Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Day Goes By

Seldom a day goes by

Where the future isn’t terrifying.

Dare I take the challenges,

Or is the easy way out safe?

Success cannot be measured 

In any form but how I measure it,

But will I know what to do

When the hard choice arises?

Seldom a day goes by

Where I don’t think of you.

Will you be happy by my side,

When everything has changed?

Happiness can be hard to come by,
So I'll cherish every moment,
But will it all hold together
If we choose different paths?

Seldom a day goes by

Where I don’t worry at all.

I seem to revolve around the notion-

That inevitably something is wrong.

For this I must be optimistic;

Impossible must be impossible.

But do I have the strength to 

Hold onto what I desire?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dear Dr. Seuss

Dear Dr. Seuss,

Go Dogs Go was my favorite. I read it whenever I was told to pick a book to read before bed. "Do you like my hat?" I would ask. It was a childhood favorite. At the time, the books were so fun and colorful and simple to me, and that's what I wanted to read. They helped me learn to love books. When I got into kindergarten I could read better than most of the kids in my class. My reading level was average for third and fourth graders because my parents gave me books like yours. My mom had developed quite a collection of books for me, but I remember the Dr. Seuss books best.

I don't remember all of the stories but I remember the colors and rhymes. The colors drew me in and the rhymes made everything sound good. I remember reading the books out loud with my parents because it was so much more out loud. Sound made the books come to life. I read Hop on Pop and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I loved Cat in the Hat and reread my favorites, over and over again.

My love for reading started then, I believe. I loved books; they held so many stories and I could read all of them! So thank you, Dr. Seuss for starting my journey. Thank you for getting children like me excited about books. I hope that your books live on in my family, and for countless others.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Year One

     High School was fantastic for me. Don't get me wrong, it had its ups and downs and was by no means perfect, but it was good enough for me. I was involved, learning, working hard, and reaping the benefits of a good work ethic and willing leadership. I was in a comfortable place. Leaving the comforts of one huge building and a made-for-me schedule was sort of terrifying. Just when I got really comfortable, it seemed it was time for me to move on.
     College came with scheduled classes, practices, and meetings, but even greater amounts of time for me to choose what to do with. Adjusting to all the new freedom and responsibility seemed like it would be a breeze for me and for the most part, it was. I quickly learned that my study skills and work ethic needed to improve, and I needed to learn how to keep myself on track without a set schedule. I joined the Marching Band, auditioned for Jazz Band, joined the Environmental Club, and started looking for volunteer opportunities. I wanted to fill my day with what I loved to do while remembering that homework, essays, and studying takes a lot longer than I want it to.
     The biggest change was the people. I went to the college knowing ahead of time that I didn't know anyone attending. It was a clean slate, and I had to deal with the awkward, "sorry, what's your name again?" and "nice to meet you" for a few weeks before really settling in. I did find good friends and I settled in pretty comfortably. The hardest part seemed to be missing my family. Though I wasn't immensely far from home and they did come to visit, not seeing them every day was hard. My friends from high school weren't around; I missed them, and even lost touch with a few. Sometimes I felt lonely. I felt that I fit in at Holy Cross because I was surrounded by other people who worked as hard as I did and loved the things that I loved. However, pieces of the culture at the campus left me feeling lonely and confused, because I didn't want to participate. It was difficult in the beginning, but as I got used to everything I came to understand that the way I wanted to spend my time was different than some and I could find good friends that agreed with me. I learned how to navigate through college life while brushing off hurtful comments from people who didn't quite understand me.
     One important part of the school that I came to embrace was their mission: "Men and Women for and with Others." I loved that. I tried to balance out my needs with the needs of other people so I could be happy and also live a life that had a positive impact on the people around me. This is something I'm still working on and will probably always be working on. Someday I want to be able to live by that philosophy.
     My outlook on life didn't drastically change, but some qualities became stronger. I had more opportunities to participate in speaking about social problems and social change, and I began to pay more attention to current events. I decided if I am to align myself with a political party, though I don't particularly like politics, I'm a democrat. My love for English only grew and I found myself really wondering what I'm going to do with that.
    I keep being told that college is where you're going to figure everything out. So far, I've declared English as my major and I absolutely want to stick with that. Beyond that, I really have no idea what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. Volunteering is appealing to me, and a career in the nonprofit sector would fit me. I could handle being a high school English teacher. I want to write, but I don't know yet if that means going into journalism, publishing and editing, or if that's a dream I'll have to put on the side. If you ask me what I want to be when I grow up, all I know for now is that I want to be a good citizen.
    So there's my detailed answer to the questions I've been asked all summer. Time to start gearing up for year two!

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.