Monday, January 23, 2017

Final Project - Women's March on Washington

For my final project, I attended the Women's March on Washington in St. Paul. I had never been to an event like this, so I had no idea what to expect, but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I hadn’t even heard of this event until a few days prior, but when I learned about the group's values and goals, I knew it would be something that I would want to experience. I asked a friend of mine to go with me, and we were very excited to help show support.

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We knew we were in the right place before we were even within a few miles of the area. There was traffic packed all the way down through the freeway, and we ended up getting out of the car at a stoplight, because we didn’t think we’d be able to get any closer. We got out of the car and just started following the crowd. To be honest, I have no idea where the march actually started, because the closest we could get to the start was the St. Paul Cathedral. There were people as far as I could see in front of me and it wasn’t long before I couldn’t see the end of the people behind me either.

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The march started at at 11:00, but the people around me didn’t start moving until about 11:45. If I had to guess, I’d say we were pretty close to the middle of the group of marchers, but we still took a long time to begin the march at that spot. While we waited to move, there was still a lot going on around us.  People were chanting while we waited and playing music to get the crowd pumped up. We were all huddled together in the middle of the street for blocks and talking to one another. I saw many people start talking and connecting to people that they had never met before. There were a lot of signs and clothes that people had made themselves and that was a big conversation starter. Of all the people I encountered (there were a lot), I never once noticed anyone be anything but nice and friendly. It was such a positive, accepting, and powerful environment. The only bad thing that I heard of was that one counter-protester got arrested for spraying “chemical irritants” into the crowd. At one point an ambulance had to drive through the crowd while we were waiting and I assume it was related to that incident.

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At  around 11:45, when we finally began moving, the crowd's energy-level peaked. I believe that we only walked less than a mile, but there were many uninformed people helping  direct us to where we needed to go. There was a lot of chanting going on the whole time and here are some of the ones I remember:
  • “Love. Not Hate. Will make America great.”
  • “Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.”
  • “Who are we? The majority. What do we want? Equality.”
  • “Love trumps hate.”

Initial view of the MN Capitol from the march

Once we got to the capitol, we had to make our way to the front so that we could see. It took us at least 10-15 minutes to find a place where we could see, but once we had gone through the wall of people, it was easier. There was more space when we got closer to the capitol, and we listened to the speakers from a pretty good spot. The speakers were very interesting, and one of the most memorable being Rep. Ilhan Oman. Everyone who spoke was very passionate and about particular issues that mattered to them. Despite what some people think, most people never even mentioned Trump by name, it was more about coming together on the issues that we are passionate about.

View of crowd from the top of the MN Capitol

St Paul police estimate between 90,000 and 100,000 people showed up to march. That is 5 times more than they projected, which was impressive in itself. I think that more people showed up than expected, because they realized how big of a deal it was. For example, my family planned on just dropping me and my friend off, but all of them ended up joining us because they realized it was something that they couldn’t miss.

There is perceived to have been at least 3.7 million marchers worldwide, in at least 500 cities. The estimate is that 1 in every 100 Americans marched on Saturday. Several groups have been attempting to put together a spreadsheet to accurately state the total populations. Out of all of those people, there hasn’t been one report of violence in any of the cities by marchers.

It was very cool to feel like I was part of something important. So many people showed up and that’s not something that you can ignore. It was a very big statement that we are still here and expect our new president to acknowledge our values. It was such a positive atmosphere filled with passionate, loving people. In fact, the main themes that I saw in the crowd and signs were love, hope, and acceptance. There were people from all walks of lives, races, genders, and ages, and it was great to see everyone come together. It was one of my favorite experiences and I am very happy that I chose to attend.


*All pictures of the march were taken by the me

Mental Health in Teens

Mental health problems are very common among people today, but they are surprisingly prevalent in teens as well. 20% of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition. That is 1 in every 5 teens. Some of the most common disorders include ADHD, depression, and anxiety disorders. The stresses of adolescence and high school can force youth into these disorders, and some can last all their lives. 50% of lifetime mental disorder cases begin by age 14. The earlier that these conditions are diagnosed and treated, the better off the patients are.

Diagnosing and treating mental health problems is a very important part in the process of recovering/coping. 75-80% of children and youth with a mental disorder, who need treatment, have not received it. Many kids feel that they are weak or broken if they admit to struggling with mental illness. This is probably a result of bullying or stigma that surrounds people with mental health issues. 49% of youth who are struggling with Depression, never even tell an adult.

Keeping mental disorders from being treated may have a variety of negative effects. Suicide is the 3rd cause of death in youth ages 10-24. Also, 90% of people who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. This holds people back from living to their full potential. In fact, 70% of youth juveniles, and 26% of homeless people have a mental illness.

