Post-"Parks" Depression: 15 Reasons Why Leslie Knope Is One of the Greatest Female TV Characters Ever

Post-"Parks" Depression: 15 Reasons Why Leslie Knope Is One of the Greatest Female TV Characters Ever

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Almost two weeks ago, an amazing show aired its final episode. That show was NBC's Parks and Recreation. After seven seasons of smart, clever hilarity, of stellar characters and story lines, of an outstanding group of writers and actors, the curtain sadly closed for good. As an avid fan of the Parks Gang, I have been in a state of depression ever since. For those of you who have ever had "a show,' this one or otherwise, that has ended, you know what I'm feeling. I am not ashamed to admit that post-series finale, I have been going through the five stages of grief: first is denial and/or isolation (I refused to accept the show was over, then preceded to watch the entire series all over again. Side note, I finished the whole series in the eleven days since Parks has been off the air); second is anger (the fact that someone had the audacity to end one of the greatest shows of the 21st century still kind of enrages me); third is bargaining (me: "God/NBC heads, I will give you literally anything to bring this show back"); fourth is depression (to be honest I'm still in this stage and don't know if I'll ever be out of this stage, but I'll keep you posted); and finally, the fifth stage, which is acceptance (again, I'll keep you posted if I ever reach this stage).

Kubler-Ross grief model aside, for those of us who are fans of Parks and Rec, it's been a pretty tough two weeks, and Tuesdays will never be the same. But, despite the sadness, it's time to appreciate the genius that was this show. However, that would mean appreciating everything and probably writing a million page article, which is not what anyone wants. Except for me, I'd totally do it in a heart beat.

Semi-joking aside, I decided it was best to focus on only one genius thing from this show. This genius thing is the character of Leslie Knope. Amy Poehler easily created one of the greatest female characters on television today. Not only was Leslie a strong female lead, she was a hilarious and relatable one, too. This was a character that women actually could/do/can always look up to. And here are some reasons why.

1.) Leslie is super smart. This one is a complete no brainer. She's an educated, innovative woman who has both book and (sometimes) street smarts. She is also a fairly gifted people-person, one who knows how to bring out the best in those around her, as well as motivate coworkers/peers to work hard for their/her/a cause. Sometimes, it doesn't come off correctly and it may cause some discord, but she always finds a way to fix it. That takes some serious brain power.


2.) She's passionate about what she cares for. Parks, Ben, her department, Ann, Pawnee, her friends, scrapbooking, Ann again, hating Eagleton, waffles, paperwork, some more Ann, hating and hoping for the destruction of libraries, probably Parks and Ben one more time, and of course Ann. All of these things, and I'm sure more, are what Leslie is passionate about. And when she's passionate about something or someone, she doesn't stop working for the perfect end-goal or solution. I know I'm still trying to find what I'm passionate about, so to have so many things that hold her attention and drive her is something worth striving for.

3.) Leslie Knope=Queen of Comebacks. Sometimes awkward and/or aggressive, yet always hilarious, Leslie kills the comeback game. She can hit where it hurts, or at least give a solid attempt to. I mean, you can't ask for much else.

4.) She's all about gender equality and the empowerment of women. Leslie Knope is a strong believer and fighter for women's equality both in government and in general. She both idolizes and admires strong, powerful, smart women and tries to be that kind of woman herself so she can inspire the future generation (and sometimes herself).

5.) She's committed. When she believes in something or wants something, she'll fight for it, and she won't stop until things are achieved. Leslie Knope does not give up. Ever.


6.) Drunk Leslie is pretty much every drunk girl ever. This one kind of speaks for itself. If you've ever been around a drunk girl, you know that Leslie embodies it perfectly.

7.) Her friendship and marriage are the definition of real relationship goals. I mean seriously, she hit the relationship jackpot. Her friendship in Ann is what every girl looks for in having a best friend: they're two peas in a pod, but on things they do differ on, they find ways to work around it; they just love each other as they are. And her marriage with Ben? She found her perfect other half. He respects and loves her for who she is, he perfectly balances her out, and their goofy relationship is what every girl should actually aim for.


8.) Leslie Knope is the most creative complimenter ever. Anyone who is a Parks fan has always secretly wanted to be at the end of a Leslie Knope compliment. Seriously, these things are off the charts. Granted, most are directed towards Ann, but either way. They're amazing.

9.) The way Leslie handles boys/dating. Any girl knows the confusion, excitement, and overall emotional ups and downs of dating. Dating isn't perfect. Actually, half the time it makes us go crazy. Instead of a perfect Hollywood-like look at dating, Leslie handles it just like the rest of us.


