their vulnerability. Otherwise, I believe whatever physical strength they may have will manifest in very harmful ways, either towards themselves or another person.
Owens said in her video that she wouldn't call on a man in a dress to fight in a war. Well, maybe she would be more comfortable with one of the many female soldiers who defend our country. And it's not just in the United States Military. In Israel, both male and female citizens are required to serve in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). There are many female soldiers who have used their strength to defend their country. And I'm certain many of them have worn dresses in their lifetime.
Another assumption made by conservatives who criticize male femininity is that women won't find it attractive. This is another point Owens tried to make when ranting about Harry Styles. First of all, all women are individuals. Therefore, they all have different tastes in men. I'm sure there are plenty of women who find Harry Styles and other feminine men attractive.
However, I also think it's worth noting that Styles may not have been wearing a dress with the intention of women finding it attractive. When women are sexually harassed or assaulted, they're often victim blamed with ignorant comments criticizing their clothing choices. These women respond by saying a short skirt or tight dress isn't an invitation and doesn't mean they "want it." They're dressing that way for themselves, not anybody else.
Maybe the same is true for Harry Styles. Maybe he's just dressing this way to express himself as an individual. Maybe he wanted to make a social statement about breaking down gender stereotypes. Believe it or not, not everything men do revolves around sex. Not all men are sex-obsessed animals who can't get enough.
And it's not just women like Owens who perpetuate this myth. Some men self-project their own selves onto other men and continue a toxic cycle of insulting stereotypes.
When Owens acted like this "feminization" of men was a fairly new phenomenon, many were quick to tweet her images of male rock stars over the years. These men, from Prince to David Bowie to Kurt Cobain, all wore dresses at some point. They rebelled against the sexist and homophobic attitudes of their time. Owens, however, responded by saying these men all had drug problems and were unstable. I fail to see what one has to do with the other. Not to mention the fact that addiction is a disease and shouldn't be shamed.
In addition to thinking it's a new phenomenon, Owens implied men are encouraged to dress this way. She seems to think that men aren't naturally feminine but influenced by their environment. I can tell you from my own experience this isn't true. I loved playing with Barbie dolls as a kid. I wore towels on my head to pretend I had long, curly hair like Mariah Carey.
My femininity wasn't encouraged or influenced by my environment. In fact, many people around me tried to sway me in the opposite direction. This was either the result of their own prejudice or their need to protect me from the outside world's judgment. Certain family members would've been much happier if I played little league instead of Barbies in my bedroom.
I knew firsthand the pain this sort of judgment caused long before I could articulate this sort of counter-argument. With the pain I've been through, I'm still here. That proves I'm a strong man, femininity and all. Despite what Candace Owens might think, strong men come in all forms and, along with strong women, we all do our part to keep civilization alive.
Ours is a civilization of diversity, acceptance, and equality. I don't know about you, but that's the civilization I want to be part of. I think that's a civilization everyone should strive for.
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign