#ThisIsNotUs Is Unquestionably The Wrong Response To Charlottesville

#ThisIsNotUs Is Unquestionably The Wrong Response To Charlottesville

The only appropriate response is outrage.
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After the disgusting and egregious display of racism, hatred and bigotry in Charlottesville this past week, a large portion of the response was a possibly well-meaning hashtag saying #ThisIsNotUS.

This is not who we are. This is not who the US is. This is simply a blip on the radar.

And, despite the objective falsity of that statement, we have to ask ourselves a question: In the face of such a horrifying demonstration fueled solely by hate, how is our first reaction to attempt to absolve this country of blame? How is our first reaction justification? How is our first reaction not outrage, anger and every other negatively-connotated synonym? How can we see Nazi and Confederate flags waving through the air in the hands of a bunch of white supremacists and not immediately condemn, not immediately voice our anger? Because first and foremost, it doesn't matter if this wasn't us in the past. Now it is.

Here's the thing: This level of hatred may be on a larger and louder scale than others in this nation, so maybe it isn't entirely ignorant to believe that, largely, this isn't us. But the overarching truth is that it absolutely, unquestionably, does not matter. Regardless of if our country, before this week, had been a wholly non-racist, peaceful nation filled with absolutely nothing but kindness, love and equality, once the white supremacists started parading our streets wielding tiki torches and chanting Nazi slogans, we lost all of that.

To say #ThisIsNotUs might be a well-meaning hashtag, but in the end, it is just people trying to

a) absolve the US as a whole of blame

b) convince themselves that this isn't the US now, or both.

Because this IS the United States. It is happening here. It doesn't matter how you contrast America pre-Nazi rally with America post-Nazi rally: This now has to be taken into consideration when defining who America is.

SEE ALSO: If Your Reaction To Charlottesville Is '#NotAllWhitePeople,' You're Part Of The Problem

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that America was not the aforementioned "wholly non-racist, peaceful nation filled with absolutely nothing but kindness, love and equality" before this happened.

This did not come out of nowhere, though it could seem so.

Regardless, regardless, of Trump's true feelings (although we could take a pretty accurate stab at what those are), his rhetoric throughout the campaign trail and in office have awoken the closeted racists and allowed them to be racist in broad daylight. It turned the anonymous, racist Twitter troll into a swastika-sporting, screaming white supremacist protestor. It turned the person who kept his opinions to himself to a person vocally supporting the rally. Trump's rhetoric has given those who felt their racist, bigoted beliefs were shameful, (or at the very least worth disaffiliating from publicly) a platform to share their views with the support of the most powerful man in the world.

Now, we won't pretend that all of our problems in this country stemmed from electing a racist, misogynist, every-negative-ist-word-you-can-think-of president into office.

The police brutality against unarmed black men and women outdates Trump's inauguration.

The wage gap between men and women, between white women and black women, between men and Hispanic men outdates Trump's inauguration.

Misogyny, racism, etc. weren't born from a Trump presidency: It just gave more merit to those who believed the systems of inequality and oppression should remain in place.

But let's go back even further. Back before what many of us haven't experienced in our lifetimes. Let's go back to slavery. Let's go back to Japanese Internment Camps. Hell, let's go back to the civil rights movement. And largely, these "blips on the radar" are the biggest problem with the widespread use of the hashtag #ThisIsNotUs: Our next generation will be taught that it was not. It will be taught the same way these other subjects were taught:

A weeklong unit on slavery, somehow majority focusing on the kindness of white people in the Underground Railroad and ending with a "things are better now" spiel.

A fleeting class period discussing Japanese Internment camps, somehow absolving the US of all blame.

A movie about Martin Luther King, Jr., focusing on the strides we have now made as a nation against racism and oppression.

All of these are more than blips on the radar. These are sonic booms on the radar. But we are taught to hear, "Ah, slavery happened but it's over now!" and "Yeah, but we all drink out of the same drinking fountain now!" And more than likely, that is what this will be, too. It'll be a 2-page spread in the middle of a history textbook, and the lesson plan will revolve around how this wasn't the United States at this time. We were a nearly entirely peaceful, non-racist nation that focused on equality and kindness, and this came out of nowhere. Never mind the other overt acts of racism happening at the time. Never mind the overtly racist comments coming from the mouth of our president. Never mind, never mind, never mind. Just a blip, right?

Using the hashtag #ThisIsNotUs is dangerous. It is the first step to this being forgotten, for this being seen as just a small piece of history that doesn't define our nation. I'm sorry, but if Nazi demonstrators with tiki torches in the street who murdered somebody... Actually, let me rephrase: If a fatal domestic terror attack (with minimal and forced condemnation from our commander in chief) doesn't define our nation, what will? We can't just ride on the coattails of giving black people and women voting rights and argue that makes us a fair, just and equal society forever. We aren't as far from separate drinking fountains as we were brought up to believe.

Unfortunately, THIS IS US.

