Happy Violent Colonization Day!

Columbus Day: Protesters call Christopher Columbus a ...
The International Business Times is one of many outlets that have reported on protests against Christopher Columbus and this day. But who are the people protesting, and why aren’t we all?

You’d be lucky to find that proclamation in your calendar commemorating this day.

Not until recent years has there been controversy and backlash about this particular date. I haven’t been old enough to have an opinion outside of what was taught in history class. That history, by the way, mostly focused on the man that is Christopher Columbus, commissioned to sail the ocean blue in 14-hundred-92.

Despite my school and state’s significant Native American minority, we never once covered that point in history from their perspective. We maybe mentioned the names of tribes in the continental U.S., and that was about it. A white man’s history was the only history, and there was no reason to think otherwise.

I think now especially, as more people begin to speak up and gain greater awareness regarding one of our most marginalized populations, there’s a drive to celebrate the moments and people in history truly worth remembering.

There are only two federal holidays devoted strictly to one person: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Columbus Day. Knowing that, it practically means that both men are of equal importance to the American people. Two legacies that both deserve recognition.

However, they seem like polar opposites. One represents equality and hope, the other conquest and greed. Instead of standing up for the oppressed, giving a voice to a voiceless, Columbus brought a mentality with him that led to genocide and the start of a long history of seeing fellow human beings as “less than,” as “subhuman.” His discovery also planted the seeds that grew into the transatlantic slave trade.

That’s why so many activist groups and entire cities and states are opting out of Columbus Day and adopting Native American or Indigenous Peoples Day. We have entire months for other cultures and traditions, so the least we can do is a day, choosing to highlight what needs to be said and known about all Americans, no matter their skin color or country of origin.

Besides the fact today is what it is, I also thought of mentioning this today after hearing some of the news coverage from last week’s Las Vegas mass shooting. I do plan on discussing different aspects in light of this event, but one in particular is how the news has been classifying the violence, saying it’s “the worst massacre in American history.” And that is a flat-out lie, not that Trump would start tweeting to call that “fake news.”

Yes, Las Vegas and all home-grown terrorism (yes, this is terrorism. An act that evokes terror is terrorism) is devastating, but using that phrasing minimizes past tragedy and outright overlooks it altogether. The Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 far surpassed the 59 lost last week: roughly 250-300 men, women, and children died in a single day. That right there is a tragedy in of itself. One life is no less valuable than the next.

Our words, our actions, and our worldviews matter. How we respect others and their diversity is a reflection upon ourselves. Standing against Columbus Day and the history it represents should automatically be seen as a valiant act of justice and consideration. From Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and the entire push to Westernize Native Americans, I think they deserve our support, and this is a way to show it. They are another thread in America’s tapestry that have the same rights and freedoms as we do. If the reverse were to be the case, that we have day set aside for a minority leader violently uprooting Caucasian lives and killing off major populations, how would we react?

Not only was Columbus not the first person to discover the Americas (the vikings and Polynesians beat him to it), but he was on his exploration for Europe to essentially ensure that the land was inhabited by “nonentities.” Columbus also didn’t popularize the idea that the earth was round. The educated Europeans of Columbus’s day widely acknowledged that the earth was not flat, contrary to reports.

It just makes sense to make a universal decision, rather than sporadic states and cities transitioning away from this tradition, to rethink Columbus Day. Either remove the day altogether, or denote the day for Indigenous Peoples. Along with this, we need more Native American representation in our education. We need a multicultural perspective on the history we are teaching to upcoming generations so they prevent the truth of history repeating itself. Our population only continues to become more diverse, playing host to a growing number of ethnicities, but our education needs to catch up accordingly.

Let us not forget the past few months of outrage over removing Confederate statues and flags from public views, most of which were created in mass production in the 20th century after the adoption of the Jim Crow laws and beginnings of the civil rights movement. The statues were built ultimately with a clear message in mind: white supremacy.

We seem to evolve so rapidly in some areas, but in areas that stain American history, we lag behind. We cannot afford to do this much longer without accepting the negative consequences. Why not be on the progressive side of history? The one acknowledging the value of everyone? The one seeking a future recognizing the past’s flaws and working toward a more just, equal society?

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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The Occasional Slacker

If you’re a go-getter like me, any sort of procrastination feels like failure…

98% of the time, I’m the kind of person working way ahead of schedule. I’m completing tasks I don’t actually need to finish for a few weeks, but I just feel compelled to do them anyway. I’ve always been that type of person, always on the ball, always trying to make my time productive.

Except, that 2% of the time not accounted for, that’s when I feel beyond guilty. Defeated. Angry and frustrated with myself. Uninspired and unmotivated. There is that rare time when I come across a particular assignment that I just have no willpower to get done. Even when I never plan to procrastinate, which using that term could have many various definitions depending on the person, I have just a random paper or responsibility that I leave up as a window or tab on my computer and just ignore. And end up doing anything else BUT that.

It’s a habit that I luckily don’t fall into very often, but it does inevitably happen. Right now as I’m writing this, it’s a memo for media law and ethics. I have multiple tabs open in my browser for resources to cite and emails from an online database with more information, and yet there the document sits, little progress made, due in a few days. And here I am, writing a blog post instead!

I almost feel like I’m going against my own nature, like some unknown force is blocking my usual urgency to get things done. I’ve never been one to understand those who always write papers the day before they’re due or barely glancing at a textbook minutes before a test is handed out. I’ve had to work my tail off throughout my education, and while it can be exhausting at times, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished thus far.

Until I get to that one little snag in the production that I just hone in and focus on, use it as ammunition to shame my abilities or lack thereof. But regardless of the scenario, we all come to points where we face a roadblock, a random halt in our creativity that can come up out of the blue. The world still expects us to keep truckin’ along as per usual, but we just…can’t, or don’t know how. It’s not that we don’t realize we have lots of people and resources that we could fall back on and ask questions to, we just mentally are at a place where our brain randomly decides that a basic task is too much.

