We Need Muckrakers

Tell The Uncomfortable Stories And Make Sure People Hear You Just Like Muckrakers In History

"All art is propoganda"- W.E.B. Du Bois


In the Progressive Era of the early 20th century, there were what are called Muckrakers. The term came from a day when Teddy Roosevelt was asked by a few journalists to answer some questions on the street. Journalism was a new profession created in wake of the newspaper's rising popularity, it was not a renown profession and President Roosevelt added to their poor public reputation in a famous quote in response to those journalists; "I will not have them rake muck over my good name!" and thus, coined the term "muckraker" as a colloquialism for a journalist or someone who set out to "stir the pot" by revealing the injustices and discrepancies in society through photography, art, news articles, literature, or other media.

We owe such things as the regulation and inspection of meat, drugs, and food, as well as the progression of the refrigerator to Muckrakers like Upton Sinclair who wrote a book about the horrific conditions of the meat packing industry of his time. Ida Tarbell pioneered investigative journalism and what would become our modern profession of social work through writing and speaking about the pain, mistreatment, and injustice women and children without homes face.

Urban reform, the invention of the garbage collection system, destruction of tenements and implementation of proper urban housing, and more refined sewage systems can be accredited to Jacob Riis and his book called How the Other Side Lives which sought out the stories and faces of people (primarily immigrants and people of color) forced to live in tenements which were cramped, shabbily built city housing that harbored disease and poverty.

So many journalists are being killed all over the world, not excluding the US, for writing the truth of the world around them. We need stories, we need faces, we need documentation of people's lives to keep so we never repeat what they have to have or let their reality die.

Tell stories.

In the words of W.E.B. Du Bois, "all art is propaganda". What is propaganda? "Ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause." At the first meeting of what would become the NAACP, W.E.B. Du Bois said this to encourage the people at the meeting to tell their own stories and not let anyone tell it for them.

Everyone is born with a microphone and a story to tell, but the volume is different for everyone. It is naturally turned up or down for you based on your identity and society, which promotes a surplus of the same stories and maybe what is worse, a telling of someone else's story for them by someone with a higher volume on their microphone. Pass mics, don't speak for people. Tell your own story and help others tell theirs but never tell it for them. Art of any kind promotes some kind of message and cause, so do stories and the danger of telling someone else's is taking it from them and using it to promote your cause instead of theirs.

This is not a competition, people telling the stories of the people should not be pitted against each other, but respect the value of their voice by letting them proclaim it but always lift it and back it up.

And rake some muck. Tell the uncomfortable stories and make sure people hear them. Tell the truth, especially if it's uncomfortable, enraging, and scary. But let it be the truth because history is nothing if not the truth. If we do not remember people and their voices for who they truly were, no washing of their stories for our comfort and their belittlement.

Listen, speak, and rake some muck.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Leaving A Toxic Work Environment Was The Best Decision

even if it was tough


Starting a new job is rough, you don't know anyone and you're "the new guy" so you get the short stick. When working at one job where you love what you do, you love the people you work with and the kids (I worked at a daycare) it is hard to leave. The management was going downhill FAST and there were no initiatives to do better at your job.

I hated going to work because I never knew what I was gonna have to deal with that day, maybe I'll be stuck doing chores that's not in my job description or maybe I'll be told to go on a long break RIGHT AFTER GETTING THERE. Who knows? I loved my job I really did, I had no intentions on leaving it even though I saw the environment as toxic. It was my chance that I applied for a new job that paid more just out of curiosity with 0 intention on leaving, but I got the job.

The time had come, my freedom was right in front of me. Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I had to do. I worked there a year and I saw the kids grow so much within that year and they loved me. I couldn't tell them I was leaving, so I didn't. I left that Friday and I never said goodbye to the kids or my coworkers. I didn't realize it was the last day I would see them and work with them. But since leaving I am happy at work (I know seems impossible), I enjoy learning new things and everything runs smoother. The center I work at now is so much better organized, sanitized and maintained. While I do miss my old daycare kids, families and coworkers I know that where I am now is healthier for me and my mentality.

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