10 ways for white people to be a better ally

 

 

DISCLAIMER: This is not a police hating post. I do not hate police officers, but I am against and always will be against injustice. Police officers who do not follow protocol and murder someone and are only given a slap on the wrist, that is injustice. Believing that all police officers are bad and killing them is despicable. Both acts are despicable.

If you’re like me, you’re looking at the world around you and want to know what you can do to help. You have black friends or family, or you’re just a decent human being that wants to fight injustice.

You may be thinking: “This isn’t my fight.” or “Am I even welcome?”

Yes, this is your fight, because equal human rights can’t happen until every human does their part. Yes, you are welcome, as long as you know your place.

How to be a Better Ally is simple

1. Check your privilege: Being born white means we have advantages in this society. It isn’t anything to be ashamed over, unless you use your privilege to oppress others or if you just ignore it all together.

2. Know your biases: We all have them, whether we like to admit it or not. It is a product of our culture. Part of growing up and becoming more self-aware, is identifying those biases and working to irradicate them.

3. Listen to what POCs (people of color) are saying: Don’t dismiss or ignore what they’re telling you. When someone hurts your feelings and you explain to them that your feelings are hurt and why they’re hurt, nothing is worse than someone completely ignoring you. That is exactly what happens when white people continue to say, “There isn’t a race problem.” “Racial profiling in 2016 is a myth,” and so on.

4. Understand that Black Lives Matter isn’t black supremacy: Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that White Lives, Brown Lives, Red Lives, Purple Lives or whatever doesn’t matter, it is simply a reminder that Black Lives Matter too. It isn’t a Black Lives > White Lives, it is Black Lives = White Lives, and it is time we start acting like it.

5. Understand that Black Lives Matter isn’t anti police: It is, however, anti-police brutality for ALL races. It is just statistically proven that POCs have more incidents of police brutality than white people do.

6. Understand that Black Lives Matter isn’t a violent movement: When violence breaks out at BLM rallies, the media likes to focus on the violent part of it. Our society loves violence. Sure, the violence was started by someone in the crowd, but that doesn’t mean they’re in the crowd.

7. Educate yourself on every issue you can: on Culture Appropriation. Slavery. the Confederate Flag. Racial profiling. Unconscious Bias. Mass incarceration. Etc. Use critical thinking and consider the sources on everything. Make sure it is credible. Read personal testimonies. Fact check personal blogs like this one.

8. Be empathetic: It is amazing what happens to your heart and your relationships when you take a moment to think about the why and how of other people’s feelings.

9. Take action: Don’t just pray. Don’t just listen. Don’t be a passive bystander. Gently (or aggressively) call others out on their racism. Retweet, share and reblog educational articles about racism. Talk to your kids, teach them to love. Teach them to treat others equally. You don’t have to drop everything and march, but you do have a job to do.

10. Know your place: You have a role in this fight, but it isn’t to let your voice overshout theirs. We have done enough of that.

No one will expect you to be the perfect little activist. I am still learning new things everyday.

Don’t be afraid to say, “hey, if this is overstepping or offensive, tell me. I’m trying to be better.”

Together we can overcome oppression and violence.

We Shall Overcome.

To learn more visit these links: 

12 Ways to Be a White Ally to Black People

Harvard Bias Test

Black Lives Matter

How to Be a Better Ally: An Open Letter to White Folks

Southern Poverty Law Center

Equal Justice Initiative 

We need to talk about Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill

At last, a female was chosen to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

What’s even better, is that it is a woman of color and former slave, Harriet Tubman.

harriet_lg-tile.jpg

I, along with millions of others, are thrilled. However, there seems to be some people who are a bit confused.

I’ve seen comments on Facebook and Twitter about how it is a disgrace to have Tubman replace Jackson on the $20 because Jackson is an “American Hero.”

As an American who almost has a college education and has a little more than basic knowledge for American history, I refute the claim that Jackson was an American Hero.

Sure, when he was a general in the War of 1812 and led the United States to victory in New Orleans, that made him a hero to many, but there are actions he made as a normal person and president that make me refuse to call Jackson an American Hero.

