Goodbye 2017, You Will Not Be Missed

Goodbye 2017, You Will Not Be Missed

Here's to you, and your sweet, sweet ending.

There is a special something in the air this time of year, though perhaps there is something more than the smell of pine tree candles and sugar cookies that lingers in 2017. This year, the year 2017, has been particularly and unfortunately eventful. Tensions in our country rise and rise, and people become worse and worse, and I am left feeling eager, even anxious, for the end of this year. Perhaps I am excited for what good things have the potential to arise, though it is more likely that I am excited about the symbolic turning-of-the-page, for the starting fresh that comes from ringing in the New Year.

There’s been an accumulation of horrors that I think have marked the end of this year: the allegations against nearly every man in Hollywood; the president continuing to be the president (though, with considerably greater consequences I think than before); and a series of attacks taken on men, women, and children, both overseas and domestically. 2017 has taken rights away and given them back, has taken opportunities away and not given them back, and has sold off a lot of taking aways as “giving backs” (that’s a euphemism; I’m talking about the tax bill). A year loaded with fake news and all-too-real news, 2017 has marked, in my opinion, some of the first real consequences of the tech boom and information age that we’ve seen since the internet was born. Suddenly we’re all interconnected, and we’re all sharing and participating in the culmination of political and gendered warfare- and it’s terrifying.

Yesterday, somewhat delayed in comparison to the rest of the world, I apparently saw the video of the young man whose mother videotaped him after he was picked up from school for bullying. That same day, I saw various celebrities reach out a helping hand to the young boy, just eleven, still in grade school, offering him a brighter outlook on life. Also that same day, I saw actual attacks taken on that boy for his mother’s political views, and for a series of fake allegations against the young boy, just eleven, for his own political views. Attacks taken by liberal individuals, preach love and peace, while also attacking a young man for his mother’s own political views.

Was this, is this, 2017? Is it a political dichotomy formed so deep and so developed that it culminates in a young, bullied child being attacked online for his mother’s political injustices? Or is it our president, claiming allegations of sexual assault against him were made by people he didn’t even know, despite having been pictured with these women? Is it political dichotomy and jingoism so obnoxious that it refuses human, individual rights? Is this 2017?

I am excited to see the end of 2017. I’m almost shocked I am going to live to see it. I am hoping that maybe things won’t be so bad, though they most certainly won’t. I am hoping that Donald Trump will stop being Donald Trump, though he most certainly won’t.

I do not understand how to incite change; how to instill empathy in a world that is slowly but surely losing it. I don’t know who to blame for that, be it social media that is slowly desensitizing us to tragedy or a dwindling education in liberal arts. I see my siblings, who are much younger than me and do not understand that the country, the world they are growing up in, is slowly but surely dividing into two halves, both full of hate and anger. I do not think they will understand why I hate politically charged enamel pins, which I personally think incite nothing but uneducated banter between someone who decided to buy a pin to tell the world they think their cause is important, and someone who decided to pick a fight with someone wearing an enamel pin.

I do not think they will understand how 2017 has hurt so many, and how much hate it has perpetuated in people like myself, who try to use that word sparingly, though appropriately. In some ways, I do not think I quite understand what happened in 2017, but I am sure glad it’s almost over.

Cover Image Credit: tigerlily713 / Pixabay

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Starbucks Corrects Its Wrongs In Light Of Recent Racial Bias Issue

All stores in the U.S. will be closed on May 29th to perform racial bias training.

Recently, a video of two African-American men being arrested in their local Starbucks for simply standing and waiting for their friends in the lobby/seating area surfaced on the internet. Since this situation was brought to light, there has been an uproar of public outrage focused on the blatant racial bias these men were faced with. Even Starbucks itself had something to say about it.

