On Behalf Of Millennials Everywhere: Thanks, Obama

On Behalf Of Millennials Everywhere: Thanks, Obama

Why we're grateful to have been raised during one of the most unforgettable presidencies.
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Thanks, Obama.

“Thanks, Obama” was a viral trend over the past few years. Everything from spilled milk to broken laptop chargers was jokingly blamed on our then-President, mocking the way that everyone somehow found a way to blame him for their misfortune.

However, I now say it not as a joke, but as a sincere expression of the respect I have for Obama. Our country was so lucky to have a man who signified grace, class, and dignity in the most respectable manner imaginable. Obama is incomparably kind, humble, and intelligent, in a way that our current President perhaps may never be capable of.

President Obama, you showed us that a President does not have to be unrelatable. From making friendship bracelets for your running down the White House halls with your dog, you never failed to remind us that you were human, too. You never stood before us as a dictator or a king, but instead, as an equal. Rather than shying away from being emotionally vulnerable in the intimidating public eye, you cried with us. You mourned our losses, and you celebrated our victories, just like the rest of us do. You reminded us that you were just another person, trying to do their job the best they could.

Thank you for being a voice for many, for those whose voices were silenced. For immigrants, for those discriminated against, for women – you have been an invaluable ally, and we can never thank you enough for standing with us and representing us.

I know you did not fight alone. To all of the Senate and House members, to your Cabinet, to all members of the government who stood with you, I extend my gratitude. The Obama administration was fearless and passionate, and I will admire that forever.

Thank you to you, and Michelle, for being the epitome of a power couple. As two people who built each other up and brought out the strengths in each other, your love and support for each other has been inspiring.

President Obama, thank you for the Affordable Care Act. You encouraged us to put the value of human lives over the value of our tax money. You pushed for causes America was hesitant to accept, unafraid of the backlash and criticism you would receive, and a result, thousands of lives have been saved. You reminded us that no one deserves to die because they can’t afford treatment.

I know that you were not flawless. I know many did not agree with everyone you said, that you made mistakes, too. I commend you for rebounding, learning from your past, and openly apologizing to those who deserved an apology. You were criticized for showing weakness, but we know those apologies were appreciated. You were unafraid to admit to your personal errors, as well as those of our nation. These apologies reminded us that America is not flawless, that our country must acknowledge its flaws in order to actively combat them.

Perhaps most importantly, thank you for being our first black President. You knew that every move you made would be analyzed and critiqued, that everyone would emphasize your flaws and understate your accomplishments. You knew that as a black man, you would have to work twice as hard to demonstrate your abilities. You knew that your Presidency will influence the fates of all future potential black Presidents. I can never stop emphasizing how important representation is, and you have shown millions of minority children across the country what they are capable of becoming and accomplishing. You have shown them that the color of their skin cannot, and will not, stop them.

Thank you for emphasizing the importance of education, of equality, of fundamental human rights.

Thank you for persevering through the last eight years, allowing our country to progress, and reminding us that while far from perfect, America is already pretty darn great.

Thanks, Obama.

Cover Image Credit: The Loop

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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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An Open Letter To PETA CEO Ingrid Newkirk

For an organization whose sole purpose is to ensure the ethical treatment of animals, I have many questions.

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Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I, like you, am a firm believer in the right to compassion for all living beings around the world. Ever since converting to veganism from the omnivorous lifestyle I was raised to lead nearly six years ago, I have heavily relied on PETA.com and its affiliates for information, facts and statistics, recipe ideas, cruelty-free lifestyle selections, and activism opportunities on almost a daily basis so that I may further grow my knowledge and support for this permanent lifestyle change. When I search for new beauty or household products, clothing, shoes, and more, it is always comforting to see the "PETA-Approved Vegan" logo on the box, and I am confident in the purchases that I am making.

It was only recently that a new stream of data was brought to my attention that has altered my viewpoint of your organization and what it truly stands for, and I request that you provide the public your reasoning or justification for such acts, and any reparations that need to be made. Another lifelong vegan friend of mine recently pointed out to me a website called petakillsanimals.com where there is sizable physical legal evidence of immense animal cruelty, suffering, and murder at the hands of PETA over the last fifteen of years. Seeing as you have been the CEO of the organization for over 25 years, I figured it would be best to address you directly, seeking a response to this evidence of cruelty from the globally renowned organization that does all that it can to fight cruelty in every form.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, from 1998 to 2017, 85.2% of all dogs and cats transferred to your facility for shelter were euthanized within 24 hours of being brought to your facility. Despite your reasoning that you painlessly end the suffering of animals who would have otherwise been left to suffer anyway, the arguments and justifications that you are making mirror the arguments of the meat, dairy, poultry, and fish industries (whom you dedicate your life to combating) all too identically. Just as PETA fights to end society's blasé attitude toward animal cruelty and murder, your attempt at claiming that the way you euthanize the animals in your facility is "better", renders one of PETA's greatest catchphrases, essentially, worthless: "There is no such thing as humane murder".

Similarly, after wrongfully luring a family pet off its porch in 2014, PETA took the pet from its owner's property and euthanized it, bringing the dog's owners to file a lawsuit with your organization that was just settled in 2017, where PETA was forced to pay the family nearly $50,000 dollars in damages. Finally, terror is not ever a justifiable option to invoke change, so why are you personally and professionally so aligned with the Animal Liberation Front, a terrorist organization responsible for arson, extensive property damage, and assault? Why have you donated nearly $80,000 to groups that promote harming life in order to save a life?

Ridding the world of violence with more violence has never, does not, and will never work, so if I can request only one thing from you in this letter, even if you refuse to answer my other questions, it is this: please take the funds that are allocated towards extensive euthanasia drugs and services used by and in your facility, and put them toward building either another building to house more animals if physical space is a concern, for providing food and more extensive adoption services for these animals, or donate them to a true no-kill animal-rights organization like Best Friends Animal Society, Underdog Rescue, or any others provided on this list.

In this letter, my intention was neither to attack nor provoke you in an inflammatory manner, but rather to merely seek truth from an organization that I once so dearly respected and wish to one day respect again in the same manner. I thank you for your time, and for all of the lives that you have saved in between.

Sincerely,

An Animal Lover & Ally

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