The Great Media Machine.
August 17, 2017.
I don’t know about you, but nothing gets me going like a good, feisty online rant. And outside of donating to the NAACP and yelling at the occasional gentleman waving a confederate flag on the side of the road (whom I rarely see these days – miss you, Florida!), I feel like this is one of the only ways I can get my voice out there. SO LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MEDIA, GUYS.
They’re biased, I know. It’s kind of true. But here’s the thing – there’s not some creepy old millionaire turning the cogs of the ~great media machine~ to get his information out. There are, however, billions of ad (and subscription) dollars poured into every outlet you read, watch, and listen to, which 1000% influences the content you’re consuming. But do you know what the end goal is?
Shockingly, it’s not to turn everyone into a latte-drinking, coastal liberal (like me!). It’s just to get viewers to buy products and develop brand loyalty, regardless of what that product or brand might be. And in order to do this effectively, you’ve got to advertise next to content you know your target audience wants to consume. It’s the reason you’re a lot more likely to see ads for hunting equipment and retirement plans during a conservative news show… and ads for, I don’t know, Target during something a little more liberal-leaning (like The Today Show or every sitcom on television).
The point is, the content is all designed to reflect the views of its viewers – for lack of a better phrase – so that you’ll continue watching, and continue absorbing the ads.
Still with me? Cool.
So why is the ~liberal media~ all like “Nazis are bad! Listen to these commentators talk about how Trump’s digging his own grave?” Simple: that’s the kind of thinking most people are on board with. Because spoiler alert! Nazis ARE bad. The idea of ethnic cleansing IS horrible and revolting. Maybe “the media” will use some extra aggressive or exaggerated language to convey these messages, but that’s what holds our attention (why else would Chris Harrison continuously declare that this season of The Bachelor will be the most dramatic yet?!).
Oh, and here’s another piece of the puzzle. “The media” is an insanely broad term… your friend with a blog? Those listicles full of Game of Thrones memes? Breitbart, Upworthy, and everything in between? Heck, even this post? They pretty much all fall under the umbrella of “media.”
So let’s chill for a second and reflect before we start saying the media’s manipulating us. We’re actually the ones manipulating the media. And, uh, I don’t know if you think every live press conference is being cut and pieced together by liberal networks to make Trump look like an actual mental patient? But that, dear friends, is all him.
PS: A lot of the most powerful networks, or members of “the liberal media,” are SUPER WHITE-WASHED. If anything, they’re not doing enough to push forward that so-called “agenda” of establishing that all races, cultures, creeds, and sexual identities are normalized and equal.
PPS: Black Lives Matter. Women are people. Nazis, and ALL THOSE WHO ASSOCIATE WITH THEM, are the literal worst. And you have a voice (so use it! But like, not to spew hateful and harmful rhetoric, okay?).
What Will It Take For This to Change?
July 21, 2017.
Trayvon Martin was killed for wearing a hoodie. Philando Castile was killed for legally owning a gun. Jordan Edwards was killed for leaving a party. They were all young black men, and their stories are heartbreakingly common. Their lives mattered.
Just last week, Justine Damond was killed for approaching a cop car (whom she’d called) in her pajamas. She was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed yoga and meditation instructor. Her life also mattered.
In case you haven’t seen the story, it’s reported that Justine was at her fiancé’s home in Minnesota on July 15th when she thought she heard an assault taking place nearby. She called the police to report the incident, and when they arrived on the scene, Justine approached them in front of her home. In her f*cking pajamas. While there’s not much information detailing what happened next, we know that Justine was then fatally shot on the driver’s side of the cop car.
Or, to quote Shaun King of the NY Daily News, “The cops shot and killed an unarmed white yoga instructor in her pajamas who called them for help. It’s ludicrous.” And it’s tragic.
