Puerto Rico Is Still In Peril

Puerto Rico Is Still In Peril

Dead bodies continue to turn up.
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Did we forget that Puerto Rico is still in crisis?

It seems like immediately after Hurricane Maria, every American was up on their soapbox about how terrible it was—then come November, it was like the idea collectively left our minds. Hurricanes got buried under tax plans and sexual assault allegations. As long as hurricane damage with Irma was a problem in Texas, hurricane damage around the world was a really big deal to Americans. Now, not so much. We’ve got net neutrality and taxes to worry about.

It shouldn’t matter whatsoever that, in a territory that is populated by U.S. citizens, stuff still looks like this:

Aguadilla, Puerto Rico -- Posted 12/21/2017. Photo by ActivateNow

The photographer that took this shot, Ed Higgins, is currently in Puerto Rico operating as a representative for the newly-formed independent party, a journalist and a humanitarian. He ran a live Facebook audio Thursday about what he has seen firsthand and what exactly the people need.

Potable water, according to Higgins and Puerto Ricans themselves, is one of the biggest concerns at this point. Higgins said it has been “bleached so badly it’s not really drinkable.” Power in the region in which he is staying is supplied mostly through generators.

Some FEMA workers are also allegedly not doing their jobs; Higgins has heard that they are “being paid to hang out at casinos [and] hotels,” and that they are doing the loan and housing checks but not much else.

Over the phone, Higgins also described a man that was paid $20 to climb trees in the middle of the island and search for dead bodies. In a single day, the man reportedly found over 200 of them.

The apagón, the blackout that is currently affecting Puerto Rico, is the “longest and largest blackout in modern American history.” Since most of the water is under boil order, people can’t drink it without electricity to heat it.

The United States is the tenth wealthiest country in the world, yet citizens are still without clean drinking water or power two months after hurricane Maria hit. Dead bodies are still stuck in trees.

How many news articles have you read on any of this?

The thing is, Puerto Rican newspapers are covering hurricane recovery; we just don’t see it here in the U.S. We’re too busy with our tax plans and accusations of who sexually assaulted whom to focus on the actual welfare of our citizens.

That may sound biting and for that, I apologize. Tax plans and sexual assault are also important issues. All I'm saying is that most of the people reading this are privileged enough to not have to worry about basic necessities. We need to realize that this is not so for all United States citizens.

We're not a perfect country. We've got people hurting. Let's step up and quit pretending we don't.

Cover Image Credit: NY Mag

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Starbucks Corrects Its Wrongs In Light Of Recent Racial Bias Issue

All stores in the U.S. will be closed on May 29th to perform racial bias training.
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Recently, a video of two African-American men being arrested in their local Starbucks for simply standing and waiting for their friends in the lobby/seating area surfaced on the internet. Since this situation was brought to light, there has been an uproar of public outrage focused on the blatant racial bias these men were faced with. Even Starbucks itself had something to say about it.

For many African-American citizens, this situation is all too common. Being racially profiled is not a thing of the past and more than just these two men have experienced it. The ACLU writes about the experiences of citizens being racially profiled, stating,

"We rely on the police to protect us from harm and promote fairness and justice in our communities. But racial profiling has led countless people to live in fear, casting entire communities as suspect simply because of what they look like, where they come from, or what religion they adhere to."

In light of the recent incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, many fans expressed outrage in the comments section of this post, but Starbucks responded to almost every viral, angry comment:

However, in the midst all of the outraged comments were fans who appreciated the message that Starbucks was trying to send:

Despite the mixed reviews on Starbucks' course of action, the company is standing strong in their choice to address the issue and correct it.

People come to Starbucks stores to drink coffee, hang out, talk with their friends, and have a good time. It is absurd that these two men were escorted out and arrested for doing just that. I, personally, have done that same thing and have never once been asked to leave.

As a country, we need to think about the way we treat people of color and other minorities. It is a shame that this kind of public outcry had to happen to bring racial profiling to our attention. People are treated unfairly for no reason other than the color of their skin every day.

Way to go, Starbucks.

Thank you for recognizing that this was not an isolated incident and that racial profiling happens all the time. Thank you for taking the time to publicly announce that you are willing to go through the proper training with your employees to ensure that it doesn't happen ever again. But most of all, thank you for making a statement to the rest of the nation and the world about what kind of company you are, what kind of people you represent, and that racial injustice will not be tolerated.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Why Earth Day Is Underrated, And What You Can Do

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” –The Lorax
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April 22 may be just another day to most, but with climate change on the rise and wildlife becoming extinct, it’s more important now than ever to recognize Earth Day and understand what it entails. Our society as a whole cannot let this day pass with nothing done. It has to serve as a reminder of the action that must be taken.

Late January of 1969 would come to be a turning point for our nation. At the time, the worst oil spill in history occurred in Santa Barbara, California. Founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson was horrified, yet inspired. Soon after, he announced his idea to teach the nation about the environment and built a staff to promote events across the country.

Earth Day brought thousands of colleges and universities together to fight for the cause. It became a sense of unity for everyone. No matter who you were, what race you were, where you came from, Earth Day was able to empower these people and help them realize they all wanted the same thing for the home we share. This kind of behavior is exactly what we need today, and should enable us to see that we’re all on the same side.

By the time 1990 came, Earth Day became a global event. 200 million people were involved to fight for environmental issues.

Today, Earth Day and the environment face many challenges. With those who deny climate change, deforestation, oil lobbyists, fracking, dying animal life, politicians dividing our nation on these issues, and much more, Earth Day astoundingly continues to prevail through the obstacles. With over 190 counties participating in the event each year, and more than 1 billion people, it’s never too late to do your part and contribute to the day.

Here are some basic things that anyone can do to make a change. Every day counts, and anything you do matters.

1. Join a local outdoors cleanup


Rivers, forests, beaches, whatever is near you. Help clean up litter and debris.

2. Carpool

This is probably the simplest thing you and your friends or family can do. If you’re going to the same place, drive together. For every mile you don’t drive- you’re reducing your carbon footprint by 1 pound.

3. Bring reusable bags when you shop

They’re cheap, cute, and save an abundance on plastic.

4. Use a reusable water bottle

Save on wasting plastic bottles every day.

5. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products

Typical cleaning products are high in chemicals and toxicity.

6. Always recycle!

Paper, plastic, cans, anything you can. Every individual thing recycled makes a difference.

7. Use LED lightbulbs

This can reduce your footprint 450 pounds per year.

8. Volunteer at local environmental groups

See if your school has an environmental club, or anything local in your town. See how many people you can get to do it with you and make a day out of it.

9. Donate your clothes and check out thrift stores


Instead of throwing them out, give them to somewhere they will be of use. Also, thrift shopping is inexpensive and you can find some really unexpectedly great items!

10. Don’t wait until Earth Day to do all of these things


Keep up the green behavior year-round.

Do your part, and do what you can today.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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