Monday, June 29, 2015

Everything is Changing

People are finally opening their doors up and laying down in the streets because the United States has a problem on their hands.

For some ridiculous reason, there are people who think that racism does not exist anymore. To legitimate the reasons people jump to these absurd conclusions, there has been quite a lot of progress in the history of the United States as far as abolishing slavery and segregation and making headway with the civil rights movement. Since the civil rights movement, however, systematic racism has hidden in wage gaps, housing opportunities, mass incarceration, and now police forces. 

This is not to say that police are racist; the problem is that there are people within the police force who break rules and are racially biased. This has now become a problem of police brutality. A police man or woman takes on a tough job in protecting citizens rights, but he or she must be subject to punishment if they too do not follow the rules. There's no denying that much of the police force is made up of good men and women who risk their lives for the safety of communities and do their job with the utmost respect and morality. However, policemen and policewomen are subject to the same laws as the rest of the country, and do not deserve lesser punishments when they do make a mistake or break the rules signified by their uniforms. Unwarranted police brutality is a problem, but it does not have a simple solution.

November of 2014, twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police because he was carrying a BB gun in a park. The officers in the situation reacted very quickly, and with no just cause, killed Tamir on the spot. This should not be happening. After the Officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson in August of 2014 was not indicted, a nationwide movement was sparked. The evidence in the Michael Brown case was hazy and not all that reliable, but the event was deemed self-defense. While some cases where police shot unarmed black men were warranted, the nationally-shown cases in which police force was used unjustly is causing uprising.

When the video of Eric Gardner's arrest was released, protests escalated. He did nothing to provoke the kind of contact that the police made with him. If they were going to arrest him they could've successfully done that standing up or pushing him against the building. Instead, The officer in the video put his arm around Eric Gardner's neck as they brought him to the ground. The repeated "I can't breath"continued as the police didn't seem to do anything even though the man didn't appear to be struggling to get up. When the officer there wasn't indicted, helicopters recorded live feed of swarms of people in New York City blocking traffic.

Standing up, speaking out, and marching in solidarity with the victims of police brutality seemed to sweep the nation. In Worcester, Massachusetts, college students met in the city and walked in the middle of main street, carrying signs saying "Don't shoot," "Worcester to Ferguson," and "No Justice, No Peace." Similarly, students created a blockade in Berkeley California to show the oppression that people face everyday, in the form of closing off a walkway. People are moving, speaking, and writing; this problem has gone nationwide.

What's worse than all of the unrest that has been caused is the portrayal of it in the media. No matter which website you visit, the data will be different. Some of them say that black men are more likely to be killed by police than white men. Some sites say the opposite. Some preach that black people are just overreacting to something that's been happening for decades, while some talk about the corruption of the police and jail systems. So what are people supposed to believe?

It gets more and more difficult to take a stance on the subject or to discuss what seems to be wrong with the media or the police system because it is so difficult to find reliable information. How do we fix what is broken if we do not know exactly what the problem is?

While any solution will have to be long-term, the problem that society faces today is how to start. The Obama administration vowed to put cameras on police personnel in order to collect any evidence for future citizen-police confrontations. Whether or not this will help or harm the situations that arise between police and people is yet to be established. Large, systemic change has to happen. The largest problem to tackle is the racism that influences decisions and actions. If white police officers have a tendency to see black men as more of a threat than white men, a split-second decision over a black man holding what might be some sort of gun is more likely to lean in the direction of shooting. No matter how far the civil rights movement has come, subconscious racism can be a huge factor in quick decisions.
A solution to racism is no easy feat; it will be necessary to eliminate stereotypes surrounding race and ethnicity. It will be necessary to debunk societal attitudes that have changed with history. It will be necessary for equality across gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. This kind of change can take generations to occur but we need to start somehow. As concerned citizens of the United States who want to work to resolve this issue, we need to challenge the way people think and educate them about who people are rather than how they look or where they come from. Human nature must be nurtured by people who are willing to talk about this issue and come up with ways to solve it.