Nothing about this situation is okay, including the number of possible reactions and outcomes. Do we hope that those who have long dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement will stand up and acknowledge that yes, police brutality is a huge issue, now that it has led to the horrendous death of a white woman in an affluent neighborhood? The message clearly being that once an issue affects the white community, we’re all up in arms? I don’t know. But I’m certainly not hoping for the alternative: more silence…
Thus far in 2017, more than 660 people have been killed by police – a record-setting high since we began publicly tracking this information (which, by the way, we only started doing four years ago. Which seems insane). I have an immense amount of respect for so many members of the police community, but the fact that they are responsible for more than 660 families losing loved ones – parents losing children, children losing parents, school kids losing their favorite lunch man – is ridiculous and horrifying. And if you refuse to acknowledge that, you are being ridiculous, too.
There is not a single, acceptable reason why police should feel that capitol force is necessary or acceptable when dealing with unarmed, non-violent citizens. How the hell is that not a point drilled into upcoming officers’ brains from the get-go? While my own experience in police training is non-existent, I do know that in my small Florida hometown, graduating from the academy hardly requires a test of integrity or character. That’s not to say that every officer (or even the majority) lacks these qualities, but I can think of a few examples of overtly racist, xenophobic, and extraordinarily under-educated men who made it through no problem. Which, consequently, is a problem.
I don’t know what the right next step is… whether we begin with addressing a lack of accountability, or a lack of education, or a lack of acknowledgement that this is a serious issue. But I think we should all be able to agree – on behalf of Trayvon and Eric and Alton and Sandra and Philando and Jordan and Justine, and every single story and name like theirs – something has to change.
Dear Politicians, Who is This “Jesus” You Keep Talking About?
May 4, 2017.
It sounds sarcastic, I know. But it’s an honest question. I mean, I was raised in a Methodist home, spent much of my education in catholic schools and still keep a copy of The Bible on my nightstand. That said, I’m not much of a church-going Christian (at all) and there are huge chunks of both the Old and New Testaments I’ve yet to read – so I’m far from an expert on Christianity and its values. But, am I missing the bits of the Bible that suggest we let the less fortunate suffer and die from preventable illnesses? Or ignore the needs of our fellow man, simply because his passport isn’t American? Oh, or that portion that says we should stop giving a f*ck about protecting the planet (I’m pretty sure God created this bad boy, but I could be wrong)…?
Because, from what I do know about that fellow named Jesus, he was all about things like empathy. Caring for one another. Ensuring the needs of the broken, the sick, and the impoverished were treated with the same level of importance as those of the wealthy and genetically blessed (no pun intended).
So, tell me – which Jesus are you guys talking about when you hop onto a soap box and spurt out “Christian values” ? Because that Jesus – whoever he may be – sounds like the kind of douche bag who would have said things like, “sorry about that leprosy, friends, but I’ve got a round of golf to play. Catch you tomorrow if you’re still alive. Sucks to suck!”
Whoops, too offensive and combative? All right, let’s step back from the religious argument for a hot sec.
Instead, let’s zero in on The American Healthcare Act. Perhaps you believe that things like Medicaid, maternity leave and therapy are “government handouts” and don’t want your constituents’ hard-earned money blown on some sick, lazy son-of-a-gun. But answer me this: have you ever heard someone say “thank GOODNESS I was born with diaphragmatic eventration so I can spend thousands of taxpayer dollars on super enjoyable and not at all terrifying surgeries to save my life,” or, “SO glad I was sexually assaulted at age 16 because rape tests and panic attacks are just oodles of fun”…?
Huh, what a coincidence. I’ve never heard anyone say those things, either.
Maybe it’s because most people who have taken advantage of the Affordable Care Act actually really really needed those medical services. Maybe making sure that the American people are healthy and have – gosh, blanking on the name of that thing in the Constitution… oh, yes! – the Right to (motherf**king) Life will actually lead to a more productive and stable workforce. Maybe living shouldn’t be a privilege for the lucky or well-off.
And hey, even if we took away literally every other form of government aid (which, by the way, I’m definitely not suggesting we do) – isn’t making sure that people can keep breathing and kissing their babies and going to work and school and church on Sundays the literal least, most important thing we can do?