Here are my reasons why:

  1. He killed a man who said something rude to his wife.
  2. He instituted the Indian Removal Act which resulted in the Cherokee Tribe being forced to move from their homeland to Oklahoma where 4,000 people died. This journey is now known as the Trail of Tears. The process of Indian Removal and assimilation by the Europeans and Americans has almost irradiated the traditions and culture held by these tribes for hundreds of years. To me, the physical and psychological suffering that the Native Americans faced is devastating. So much of human history is lost because of Jackson and so many others before him.
  3. He owned more than 150 slaves at one point in his life.

(Don’t try to tell me he was a nice slave owner. There is nothing nice about forced labor and enslaving a human being for any task. You wouldn’t say that about a sex slave owner would you? “Oh he gave her a choice of when they would have sex, he was a nice sex slave owner. Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds?)

Although I recognize that times were different “way back then,” I am not proud that Andrew Jackson was one of the only presidents to come from Tennessee.

Sure, none of the presidents have been perfect. No one is, but to me, Jackson was one of the worst.

Harriet Tubman is a hero. She risked her life not only to escape slavery, but she went back and risked her life again and again to lead other slaves to freedom. She suffered abuse from her slave owners to the point where her injuries caused her to have epilepsy and chronic headaches for her entire life.

Even though Jackson is apparently going to be moved to the back of the $20 bill, I still see this as a huge stride in the right direction for the United States.

(Jackson remaining on the $20 bill at all is an issue that might be addressed in a separate post).

 

How a week in Alabama sent me on a spiritual journey

The Lenten/Easter season continues to prove to me, time and time again, to be a special time in my life. I was baptized on Palm Sunday 5 years ago, and 3 years ago I spent my Easter afternoon spending time with a good friend that ended up passing away a little over two weeks after.

As a Christian, I am supposed to seek God in all that I do, which can be extremely difficult.

It is hard to see God while I watch my country continue to support and vote for a presidential candidate that encourages violence, bigotry, prejudice and hatred among other things, and it is also hard to see God in the days where shootings and other acts of violence plague the news headlines.

However, I spent this past week getting pretty much slapped in the face with God sightings on every corner of Montgomery and Selma, Alabama.

Last semester, I learned that some faculty members at my university were looking for students to go on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Atlanta, Georgia and Montgomery and Selma, Alabama, to do some community service and learn more about the civil rights movement of yesterday and today.

Since I usually only go home for spring breaks and since I am passionate about civil and human rights, I decided to apply to go and was accepted.

The group that went on this trip consisted of 16 students and 5 faculty facilitators of different ages, genders, races etc.

10361562_779490548851026_2151389558926012408_n

On our first day, we left ETSU at 7 a.m. where we stopped in Atlanta for lunch and went to the Center for Civil and Human Rights before heading to Montgomery, which is where we spent the majority of our week.

Sitting here in my tiny residence hall apartment, I am struggling to choose which stories to tell. So here is my first one:

1. Our group stayed at and did community service with a local ministry called Common Ground Montgomery. When I heard the story of the founders and other staff members along with stories about the community, I was in awe.

Bryan Kelly and his family moved to one of the worst neighborhoods in Montgomery around 9 years ago to start a ministry to help bring the community out of poverty and violence by improving relationships. This led to the formation of Common Ground where they provide after school care for the neighborhood youth along with hosting summer camps.

unnamed-3Eventually, they started another program called House to House where they began to purchase and flip abandoned and condemned houses in the neighborhood. They hope to sell the houses to families in the community after a period of the family renting the house. The family also goes through financial counseling.

The amount of faith these people had that money would come through, that properties would become available and that they would be accepted and loved by this hurting and struggling community, touched my heart in a way that I can’t even fully explain.

2. On Tuesday, our group visited the Dexter Parsonage House where Dr. King and his family lived for six years along with the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where he was Reverend.

unnamed-2

A retired teacher and historian, Ms. Cherry, gave my group along with another school group a tour of the Parsonage house where she has, “a story and lesson for every room.”

