Dear Black People, Stop Celebrating Meghan Markle And Her Royal Wedding

Dear Black People, Stop Celebrating Meghan Markle And Her Royal Wedding

No, she is not the "first Black princess," and no, she hasn't done anything to help our race.
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"Bleh." That's how I've felt (and continue to feel) about all royal weddings. From celebrities to duchesses, I've never understood why people are so obsessed with watching random couples get married. They sit in front of their TVs watching every second of these televised weddings, scroll their Instagram TLs to look for exclusive photos, check Twitter to join in on the conversation.

And for the life of me, I can't understand what enjoyment they get out of it.

As a U.S. citizen, pardon me for not giving a fuck about the royal lineages in Britain. As an individual who doesn't idolize or live vicariously through famous people, pardon me for having not given a fuck about the highly publicized weddings of Kim & Khloe Kardashian, Gucci Mane, or Nene Leakes (but let's be honest, did anyone care about that wedding?)

To be fair, however, this year's royal wedding was a little bit more interesting: Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, is a half-Black woman, making her the first Black woman to enter the royal family.

OK, OK. I can see why some people would want to see that, or bash it (cough, cough, Katie Hopkins). So many Black people are exalting Meghan and basking in the feeling of honorary achievement. And for the life of me, I can't understand why. They're calling her the "first Black princess" and exclaiming that she's made strides for Black women everywhere.

First of all, Black people need to stop equating White society to success, wealth, and happiness. Sure, the royal family is loaded and has a lot of power, but Blacks are placing Meghan's marriage above the achievements of other Blacks such as James Shaw Jr., who risked his life to disarm a crazed shooter at a local Waffle House. Or Captain Rachelle Jones, who along with Stephanie Grant and Diana Galloway, led the first flight comprised of an entirely African-American female crew. Or Stacey Abrams, who has recently won the GA Democratic primary, earning her the chance to become the first Black woman governor of Georgia.

Why are we not exalting these people just as much? Why are their accomplishments not seen as game-changing? Is it because Meghan has essentially become White, and that's what we value? There is an abundance of Black royalty. Are we forgetting that in many African countries, hierarchies still remain? For instance, Queen Sylvia of Buganda, a U.K. Black woman who became queen of a kingdom in Uganda in 1999. Look at Ariana Austin, an African-American woman who married Prince Yoel of Ethiopia. Why is she not being idolized and pushed as a Black savior? Oh right, because she didn't infiltrate White society.

Since the era of segregation, Blacks have been striving to enter White spaces and be accepted, hoping there will be more opportunities and a better standard of living. Sure, it has helped with that since conditions were worse back then, but we haven't found a way to snap out of that way of thinking. We would rather strive to fulfill another group of people's ideals and share their spaces, rather than building up, creating, and appreciating our own.

Our obsession with and praise for Meghan only suggests that she accomplished something remarkable when really she hasn't. All she's done is marry a guy who happens to be a prince. In what way does that make her some change-agent for Blacks? Has she figured out how to end racism, mass incarceration, or colorism? I don't think so. Will her entering the royal family change anything for Black people? I don't think so. In the words of Jay-Z, we're "still nigga(s)."

Her marrying Prince Harry doesn't suddenly erase the stereotypes and stigmas attached to Black people or show that we can be "just as good" as Whites, nor should we feel like it has. To be Black royalty, you don't have to enter a White family. And to show Black excellence, you don't have to get closer to Whiteness.

Now, on the other hand, Meghan, as a women's rights activist, has made great strides in the fight for gender equality. That's what we should be praising her for, instead of seeing her marriage to Prince Harry as a proverbial "leveling up" for Black society.

Cover Image Credit: @kensingtonroyal / Instagram

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.

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I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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