It's Time For That Promised Forty Acres And A Mule

It's Time For That Promised Forty Acres And A Mule

It has long been obvious that in order to achieve true racial equality, radical steps must be taken.
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With headlines like “The Average Black Family Would Need 228 Years to Build the Wealth of a White Family Today” and “White People Are More Likely to Deal Drugs, But Black People Are More Likely to Be Arrested for It” and “Wage Gap Between White and Black Americans Is Worse Today Than In 1979," it is clear that, at the very least, it is questionable whether black Americans are yet truly equal with their white counterparts.

These vast inequalities today are perpetuated by instruments like de facto segregation, poor inner city education, and the mass incarceration state, all three of which place burdens disproportionately on black communities. Because of this long history of oppressing and stealing from black Americans and the sheer magnitude of the racial inequalities felt in nearly every facet of life, it has become a moral and practical necessity that the United States rectify its wrongs and work to ameliorate the situation, to provide some form of “reparations.”

When people hear the word “reparations,” they often get scared away with visions of the government coming and eliciting fines for “being white” to then distribute to black Americans to right past wrongs. This is a gross misrepresentation of what reparations would actually be; very rarely will you see any intellectual argue for a flat disbursement made to all black Americans. Not only would that not serve at all to fix the underlying problems causing the inequality, it would also fail to treat the situation with the nuance and complexity it deserves. Instead, what these reparations must be are structural reorganizations and legislative ventures to work to rectify the institutionalized inequalities undermining the possibility of achieving full equality for black Americans. They must be, as Atlantic essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, “more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant payout. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal.”

Though the history books make it abundantly clear, one need not look further than the current day to see that reparations are due. Recent statistical analysis conducted by the New York Times suggests the statistical inequalities between black and white Americans are far larger--and they are not decreasing--than could be explained away by mere coincidence. Black Americans are over twice as likely as their white counterparts to be unemployed--a gap that has remained stagnant since the 70’s--and are more likely to be jobless even if they have higher education levels than white peers. The median pay for black Americans is over 20% lower than for white Americans, something which has worsened in the past 30 years. Before the recession, the average white family held wealth equaling 4.3 times the wealth of the average black or Hispanic family; after the recession, this grew to 6.1 times. Similar discrepancies can be found in areas of education, housing, and criminal justice issues. These population-wide inequalities are too large to be explained away by personal responsibility, lacking families, and coincidence. Especially given that many of these inequalities have been improving either extremely slowly or not at all since the Civil Rights Era, it is clear that some sort of structural response is necessary.

There are, to be sure, reasonable objections to this course of action. In his essay for the National Review, Kevin D. Williamson notes that it would be unfair to levy the burden of past American transgressions on people of today and that reparations possibly would do very little to alleviate the socioeconomic disparities currently facing black Americans. He writes, “But the remedy Mr. Coates proposes would not satisfy the criterion of justice, nor is it likely that it would reduce or even substantially eliminate the very large socioeconomic differences that distinguish the black experience of American life from the white experience of it.” He adds, “There are still, after all, an awful lot of white people, and though many of them might be inclined to make amends under some sort of racial truce following the process Mr. Coates imagines, many of them might simply be inclined to prevail.” While well reasoned and nicely written, his argument falls flat in that he misunderstands what calling for reparations actually means. If done properly, there would be no unfair burden levied on white Americans, and there really could be substantial steps forward in alleviating some of the inequality. In fact, because of how closely linked class and race are in these United States, many of the structural changes would need to come in the form of poverty alleviation and increased access to upward mobility; this could serve to help the most disadvantaged white Americans, as well.