In the kitchen, she told us of one night where Dr. King had just gotten off the phone with someone who threatened to kill his young daughter. King’s faith in the movement started to falter so he went into the kitchen to pray.

He sat down and prayed for God to show him a way to leave Montgomery without looking like a coward. Suddenly, he had an epiphany. He heard what some call their inner voice and what I call the Holy Spirit, speak to him and give him the courage he needed to go on with his work and the movement.

I stood over in the corner, in-between the icebox and pantry, where dozens of us were crammed into that tiny space as I felt tears well up in my eyes as I too, felt a divine presence in the room as Ms. Cherry told us that room’s lesson: “You can let it break your heart, but don’t let it break your spirit.” 

3.  Over the week, I learned of and met people of color from the civil rights movement that know what it means to forgive and love others like Jesus.

unnamed-1.jpg

 

We were told at the Freedom Rides Museum that some of those that were victims of the violence that took place in Alabama met with the judge that refused to protect them decades after the Rides took place. No one knows what was said in that meeting, but both parties left saying there was peace and forgiveness among them.

 

 

 

 

 

My week in Alabama did not go as I’d originally thought – which is a good thing. I felt convicted and challenged to have more faith, to be bolder, to have courage, to love people more.

There are so many stories and lessons I could share since I learned so much, but I will share the top 5 lessons:

  1. Your age or gender does not matter: You have the capability of inspiring and causing great change –the Montgomery Bus Boycott was started by women and college students risked not only their final grades one semester but also their lives.
  2. This one is from Ms. Cherry: Treat others with dignity and respect no matter what they look like, believe or say or do to you. That is what the people of the civil rights movement did and look at how much they accomplished.
  3. Forgiveness does not have to happen right away, but it is possible no matter how difficult the situation. 
  4. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can. This is something that is said all the time and I believed it before this past week and now I know it is true. White supremacists and segregationists tried to use scripture to justify their behavior and Dr. King and the other fighters for civil rights did the same thing, and as always, love wins. It may not be right away, but patience and faith will always lead to love winning. 
  5. The fight for civil and human rights is still alive and it isn’t just a people of color fight and it isn’t just a LGBTQ fight and so on. It isn’t just “their” problem and “their” fight. These fights need allies.

 

I cannot wait to share more of what I learned with more posts to come.

To know how to get involved in a movement visit these links:

Black Lives Matter 

Equal Justice Initiative

Southern Poverty Law Center

Common Ground Montgomery 

Why everyone needs to watch The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Last semester I hit a slump. I call this slump “finals are approaching, I have a million essays to write, article deadlines, a borderline D in one of my classes, One Direction and Taylor Swift are taking a break from music in 2016 and everything is going wrong” slump. (spoiler alert: I was able to pull that almost D up to a B+)

To combat this slump, I ate lots of carbs, said many prayers and re-watched my one of my favorite TV series, Sherlock.

Sometimes when everything seems to be going wrong and when life gets overwhelming, you need to read or watch something that reminds you to keep positive because you will get through whatever is going wrong.

That is what brings me to The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

If you don’t know who Ellen is, it is time to crawl out from under that rock you are living under. Seriously though.

Ellen-DeGeneres-HD-Wallpapers-9

But just in case, here is a crash course: Ellen is a comedian, daytime talk show host who has partnered with dozens of companies to donate millions of dollars to charities and people in need. Aside from her talk show, she is also known for her LGBTQ advocacy and as the voice of Dory in my favorite Pixar movie, Finding Nemo, along with many other things.

I opened up The Ellen Show YouTube channel one day and fell into a black hole. If I am home and Ellen is on, I watch it. I don’t have a DVR at school, so I’ve started to catch up on what I miss on YouTube. This didn’t become an everyday thing until I hit my slump.

I actually can’t remember how it exactly started. I was bored (procrastinating) one afternoon and opened up the YouTube app on my phone to re-watch the most recent One Direction interview. After that I just kept watching and did not stop… for hours.