This can apply to so much more than classwork. How about making yearly doctor and dentist appointments? How about applying and interviewing for jobs? Heck, sometimes making a meal that isn’t just cereal feels like a task only a MasterChef contestant can pull off. Our perception of how we view the difficulty of everyday occurrences that skew from reality is appalling.

Wouldn’t it be great to flip a switch and suddenly have the clarity and ambition to do what feels impossible? Or have it already done for us overnight, like secret elves just pulling our lives together? Alas, it’s not how the world works. We are the ones to ultimately hold ourselves accountable. Sure, you could easily neglect certain things that stress you out, but what are the repercussions of those decisions? We all know the answer to those questions as it pertains to our lives, but even then, it might not get you into gear.

What I typically do is still try to be productive, even if one task sits on my to-do list for longer than I’d like, but I still am crossing other things off. It’s a satisfying feeling, and sometimes that’s the only nudge you need to want to cross everything off. Also, your well-being should always, without a doubt, come first. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, that’s what is most important. You can’t do a single thing if you always leave your energy tank on empty.

Keep that one nagging task at the forefront of your mind, regardless of how simple it is to shove it aside. Think of what a relief it will be to get it done. Maybe that means going to a different location to do so, or doing some self-care activities first before you dive in, or taking frequent breaks to prevent getting hung up on tricky spots, or all of the above. It’s whatever you know works best for you.

If you don’t feel it right now, here’s a quick reminder that yes, you are strong and capable of overcoming the obstacles that plague you. You will trudge forward past this point and look back satisfied knowing that you made it. Life is all about the highs and lows, bouncing back and forth in a constant game of pinball. But if I can do it, then you and everyone else can, too.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Losing a Title?

Title IX | Office of Equality and Diversity | Drexel ...
Title IX gives a voice to those who may feel silenced by stigma.  It’s our right to feel safe and healthy.

Well, the current administration has one thing that’s convenient for me: there always seems like new things to talk about. And by talk about, I mean critique.

The latest news coming from the White House is specifically involving the Department of Education, where Betsy DeVos has announced her intentions to rescind current Title IX guidelines.

So what does this mean, especially for college students? Most of us are lucky enough to only know the name “Title IX” from the required online courses every semester. Or going to a freshman orientation and watching the same viral video comparing sexual assault to drinking tea. If it were me, the only thing I would change about our current system to make the online training much more inclusive, but that’s beside the point.

Title IX is the key to identifying and condemning sexual harassment and assault. It is a broad tool enforcing equality not only for male and female athletes, but also for all students, including transgender and parenting students. Rather than allowing crimes to occur without a true means of legal consequence, now the process for reporting sexual assault is much more transparent.

But based on DeVos’s views, these rights are not a priority. Their funding is not necessary, translating to say that students’ safety and well-being is not necessary. If we want to get down to the simplest of terms, let’s look back at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Our human need for growth and knowledge, or self-actualization, is the very point of the pyramid. We psychologically are not prepared to meet that need if our more basic ones are not met, and one of the most important of those is safety and security. If we cannot walk across campus and attend classes without always feeling on-edge, we really shouldn’t even be pursuing an education, not without somebody taking action.

While DeVos’s decision would not immediately go into effect for every public university in the country, the mentality she presents will inevitably trickle down to individual communities and university administrations. If the head of our nation’s education doesn’t find Title IX important, then why should we?

We would be putting our students’ health at risk. Sexual assault is much more than a drunken encounter, a scenario we can just push under a rug and pretend that it isn’t there. The short- and long-term effects of sexual assault can harm a victim’s mind and body. Besides the risk of potentially contracting STDs or becoming pregnant, the mental health concerns can endure for even longer. Post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety are all very common in survivors. They might even resort to coping mechanisms like substance abuse and self-harm to release their negative emotions.

I hesitate using the word “victim” in this scenario because as someone who has luckily never experienced this trauma, I think the strength and resilience required to keep moving forward past the experience and reporting the crime speaks volumes. If student rights are cut back, what justice are we serving these individuals? The progress that we’ve made to bring greater awareness to this growing issue is at stake. We cannot afford to move backwards.

The Department of Justice reports a quarter of undergraduate females will face some fork of sexual assault. The ACLU says only five percent of campus rape cases are actually reported. Many programs and assumptions we make about sexual assault is female-oriented, which makes sense with the overwhelming majority of statistics, but we leave men and transgender people out of the loop. These demographics probably face the most pressure to remain silent due to the stigma surrounding such reports. They fear not having others believe them when we assume men are known to be more dominated, more sexual.

My focus thus far has been on college campuses just because it’s such a frequent concern, but Title IX affects all levels of education. From elementary school to post-graduate programs, we have the right to call out any sex-based discrimination. Every school must have a Title IX policy and coordinator on staff to ensure this right. We must informed of our right and receive information as to how to handle and report sex discrimination. We deserve to know that information and to have it easily accessible. Especially for someone overwhelmed and distraught over a traumatic experience, chances are if they don’t know what to do from there, how often do you think they’ll hunt it out?

Sure, the actual number of instances of campus sexual assault have dropped over recent years, but that doesn’t mean that we understand it any better, or that our work is done. I see the progress as encouragement to keep doing what we’re doing. Education doesn’t occur in a bubble or vacuum, but in an environment we as citizens must make safe for all. To think of creating more ignorance surrounding sex discrimination, especially in the world of academia…it is simply contradictory.

We cannot stay silent. We must speak up for ourselves and everyone, letting our government and schools know what we the people want and need. A pursuit of happiness and knowledge is not possible without basic security.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie