Let Voices Be Heard

Let Voices Be Heard

Have a conversation rather than a judgmental argument; you'd be surprised what you get out of it.

Although it seems to be one of the "quieter" periods in the media's coverage of events regarding racism, BLM, and protests for equality, there are still people out there discussing and spreading their knowledge of the situations. Every now and again we see a video shared on social media, posed to cause an argument or catch the eye of someone who will undoubtedly be offended. I will not deny falling into these traps here and there, but recently this led me to a conversation with a man I at one time attended school with. This conversation was not an argument, nor was it on social media for everyone to read and insert themselves into. It was respectful and led me to believe that if anyone's voice should be heard, he should be one of them. He very graciously allowed me an interview, and I sincerely hope you can take a moment to see what he has to say.

Give a little insight of who you are what you do:

"My name is DeCarlo Jackson. I’m a freelance multi-instrumentalist and session musician, I play trumpet with Hippo Campus, Nazeem X Spencer Joles, and Improvestra. I also play bass with Ayvah, Rajitheone, and Doks. I also offer my talents through freelancing with a full roster of other jazz, rap groups, and recording projects. I’m a co-founder of a group called ROQA that organizes Art galleries, and concerts for social awareness around the Twin Cities. I also work at Walker West Music Academy as an Administrator/Teacher."

In your personal experience, what is life like today as a black man?

"As it is for most, I experience my fair share of ups and downs. I have a stark distrust in policy makers, law enforcers and lots of traditional aspects of the government. I’ve had a couple of experiences being pulled over, or harassed by police officers for fitting the description of someone they were looking for. However; I’m fortunate enough to live a very fun lifestyle, full of music, and diverse smiling audiences. But sometimes I just have to act like a lot of the negative energy in the world doesn't affect me. This is an incredibly taxing effort."

What is Black Lives Matter?

"It’s proclamation. Born out of the fact that black people have been systematically dehumanized, degraded, and abused for the entirety of American history. To me “Black Lives Matter” means, we are here too. We should matter as much as you, but we don’t. We never have, and we’re sick of it."

Have you attended any protests? How many?

"Yeah, I went to the 4th precinct after the murder of Jamar Clarke twice. And I went to the governor's mansion after the death of Philando Castille thrice."

What is the purpose of the protests?

"At the precinct it was about releasing the footage, and crucial details of Jamar Clarke’s death. While the governor's mansion was about speaking our voice, and letting a VERY wealthy, essentially all white neighborhood know that there’s a huge problem with the way that minorities are being policed in their communities."

What is the atmosphere at these protests?

"They were very chill. 'Alright' by Kendrick played at least three times at both of them. For the most part people were just kind of hanging out, greeting each other, and talking about what was going on. There were usually some people who seemed to be appointed as “in charge” of things like food, and water, and gathering people when someone decided to speak on the megaphone."

What role does the media play?

"The media should serve as a realistic insight into situations that everyone faces day to day. While it mostly does that, it also largely reflects the ideals of its specific customer base. Which in turn leads to great amounts of misrepresentation, and the perpetuation of toxic ideals through very specific language, and video editing."

How do you respond if someone tells you that "all lives matter"?

"I usually don’t have conversations with people who feel that way. Most people I associate myself just aren’t in that lane. But usually on the internet I just don’t respond. Because it’s only meant to verbally slap down some who says “black lives matter”. Because all lives are supposed to matter...that’s the point of saying “black lives matter”. We matter too. Same with people who say “blue lives matter”. It’s like “lol yeah duh”."

Besides protests, what actions do you, or anyone that is a part of BLM, think should be taken to make a change?

"As a nice, considerate person, I take it upon myself to try and teach people who wanna argue with me, which has about a 60:40 success ratio. As an event curator, I put together events that raise awareness to societal injustices, and give a platform of expression to those who are often talked over, and ignored. I think we as a society need to bring awareness to the fact that our laws and institutions are rooted in classist, sexist, and racist ideals, because they were made to serve and protect the wants and needs of the people who founded this country. White guys...with tons of money."