I haven’t watched every single video on Ellen’s YouTube, but I have watched… a lot.

So if you’re in the doldrums of life, check out some of these funny and inspiring videos.

1. Apparently Kid-  5-year-old Noah Ritter’s local news interview at a fair went viral a few years ago, but if you still haven’t seen him, he is so cute and hilarious.

2. Tayt Anderson- get the tissues out for this one. When Tayt was first on The Ellen Show in 2013, he was 7-years-old. Tayt was born with half a heart so he has spent his life in and out of the hospital with many many surgeries.

I watched all of these videos from the beginning to the latest one in November 2015. Over the almost 3 years he’s been on the show, his health slowly deteriorates, but Tayt had great news for Ellen early last year. I have shown this kid and to many people and I cry every time.

Here are a few of the videos to get you started.

 

 

 

3. Kirby – Kirby is a librarian for a low income school Oklahoma. She is doing amazing things for the kids in her school and Ellen gives the school and Kirby some huge surprises. You’re going to cry watching this one too.

4. Brielle- After all of those tears, you’re going to need some cuteness. Meet Brielle. She is 3-years-old and smarter than I’ll ever be.

5. Ellen scaring people- Ellen loves to scare people so any video where she scares someone, especially her executive producer Andy, is funny.

Here is a link to The Ellen Show YouTube channel. If you click on playlists I suggest starting out on the Comedy, Adorable Kids and Ellen & Shutterfly Celebrate Inspiring People playlists. You can also check the guest interviews playlists to see interviews with your favorite celebrities/public figures.

I realize that funny and inspiring videos can’t cure all of your problems, but they do help warm your heart and bring a smile to your face. Just remember, no matter what, you can do as Dory does and “just keep on swimming.”

I’ll end this post the way Ellen ends her show: Be Kind to One Another.

My encounter with the Trump Trolls

Last night Duck Commander CEO, Willie Robertson, tweeted the following:

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 2.25.39 PM

Although I know I have very different political views from the Robertson family, I still enjoy their show, support their company, and I think they are a great Christian family. (I even ran into Sadie over the summer and she was very nice). Therefore, I am extremely disappointed in Willie and I expressed that (along with many others). (Plus, didn’t Phil just announce they support Cruz?)

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 2.26.36 PM

I tweet celebrities all the time (don’t judge). I never expected that this tweet would be close to 300 likes and have 15 retweets as of Jan. 22 at 2:30 P.M. I never expected for Trump supporters to notice or even care that I’m disappointed. But they do. And it is hilarious.

I have named these twitter accounts dedicated to defending Trump and his agenda, the Trump Trolls.

For those not familiar with internet slang, “troll accounts” and “internet trolls” are the terms used to describe people and accounts that are dedicated to starting fights, bullying, and harassing people who express different views than them. It is the only purpose the account serves.

After tweeting Willie, it did not take long for the Trump Trolls to start in on me. Given this all went down at around 12:15 A.M. I was trying to enjoy an episode of Gilmore Girls before falling asleep. I didn’t ask for this, although I guess I kind of did by expressing my opinion.

This was the first tweet I received and I vowed not to reply. I’m all for respectful, intelligent debate and discussion, but these trolls are not in it for respectful, intelligent debate and discussion. Plus, I was curious to see what remaining silent would do.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 2.44.27 PM

On the second tweet I received, I broke my silence vow to give a grammar lesson.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 2.49.22 PM

Mr. TrumpinatorSpks fought awfully hard over the course of an hour to get me to reply.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 2.50.58 PM

I like to call this one: “When a Trump Troll sees that you’re a feminist and tries to offend you.”

CZTWN5WWwAAW-zt

I’m still not responding to him. He is isn’t worth my time. Let’s see what others are saying.

