White People, Please Don't Paint A Sugar Skull On Your Face This Halloween

White People, Please Don't Paint A Sugar Skull On Your Face This Halloween

Latin people have good reason to be offended.
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Halloween is a lovely commercial holiday for adults to dress up in provocative costumes.

Often, it's another excuse for college students to party, and also an excuse for children to consume metric tons of candy that will likely contribute to the ongoing obesity epidemic in America.

Personally, I love to finally have a non-judgmental day to wear "Star Wars" apparel and swing around toy lightsabers like my inner 10-year old is always wanting to do.

But meanwhile south of the border from Mexico all the way to Bolivia, Latin peoples and indigenous peoples have our Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead for those of you who don't speak Spanish.

But let me make this clear -- in no way can this sacred celebration of our ancestors be compared to Halloween without drawing negative connotations.

I know some of you may wonder, "Why do so many Latin call out white people for 'cultural appropriation'?

"What's the big deal?

"Why should I as a white person, care?

"Aren't I honoring your culture?"

If you read on, I'll answer those questions, but first, let me illustrate by giving a brief life story.

As a white male of indigenous and Latin descent growing up in the American South, far from the graves of my father's family, Dia de Los Muertos was never accessible to me.

I grew up hearing stories of Guatemala's rolling green mountains and humid jungle, of my grandparents who worked for the rights of mestizos and other indigenous citizens often treated as second-class citizens.

I even managed to visit a few times with my parents to see some of my cousins and aunts and uncles. But to my shame, I never asked my dad about the Day of the Dead until last October when Guillermo del Toro's colorful masterpiece "The Book of Life" premiered in my local theater.

Intrigued by the reviews and the fact that del Toro was directing (Go watch "Pan's Labyrinth" sometime and you'll see why I was excited about del Toro), I watched the film in a newly furnished theater in Greenville, South Carolina, with only one other family to accompany me.

Nobody would say the film performed poorly at the box office, but most savvy moviegoers noticed its absence at the Oscars that year.

I couldn't help but find this infuriating.

Why had I never thought about Dia de Los Muertos?

Why did seemingly no one care in America?

Why had my father not told me that we celebrate life and death every year in Guatemala?

My abuela had passed away somewhat recently, and I remember my dad sobbing as he knew he would never see her again. She'd never really been a large physical presence in my life as I only knew my grandmother a short few years, (she did visit the States once, and our time together was magical) and I didn't speak any Spanish until late in high school.

Watching that film, I felt as though perhaps I could one day meet my grandparents again, even Abuelo Herminio whose only memory I have is the name my parents gave me. Maybe, on just one day of the year, I could meet them not as their son's white baby, but a full-grown Guatemalan young man who wished to learn about our culture. I, the living, could find lost family in death.

But I know why people did not watch "The Book of Life." Perhaps it will do better on cable in 30 years, but for now, whites remain a majority of Americans, and likely the largest demographic at the box office as well. But this event last year is not the heart of the problem.

I feel a great sadness, disconnected from the heritage that my father left behind in Guatemala in hopes of creating a better life for his family. I feel longing, as I haven't yet had a chance to visit my family's graves, nor taste the delicious fiambre my Tia Lusmi makes every year, or dance and sing with my neighbors in Antigua and San Miguel Duenas.

But more than anything else, I feel so angry at everyone, particularly other non-Latin whites, who appropriate and take for their own my people's culture by parading around drunk on King Street with poorly painted fake sugar skulls.

Can you all not see that you are desecrating the memory of my grandparents?

Of my family and the loved ones we have lost to war, economic enslavement, oppression, and colonialism?

I know that a lot of people don't really know all this. I understand why Dia de Los Muertos might be attractive to someone whose culture has been swallowed up by a pervasive and destructive social construct known as "whiteness," that the idea of finding life in death, finding a connection where it was lost, holds a lot of hope and spiritual connection.

But please, see it from my eyes, someone who shares your privilege, but also someone caught between two "worlds." See it through the eyes of someone who wants to meet their grandparents again.

When we take on cultures as costumes, we take away its meaning, just as our colonial ancestors once did. Where you see a colorful and "exotic" costume in Dia de Los Muertos on your face in the mirror, I see a continuing history of racism and fetishization.

I leave you with this thought- next time your non-Latin friend wants to co-opt an indigenous holiday, show them this article, along with all the links I've provided. Hopefully, they'll understand why this is so important.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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31 Reasons Why I Would NEVER Watch Season 2 Of '13 Reasons Why'

It does not effectively address mental illness, which is a major factor in suicide.
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When I first started watching "13 Reasons Why" I was excited. I had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for a long time and thought this show would be bringing light to those issues. Instead, it triggered my feelings that I had suppressed.

With season two coming out soon, I have made up my mind that I am NEVER watching it, and here is why:

1. This show simplifies suicide as being a result of bullying, sexual assault, etc. when the issue is extremely more complex.

2. It does not effectively address mental illness, which is a major factor in suicide.

3. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention has guidelines on how to portray suicides in TV shows and movies without causing more suicides.

"13 Reasons Why" disregarded those guidelines by graphically showing Hannah slitting her wrists.