This is the United States right now, and convincing yourself otherwise is counterproductive. Until all are willing to admit that this is less of a hashtaggable fluke and more of a demonstration of what our country is turning into, progress will not be made. Writing this off as just one fault in an otherwise perfect nation is at best not beneficial and at worst, incredibly dangerous.

This is America right now. And if you don't like that, instead of pretending that it isn't with #ThisIsNotUS, speak up. Loudly condemn the hatred you see. Admit to yourself that there is a problem, and vocally attempt to do all you can to chip away at fixing it rather than attempting to convince yourself nothing is wrong. If you truly love your country, and if you don't want this to define it, absolving it of any and all blame will do nothing, but speaking up might.

Cover Image Credit: Matthew Lenard Twitter

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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?

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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To The Girl Who Believes That Feminism Is A Lost Cause: It's Unfortunate You Can't See How Infinitely Capable Women Are

You said I am being too hopeful. You said that there is no point. I say you're wrong.
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It was a seemingly boring day. Most of us had just finished our state-based EOC's, but there were bigger fish to fry: Advanced Placement Exams would be starting the following week. These exams would determine whether we got the college credits for the college courses we had been straggling through all year. A group of my female classmates and I were taking a five minute break from studying in our AP U.S. History class when we got into a deep conversation about the Indian culture.

One of my classmates was asking simple questions about what the Indian culture was like; things like marriages, different societal expectations and other cultural differences came about into the conversation.

The conversation eventually moved to focus on education and dream colleges. The girl sitting behind me asked another one of my classmates if she had heard anything from the Emory Summer Program. They started talking about certain residencies they planned on doing, and I tuned out of the conversation.

That was until I heard this: "Did you know they don't bring girls down to see surgery? Only guys."

I turned around, and scoffed.

"Are you serious? Why would they do that?"

They both explained to me that something had happened in which Emory had brought a girl and a guy down to a surgery, but both of them fainted — or at least that's what they heard. The girl sitting behind me went on to say "girls are just more prone to fainting."

What? Listen, I may not be a biology major, but —

"I thought you said the guy fainted too?" I countered. She shrugged her shoulders, and said one sentence:

"It's not like girls can become surgeons anyways."

Seriously? I took a deep breath and said slowly,

"I think girls and guys can both become surgeons regardless of sex. They're both just as capable."

She argued with me that "statistically" guys had more of a chance to become a surgeon. That girls have no chance because universities looked for guys. That not many girls even tried to go the surgery field. She said there was a reason why she chose to not become a surgeon. Again and again, she said that girls had no chance in a male-dominated field.

She insisted that I was being too hopeful. That "realistically" changes in women's rights would not come in our generation but rather in our children's generation. That there was a reason why in history, men were better known than women. That there was a reason why men and women had separate events in athletic competitions.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. But then again, it made sense, right? The reasons why women still have to fight so hard for things such as equal pay — it's because thoughts like these still plague our society.

I was left speechless. My APUSH teacher appeared from behind me almost two seconds later. He asked her:

"Have you ever heard the story of Billie Jean King? The famous female tennis player who beat a man — I can't remember his name — but he said awful things about women and how weak they were."

She shook her head and stuttered out a "no," and he simply replied,

"It's a really impressive story," before walking away.

So, "statistically," sure, men may dominate the field of surgery. But they also dominate the fields of business (did you know there are only 27 women on the Fortune 500 list?) law enforcement, criminal law, the military or any STEM careers, etc.

This does not mean women are not capable of doing those jobs; it's the part of society that still believes we live in the stone age who thinks women are not capable of arguing in front of a judge or saving someone's life in the ER.

My all-time favorite quote is something my mother said two years ago when Trump won the presidency:

"It's not the women who are not ready for America; it's America who's not ready for the women."

And yes, I am hopeful. I am optimistic. Because so much has changed, but there's still a lot more to do for women. You say that that change cannot come in our generation but rather our children's — that mindset is the reason why we still fall behind today. But let me tell you why you are also wrong. Change has been happening throughout all the generations whether you like it not.

Change occurred in 1800s during Elizabeth Cady Stanton's time when she and hundreds of other women published the "Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen."

Change occurred in the 1900s when Susan B. Anthony and thousands of women fought tirelessly for women's suffrage and won with the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Change has occurred with the recent #MeToo movement, exposing years and years of sexual harassment and rape perpetrators, not just in Hollywood, but in other industries as well.

We can't keep pushing saying that "it's not my issue" or "it'll happen later." We can't keep ignoring the issue; we have to face it and fix it . You said to me that, living in John's Creek, you have never faced sexism in your life, and I envy you for that. That does not mean sexism does not exist.

I pity you for the fact that you remain so close minded about the future of women. Though currently the field of surgery may be male-dominated, there are still women who work in that field. There are women who ignore that fact, study their butts off and work, successfully, as surgeons.

Eventually it comes down to this: you can hide and ignore the issues that beset our community, or you can stand up for yourself and the women around you. Your choice.

But know this: feminism is not a lost cause. I am a woman. I can, and I will.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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