A woman chimed in.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 3.03.18 PM

Jubilee of Truth had a few things to say (I can’t exactly decipher what though). I’m guessing they didn’t like that I refused to respond either.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 3.04.47 PM

Then there is Ryan who I wouldn’t really say is on my side, because he is replying to the idiots, but he is against Trump. Ryan has a lot of “infographics.” This is one example.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 3.12.23 PM

Now we are getting to my favorite part where I almost chimed in. Almost.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 3.13.39 PM

Is Ryan an NYU aerospace engineer major? Maybe. He says he is so I’m going to go with it. What gets me is that TrumpinatorSpks thinks that Bernie supporters (and in other tweets he alludes to Democrats in general) are uneducated, unemployed or they work in fast food.

I like Bernie. I’m not sure who I am voting for yet, but I know I am not voting for Trump.

I almost replied to inform TrumpinatorSpks that I am a full time college student working three jobs and I’ve been working since I was 16 but I didn’t.

I have found that there is a significant group of Republicans that believe that all Democrats are uneducated, unemployed and want to live off the government, which is not the case.

Yes, there are people that are lazy and want to live off the government, but those people exist on all sides of the political spectrum.

Another thing: These people assume just because I am against Trump and I am a feminist, I am a Democrat. I could be a Republican. None of them have a clue. There are more conservative feminists that exist and I know TONS of Republicans who hate Trump.

It should be noted that TrumpinatorSpks is not a Republican though.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 3.23.42 PM

Right before I finally was able to fall asleep, the best tweet of all happened.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 3.27.13 PM

As I am typing this sentence, Ryan and TrumpinatorSpks are at it again. If you are interested in seeing the full “debate”, visit my twitter and look at the replies from my original “This is disappointing” tweet to Willie. There are plenty of lone tweets that I did not include in this post, so if you want a good laugh check it out.

And finally:

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 3.32.10 PM

No Chris, but I did write a blog about it.

Christmas is not defined by a stupid red cup

For this holiday season, Starbucks has removed “holiday” and winter symbols and greetings from their traditional holiday cups. Now, the cups look like this –

enhanced-4680-1446915483-1

For some strange reason – at least it is strange to me- many Christians are HIGHLY upset that the cups are without decoration or greeting. If you have read previous posts of mine, you know that I am a Christian, and as a Christian, I am not offended by the lack of snowflakes and reindeer on the cups.

If you are offended by the lack of snowflakes and reindeer, do you mind me asking why?

I personally don’t define the spirit and reason for the Christmas season by Santa Claus, snowmen, snowflakes, and reindeer or even the phrase “Merry Christmas.”  I don’t define Christmas by the color red or green or by Christmas trees.

The true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Last time I checked, snowflakes, Santa, snowmen, ice skates, etc., have nothing to do with Jesus.

Besides Santa and reindeer, those are all just symbols of winter and some would argue that they’re also symbols of Western Christianity.

So that leads me to this rant: 

American Christians have the reputation of having a terrible superiority complex.

The American Constitution gives everyone the right to practice whatever religion they want to, but Heaven forbid anyone even utter that there is a religion other than Christianity in public schools.

The reality of this world is that not everyone who knows about Christ loves him or believes in him. As sad as that makes me, that is the truth. We all need to accept that and just pray for those individuals, but most importantly, respect them.

I believe that God has the power to force us to love him, but he doesn’t because that love would be worthless. Our ability of free will is what makes our relationship with Christ so special, so why force Christianity on people?

Fellow Christians, I am not saying that we should stop talking about God, because that is the exact opposite of what should be done. We should speak openly about our individual relationships with Christ, however, we still need to respect the Atheists, Muslims, Hindus, etc.

I have friends of both religions and the lack thereof. They are all kind and wonderful people. We have a mutual respect for each other and our different views on religion. We freely discuss our beliefs in a calm, respectful manner. I speak to them about Christ and tell them how he is a like a parent who is also my friend.

I am secure enough in my faith, that learning about other religions does not harm my relationship with Christ. 

I feel as long as I speak about Christ’s love and I share details about my relationship with Christ with them while I still respect and listen to what they have to say about their own respective faiths, I am still fulfilling what Christ asks his followers. It is not my job to convert them, it is just my obligation to share Christ’s love and story with whomever will listen.