Now, I'm a sophomore in college, barely an adult and I certainly do not have all the answers to this problem. Many have argued against me that this isn't an issue and I've seen so much hate in social media between people who do and do not want to take action. Violent riots are not the answer, but we can't just ignore this. What I'm proposing is not some huge law or drastic change; what I believe we need is to talk about it. What is propose is this: conversation. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Let there be Rain

There's a sort of silent beauty,
to the way the rain washes everything away.
It's as if all of the world's problems
dissolve between the droplets.
I put on my oldest sneakers and go puddle-jumping,
as if being five years old again
is the key to unlocking the universe.
Mini streams and lakes carve themselves
into the pavement, creating a whole new world
in water upon man made land;
But these streams are only fragments
of what they could be:
In another place,
at another time,
with harder rain,
or with none all.
Rain will wash
everything away
if you let it,
but no one
dare tell you
that you
have to
let
go.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Peace and Suffering

This is a time where chemical warfare is playing out where children run and play. This is a time where countries are fighting over oil. This is a time where terrorists are massacring entire cities just to have domain over them. This is a time where people still die of starvation every single day. This is a time where people live in poverty while the rich continue to gain wealth exponentially. This is a time where sexism is still apparent and women don't get treated equally in times where they deserve it. This is a time where black men are more likely to go to jail and are more likely to be killed by police officers. This is a time where protesters are reprimanded for speaking up.

There are so many tragedies that exist in the world today and will continue to exist unless we can solve the problems. We must remember that nothing is finite and we as human beings have the ability to fight for what is right and change what must be changed.

Because even though all of this bad is happening, there is hope. This is a time where countries are speaking up against other countries for the rights of their citizens. This is a time where scientists are coming up with bigger and better ways to harness renewable energy. This is a time where armies are going into war zones to risk their lives for the sake of children under attack. This is a time where food banks are growing and volunteers are trying their best to get food to those who need it. This is a time where wealthy individuals are funding philanthropy work to help alleviate the poverty that the poorest in the world are living in. This is a time where women are holding seats in the government and speaking at UN conferences. This is a time where people are realizing that racism still exists and doing something about it. This is a time where people are having the courage to protest.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, " Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." It is with these optimistic and passionate individuals that the future will be made of. We are the generation to set up the possibilities for change. We are the generation to sacrifice for the good of humankind.

Happy Peace Day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Not Afriad -- A Children's Story


     Grace was five years old. She had brown hair and eyes, small hands, and a smile full of joy and laughter. Her best friend's name was Daniel, and he had black hair, big eyes, and was one of the nicest friends Grace ever had. They went over each other's houses all the time and partnered up in preschool for projects and group activities, until one day, when Grace's father came home with bad news. Her friend Daniel was in the hospital with what her dad said was a scary virus. 
     Now, Grace didn't immediately get up to go to the hospital to see her best friend. Why? Because she was terrified of hospitals. Needles scared her and doctors made her nervous. This was one of Grace's fears. Her dad told her Daniel would surely love it if she could go see him, as the hospital was allowing guests. Grace didn't respond. She was afraid, and her fear captured her, making her unable to do what her father wanted her to do. Grace hid in her room for the rest of the night. 
     The next day, Grace woke up as usual and went to school. It wasn't the same. At playtime, she sat at the drawing table and stared at her crayons instead of playing with the other children. She missed having Daniel there. It didn't take long for the teacher to notice she wasn't being herself. The teacher asked Grace to come out into the hallway. When the teacher asked her what was wrong, Grace told her that Daniel was in the hospital, but she was too afraid to go see him. "I'm going to tell you a story," said the teacher.
     The pair sat down at a table in the hallway and Grace's teacher started to talk.
     "Once upon a time, there was a little girl, and she was deathly afraid of heights. So afraid, that when the carnival came to town and all her friends wanted to go on the Ferris Wheel, she was left out. The day came where her friends were all planning to go to the carnival. Her best friend, Julie, was very sad because if the little girl didn't go, Julie wouldn't have a partner to go on the Ferris Wheel with her. This made the little girl even more sad. Right before her friends left for the carnival, she decided she didn't want her friend to be alone and she went with her to the carnival. When she got there, she was terrified. However, she found the courage to get on the Ferris Wheel with her friend, and she was no longer afraid."
     "Why are you telling me this?" asked Grace
     "Because Grace," her teacher said, "Sometimes we are afraid of something that prevents us from being there for our friends. By going on that Ferris Wheel, the little girl realized heights weren't so bad. Maybe hospitals aren't as scary as you think."
     After school, Grace got home from the bus and ran into her house to find her father. 
     "Dad! Can we go visit Daniel? Please?"
     "What made you change your mind?" her father asked.
     "Sometimes we are afraid of something that prevents us from being there for our friends. Maybe the hospital isn't so scary."
     Her father laughed and put his coat on. The two got into the car and drove to the hospital. 
     When they arrived, Grace held onto her father's hand tightly and walked into the hospital cautiously. When they get to Daniel's room, his mother was sitting next to him. "He hasn't woken up all day," she whispered.
     "Hi Daniel," Grace whispered to him. She looked up at her father with a sad look on her face, "How sick is he?" she asked.
     Daniel's mother responded, "He will be fine in a week or so. He just needs rest and medicine. I'm glad you could come to see him, Grace."
     Just then, Daniel's eyes fluttered open. He was elated to see his friend. Daniel, however, wasn't allowed to get out of bed. Grace bravely let her father's hand go and opened her backpack. She had 
She brought crayons so they could draw pictures, like they did at play time at school. Daniel's mother and Grace's father excused themselves and went to the cafeteria to get a drink. 
     Grace looked at the tubes coming out of Daniel's arm and nose. "Does it hurt?" She asked.
     "It's just a little uncomfortable," Daniel answered, "But the medicine they give me makes me feel better. Grace looked around the room nervously. 
     Daniel spoke up, "The hospital isn't scary at all. Everything is very clean and everyone is very nice. And they'll get me home as soon as they can!"