So, there you have it folks. This is not about a "battle of race". This is about equality among all, whether black, white, teacher, cop, etc., we all matter. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding these topics, and I think it should now be very clear that we ALL need to open our hearts and our minds to what our world entails. Everyone has a voice, and everyone should use it respectfully. Agree or disagree, there is no hiding that there are still many things that need working on in our society.

DeCarlo, I thank you very much for the opportunity of communicating with you, and for your willingness to answer questions among your busy activities!

Cover Image Credit: JenMan

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Everyone Should Care About Latinx Issues, Regardless Of Their Own Identities

It's important no matter who you are or where you come from.


Disclaimer: As someone who is white, I am speaking on a culture that is not my own and which I am not an authority on. Please remember this and do your own research. Reach out to those who do identify as Latinx but as always, respect that it is not the job of any minority population to field all questions and educate.

People often say that no matter how old you get or how much you think you know, you never stop learning. I've always found this to be true but recently I was reminded of just how true it really is. On March 27, Bowling Green State University held their 24th annual Latino/A/X issues conference. I had heard about the conference in passing much earlier in the month and it piqued my interest but admittedly slipped my mind pretty quickly after hearing about it. It wasn't until a friend of mine had informed me that she and another one of our friends were receiving awards at the conference that I finally put it on my calendar.

As I looked through the program at all of the different events scheduled for the day, the first to catch my eye was a theatrical performance called Spanish Ohio: Reflections on loss, gain acceptance and belonging moderated by a Bowling Green professor and friend, Emily Aguliar. I can confidently say that I have not, in a long time felt so confused and lost in a theatrical setting in a long time. The performance was presented in about 90% Spanish and 10% English and having little more than a basic understanding of Spanish from my high school days, I was able to understand a few key words or phrases here and there but more I just found myself intrigued by what I didn't understand...which was a lot. At the end of the performance, there was a sort of Q&A; where we as the audience could ask questions to the performers. During which time an audience member made a comment that really opened my mind.

She had said that it was important for people outside of the Latinx community to be lost in that moment. That the not understanding was what so many people whose first language isn't English feel all the time.

This statement really hit me hard and stuck with me. Even though I was at a performance at my college where I knew that I was safe, secure and taken care of, not knowing what was going on around me was overwhelming and a little unsettling. Not because I fear the existence of languages other than English, but because I felt as if I was expected to understand and take away things that I simply couldn't. And the fact that people move about in the world feeling like this every day in a society where they are not looked after or cared for was a painful but oh so necessary realization.

People are being forced to exist in a place that doesn't make it easy for them to do so. All too often the one piece of 'advice' given to those who speak any language other than English is simply to 'Just speak English' as if it is more important for the majority to feel comfortable and unthreatened by the existence of a language outside of our own than it is to respect the culture, language, and diversity of the Latinx community.

This conference really opened my eyes to the struggles of the Latinx community but at the same time, it highlighted and celebrated the achievements as well. I was lucky enough to be able to see two women who are very important to me receive awards for the work that they've done in and around the community. Both of these women are beyond deserving of the accolades they received. They are passionate, strong, opinionated women with knowledge and heart and I was thankful to be there to witness both of them receiving the recognition that they so deserve. It is SO important to recognize the contributions of people who have been pushed to the sort of outskirts of the conversation so to speak and I can say that it was very moving for me to see my friends as well as the others at the conference reveling in their identities and their cultures.

This is how it should be at all times, not just at a conference.

People should feel comfortable in their identities and people who are in positions of privilege should be using their voices to amplify the marginalized. I am so very thankful to have been able to attend this event and learn and grow in my understanding of culture, identity, and people. So, thank you to BGSU and LSU for putting in the work to make this possible for everyone, and to Emily and Camila-I'm proud of you both! Amplify the marginalized and underrepresented and never stop learning everything you can.

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