Therefore: 

By changing their holiday cup design, Starbucks is just trying to be respectful to all people and religions and cultures that make up the United States and the world. Starbucks is not ruining Christmas.

Starbucks could have said “We are not doing any type of special cup at all this year.” But they didn’t. Starbucks is not attacking Christians. 

Instead of worrying about a stupid cup that holds overpriced coffee (sorry Starbucks I love you, but let’s be real), Christians should worry about those that will starve and freeze to death this holiday season. Christians should worry about the places where Christians are actually being persecuted and killed because of their faith.

The true meaning of Christmas is not defined by material things and symbols and we as a society of Christians and non Christians have better things to worry about. 

How I remember 9/11

It is really strange for me to think that the class of 2019 started high school this year. These students were born in late 2000-2001. At 14 and 15 years old, they have no memory of the 9/11 attacks.

Over the years, teachers and other adults  have asked, “You were young but do you remember of September 11, 2001?” Many of my friends remember their parents’ fear and confusion. Most of my friends were checked out of school early that day. They remember their first grade teachers crying. None of them really understood what was going on. When asked, most parents just replied, “Something bad happened today and a lot of people died and we’re all sad.” For a six or seven year old, that was a good enough answer.

My memories of September 11, 2001 are very different than those of my peers.


That day was a sick day for me. I had a dreadful cough and fever. I think I was on day two of staying home from school. I was lying on the couch probably watching “Blue’s Clues” or “Little Bear” on Nick. Jr. My 16 month old little brother was either playing on the floor or taking an early nap when the phone rang. Mom answered and came over and asked me for the remote which did not make me happy.

“I just want to flip it over to the news real quick,” she said. I handed her the remote with an eye roll, probably.

Just as she changed the channel, I witnessed the plane hit the South Tower as the news was showing a live feed of the North Tower that was billowing with smoke. The news anchors were screaming. My mother was in shock.

911-SouthTowerImpact

My mother immediately called my father who was a manager at Cici’s Pizza at the time. He was opening the store that day. He also was oblivious to what was going on in the world as she begged him to turn on the news.

I was more confused than scared. I  thought it was a horrible accident. Why would anyone fly a plane into a building on purpose?

While on the phone with my Dad, Mom suddenly remembered there was an innocent six, almost seven, year old in the room. I was then ushered into her bedroom to watch cartoons and rest.


Later on when I asked Mom what has happening, she said something like this, “There are some bad people in the world who do not like our country so they decided to fly those planes into those buildings to scare us and kill people. It is very sad and very scary but everything will be okay. You are safe.”

Looking back I can only imagine how difficult it was on all the parents of young children. How do you explain a terrorist attack to a six year old?  Even with my Mom’s explanation and with the teachers at school assuring us we were safe and that if we were scared or had any questions we could come to them, I still didn’t understand.

Now I am almost 3 weeks away from my 21st birthday and I am fully aware of the hatred in this world. I have read what the American History books now say. I have seen many documentaries walking the viewer through each minute of that horrific day.

As a young adult I often wonder what I would say to my own children (if I had any) if I were in my parent’s place. My Mom had no idea what she was flipping the channel to that day. She didn’t mean to let her six year old watch a plane fly into the World Trade Center. If I hadn’t seen the second plane hit, I would’ve thought that the building just caught on fire. That’s what it looked like to me. I’m actually thankful that my parents did not completely shield me from the horrors of that day.

To this day, I am in awe of the the passengers, workers, firefighters, police officers, volunteers, and our military. The stories of heroism and bravery that unsurfaced in the days that followed brought hope to a time filled with such uncertainty.

Every year I remember that at 9:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001, I watched United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. I remember that American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower at 8:46 am. I remember American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon at 9:37 am. I remember United Airlines Flight 93 crashing in Shanksville at 10:03 am. I remember the 2,977 people that died that day.

14 years later, as I pray and reflect on this day, I am reminded that life and liberty are privileges and that hate leads to destruction and devastation beyond comprehension.

never_forget_wide_t

This is the number one cause of death from disease for children

No it’s not the flu. And no it’s not pneumonia. It’s definitely not an infection from a skinned knee.

