Yes, We Still Can

Yes, We Still Can

Michelle Obama's words are the empowerment we need.
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After a rough political week, it’s nice to remember the more favorable role models the White House has given us.

On July 25th, former First Lady Michelle Obama made her largest appearance since the 2016 election, speaking at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado before an audience of over eight thousand. The Foundation seeks to empower and provide greater economic opportunities for women in Colorado. Their 30th fundraising anniversary was a more-than-appropriate platform for Mrs. Obama.

In conversation with President and CEO Lauren Y. Casteel, Mrs. Obama largely steered clear of politics, and instead provided her perspective on empowering women from a young age. She stressed constant reminders of worth and of capability: “It’s their mothers, teachers, siblings, and their fathers and the men around them who every day can lift them up. Don’t underestimate the power of day-to-day motivation and inspiration in a girl’s life.”

Many of the issues are personally important to her rise. She encourages equal opportunities for women in STEM fields, criticizes the idea of an education which values the speed of learning, and per her early days as First Lady, supports better nutrition and health systems for children.

Her most poignant words, however, surround her experiences as a black woman in a position of power. Casteel lauds her as having shattered a glass ceiling by being the first black woman to hold the First Lady title. But what of the falling glass shards?

Mrs. Obama states, “The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut.” She continues, “Knowing that after eight years of working really hard for this country, there are still people who won’t see me for what I am because of my skin color.”

The number of rude, racist, and sexist criticisms the former First Lady received are countless. She asks that women rise above; to wear their scars proudly and to own them, lest those who inflict them go blameless. She affirms that she is “a strong woman because of other strong women.” Togetherness is crucial to her message. She references the power of a message like “Yes We Can,” which encourages collectively fixing the issues that face us.

Resoundingly, she claims: “I want to live in a world that cares for its women. I hope that we can create a world where women are safe. At the core, I want girls to feel safety as they move about the world.”

This, given the past week, extends to any marginalized group. Mrs. Obama speaks on behalf of those that have encountered barriers, and to those whose barriers have yet to be broken. Her message comes at a time more important than ever before; when human rights are denied and discrimination is systematized, safety and care are the work of us all.

Cover Image Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Sorry People, But #BelieveWomen Is #UnAmerican

Presumption of innocence is a core American value

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There's a saying: "Lack of faith and blind faith - both are equally dangerous". Believing sexual assault accusers who are women just because they are women besides being the very definition of sexist - prejudice based on sex - is setting a harmful precedent on the way justice is served in this country. See, what this movement has done is changed justice from "prove guilt" to "prove innocence", an important and incredibly dangerous difference. Where is the due process that our Founding Fathers envisioned, fought, and died for?

Due process is an integral part of the reason why we have the United States of America. It was so important to our Founding Fathers that they included it in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eight (the Bill of Rights), and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. It galls me to see how privileged modern day feminists are - so privileged they seemingly forget the freedoms this country affords them, so they may live their life, expect liberty, and be unhindered in their pursuit of happiness.

#BelieveWomen is a vigilante movement - and with vigilante justice the innocent always hang with the guilty, one of the very reasons for due process. I've heard the argument it's better to let innocent men rot in jail than have rapist men walk free, an argument, despite being incredibly moronic and unAmerican, that would not be made if the accused was a man close to the woman's heart. Because with the change to "prove innocence", the assumption will be guilt, and a confirmation bias will be created. Whereas if the assumption is innocence, the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has occurred. I understand that a high percentage of rape accusations are truthful (I believe the number is in the high 90s), but the small percentage that are not means we cannot, in good conscience, assume guilt. To assume would damn some men to a fate they do not deserve, a fate they would have to endure simply because of their sex. Any real feminist should be appalled at how sexism is implicitly encouraged in this movement.

If you choose to #BelieveWomen in spite of everything I outlined, that is your prerogative, but you must #BelieveAllWomen. If your father, husband, boyfriend, or son gets accused, you must #BelieveWomen and stand with their accuser. Any less and your feminist privilege will show. Vocal #MeToo activist Lena Dunham has already shown her privilege - accusing actress Aurora Perrineau of lying about being assaulted by her friend Murray Miller. When the going gets hard, feminists rarely stick to their principles. And sadly, feminism - and the double standards it always brings - rears its ugly head once again.

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