The main way that I believe that we can improve the prevalence of mental health among teens, is to reduce the stigma around the subject. Adolescents are already feeling the need to find themselves and belong, and mental health can just be seen as another hurdle to jump. It is often feared that people won’t accept or support you if you tell them you have a mental health condition. I hope that one day, that doesn’t have to be a fear.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Effects of the AIDS Epidemic on Gay Rights

The AIDS epidemic was a time of widespread panic and suffering throughout the U.S. The virus is known to have affected more than 50,000 people in the first six years that it was discovered, and has now affected over 1.2 million people in the U.S. This epidemic had a variety of negative impacts on the gay community, but it seems to have also played a role in helping the gay rights initiative get to where it is today.

Before the AIDS epidemic broke out, there was already a gay rights movement underway. The Stonewall Riots had taken place just over 10 years before the AIDS virus took effect. However, the events and treatment that many homosexual people experience during the epidemic motivated them to take a stand.

As people began to notice the start of an epidemic, it was recognized that there were a large amount of gay men being diagnosed with this disease. It was then that people switched their thinking to the idea that this was a “gay disease”. It was often referred to as “gay cancer”, “gay pneumonia”, or “the gay plague”. Although only 63% of AIDS victims are gay men, they soon became the stereotype for the AIDS epidemic. Gay men were often fired from their jobs or evicted from their homes, even if they didn’t have the virus, just because of this stereotype.

 Bar chart shows the estimated new HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2014 for the most-affected subpopulations. Black men who have sex with men = 11,201. White men who have sex with men = 9,008. Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men = 7,552. Black heterosexual women = 4,654. Black heterosexual men = 2,108. Hispanic/Latina heterosexual women = 1,159. White heterosexual women = 1,115.

At this point, the gay rights movement became less about social treatment, and more about politics. Activists believed that the process of treating and curing the AIDS virus took far longer than necessary, strictly because people were not concerned about this so-called “gay problem”. It was only natural for gay rights movements to increase after the AIDS epidemic, because many people had to deal with inequality and homophobia everyday while battling this disease or helping someone who was. It was not uncommon for people to be denied sick days or rights to see their partners, because they were not technically “family”.

These people, who were fed up with the treatment of the gay community, soon began to connect with each other and form groups. One of the most famous groups from the AIDS epidemic was ACT UP. This was an advocacy group to help people with AIDS and to spread the word about the way it was being handled. Their motto was “Silence = Death” and they wanted to tell their stories to inspire change. This helped bring light to how many gay people there were in the world. It could be people that you would never expect. Many famous people were outed because of contracting the AIDS virus and people realized that they admired them just the same. People soon began to see the humanity of the gay community and that nobody deserves to suffer the way many people were. They gained publicity and people were hearing them. It wasn’t just a gay issue anymore. It was a human issue and people were dying from it.

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If you had told people in 1981 that by now Gay Marriage is widely accepted, human rights protections are in place for gays and lesbians, and events like World Pride are tourist draws, I don’t think that they would believe it. It took a lot for the U.S. to get here, and there is still plenty way to go, but it is a very big achievement. Although the AIDS epidemic was an awful time, and still continues to affect people, it seems to have had a large impact on bringing gay rights to where they are today.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Gender Roles

Pink and Blue. Dolls and Trucks. Dresses and Suits. All of these things are characteristics that are often used to define a gender. However, the issue of gender roles is much bigger than assuming girls have long hair or that boys like sports. These small stereotypes are symbolic of the large-scale pressures placed on each of the genders to act in a certain way.

Women are often seen as the “damsel in distress”, in constant need of a man's support. They are taught to be submissive and not to speak out against others. While a man is seen as “assertive”, a woman is seen as “bossy”, in the same situation. Women claim leadership opportunities far less often than men because they don’t wish to be seen in that light. It can even affect their choice in professions, because they are expected to be in certain fields. It is also difficult to join a career in which people like you are very underrepresented. People like to see themselves in the career that they choose because it feels good to be around people that are similar to yourself. Although some women may want to be stay-at-home-moms or nurses, expanding the societally accepted options for women is very important.

While women are seen as fragile, men are seen as the strong counterparts who must always remain tough. Men are looked down upon for showing emotion, as they must always remain strong for women. They are often criticized for breaking from the norm of outdoor-loving kids and athletes. Although they debatably get criticized more than girls, they are not allowed to express their feelings and usually have to bottle it up inside. Many experts think that this is why male to female suicide rates are close to 3:1 at this point.

Constantly attempting to change yourself in order to obtain approval from others can have very bad effects on people. This video shows how gender roles can make people feel like they don’t belong and how defying these roles can cause feelings of exclusion. Kids can be made to feel like their feelings are not legitimate and that faking is their only option to receive acceptance.

Each of these individual factors are not very important in themselves, but they show a rather twisted big-picture. They help to create a society in which people don’t feel comfortable being themselves, based on their gender. Most of the stereotypes we hold do not have a real reason for existing, and are just all we have ever known. It is up to us to show that looks, roles, and interests are not affected by our gender.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why do celebrities matter?