It’s cancer. 

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This month I am Going Gold on my Facebook page and I encourage everyone in taking the time be more aware about childhood cancer and if you are able, donate some money for research.

DID YOU KNOW… 

The National Cancer Institute estimated in 2013 that around 15,780 children would be diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and 1,960 children would die from it just in the United States.

I realize that those numbers sound small. However, when those statistics are put into other terms, it is quite shocking.

1 out of every 8 children with cancer will not survive and every day 43 kids are diagnosed with cancer. 

How are these pediatric cancers treated and cured? Well not in the same way you would treat your child’s headache with Children’s Tylenol. Many pediatric cancers are treated the same way as adult cancers. In fact, in the last 20 years, only three cancer medications have been specifically approved for children. Currently, more than 40,000 children are being treated for cancer. 

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation reports that less than 5% of the government’s total spending on cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancer research.

2/3 of childhood cancer survivors suffer from long term side effects due to chemotherapy, radiation, and other drugs used in their treatment. These long term side effects could be infertility, decreased cognitive function, hormone issues, heart problems, lung and breathing problems, mental illness, overall growth and development issues, or a second cancer (not a relapse but a totally different cancer).

As for survival rates, most survivors of childhood cancers aren’t really considered to be “out of the woods” for relapse until they surpass five years of remission.


We’ve all seen the St. Jude’s commercials of the bald sickly little children asking for you to donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and like almost everyone you probably frown and change the channel until the commercial is over.

The thought of cancer alone is depressing, but the thought of childhood cancer is something completely incomprehensible.

As someone who has witnessed first hand the devastation that childhood cancer causes, I have dedicated the past two Septembers (every opportunity I can, really) to raising awareness among my peers. You can too by sharing this post, sharing a fact from this post,  by donating money, or doing all of the above.

God forbid that someday a pain in your child’s hip means that they have bone cancer.

Here are three links where you can donate to childhood cancer research:

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation 

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

Children’s Cancer Research Fund 

Why voting is important and why we should care about the 2016 presidential election TODAY

Yes, I realize the 2016 Presidential election is over a year away and I know that the primaries haven’t even happened yet, however, it is still important to know where you stand right now!

Whether this is your first election or your tenth, it is important to research each candidate thoroughly. So many people my age (20) and high school age just side with what they were raised as. It is 2015. We have access to so much information that makes a proper and excellent education at our finger tips.

Voting in not only the presidential election but in local and state elections are so so important. Even voting in the presidential primaries are importing. Taking advantage of your American privilege to vote that our ancestors literally died for is PIVOTAL IN HOW THIS COUNTRY OPERATES.

In fact, local and state elections may be more important than the presidential election. What happens at local elections is you vote on the mayor, possibly sheriff, school board members, judges for your local judiciary system, councilmen and women, and maybe even new taxes, laws etc. State elections are where you vote for the state representatives, governor, senators, laws, taxes, etc.

You may remember from your high school government class that the state representatives and senators are the ones who make the laws for the entire country.  (Yes, the president can introduce a bill to congress and he can veto any law he wishes and yes the Supreme Court can override certain decisions if they choose. Out of all the laws that get passed or vetoed at the local, state, and national level, it is very rare that law or court case involving that law will end up on the Supreme Court docket.) Therefore, voting in the state elections for the governor, senators and state representatives IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. 

Have you ever heard someone say, “Don’t complain about the government if you did not vote in the last election.”? Well they’re right. It is one thing if you are not old enough to vote, you can’t really do anything about that BUT you can still be educated on the candidates and issues. However, if  you are over the age of 18, a United States citizen, without any outstanding circumstances, you really have no excuse not to vote.

The University of Wisconsin studied the average voter turn out for 144 major U.S. cities. during local elections in 2011 and found that only and average 20.9% of registered voters participated. 

The Bipartisan Policy Center reports that in the 2012 presidential election only 57.5% of eligible voters voted in that election. Therefore, around 93 million eligible voters did not vote in the last presidential election.  

