God Bless The Artists: A Frustrated Plea To The Masses

God Bless The Artists: A Frustrated Plea To The Masses

It's time to celebrate artists the way we celebrate athletes
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Once when I was in high school, I went with my mother to my little brother’s football practice. Having never really been into sports, I was sitting with my notebook writing down movie ideas when my mom was suddenly approached by a friend of hers whom she had gone to school with. They caught up with each other, and my Mom introduced me to the guy who, being at a football practice, asked me what kind of sports I played. As always, I smiled awkwardly and stated that athletics “weren’t really my thing.” His brow furrowed and he asked me what was "my thing?" I told him that I did theatre, and acting, and singing. “Oh,” he replied not missing a beat, “you do the pretty boy stuff.”

This is an experience that my mother perhaps wouldn’t remember, but one that made a huge impact on me at the time. In the 2005 film “Guess Who,” Bernie Mac’s character states: “A man who doesn’t play sports isn’t really a man as far as I’m concerned.” This popular mindset – one that idolizes sports, and dismisses art – is one that I have seen prevail my entire life, and even recently when I discovered that one of my professors' strict attendance policy applied only to “non-athletes.” It has always been fascinating to me that the public is so quick to trivialize arts, and entertainment when our lives are submerged in music, movies, books, and – yes – even televised sports. Certain politicians seem to be committed to cutting funding for arts programs in schools, U.S. News and World Report states that 80 percent of U.S. school districts have cut funds since 2008, while it's customary for universities to put their entire budgets into football and basketball programs at the expense of their music and theatre programs. Our society has taught us that art is simply unimportant, as if we could live in a world without music or television.

80 percent of U.S. School Districts have cut arts funding since 2008

As a young African-American male, not enjoying sports makes me an alien of sorts. As a kid, I often tried to pretend or force myself to be interested, even though my interests were clearly unrelated. I grew up enjoying my artistic activities and the success that came with them, but there was always a chip on my shoulder regarding my lack of excitement for the country’s favorite pastime. Still, the issue has nothing to do with the fact that people enjoy athletic events as, ultimately, everyone should be allowed to like what they like. The issue is the declaration of importance for one passion over another.

In my four year education at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C., my classmates and I attended school from 8:30 to 5 everyday. In the theatre department, we took rigorous movement classes where we trained in dance, fighting, and all kinds of physical activities in addition to training in acting, voice, and technical production. Being an actor/singer/writer/director has required bodily discipline, emotional intelligence, vocal technique, and plenty of other unique skills, and yet I’m told constantly – either explicitly or implied – that what I do is easy or simple or “pretty.”

In December of last year, clothing retail store Old Navy released a line of graphic tees for toddlers featuring the phrases “Young Aspiring Artist Astronaut,” and “Young Aspiring Artist President”. After social media outrage, the shirts were taken out of circulation, but the creation of them reveals that the problem is more than indifference. In this 21st Century that we live in, the real problem here is that, like telling girls that they should seek out a man to handle things for them or telling gay youth that they’ll never be accepted by society, children are going to digest these ignorant statements as gospel. They will believe that they have to like sports even if they don’t, or that they’re not contributing anything to the world by singing or dancing Unless, of course, they “make it big”, which seems to be the only condition where this path is considered okay. Young people will believe that being an artist is not a “real job.” Young boys, specifically, will continue to think that choosing art is “girly,” which is still equated with “weak” in today’s society, and they won’t do it.

Because sports is one of the most successful and supported industries in the country and the world, this conversation is not one likely to be prioritized by the public. Make no mistake, however, it is an important conversation; one that if handled properly, could lead to more young artists moving confidently forward into the world instead of being held back by outdated mindsets that dismiss their passions. Sports are fun, popular, challenging, and they bring people together. For this reason, they deserve to be celebrated. However, it is possible (and necessary) to support one institution without bringing down another. Famed author and poet Langston Hughes stated, “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.” The goal here is to allow people to be confident in their talents, especially when those talents lead them to entertaining the very people who attempt to marginalize them.

Cover Image Credit: Arts Rising

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The Trump Presidency Is Over

Say hello to President Mike Pence.

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Remember this date: August 21, 2018.

This was the day that two of President Donald Trump's most-important associates were convicted on eight counts each, and one directly implicated the president himself.

Paul Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman for a few months in 2016, but the charges brought against him don't necessarily implicate Trump. However, they are incredibly important considering was is one of the most influential people in the Trump campaign and picked Mike Pence to be the vice presidential candidate.

Manafort was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to file a report of a foreign bank account. And it could have been even worse. The jury was only unanimous on eight counts while 10 counts were declared a mistrial.

Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. Those two women are believed to be Karen McDougal, a Playboy model, and Stormy Daniels, a pornstar. Trump had an affair with both while married to his current wife, Melania.

And then to no surprise, Fox News pundits spun this in the only way they know how. Sara Carter on Hannity said that the FBI and the Department of Justice are colluding as if it's some sort of deep-state conspiracy. Does someone want to tell her that the FBI is literally a part of the DOJ?

The Republican Party has for too long let Trump get away with criminal behavior, and it's long past time to, at the very least, remove Mr. Trump from office.

