What Hogwarts Houses and Nationality Have in Common

What Hogwarts Houses and Nationality Have in Common

A reflection on the human tendency to divide ourselves into groups.

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Towards the end of the semester, my group of friends at Emory got into a big argument. The subject of the argument, believe it or not, was who would be in which Hogwarts House. The debate went on for days: personally and through text message; we even consulted interviews with J.K. Rowling to see how she described each house.

In hindsight, I can see that the argument was stupid, but in the heat of the moment when we were all together and thinking about it, I had passionate opinions about Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Thinking back, I started to wonder why we got so caught up in such a silly argument, and I began to see a pattern. Whether its unimportant categories such as Hogwarts Houses, astrology star signs and soccer teams, or more complex ones such as gender labels, race classifications, and nationality, humans are always separating themselves into groups.

One explanation for this phenomenon could be evolutionary, as in prehistoric times belonging to a group could mean the difference between surviving or not. Another explanation could be simply that dividing ourselves into groups is the way in which we socialize. Either way, being part of a group gives us a sense of belonging, of knowing we have a place in a big and complex world, and this belonging provides us with a sense of security and comfort.

However, a great part of consolidating a group is determining who isn't part of it, something that in practice is excluding a part of the population. Of course, many times the people excluded don't mind not being part of that group, but when they do mind this can become a problem. A further negative aspect of our tendency to divide ourselves into categories, is the fact that some groups can interpret themselves to be superior to other groups, leading to their maltreating of the allegedly inferior groups.

In addition to this, groups have general characteristics that define their members, and thus to be part of a group you need to identify with at least part of these. Yet, it may be the case that you don't agree or identify with one of the group's characteristics, but nevertheless, because you are part of the group many people assume you have that specific trait. Outsiders may also come to describe your group in a way you don't agree with, and this is something that isn't easy to control. In short, our division into groups makes it easy for prejudices and stereotypes to arise.

In other words, although within our groups we feel a bigger sense of belonging, this tendency to divide ourselves leads to a loss of a sense of unity of humanity as a whole. Our division into groups at times can't be controlled, as you don't choose the country in which you are born or the color of your skin, but regardless of your lack of choice, these factors place you into a social group. What we can change is the emphasis we place into differentiating each group, or to what extent we cultivate the individual group culture.

So is it worth it to divide ourselves into groups? Is there any way to change this tendency? Should we even try change this tendency? Is the overall effect of these divisions positive or negative for society?

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Why I Can't Support Jeffree Star

I used to idolize him, but his racism and misogyny have crossed the line.
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Like any other person obsessed with makeup, I follow many different makeup artists on YouTube and Instagram. I love watching their tutorials and reviews, all which leave me inspired to try new looks and teach me more about products that will up my makeup game. One of these beauty gurus that I used to follow is Jeffree Star, a singer/songwriter, model, and makeup artist who is probably best known for his popular makeup line, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, which features liquid lipsticks, lip scrubs, highlighters, and a new eyeshadow palette.

However, as of late, his cosmetic line isn’t the only thing making him a hot topic on social media; his extensive history of making racist comments has now become the subject of many YouTube videos by other vloggers and beauty gurus. One of the most disturbing incidents is a video he made ten years ago on MySpace. The video is supposed to be a satirical skit between him and a drag queen, who is in blackface. One of the disgusting comments made in the video is that he wants to throw battery acid on an African American woman to lighten her skin so it will match her foundation. Star also calls someone a “black b*tch” while his friend continues to pretend to be a stereotypical black woman. Even if the video was made ten years ago, he was still an adult at the time and should have known better than to make something so vile and racist. If he had been 15 years-old, that’s one thing. But he was at least 19 years-old at the time; there are no excuses.

TW: racism, racial slurs


Star has become infamous also for being a drama queen on social media, whether to be rude to fans complaining about his products or starting Twitter wars with other makeup artists. While most people know about his beef with Kylie Jenner over some defects with her liquid lipsticks, Star’s issues go far beyond just her. One feud that highlights his misogynistic and racist behavior is with MakeupShayla, another makeup artist. At an event they both attended, in his Snapchat story Star ranted that Shayla allegedly told another YouTouber that her face was disproportionate and to get lip fillers. Whether or not this was actually said in a rude manner, like he claims, is unknown. He then proceeded to rage about her being a c*nt and a h*e. Even though that comment had sent him in such a rage, Shayla said in her Snapchat story that he was all smiles when they ran into each other at the event.

On Twitter, the situation became even more intense. He called her out first for making the lip filler comment; if she had indeed said something rude like that, then confronting her about it is fine. However, he escalated things to a terrifying level. He threatened to beat her up several times, and when she criticized his fans for supporting someone who threatens violence against a woman, Star responded that she looks like man. I find it very ironic that he would claim that she was a bully, yet threaten her and hurl terrible insults at her. Shayla should not have made the rude comment about that woman needing lip fillers; however, she does not deserve to be threatened or insulted in this manner, especially since Star was too much of a coward to say anything to her face.