Imagine how different the last election might have been if 93  million more people actually participated. Your educated, informed vote matters and getting educated on the candidates isn’t as hard as you think it is.

With the 2016 Presidential election around 14 months away, it is important to start educating yourself on the most popular, if not all,  candidates now. There are currently three democratic candidates and fifteen Republican candidates.

I realize that’s a lot of people, but thankfully there is a website that can help you out. In a world where we have a mostly biased media, it is important to not let the media alone influence your opinion on anything or anyone. Do your research! Watch debates! Google! Talk to your peers. Read about both sides of a story or argument and draw your own conclusions.

But here is a good place to start!

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.22.12 PM

So click on the picture, take the quiz (it takes about 10-15 minutes), and see where you stand. After that, you can do more of your own research on the top candidates you side with and follow their candidacy and come next November, vote for your favorite!

As it gets closer to the election, I will be doing more and more blog updates about the top candidates and one on my candidate of choice.

I have a few questions for transphobic women

Transphobia: the dislike of or the prejudice against 
transexual or transgender people.

My Facebook newsfeed has been filled with many women of all ages sharing a transphobic post about how Caitlyn Jenner isn’t a woman because of her lack of uterus and “real” breasts. Well I have some questions for the women who are sharing that post.

1. Would you dare tell a woman who was born infertile that she isn’t a woman because she can’t have children?

2. Would you dare tell a woman that had to have a hysterectomy that she isn’t a woman?? 

3. Would you dare tell a woman who chooses not to have any children that she isn’t a woman?

4. Would you dare say to a woman who for some medical reason cannot menstruate that she isn’t a woman?

5. Would you dare say to a woman who has had a mastectomy that she isn’t a woman because the breasts she now has are not her original ones? 

6. Would you dare say to a woman who had her breasts augmented that she isn’t a woman because her breasts aren’t 100% real flesh?

The answer to all of these is that you wouldn’t.  A woman is not defined by her ability to produce children. Yes, I do identify as the gender I was assigned at birth but I don’t believe that the fact that I have a uterus, ovaries, and breasts define me as a woman. I still believe that if I had to have all of those removed, I would still be a woman because that is what I feel.

Caitlyn may have been born with male organs, and I realize that no surgery could give her a uterus and ovaries but she feels that she is a woman. Who am I, to tell her otherwise? Who am I to degrade her existence because I  do not understand what it feels like to be trans?

I cannot begin to imagine what being trans feels like. I have been told it is confusing, difficult and terrifying. Our society has so many rules. Don’t be too fat, don’t be too thin. Women don’t need to be too outspoken. Men can’t show feelings or sensitivity because that would mean they’re not masculine enough.  Another rule society is trying to impose is that you have to be the gender you were assigned at birth. Anything else is “unnatural” “weird”  “disgusting” or just “wrong.” Trans people break so many of society’s rules so therefore they have to live in fear no matter what gender they identify as.

1 in 4 trans people are a victim of assault. 

1 in 12 trans women risk being murdered by someone who is cis gender that statistic changes to 1 in 8 if you are a trans woman of color. 

41% of trans people attempt suicide because people are so cruel and disrespectful to them. It is transphobia that drive people to hate who they are so much that they feel the need to end their own life.

You cannot use your religion to justify your hate. “Love the sinner hate the sin” you say? Well these statistics show you aren’t really loving the sinner are you? I’m not saying you have to agree with it. I’m just pleading every person I come into contact with to treat ALL people with respect and compassion no matter what especially if you believe that we are all children of God and are all loved by God.

To my readers who may be trans: As a cis gender, white woman, I cannot begin to properly empathize what trans people of all races experience, however, I respect you, love you, and will continue to try my best to advocate for you and support you. I am learning everyday how to be a better ally to the LGBTQ community.

For my fellow cis genders who would like to know more about trans people and how to be an ally or a better ally I suggest you start out here at the GLAAD website.: http://www.glaad.org/transgender/transfaq