     Grace smiled at Daniel and took out her paper. The two started to draw, now that Grace wasn't scared anymore. She was so afraid of hospitals before, but she realized it's just like an extra large nurse's room. The doctors would take care of her friend, and she was there for company. Sometimes, Grace thought, we are afraid of something without knowing what it is. It takes a good friend to help you realize that scary things aren't so bad when you get to know them.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Naturally

My first Sonnet!

From above a crystal mist descended,
And left the ground as pure as untouched light;
This brought forth concern so unattended
In how we try to wrestle with our blight.
Are all our flaws forgiven with new snow?
Is darkness the inevitable end?
So must we fear the answers we don't know,
And toss aside what we can't comprehend?
I search for answers I will never find,
And see perfection is a myth of heart,
But this is how the Earth has been designed,
An imperfection of divine, old art.
So now is time to open eyes and see
That blight is what creates humanity.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Try and Stop Me

"Sky-screaming, star-dreaming,
Cloud-climbing, sun-winding,
Wishful thinker.
Where is the rest of your life?
You're diving into the heavens,
Leaving crisis behind;
Put your feet on the hillsides,
Or is reality too easy for you?
The sky is just emptiness,
the stars are only fire,
Who do you think you are,
trying to fly with the clouds?
There is no way accomplishments
would ever substitute reality,
because you have no reason
To think big
Who are you to try to be
amicable and worthy of every
little thing that is right with the world?
Because there is so much wrong that
denial won't let you slip through
the cracks in the system, because
You have to deal with what
Generations behind you destroyed;
What mansions are filled with empty rooms
while the poor sit on the side of the roads
and You
Can't think big.
There is no power of positive pressure
when the world is winding in a downward spiral,
and you cannot dream
because you
Are one of the poor.
Your situation dictates your life and
there's nothing you can do to stick it to the man
when you
are
worthless."
And I said,
"Reach for the stars,
because that's why we have arms.
Reality is not too easy-
the truth is that it requires
Someone to look at the bigger picture,
and I can see more clearly from up there,
rather than behind your negativity.
I don't claim to be perfect,
but if there's a right way to go,
I'm going to take it.
I'm not above social catastrophe,
I'm just trying to change it,
and the world may be tumbling
into ultimate turmoil but
you can't tell me that there is no point
In helping.
I dictate my choices,
I dictate my life,
I will accomplish what you think
is impossible
and there's
nothing
you
can
do
to
stop me."