Some people love celebrities a lot more than others, but we all know them.  People like to watch celebrities lives, and that could be for a number of reasons. You might love Justin Bieber, you might hate him, or you might just think he's weird, but I bet you know who he is.

There is nothing special about celebrities other than the pedestal they are on. They have many people looking at them, which makes it easy for you to get a constant look into their lives. You always know when they are in a relationship, where they are traveling, and a lot of times what they are eating. You get very connected with this person, but somehow you are still very disconnected.

No matter how close you feel like you are to this person, chances are you wont be able to ever make friends with them. Maybe one day you could meet them for a couple second though, if your lucky. It can make people crazy. People want to meet these people who are on this pedestal for them to see, but they are too high up to ever meet. So the only option left is to obsess over them.

One reason people love celebrities so much is because they are very idealized in society. We tend to only see the good sides of people, whether that be in a photo, interview, or magizine. People think that they completely know celebrities, and that they are an image of perfection.

Another reason is attraction. Need I say more?

One good reason to love celebrity is because they inspire you. Celebrities have had success in their lives to get themselves to the point they are at. They can make people feel like anyone can achieve success, which is a good thing.

Why do we choose to idolize people that are the hardest to become part of our lives?
What makes us love certain celebrities more than others?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

10 days of news

I am always generally aware of current event going on in the world, but I never go to seek out this knowledge. I get most of my news from websites like twitter, even though I wouldn't say that’s a very reliable source, It may have a lot of rumors and may not be completely true, the baseline of the news is usually correct. There a never stories that trend that are totally false. Twitter is a good source to look at because it tells a story in the phrase or hashtag that is trending, and then if you’re interested you can look it up online to see a real news source.

Other than social media, I get news from the Today Show at school. I currently have American Experience, so we watch current event in the mornings. This is a good source to watch because it has full stories that are very reliable. They are also video’s which is good because sometimes America is lazy.

I looked at a very different source than I usually do for my ‘10 days of news’. I looked at the site Aljazeera, which I enjoyed in a weird way. It didn’t give me much major news, like I didn’t know a single question on the news quiz from my source. I don’t think that’s quite what the sites supposed to be about though. There is a lot of news that is just as important but doesn’t get covered by any other news sources. The cover small town news things, and things that are really affecting small places. There is also a lot of news about different countries that is a very big deal but we just don’t talk about much. It was a different side of news that I liked.

We, as citizens and as people, are very vulnerable. We look to major news sources to tell us things because we have no way of understanding situations without them. We are like small children looking to their parents for answers. That makes it the parent’s job to decide what to tell and how to tell it. They have a responsibility to only tell us what we should know, and sometimes keep us oblivious to things that may hurt us. We have no control over that, unless we want to listen to someone else.

There are bad things on the news all the time, and often times we are better off not knowing them. They can make you sad or even angry, but isn’t that what news is all about? Making you feel something? You are supposed to feel something.

When the Boston Bombing happened it was all over the news. People were upset even though it had would have had no effect on them without the news. It did not directly affect me or anyone in my life, but I still felt sad and felt bad about it. That way the people who were directly affected by it, weren’t feeling bad alone. I think that is the true purpose of news. To share something. Whether that be happiness, sadness, knowledge, laughter or grief.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Deadly Force

If you have ever watched the news, then you have probably seen numerous reports of cases of deadly force.  People protect themselves, others, or their property by fatally harming another. There are different situations where this is seen as okay in the eyes of the law. There are different rules in different states on this, but the question all of them have to ask is 'when is killing someone else alright?'.

The line between reasonable force and excessive force is very thin which can cause problems with the law. In MN the law is as follows: "The intentional taking of the life of another is not authorized by section 609.06, except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor's place of abode."

There are several pieces of information that are not obvious in this statute. You can not use deadly force anywhere outside of your abode unless you are 'innocent'. This means that you can't provoke someone, shoot them, any claim self defense. You are not innocent in you were part of the problem. Also, if you are robbing a bank and someone pulls a gun on you, you can't shoot them and claim self-defense. When you committed the crime of bank robbery, you forfeited your right to self-defense.

The phrase 'great bodily harm' is also very important in the statute. The injury has to have a high probability of death or causes serious permanent damage. If these conditions do not apply to your situation you can face jail time or large fines.

Some states have laws that state that people have to trying to run away before they can use deadly force. This is not a law in Minnesota currently, but it is some places.

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If you see someone in your home, you can't use a firearm on them even if you see they have one. They have to be pointing it directly at you or someone else. This seems like a bad law to me because once someone has a gun pointed at you, chances are that he will shoot you before you can shoot him. So many things can go wrong, but I suppose things can go wrong no matter how the law is.