I don’t know about your Jesus, but the Jesus I know would be all about protecting these sorts of rights. So, before turning this death sentence of a bill into law, ask yourselves this, US Senators: What would Jesus do?
Note: I penned this piece as a young woman who has experienced sexual assault, underwent a number of life-saving surgeries due to a pre-existing condition as a child, and is privileged enough to have never once needed government aid. I’m not sure whether that impacts the message or not, but I felt it was worth mentioning.
Post-Election, Why We Can’t Be Friends Right Now.
November 11, 2016.
I’ll start this bad boy off with an anecdote.. After my first (and roughest) breakup, I lost a lot of friends. It was a whole mess of a social situation, and ties were pretty quickly and swiftly cut. It hurt, and it stung, and I spent several Friday nights eating Subway on my couch and committing the script of Mean Girls to memory.
And then I started to make new friends. Friends who didn’t mock my lack of video game knowledge, or goody two-shoes attitude, or horrendous SAT math score. Friends who didn’t – to quote our President-Elect – grab me by the pussy, as my ex-boyfriend had forcibly and unashamedly done…
I surrounded myself with people whose ideas of fun were much more closely aligned with my own. Who consistently complimented my cupcakes, my dress choices, my taste in television shows. Who bought me lollipops at gas stations when I’d had a rough day, without question or hesitation. I surrounded myself with people who made me feel better, and comforted, and safe.
Over the past few days, I’ve often felt like I was going through a bad breakup. I’ve sobbed, lost sleep, lost my appetite. Felt completely and utterly lost. I understand how this happened, but I don’t understand why. It feels like a lot of my friends are siding with my ex here, and – just as it did six years ago – that stings.
I know that not every Trump supporter is racist, sexist and xenophobic. I do. But the problem, guys, is that you chose to support a platform that undoubtedly is. By casting a vote for Donald Trump on Tuesday, you gave the metaphorical thumbs up to policies that threaten the rights of women, of minorities, of our environment, of the disabled, and of the politically persecuted across the world. Maybe AK-47s and fetuses are your top priorities. Maybe you like the idea of having an ‘outsider’ in office. Maybe you rank nationalism above all else. I’ll never really know. But I will also never be okay with Trump’s actions and words during this campaign, and therefore, I cannot be okay with yours. Our values are different, which is fine and fair and 1000% part of the democratic process, but I kind of want to hang out with the people who make me feel comforted and safe right now. And, fortunately or unfortunately, that is not you.
Yesterday morning, with a heavy heart and puffy eyes, I sat in an office full of women and watched Hillary Clinton address the nation. We cried and talked and ate a ridiculous amount of pizza between emails and client calls. And it felt so good to be surrounded by people on my side (who also, for the record, have complimented my cupcakes and dress choices many a-time).
That’s really what I need, in this post-election haze. I promise not to be hateful or impolite, but I need to cut a couple ties here, Trump supporters (at least temporarily). It’s not about political differences, really. It’s just.. our values and ideas of fun don’t align.
*Editor’s Note (and by editor I mean me because who are we kidding): I will always believe that the greatest ideas and points of view come from discussing and challenging and celebrating perspectives unlike your own. I refuse to live in an echo chamber (and even voted for a couple of Republicans on the ballot! Okay one it was just one but still). That said, this particular difference of opinion is too hard a pill for me to swallow at the moment, and I am truly sorry if that offends anyone.
I also believe that we must respect the office of the President, which I will try my best to do come January (may have to choke back some bile, but I promise to try).
Pre-Election, Just One More Plea.
November 5, 2016.
There are a lot of fights that just aren’t worth fighting. This election is not one of them. So, ignoring the fact that feisty politically charged Internet rants do little to change anyone’s mind…. here’s a feisty politically charged Internet rant (maybe, just maybe I can make a teensy difference? #Optimism).
