Being The Change

The events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia last week are nothing short of appalling. Watching the news has made me feel so incredibly sick. I’m upset, angry, and looking to make a change. As a young adult in the world today I am in an important place of power. I have the power to control the future of our nation by speaking up about important issues. I encourage you to do the same because every voice is valuable!

Take an inside look into what happened in Charlottesville by checking out this documentary created by VICE. The footage gives great insight into the minds of some of the individuals involved with the rally and how their actions affected those around them.

I hope this film made you just as upset as it made me. Getting enraged is what will spark the fire to make a change. I wish I could show this film to every single person my age to create a reaction. It is one thing to read a tweet about what happened in Charlottesville, but taking the time to put yourself in the shoes of those who were there when it happened creates a whole differe

This past Saturday there was a free speech rally in the Boston common, and I have never been more proud of my city. Hate was met by an outpouring of love. The counter protest consisted of at least 30,000 individuals marching to fight bigotry and hate. The rally was for the most part peaceful and no extreme acts of violence were reported by the Boston police. There is just as much room for love in this world as there is for hate.

Boston “Free Speech” Counter Protest – Aug. 19, 2017

I was feeling down and upset last week but after Saturday I felt my body fill up with hope. Boston proved that love can overcome hate.

As far as what you can do, reach out to Republican state reps and speak up about the change you wish to see in our government. Every voice is important and speaking up is the best thing you can do at this time. We must bring these issues to the attention of local officials who have the power to invoke greater change. Every individual can impact a bigger change.

Check out this link for more information: https://hastebin.com/tosetacemo.coffeescript

Resist, resist, resist. Combat hate with love. Persevere. There are things going on everyday that inspire me to take action and I hope that more young people will educate themselves and get involved because we are the change.

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An Evening With ‘Our Revolution’

On March 31st, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) took the city of Boston by storm when they spoke at the Our Revolution rally at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre. Given the impending Nor’Easter, the crowd at the event was tremendous. Most of the seats in the theater were filled by rally-goers. The orchestra was filled to the brim, and the second-level of the theater was at least ¾ of the way full. Overall, the event boasted an impressive turnout, despite the weather. Online, about three-thousand people RSVP’d—less than the number of people who actually turned out for it, but 3,000+ people would have been far too many people for this rally anyways.

For the people who were there, it probably seemed like a peaceful, easy event to attend. Unlike the rallies I saw during this past election cycle, attendees were able to sit comfortably in the theater and listen to the speakers onstage. Concessions were on sale in the lobby, like you would expect from a space like this. The line to get inside became more chaotic as the night moved closer to the event’s start time, but I’m doubtful anyone was turned away at the door. Anybody who wanted to see Bernie, Elizabeth and the other speakers that preceded them onstage were more than welcome to enter the theater and take a seat.

Continue reading “An Evening With ‘Our Revolution’”

Elizabeth Warren is the Politician We Need

Permanent Massachusetts resident or not, it’s likely that you know Elizabeth Warren’s name by now. She’s currently the senior US senator from Massachusetts and is a very prominent figure in the Democratic Party. There’s even talk that she might put in a bid for the presidency in 2020. And for many Emerson students who lean to the political left, the possibility of Elizabeth Warren becoming president in four years is the hope they need right now.

Having grown up in Massachusetts, I have watched Warren rise from a Senate hopeful to a leading voice among the country’s Democrats. Though I might be biased given my political party of choice (hint: I love the color blue), Warren’s journey has undoubtedly been an incredible one. I’m glad to have witnessed it firsthand as a Massachusetts resident.

Continue reading “Elizabeth Warren is the Politician We Need”

Theatre as a Safe Space

It’s 2016 and news is traveling incredibly fast. In the wake of the presidential election, it’s hard to keep track of every political issue or scandal being buzzed about by the media. But, there’s one news story that has definitely kept my attention. A few weeks ago, Vice President-Elect Mike Pence attended a performance of Hamilton the Musical—you know, the mega-popular musical that seems eternally sold-out. To me, just knowing that Pence attended a performance of Hamilton would have been news enough, considering some of his positions. But, what actually made this story news was what happened once the VP-Elect arrived at the theater.