For many African-American citizens, this situation is all too common. Being racially profiled is not a thing of the past and more than just these two men have experienced it. The ACLU writes about the experiences of citizens being racially profiled, stating,

"We rely on the police to protect us from harm and promote fairness and justice in our communities. But racial profiling has led countless people to live in fear, casting entire communities as suspect simply because of what they look like, where they come from, or what religion they adhere to."

In light of the recent incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, many fans expressed outrage in the comments section of this post, but Starbucks responded to almost every viral, angry comment:

However, in the midst all of the outraged comments were fans who appreciated the message that Starbucks was trying to send:

Despite the mixed reviews on Starbucks' course of action, the company is standing strong in their choice to address the issue and correct it.

People come to Starbucks stores to drink coffee, hang out, talk with their friends, and have a good time. It is absurd that these two men were escorted out and arrested for doing just that. I, personally, have done that same thing and have never once been asked to leave.

As a country, we need to think about the way we treat people of color and other minorities. It is a shame that this kind of public outcry had to happen to bring racial profiling to our attention. People are treated unfairly for no reason other than the color of their skin every day.

Way to go, Starbucks.

Thank you for recognizing that this was not an isolated incident and that racial profiling happens all the time. Thank you for taking the time to publicly announce that you are willing to go through the proper training with your employees to ensure that it doesn't happen ever again. But most of all, thank you for making a statement to the rest of the nation and the world about what kind of company you are, what kind of people you represent, and that racial injustice will not be tolerated.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Why Earth Day Is Underrated, And What You Can Do

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” –The Lorax

April 22 may be just another day to most, but with climate change on the rise and wildlife becoming extinct, it’s more important now than ever to recognize Earth Day and understand what it entails. Our society as a whole cannot let this day pass with nothing done. It has to serve as a reminder of the action that must be taken.

Late January of 1969 would come to be a turning point for our nation. At the time, the worst oil spill in history occurred in Santa Barbara, California. Founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson was horrified, yet inspired. Soon after, he announced his idea to teach the nation about the environment and built a staff to promote events across the country.

Earth Day brought thousands of colleges and universities together to fight for the cause. It became a sense of unity for everyone. No matter who you were, what race you were, where you came from, Earth Day was able to empower these people and help them realize they all wanted the same thing for the home we share. This kind of behavior is exactly what we need today, and should enable us to see that we’re all on the same side.

By the time 1990 came, Earth Day became a global event. 200 million people were involved to fight for environmental issues.

Today, Earth Day and the environment face many challenges. With those who deny climate change, deforestation, oil lobbyists, fracking, dying animal life, politicians dividing our nation on these issues, and much more, Earth Day astoundingly continues to prevail through the obstacles. With over 190 counties participating in the event each year, and more than 1 billion people, it’s never too late to do your part and contribute to the day.

Here are some basic things that anyone can do to make a change. Every day counts, and anything you do matters.

1. Join a local outdoors cleanup

Rivers, forests, beaches, whatever is near you. Help clean up litter and debris.

2. Carpool

This is probably the simplest thing you and your friends or family can do. If you’re going to the same place, drive together. For every mile you don’t drive- you’re reducing your carbon footprint by 1 pound.

3. Bring reusable bags when you shop

They’re cheap, cute, and save an abundance on plastic.

4. Use a reusable water bottle

Save on wasting plastic bottles every day.

5. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products

Typical cleaning products are high in chemicals and toxicity.

6. Always recycle!

Paper, plastic, cans, anything you can. Every individual thing recycled makes a difference.

7. Use LED lightbulbs

This can reduce your footprint 450 pounds per year.

8. Volunteer at local environmental groups

See if your school has an environmental club, or anything local in your town. See how many people you can get to do it with you and make a day out of it.

9. Donate your clothes and check out thrift stores

Instead of throwing them out, give them to somewhere they will be of use. Also, thrift shopping is inexpensive and you can find some really unexpectedly great items!

10. Don’t wait until Earth Day to do all of these things

Keep up the green behavior year-round.

Do your part, and do what you can today.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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