If you are voting for Donald Trump next week because you believe in building walls, grabbing women by the p*ssy, manipulating young entrepreneurs, encouraging violence, evading taxes, eliminating minority rights, patting Vladimir Putin on the back, and that global warming is a hoax concocted by the Chinese government – go for it. And maybe let’s not be friends because you sound like the worst.
If, however, you are voting for Donald Trump because you feel that our political system is broken and corrupt, Hillary Clinton’s inbox is a pretty sketchy place and/or you’ve long been aligned with Republican values, let’s just take a step back and chat.
You’re not wrong. A lot of things are messed up about our current system, and I totally agree that taking dirty money – even for the worthiest causes – is a big part of the issue. That said, ours is a government designed by and for the people. If we start to believe that the system is doomed no matter what, instead of reaching out to state and local officials, shouting our frustrations and focusing our attention on feasible solutions? Well, that’s what leads to candidates like Trump landing on the ballot in the first place.
We have the power to influence the government, at least in bits and pieces (remember the 15th and 19th amendments? What a time to be alive, right?). But if we elect Donald Trump, all of the progress we’ve made thus far goes down the drain, along with our relationships with most foreign governments.
If we elect Hillary Clinton, however, we can get some sh*t done, you guys. Do you know how hard that woman is going to have to work to earn your trust? Really hard. Like, listening and compromising and advocating for our beliefs and operating under a microscope kind of hard. And that’s where the magic happens.
Not to mention the fact that a solid chunk of Republican Party leaders have refused to endorse Trump… so, is he even aligned with your values?
I know this is all coming from an incredibly biased source. And if you’re already dead set on voting for Trump, well, only Jesus can help you now. But I’ll beg a little anyway.. Please, please, PLEASE do not vote for that man. Vote for every other conservative candidate and amendement on the ticket. Or just don’t vote at all? But please. On behalf of every current and future American, PLEASE do not put that dangerous, vile narcissist in office. I’ll even bake you cupcakes if you vote for Hil. Promise.
PS: Don’t vote third party either! That is far too risky a gamble!
PPS: Educated conservative friends – remember last year when you were like “TRUMP IS SO DUMB!” …brain injuries are rough, I know. Maybe just rest in bed on Tuesday and get well soon, okay?!
Pre-Election, Breaking the Silence.
September 23, 2016.
Unsurprisingly, I have a lot of opinions. About this election.. The refugee crisis.. Why Black Lives Matter.. But my stances on these issues are often synonymous with others, and arguments with those who disagree feel wasteful, mind-numbing and too exhausting to bother with. Or so I thought.
In truth, each voice matters in these conversations. Monumentally. Every few weeks, another unarmed Black man is shot. Every day, a presidential nominee fans the flames of bigotry and ignorance across the US. Every moment, mothers and fathers and young children lose their battles to escape the violence of Syria. And each time, outrage ensues… then silence takes over.
But I will no longer be silent.
I will no longer hold my tongue when someone says this election is ‘doomed no matter what.’ To put nuclear codes, human rights and the economic and educational future of this country (and consequently our world) in the hands of a man whose platform compares refugees to colored candies and best quotes include “you know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass” is terrifying and despicable and irrevocably irresponsible. Regardless of your perspective on policies, there is no universe in which Hillary Clinton is not the right choice. She is more than right – she is the only choice.
I will no longer nod politely at passing comments about immigrants and refugees. To arbitrarily block others from entering our country based on the language they speak or the war-torn environment from which they hail is akin to sewing gold stars onto children’s school uniforms. It is not protection, it is the perpetuation of ignorance and hate.
I will no longer accept that there are people who believe petty crimes and skin color justify fatal shootings, that the murders of unarmed citizens is a political issue, or that our wildly under-educated police force is always right. It is not.
At this tipping point in our country’s history, I will no longer stand by and watch from the sidelines, thinking without speaking. Every voice and life and vote matters so much right now. So let’s scream and shout and stir the pot. Let’s right these wrongs. Let’s save the day and end the silence.