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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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

SEE ALSO: To My Closeted Self, I Have Something To Tell You

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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We Need To Call the Waffle House Shooting What It Is: White Terrorism

Ignoring the racial and political aspects of recent shootings only treats the symptoms, not the root cause.
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In my Environmental Ethics class, we talked about the idea of a "non-place" - industrialization leading to places that are the same no matter where you go, where you know what to expect each time. You walk in and each is a carbon copy of the last.

The core idea behind making each identical is that no matter where you are, you know what you can expect. Its familiarity is its comfort – you are home, even if it's somewhere you've never been.

But the effect only stands part of the time: as we've seen recently, many public places have been the setting for mass murder.

One of the most recent shootings covered to varying degrees in the news took place at a Waffle House in Nashville. While the shooting has been covered in basic terms, objective reporting removes an integral degree of what this violence means for its victims.

Everyone involved in the Waffle House shooting was in their 20s. Everyone shot was a person of color.

The shooter had a history of supporting Trump and his ideologies, in addition to a record of both racist views and run-ins with the government.

The AR-15 that was used in the shooting was previously taken from him in one of the run-ins, though the government returned the rifle to his father with the promise that he would keep the gun from his son. He gave the gun back to his son sometime between the run-in and the shooting.

The Waffle House shooting exemplifies white privilege and white terrorism in how the shooter has been treated and how people of color, especially black people, are targeted both by civilians and by enforcement.

The shooter's bond, which was later revoked, was widely publicized in contrast with the release of rapper Meek Mill two days later, who was not given bond when he was originally arrested last year for a much lesser charge than murder.

Multiple acts of white terrorism, including the Charleston church shooting, the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and the Waffle House shooting, were curtailed with the perpetrator arrested and unharmed.

Cops can nonviolently restrain, but only do so when the arrestee is white.

If the person is black, they will be targeted for living. They will be targeted for golfing too slowly. They will be targeted for giving change to the poor. They will be targeted for standing in their own backyard.

Racism and police brutality go long before the past few years, but the increase is unignorably tied to the current administration.

One of the Waffle House shooter's previous government run-ins was because he wanted to meet Trump.

Multiple other recent terrorists, including the Stoneman Douglas shooter, expressed wide support for Trump and his beliefs. The president himself said he could shoot someone and get away with it.

Taurean Sanderlin, Joe Perez, DeEbony Groves and Akilah DaSilva have their names remembered with love because they victims of this tragedy.

The two injured - Shanita Waggonerand Sharita Henderson - are remembered because they survived.

James Shaw Jr., who wrestled the gun away from the shooter, is remembered as a hero, even as he was humble in the aftermath: saying in an interview, “He was going to have to work to kill me.

He is remembered as a hero because he kept more from dying, but in another situation, another non-place, he could've been the men who were arrested in Starbucks.

It doesn't even have to be a non-place.

He could be any number of names from any number of places that have been carved into remembrance for fear of forgetting what #BlackLivesMatter stands for.

Multiple articles following the Waffle House shooting have said that the main detail unknown about the event is the shooter's motives. I don't think that's something we'll ever explicitly find out, but it doesn't take a detective to see the trail.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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