Continue reading “Theatre as a Safe Space”

Get Out the Vote at Emerson

On Tuesday, November 8th, millions of Americans will cast their votes in the presidential election. But, you might be shocked by how many college students find themselves confused and lost once election season finally rolls around. For many students, their first experience voting will be via an absentee ballot, and yet obtaining that ballot may not seem like a simple task. Students may find themselves wondering: when is the absentee ballot application deadline? And, why do we even need to apply for an absentee ballot? Or, for college kids even further behind, they may be left wondering how to register in the first place.

Continue reading “Get Out the Vote at Emerson”

Combatting Cynicism at the Polls

Thus far, 2016 has been a confusing and frustrating time for American politics. For many young voters, this may be the first election that they are able to vote in. However, that does not mean these young voters are necessarily excited or willing to vote. Discussion about the corruption and bigotry backing particular presidential candidates has dominated this election. Of course, these are important conversations to have, but it is unfortunate when such disenchantment ultimately turns voters away from the polls. Already, I have heard many millennial voters insist they are not voting come November and that they are exhausted of establishment politics. I sympathize with these voices. I am a cynic as well, but in order to make the changes we seek, we must learn to fight back against our own cynicism.

Historically, young people have not been a very active voter demographic. There is a multitude of reasons for this, including voting restrictions that keep young people and marginalized groups away from the polls. But, it has also notoriously been difficult to get young people invested in politics. The younger demographic has never been keen on voting and yet, in some ways, they have the most to lose or gain in the political arena.

About a year ago, when I first turned eighteen, I was overcome with a newfound interest and enthusiasm for politics. The presidential campaign season was only just beginning. I was happy to do research on each candidate as they made themselves known in the race and I was happy to seek out political discussion online. I was also interesting in hearing the opinions of other millennial voters, particularly about issues like college debt, that relate more closely to our own generation. While it was easy enough to find compelling young voices online, it was much more difficult to get those closest to me talking.

One friend told me politics just didn’t interest her, and another informed me she avoided political discussion altogether since she wanted to stay clear of debate. Most jarring to me were the peers I came across that simply, did not believe in voting. “There’s just no point,” I remember one classmate telling me. “Our votes don’t matter. They never will.” I can understand not being keen on discussing politics, but not voting or engaging with politics because you’ve become disillusioned with the current state of the government feels counterintuitive. If we don’t even try to be heard, how can we ever expect to see change?

In these times of political uncertainty, it’s important to know that your vote does matter. Voting is not a fool-proof process, sure. With primaries and the electoral college, voting in the United States often feels convoluted and sometimes, frustrating. But voting, or at least making yourself known in the political sphere is important. Your vote still counts for something, regardless if it’s only one vote within a sea of others. As I mentioned earlier, I am cynical in a lot of ways. I am disappointed with the lack of change I have seen about the issues that matter to me. I am disappointed with the politicians that speak over those most affected by their policies. Still, I am proud to call myself a voter.

Please consider making yourself heard this November.

Picking Your Candidate: The Guide to Political Romance

Elections are a form of declaration; a chance for the country to proudly proclaim, “This is what we want, this is what we need.” However, we can only proudly proclaim that as a nation when everyone within our borders has put forth their own opinions. To do so requires some new legislation and education. If we want to tackle these education issues, we need to learn about the problems, candidates and proposed solutions.

Let’s stage the current scene: May 15, 2016 and we have three politicians trying to court our vote for power. Who do you believe can push America into the future?

 Step 1: Scroll Through the Profiles

First, let’s take a look at our politicians. If you’re unfamiliar with the candidates at hand, don’t go in-depth when you start. As you watch debates or listen to promotions, you’ll learn more information about their characters and their policies. Always start with a dating profile of information on each candidate. Who is your choice for America’s soul mate?