10.) She's so optimistic. No matter how bad things are going, how much the cards are stacked against her, Leslie always keeps a positive look on things. Sometimes it's scary how positive she is, but in a good way. She'll either keep a happy, brave face or find a silver lining to any situation.


11.) Leslie isn't afraid to be herself. A lot of us struggle to become comfortable in our own skin, but Not Leslie Knope. No matter who or what is going on around her, she doesn't change herself. She holds true to who she is. That takes a lot of strength.



12.) Her love of breakfast food and hate of salads. I mean not much more can be said; she loves her waffles and hates salads. But that's a very real world thing. I don't care what anyone says, breakfast food is the best kind of food out there. What other type of food can be eaten at any time of day? Plus, it's just plain delicious no matter what you get. On the opposite end of the spectrum are salads. No matter how people try to spin it, they're just gross. No one says salad is their favorite food, and if they do they're big fat liars. End of story.


13.) Leslie Fangirls like the rest of us. We all have celebrity crushes, people we strive to be like, and things we just geek about. So does Leslie, granted, most of hers involve politicians, but she fangirls nonetheless. Not only is having a character that has such fangirl tendencies refreshing to see, so are her reactions to meeting them. She acts as any of us would meeting the people we obsess about.

14.) She's selfless. Leslie Knope rarely thinks of herself. She puts everyone before herself, and I mean everyone. Sure, she puts her loved ones ahead of her, but she also makes the wellbeing of strangers a top priority. She wants to do what's best for her town (and eventually many other towns) always. Even when they don't agree and they attack her, she still stands by them and does what she thinks is right. That is amazing.

15.) She is the kind of best friend and person you want in your life. All of these reasons (and more that I really have no time or space to fit) have culminated to this final reason. Leslie Knope is an amazing (fictional) human being. If you wanted one person in your corner, it would be her. She brings out the best in people, pushes them to realize their potential, all while supporting and loving them for who they are. What else could you ever want in a person?


So there you have it, folks, proof Leslie Knope is one of the greatest female characters ever. Parks and Rec will be very missed, but I know we will all especially miss the amazing character that was Leslie Knope. Amy Poehler, we will forever be indebted to you for your genius. Now excuse me while I go cry and binge eat some waffles.

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Why Are The Rohingya Refugees In New Delhi Considered 'Entitled'?

The role of the Indian Government, UNHCR and local initiatives at the New Delhi Rohingya refugee camp.
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This past December, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Rohingya settlement in New Delhi. As much as the daily news coverage regarding Rohingyas makes our hearts bleed for the countless who lose their lives, the experience of working in close proximity with Rohingya refugees was an astonishingly different experience. Sharam Vihar is a suburban locality in the periphery of New Delhi. The enclave (more of a shanty), houses 94 Rohingya families and approximately 500 IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples) from within India. These IDPs come from different states from India and are mostly devout Muslims. Thus, one could label Shram Vihar as a Muslim shantytown, in an otherwise exceedingly Hindu dominated country.

Each of the Rohingya families has been conferred a refugee status by the UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency). The refugee card helps them access major dispensaries and the multi-specialty Safdarjung hospital, in case of any medical emergency. All of them remain grateful to the Indian government for sheltering them, yet they have desires to go back to their “Watan” (a Hindi/Urdu word meaning ‘Country’).

Most philanthropists make donations or bring in aid in the name of the Rohingya community. As a result, there has been a relatively suppressed personal scuffle between the IDPs and Rohingyas. It is recognized that, after the mass exodus on August 25 and the Supreme Court’s decision to deport Rohingyas, a sizable number of Rohingya daily wage workers face trouble finding work. However, the reality rests in the fact that most Rohingya refugees do not need to scrounge for work at all. Most Rohingya houses have a surplus of rations and other essentials such as sanitary pads, toiletries etc. Rohingya families usually go out to the market and sell the excess resources in the market. This stokes the brawl between Rohingyas and the rest of the slum dwellers as Rohingyas are increasingly being viewed as the entitled sect in the shanty.

On my first visit to the camp, I was strolling around the camp, hankering after middle-aged Rohingya people to talk to. Surprisingly, the only people who spoke to me were all men. Even the younger lot just comprised of a crew of teenage boys who were donning skullcaps. While a ‘self-proclaimed’ local leader told me harrowing stories of migration from Myanmar to India, the kids told me about how they withdrew out of the local school and were attending classes at a Madrassa (Islamic School). Some of the young kids attend government schools, though the general Rohingya participation in schools remains abysmally low.