4. It is triggering to those who have tried to commit suicide in the past or that struggle with mental illness.

5. It glorifies suicide.

6. It does not offer healthy coping solutions with trauma and bullying.

The only "solution" offered is suicide, which as mentioned above, is glorified by the show.

7. This show portrays Hannah as dramatic and attention-seeking, which creates the stereotype that people with suicidal thoughts are dramatic and seeking attention.

8. Hannah makes Clay and other people feel guilty for her death, which is inconsiderate and rude and NOT something most people who commit suicide would actually do.

9. This show treats suicide as revenge.

In reality, suicide is the feeling of hopelessness and depression, and it's a personal decision.

10. Hannah blames everyone but herself for her death, but suicide is a choice made by people who commit it.

Yes, sexual assault and bullying can be a factor in suicidal thoughts, but committing suicide is completely in the hands of the individual.

11. Skye justifies self-harm by saying, "It's what you do instead of killing yourself."

12. Hannah's school counselor disregards the clear signs of her being suicidal, which is against the law and not something any professional would do.

13. The show is not realistic.

14. To be honest, I didn't even enjoy the acting.

15. The characters are underdeveloped.

16. "13 Reasons Why" alludes that Clay's love could have saved Hannah, which is also unrealistic.

17. There are unnecessary plot lines that don't even advance the main plot.

18. No one in the show deals with their problems.

They all push them off onto other people (which, by the way, is NOT HEALTHY!!!).

19. There is not at any point in the show encouragement that life after high school is better.

20. I find the show offensive to not only me, but also to everyone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts.

21. The show is gory and violent, and I don't like that kind of thing.

22. By watching the show, you basically get a step-by-step guide on how to commit suicide.

Which, again, is against guidelines set by The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

23. The show offers no resources for those who have similar issues to Hannah.

24. It is not healthy for me or anyone else to watch "13 Reasons Why."

25. Not only does the show glorify suicide, but it also glorifies self-harm as an alternative to suicide.

26. Other characters don't help Hannah when she reaches out to them, which could discourage viewers from reaching out.

27. Hannah doesn't leave a tape for her parents, and even though the tapes were mostly bad, I still think the show's writers should have included a goodbye to her parents.

28. It simplifies suicide.

29. The show is tactless, in my opinion.

30. I feel like the show writers did not do any research on the topic of suicide or mental illness, and "13 Reasons Why" suffered because of lack of research.

31. I will not be watching season two mostly because I am bitter about the tastelessness.

And I do not want there to be enough views for them to make a season three and impact even more people in a negative way.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Cover Image Credit: Netflix

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You Being Angry At Everyone Isn't Going To Make The World A Better Place

Yelling at people doesn't make them want to join your side.
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Politics: something that in the old days you weren't supposed to bring up in private conversation and now is the only thing anyone wants to talk about. This isn't a necessarily a bad thing, because it means people are getting more civically involved, but it is also troublesome because we live in an area where politics are very emotional.

Now I'm not saying emotion has no place in politics, it totally does, but too often people think with how they feel and not logically which leads to many problems. Politics is an issue in which mutual respect and nuance are extremely important but currently we live in a time where those character traits are in short supply.

It is hard to stay logical when it comes to politics sometimes though, especially when someone espouses believes that are harmful to you or a group you are a part it. Getting angry and "popping off" is so easy, and in the short term, very satisfying. In the age of instant gratification via technology, we have trained ourselves to seek gratification in the shortest time span possible, and this idea of getting angry and lashing out has gained traction because you are showing the other person "who's boss" and telling them the "hard truth."

In reality, this does nothing to further your cause, and in the end is only detrimental to your argument. Traditionally those who are politically liberal are the worst offenders when it comes to this, with popularized rants of people getting yelled at for accidentally mislabeling someone or about how that person is awful for voting a certain way. They often try to use these "rants" in order to convert those with a differing opinion to their side but it hardly ever works because no one responds well to being yelled at.

For example, if you are like me, a privileged white man, and someone comes up and goes on a rant about how you are awful because you are white and you are privileged and you should feel bad for being so, you probably aren't going to respond with "oh yeah you are right, I suck and you are right," you are most likely going to respond with "fuck this person, they suck and I dislike everything they stand for."

Yelling at someone does not make them want to understand your viewpoint, it just polarizes them more in the direction they were already leaning.

Recently on Twitter, one Kent State graduate caught a lot of heat for posting graduation pictures in which she was open carrying an assault rifle on campus, where four students died in a shooting in 1970. People attacked her for being insensitive and rude but their attacks aren't going to guilt her into changing her viewpoint or make her feel bad about what she did. She posted those photos to elicit this exact reaction because she knows that people online will just try to make her feel bad for it and wants to mess with them. Their anger at her only confirmed what she already knew and polarized her to the right even more.

Anger is a useful emotion but not when it comes to politics and trying to get people to convert to your point of view. Telling won't help someone gain a new perspective. You must instead listen to what they say, understand, and respect it and then use that use counter-arguments to poke holes in their ideas or connect themes between the two to help them understand a new viewpoint better. Show them that there is a problem and then offer the solution.

Cover Image Credit: Chester Wade

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