Is My Life Significant?

Is My Life Significant?

When will it be?
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Three people are dead in 48 hours. All of whom were killed by police officers. Two black men. One Latino teen.

Alton Sterling was a 37-year-old father of five.

Yes, he had a record. However, his record has nothing to do with his death. His record was dug up after he was already shot six times in the chest. He had a weapon — that was not pulled. This man was not a threat. Since I refuse to watch the video due to the level of graphic violence in it, I can't tell you why the police officers approached him, but I can tell you this. He sold CDs in front of this store daily, and the owner was perfectly satisfied with that. (It is a common scene in neighborhoods with many African American residents, someone selling CDs and DVDs in front of the businesses on the block.)

Sterling now has a mural painted on the side of the building, approved by the owner, as a means of memorial and a show of support. One of Sterling's sons was seen breaking down during a press conference beside his mother. This man was a father. He was out trying to provide for them. None of them had any idea he would not make it back home.

Philando Castile was also a father.

He had a 4-year-old daughter in the car with him when he was killed. This should have been a routine traffic stop, but something went wrong. His girlfriend decided to stream live video on Facebook when she noticed something was off. He informed the officer that he had a license to carry a weapon. The weapon was concealed and unseen. Castile was asked to provide his driver's license, most likely figured he would be searched and knew it would be better to provide all information before things turned ugly. However, when he reached for his wallet, the officer opened fire into the vehicle. Castile died on the scene.

It can be heard that his daughter cried for him, but his girlfriend kept her composure and comforted the child. Before you ask why the girlfriend didn't just call for 911 — 911 was already there; 911 pulled the trigger. Castile reached for his wallet, you guys. His daughter was in the backseat. What's your justification for a 4 year old watching her father die?

Pedro Erik Villanueva was 19-years-old.

Police opened fire on his moving vehicle. He was being tailed by an unmarked car, having no idea they were police officers; he kept driving instead of pulling over. The POs were undercover, investigating drag racing in the area. Nothing about them in their plainclothes or their unmarked vehicle screamed, "We are cops — do as we say," to Villanueva and his friends. Instead it screamed, "We might rob you," which is to be expected. Unmarked cars aren't exactly what one would consider benevolent.

Villanueva had no clue they were police officers; he was just scared. He did what he thought was safest, and was trying to avoid being robbed. The result was bullets entering his body and ending his life. The tactic used is one federal authorities and law enforcement experts don't endorse and has been banned in many major cities. That's right, banned.

This boy had no idea what was coming to him.

And then, about two weeks ago, another incident happened that has received little to no coverage. I find it weird how little information is out on this case. I say this because some of my own friends argue with me about the phrase Black Lives Matter by telling me All Lives Matter, but when something tragic happens to a white teen, they are all silent. I don't get it? This child didn't deserve this! You silenced by arguing All Lives Matter, and you don't even fight for answers about why his life didn't to these officers? Read on for more!

Dylan Noble was another teenager, only 19 years old.

He was at a gas station when the police approached him on June 25th. There's not much information on his case because no news source seems to be covering it. He was compliant. He stayed away from his vehicle and did as asked. They thought he had a weapon. In the video, you hear them yelling to move a certain way and then gunshots. He laid on the ground already shot once, and then two more sound off. And just like that, Dylan's life was over.

This time it wasn't a black person who was killed, it was a white teenager. I expected an uproar over this as a result. I mean, every time you hear the phrase "black lives matter," there is an argument that "all lives matter," right? But where was the white community at when this happened? Why didn't his life matter? Why are there only two articles about this boy? He was unarmed! He was compliant! And he still died.

No, it doesn't just happen to us African Americans — it does happen more often, however, which is why we spoke up! Which is why we started the BLM movement! Why aren't more people who love to argue "all lives matter" speaking up for Dylan? Why do I only see BLM supporters? Help his family get answers, just like we're trying to get answers for Alton, Philando and Pedro! Don't say All Lives Matter and do nothing to prove it.

Your black friends. Your black teachers and professors. Your black coworkers. Everybody you know who is brown or a person of color. We are all at risk. Will you say All Lives Matter when my name is splattered across the screens of your TVs, phones, tablets, and computers? Will you buy into the fabrications of media? Will you fight for me and remind my family of who I really am? Or will my black life mean nothing to you?

It seems important to you when I crack jokes, when I help you with your assignments, when I support you through your ups and downs -- but will it matter when my life is take unjustly? Will it matter when another person of color has been killed senseless by a terrorist in a uniform?

How do I prove that my life is significant? How do I know that you see my value? When will you see my value? Our value?

Cover Image Credit: Twitter

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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In A Society Where Sex Sells And Women Are Trying To Be Heard

You are a valuable human being, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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I think it's fair to say we all have our guilty pleasures in life.

Those romantic comedies, steamy novels, or dramatic tv shows.

We love seeing the super attractive guy, with the super attractive girl.

But I think what society has picked up on, and what continues to happen, is women are being overly sexualized.

Whether it be a commercial, a show, a movie, a picture, or advertisement, sex will sell just about anything.

And I know this happens to men as well, and sure we don't mind looking at it, and might not even notice any real problems, but it is a problem.

We live in a society where men and women want to be heard, they want their voices out on the platforms for the world to hear, they want to change, and action.

We want to end major problems like human trafficking, sexual predators, and rape culture.

But let's put up a billboard of a half-dressed woman for children to see.

Let's make this simple.

No a woman or man for that matter, wearing very little clothing does not mean they are open or willing to engage with anyone sexually. This does not excuse rape, catcalling, or other sexual comments.

But listen, I am a woman, and if there is a man on the beach with a six-pack, It might catch my eye.

Just as a woman with a very revealing top may get a couple of glances, but this still doesn't have to be made sexual or overly dramatic. We can notice, and control our thoughts.

But here's the thing, if we continue to push sex, it really doesn't help our case.

As a woman I know if I walk into a job interview I'm going to look my best because my goal is to show I am a sophisticated individual worth being hired, it sends a message, just as walking into an interview with sweatpants would be.

I know I can speak for all men and women and say we all desire respect, as we should.

We don't want unwanted attention.

But there are a lot of other things we don't want either,

as I mentioned before, predators, sex traffickers, or rapists.

I believe clothing or lack thereof do not lead to such things, but rather things like pornography, graphic movies, shows, or magazines can "encourage."

NOT intentionally.

But think about it, really.

They create a fantasy, which means they aren't real. But when we continue to promote these things it becomes real for some people.

We as women want to be heard, we want respect, we want equality, but I'm telling you we are not going to get that in a society that banks off of sex. Or sexually exploiting ourselves.

Because

1. WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO SELL OURSELVES LIKE THAT TO ANYONE

2. I'm pretty sure people will still buy the product without the half dressed individuals if marketed well

I think if we want to change then we need to fix the issues staring right at us.


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