On one of my visits to the camp, I visited a makeshift school run solely by a magnanimous individual named Mr. Anas (The Guncha Foundation). His initial intentions were to rope in Rohingya kids and further their education. Ironically, Rohingyas refused to let their kids mingle with any other local communities. No other breed of Muslims, let alone any Hindu! In fact, on one visit, a Rohingya leader vocalized his ardent belief in confining his women within the house (upon reaching puberty). Thus, most Rohingya girls are out of school, palmed off as young and tender child brides. This deep-seated, conservative thought process, pervasive in the Rohingya brethren has caused persistent brawls in Shram Vihar.

While the world is condemning the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya community, what I learned from my time as a volunteer at the camps was that one must not buy what the media touts. Just because the Rohingyas are experiencing the gravest of human rights violations does not mean every section of them suffers equally. The diaspora in New Delhi has a decently dignified and a ‘not completely’ deprived lifestyle.

Obviously, it is undeniable that there is much more that the Indian government must do to uplift the social and economic status of Rohingyas. Permanent housing must be provided, the deportation order must stay, there MUST be concerted efforts to facilitate higher education among Rohingya kids who were uprooted from Myanmar while enrolled in colleges, etc.

Having said that, no matter how much the community collaborates to restore the status of the inhabitants of the slum, no amount of external effort or monetary support can fill in the voids of filial separation that Rohingyas go through. The emotional turmoil of being away from their motherland and a consistent fear of the safety of those left behind perpetually lurks over.

Cover Image Credit: Mrinali Dhembla

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The Hijab Is A Personal Choice, Not Your Political Symbol For Women's Oppression

It's time to debunk the myth that Muslim women need saving. It's time to respect personal choice.
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With much of the Islamophobia that takes place in the United States today, it is not surprising to find that the hijab, a traditional form of head covering worn by some Muslim women, is debated as a symbol of women's oppression.

As an article in the New York Times reads, “Today, well-intentioned women are wearing headscarves in interfaith “solidarity.” But, to us, they stand on the wrong side of a lethal war of ideas that sexually objectifies women as vessels for honor and temptation, absolving men of personal responsibility.”

As many already know, the tradition of women's head covering was a notion of respect and modesty. Today, many would argue that the hijab perpetuates oppression because of the history behind it. While this tradition was certainly not empowering, Muslim women today have different perspectives on the hijab in different areas of the world and from different backgrounds.

Many Muslim women, when asked why they wear the hijab, respond with attitudes of respect for their religion and culture. In an article in USA Today, Sameeha Ahmad, a student at the University of Maryland, was asked about her decision to wear the hijab: "The way you look at it from a religious perspective, it empowers you by strengthening your relationship with God. It’s a step you are taking to further yourself within your own religion.” For Sameeha, the choice to wear hijab is influenced by religion and the desire to represent it, a right that was not enforced upon her.

Many people believe that no woman should have to wear the hijab because it is demeaning and a form of objectification. This mindset is at the root of ethnocentrism: assuming that Western culture is the correct way of life. It also homogenizes all Muslim women into a single group without respect for personal choice and individualism. While it may seem like an attempt to help save Muslim women, it is entirely wrong and disrespectful. Who’s to say Muslim women need saving in the first place?

The decision whether or not to wear hijab is a personal decision; it is influenced by culture and religious identity. While this decision may be influenced by history and family values, it in no way perpetuates oppression. The hijab is not forced upon Muslim women, therefore it is not oppressive. It is choice.

In response to this cultural issue, I know my responsibilities as a non-Muslim, white American woman. I know that I am responsible for respecting a woman’s choice whether or not to wear hijab or head cover of any kind because it is not my place or right to critique someone else’s culture.

At the end of the day, it is unfair to reduce an entire population of women to a single item of clothing. While the hijab may have been originally enforced as a sexist notion of women's respectability, that is not how most Muslim women perceive it now when they make the conscious decision to wear it. The perspective that Muslim women need saving is very ethnocentric because of the way it assumes all Muslim women are oppressed by Muslim men; it is an attempt to Westernize all Muslim women under the assumption that the Western way is "best." Hijab is Muslim culture, their religion. It is important to remember that if we want to help and liberate women, we must respect the ways in which they want to be liberated, even if their goals are different from our own.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Vinicius Amano on Unsplash

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