And then Trump should face the consequences for the crimes he has committed. Yes, Democrats have a role, too. But Republicans have control of both chambers of Congress, so they head every committee. They have the power to subpoena Trump's tax returns, which they have not. They have the power to subpoena key witnesses in their Russia investigations, which they have not.

For the better part of a year I have been asking myself what is the breaking point with Republicans and Trump. It does not seem like there is one, so for the time being we're stuck with a president who paid off two women he had an affair with in an attempt to influence a United States election.

Imagine for a second that any past president had done even a fraction of what Trump has.

Barack Obama got eviscerated for wearing a tan suit. If he had affairs with multiple women, then Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would be preparing to burn him at the stake. If they won't, then Trump's enthusiastic would be more than happy to do so.

For too long we've been saying that Trump is heading down a road similar to Nixon, but it's evident now that we're way past that point. Donald Trump now has incriminating evidence against him to prove he's a criminal, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is just getting started.

Will Trump soften the blow and resign in disgrace before impeachment like Nixon did? Knowing his fragile ego, there's honestly no telling what he'll do. But it's high time Trump leaves an office he never should have entered in the first place.

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The Critics Of Mac Miller's Relationship With Ariana Have It All Wrong

She isn't responsible for his death. You can't love away addiction.

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Ariana Grande and Mac Miller had a long and loving relationship of two years, but their breakup is not what's responsible for his death.

His Illness is what lead him to his, what some may say, tragic death.

Miller isn't the first celebrity to die of an overdose there was Kurt Cobain and even Michael Jackson. What happened to these icons of music, wasn't because they were lonely or they didn't have anyone. What happened to every single one of drug overdoses gone wrong was a result of the mental illness of addiction taking over their life. Placing any sort of blame on someone close to the ones who've passed isn't only morally wrong but its detrimental to their healing process.

The first thing I noticed is that as soon as something happened to Mac Miller everyone was insanely quick to hop in Ariana's mentions and DMs. Why is the first response to a celebrities death to blame their ex and/or current girlfriend for an immense tragedy?

Well, this viewpoint is not new to women, women are supposed to take care of their significant other and that's the societal expectation. For one, it never was Ariana's job to assist Mac Miller into sobriety. She is not his psychiatrist nor is she his Addiction Anonymous sponsor. She did not "Leave him at his lowest" as some phrased it.

She left a relationship that she explicitly said was toxic and unhealthy for the both of them. Was he probably well into his addictive habits? Probably.

But she has every right to leave a partner whenever she doesn't feel the happy and healthy love necessary for a successful relationship. This type of narrative is what convinces other women that they should stay in relationships to try to "save" their partner in hopes that their love will solve their deeprooted problems, that are their mental illness: addiction. This is very dangerous and can lead women into abusive and toxic relationships that can damage their own mental health.

To add to that, before Mac Miller's death he had a radio interview about Ariana Grande's engagement. In the interview with Apple Music, he was very positive and happy for her.

Miller says "We worked through good times, bad times, stress, and everything else and then it came to an end and we moved on". In that statement he sounded calm and collected, and unphased by her moving on with her life.

Confirming all of the positive energy from Mac Miller to Ariana, he takes it even further in the interview to say he's happy for her.

Miller says "It's all positive energy. I'm happy for her in moving forward with her life"

On another note, we're doing Mac Miller a HUGE injustice by degrading his illness to be the fault of only love and relationships. Mental Illness doesn't go away when you're in love. When you're in love you just have another person to try their hardest to support you.

Even in the best situation, no one can cure an addiction that ran as deep as Mac Miller's, no one could've fixed that unless you were a licensed psychiatrist and even then it's hard to cure. We as a society refuse to acknowledge that addiction is a disease that needs to be treated as such. Sure, no one forced Mac to go on several drug and alcohol-related benders. Even so, he did not control how much his body was craving these drugs and the way the toxins took over his body and life.

Here's an example to help you understand why he couldn't "just quit" doing drugs of any sort.

Say you're on birth control to manage your periods (a drug) and you've been taking it consistently for five years. Now if someone just says "I'm sorry, these pills are harming your body, you can't take them anymore" and flushes them down the toilet, what happens? Your period will not be managed anymore and it may even cause side effects depending on the drug. In a similar way, if Mac quit cold turkey, there would not only be massive withdrawal symptoms but it would also throw his body out of wack because his body had adjusted to ingesting those toxins for so long, even though they were still harming him.

Addiction can stem back to many psychological disorders, none of which could ever have the simple solution of just having a significant other.

It might make them happy, but it won't solve the psychological issue or the mental illness so to speak. In order to fix a problem like this, he would have to have been very dedicated to becoming healthier and seeking help with his mental illness. It's common for most people not to seek help or feel dedicated to this sort of thing because it has a stigma of not actually being an illness and assumes the issue lies in the hands of the user's decision to start.

So, stop talking about his relationship with Ariana Grande and how she could've prevented it. Stop blaming his death on others or him.

Do, check on your friends and encourage the ones suffering to get the type of help they need.

Most of all, blast his music in your car or at your frat party (you're probably going to one anyway). That's how a legacy lives on in every one of his fans, so make him proud.


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