Moreover, despite his claims to be so against bullying, and to be such a supporter of female empowerment, he is friends with a bully. In one of his Snapchat stories, MannyMUA and the owner of Gerard Cosmetics made fun of a YouTuber who was reviewing the company’s products. In the last part of the Snapchats, the owner said that the reviewer was an ugly person. Manny later tried to apologize and say that the video cut off and that the owner was saying she had an ugly personality, but that’s not exactly better. Despite this incident, Jeffree and Manny are still the best of friends, and Manny was never beat up by Star for being rude. Moreover, it seems as though Star has a way of corrupting beauty gurus who become a part of his inner circle. When Manny was primarily friends with Patrick Starr, another makeup artist, he was kinder and he wasn’t rude. But once Star came into the picture, Manny became his carbon-copy: another gay boy acting like a stereotypical black woman and covering up his rudeness by calling it “sass” and “shade.” Plus, it is shocking to me that Manny, a person of color, would still adore Star despite his racist history. I feel guilty now for talking about him in my last piece about makeup double standards.

Stephanie Nicole, a makeup artist on YouTube, made a video reviewing a few of Star’s products. Then, once she’s finished the review, she then goes on to discuss Star’s racist and misogynistic tendencies, showing videos of his Snapchat rant against MakeupShayla, his disturbing skit, and other instances where he was rude to fans and problematic in general. She concludes that she refuses to support his company anymore. I agree with her completely. Just because he is a part of a minority group by being queer does not give him the right to be racist or misogynistic. You can watch the entire video down below:

I was extremely conflicted when I heard about all of this. In fact, I was almost heartbroken; I have admired Star for a long time because of how he breaks gender roles and goes against the gender binary. I also coveted his products, and was very ready to purchase his Skin Frost highlighters and some liquid lipsticks up until I found out that he’s a racist. I have some of his music on my iTunes because some of his tracks are fun for workouts, but now I feel guilty even though I just did not know. However, I do know that I will not be supporting Jeffree Star anymore, no matter how tempting his products are.

If you still want to buy his cosmetics, go ahead, I can’t stop you. I have no right to tell you how to spend your money. I don’t blame you; he produces some great makeup after all, even though he is a trashy person. However, if you bought his products before finding out about his problematic behavior, and now regret your purchases, I advise that next time you research a company before giving them your money. It’s difficult to enjoy a product when you know it’s produced by an unpleasant person. This experience has taught me a valuable lesson about being an informed consumer and not simply buying something because it has pretty packaging.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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I'm Never Ordering Online From Ikea Again

Sleeping on the floor for two months teaches you a lot of things about yourself.

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Storytime.

It's August 19th, 2018. It's sunny, hot, and it's all clear skies above your head. You're moving into your first apartment in just one week from today and are finally getting around to buying a new bed frame for your bedroom. A little late, but better now right?

Now, I've ordered a lot of things on the internet. And I mean a lot. Textbooks, pens, posters, and random things that only Amazon could compel you to buy. But, I've never bought anything as big as a Bed. I was kind of excited, I mean who wouldn't be excited about getting a new bed?

I ordered my IKEA bed frame on August 19th, 2018. It didn't come until October 13th.

Now before I start, I was going to buy this bed in-store. I had been in the IKEA store at the Mall of America the week before and when I had gone to buy the bed they were all out of stock. I had some other options I liked as well but they were out of stock as well or no longer what I really wanted. So when I had first initially ordered my IKEA bed, the date it was scheduled to arrive was September 5th.

I wasn't really surprised by the late date as this was a very hectic time for IKEA. It's back to school season and of course, new furniture is needed for college kids moving into their new apartments and such. So I waited, and when September 5th rolled around I didn't really think much of it. Not knowing at the time that I was supposed to be present at the time of delivery, I just assumed that they were going to deliver it late. So then a week went by and I got suspicious.

I went onto the IKEA website to track my order and it's current status, and when I checked it said that there had been a failed delivery attempt on September 5th. The day it was supposed to come. I knew for a fact that they had not tried to deliver my bed because I had been there the whole day and should have received a call if they were on their way. So I called the IKEA customer service number. When they answered, something I would take for granted in a few weeks, the guy on the line was really nice and told me they weren't really sure what had happened but he would make sure to re-send the delivery order to me. He also suggested that I call the delivery company to ask why it hadn't been delivered because the delivery company isn't 'associated' with IKEA.

When I had called them, the woman who had answered told me that only one package out of the three I needed had been in the warehouse when they were about to load my bed for delivery. I thought that was weird and didn't think much about it since I assumed they were going to deliver all three parts on my next delivery date. Haha, nope. Haha, the universe did not agree with me that week.

When they delivered my 'bed', they had only delivered 1 out of the 3 parts. The frame. I was still missing the supports that were supposed to be on the bottom as well as my bed slates. Saying I was irritated was an understatement because I just wanted to be able to sleep on my bed. But where the frustration and wanting to drop off a cliff started is when I tried to contact IKEA. I called IKEA over 30 times in the span of two weeks and their line was bust every single time.

To cut it short, I got in contact with IKEA by sending them a fairly agree tweet, they finally said they would send me the rest of my parts but they only ended up sending out the second part and not the third part, I had an embarrassing meltdown, and finally got into contact with an IKEA customer service representative by some miracle (shout out to the lady on the line, she really kept me from having a breakdown).

Then October 13th, 2018. My bed FINALLY arrives. Being skeptical, I slowly put together my bed with the help of some of my amazing roommates holding my breath the whole time. What if there was a part missing? What if it just crumbled unexpectedly in a freak accident? But no, my bed was finally complete and I could sleep in actual comfort!

In conclusion, I don't think I'll be ordering anything from IKEA anytime soon. If ever. But I'm not trying to discourage anyone from buying a bed frame online from IKEA. Just giving you a friendly warning.

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