In September of last year, a United Nations Panel determined that the US government does owe black people reparations for a history of “racial terrorism." The United States government and citizens have undoubtedly waged a war against black people residing in the States from the moment they were torn away from their home and forced to work in fields under the threat of the whip to today when the lingering effects are not so much lingering as they are momentous. It is high time that the United States extend a formal apology to black Americans, though this is only one largely symbolic step that must be part of larger social change. In order to begin to fix the absurd inequalities between white and black in this country, there must be vast changes in public policy, and not through the more traditional means. We need an overhaul of the welfare, education, housing, policing, and criminal justice systems and it needs to be done in such a way that recognizes the unique struggles--both historic and current--of black Americans. For just one example, we can finally make good on our decades old promise to end segregation. Oftentimes the poorer, majority black neighborhoods in cities have increased levels of crime, lower property values, and significantly worse education. If we eliminated the de facto segregation that has reigned supreme in many US urban hubs--both northern and southern--more equality could be achieved. The longer we push this back, the longer we deny the promise of “40 acres and a mule,” the more entrenched the inequality becomes and the less likely it becomes that reparations are ever truly made.

Cover Image Credit: history.com

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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6 Ways To Save Money As A Broke College Student

Money saving tips so you can afford adult life while also paying for an expensive tuition.

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It is difficult to work, attend college, and make all your payments on rent, tuition, and bills, (not to mention finding a little money to spare on yourself). These are six ways to save that have helped me in this money stressful time and that you should use too in order to reduce the expenses of adulting.

1. Saving money on rent.

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Apartments are cheaper than houses because most include some of the bills in the rent cost. Make sure to check what amenities apartments offer such as free wi-fi, trash removal, or water included. When choosing roommates the more the better for cost. You should get at least one roommate because it is difficult to afford even a studio apartment living on your own. If you want pets you should choose a place that doesn't have pet rent because even if you have a large non-refundable pet fee it is cheaper in the long run then paying twenty a month per animal.

2. Saving money on bills.

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If you choose to live in an apartment complex, having an apartment on a higher floor will make your electric bill cheaper in the winter because heat rises. Even though your electric bill will be higher in the summer you can afford to work more because classes won't be in session. When purchasing light bulbs get ones that are energy efficient and use lights with batteries to help save on the electric bill. Also make sure to turn off all lights when you aren't in the room. You can save water by not running the faucet when you brush your teeth. Anyway you can think to conserve water and energy use that to your advantage.

3. Saving money on food.

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Your best friend is buying in bulk when you go to get groceries. I personally buy ten pound ground beef logs, cut them up, and place them in the freezer to use later. Everything is cheaper when you buy in bulk and you save time grocery shopping. If you don't know how to cook now is the time to learn because frozen and fast food eats up your money. You should also go to your local food bank if you are really struggling because everyone has to eat. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it! Going without food to pay your rent is not something anyone should have to do.

4. Saving money on furniture.

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You should buy used if at all possible when finding furniture for your apartment or house. Living in a college town has its perks because people are constantly moving you can find great deals at garage sales or on craigslist. For instance I got my couch for free, I just had to move it out of a graduating students apartment. You can also check out thrift stores and consignment shops in your town.

5. Saving money on entertainment.

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There are a lot of deals and discounts for college students so take advantage of that for entertainment.. For example movie theaters usually offer a student discount and if you go to a matinee showing, tickets are even cheaper. Find out when your local bar's happy hour is and use it. Also see what meal deals are offered by restaurants around you, such as 3 items for 10 or specials on Thursday nights. You can also use apps to find coupons, my personal favorite being pocket points because it rewards you for studying.

6. Saving money and side hustles.

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Put back money during the summer in order to have a backup fund for when things get crazy busy during the school year. Scope out banks and find out what interests they offer on savings accounts in order to increase the amount of money you have saved over the years. If you need extra money you can get paid for donating plasma and you can sometimes find research studies that will offer participants cash for things as simple as just an opinion. There are also baby sitting and pet sitting apps you can download to get one time gigs if you are low on funds for the month.

These are all great tips that I have been taught or have learned living as a broke college student. It isn't easy living life in the adult world and pursuing a degree at the same time. I hope these tips will help you save money and keep you out of hard times.

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