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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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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We Need To Talk About The Kids In Detention Centers

The way they're treated while in these immigrant centers is deplorable.

klooff
klooff
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As of July 10, about 54 immigrant children under the age of five are to be returned to their families. Roughly half of the 102 toddlers separated, the Trump administration has allegedly lost track of the remaining 48 children and are not sure when they will be released. While this is the beginning of a happy ending for these immigrant families, the government has a lot of reparations to make before this crisis is solved.

There are still thousands of children located in "detention centers": a remodeled Wal-Mart complete with tin foil blankets, murals of President Trump, jumpsuit uniforms, and abuse allegations. Older children are taking care of younger ones, and there are reports that children are being drugged to calm them. Some news outlets are even reporting attempted suicide.

Recently, President Trump petitioned a federal judge to alter a legal statement to keep children detained for longer periods of time in these hellish conditions. The judge denied, calling the arguments of the administration "tortured."

In a recent video published online, an immigrant mother becomes reunited with her daughter. The pair was separated for over two months. Arrested for crossing the border to enter America, the mother claims she left her home due to domestic abuse. She was told "Happy Mother's Day" and informed she would never see her daughter again. Now, her daughter walks into the room, dressed in a small grey jumpsuit, and she weeps for joy. The girl's mother sees their freedom as a late birthday gift for her daughter, who turned eight while in detainment.

And yet, the girl is not as emotional as her mother. She is almost herded into the room, and instead of running to her mother, she is instead pulled into a hug, devoid of every "typical" reaction an eight-year-old should have on seeing their mother for the first time in over two months. She is almost zombie-like as her mother kneels, hugging and weeping, grateful to have her daughter back in her care.

Why is the little girl acting the way she is? Are the rumors about drugging true? Is she suffering from trauma? How will this careless treatment by the government impact the rest of her life?

How many more children are in this exact same situation... with some never seeing their parents again?

And for what? Protection of our borders? "Safety?"

Safety on stolen land is not justified.

America is, and always will be, a land of immigrants. It's time we give modern immigrants the rights and protections bestowed to our (white) ancestors.

These children are in inhuman conditions, separated from their parents, and yet they are being told that they put themselves in their current situation. They are the ones that decided to commit a "crime" and cross the border.

Is seeking a haven a crime? It used to have a different name: "The American Dream." These children are suffering for a crime they didn't commit.

What if it was your child? What if it was you?

Cover Image Credit:

c1.staticflickr.com

klooff
klooff

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