Bernie_Sanders_(20033841412_24d8796e44_c0)Candidate: Bernie Sanders

Political Party: Democrat

Position: Senator

From: Vermont

 

 

25349687914_da06ccbe7d_bCandidate: Hillary Clinton

Political Party: Democrat

Position: Former Secretary of State

From: New York

 

 

483208412-real-estate-tycoon-donald-trump-flashes-the-thumbs-up.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2

Candidate: Donald Trump

Political Party: Republican

Position: Entrepreneur

From: New York

 

 

Step 2: Find Shared Interests

Everyone has ‘must haves’ for love, or even solely for attraction. Establishing what those requirements are, are crucial. Like any relationship, the one with your politician requires open and vocal communication. They need to know what you want, so they can deliver. Otherwise, your relationship may be doomed from the start.

Many people feel limited by their political choices—either because of the party they subscribe to or by the media focus on certain issues—whatever the reason may be, try to start out with an open mind. Otherwise, your predispositions or prejudices may cloud your focus from the issues that really matter.

A great way to do this is by taking an online quiz. It’s literally the compatibility quiz of politics without the limitations of party or media. In the end, you’ll receive your political best match.

Step 3: Listen to Experts

We’ve all asked our friends for advice before. What would they do in this situation; how would they handle this problem. Those habits shouldn’t change when referring to politics. Conversation and even argumentation is key; by talking to friends, foes, teachers, to anyone around, you discover different perspectives or variables you hadn’t thought of before.

We’re also a society of tradesman. We have doctors for when we need healing, engineers for when we need innovative building and we have political scientists to investigate the truth behind all the proposals and promises our politicians make.

Let’s take an example issue: the funding for Planned Parenthood.

  1. I believe the government should fund Planned Parenthood.
  2. I believe the government should lower the funding of Planned Parenthood.
  3. I believe the government should stop funding Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is a global non-profit organization that offers basic healthcare, education, and the option for a safe and legal abortion. At this moment, the government funds for their facilities. They also receive funding from personal donations.

This is a main focus issue within this election and often, with passionate issues such as these, people become blinded by their own biased opinions. So we need to call on experts for help deciphering what these decisions could affect.

  1. What are the statistics and facts about Planned Parenthood?

I recommend collecting information, starting in the form of quantitative data. Numbers have no bias and can either confirm or deny one’s opinions.

  1. How large of a role does Planned Parenthood play in our economy?
  2. How many people rely on Planned Parenthood?
  3. Where would Planned Parenthood’s funding go?
  4. Could our society handle or stabilize the burst of citizens without healthcare because of the defunding of Planned Parenthood?

There are variables after variables that need to be taken into account. Unless you have a degree in the field or study in-depth the numbers and hypothetical situations, how validated are we with our own opinions?

This is where the media comes in handy. Talk show after talk show, newspaper article after newspaper article, even YouTube shows, all these mediums quote experts and their findings. So read up during your commute to work or listen to the radio at the gym. The benefit of an opinionated society in a technological age, we’re always finding new ways to share our thoughts. You have a wide array of options and people to choose from.

It only takes three simple steps for a political affair for the ages. Get educated, support your candidate and move America forward. It’s our duty and honor. Not everyone has this possibility within America or around the world, so appreciate it for the gift that it is. Voting is a chance to make a difference, one with an impact on your life as you know it and on thousands of others. Who do you support?

Statelessness: Home is Nowhere

Every ten minutes, a stateless child is born. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a report that claims there at least 10 million stateless people, 3 million being children. (Watch: Why don’t these 10 million people belong?)

Being stateless means not having a nationality. In simple terms, there are two ways to acquire a nationality: when a country gives nationality through birth on their territory, and when parents are able to transmit nationality to their children. Someone can either be born or become stateless throughout their life.  

Due largely to discriminatory citizenship laws and violent conflict, millions of families are displaced across the globe. Stateless people are denied basic rights that people with nationality take for granted. For one, you are unable to get an ID. In the eyes of the law and state, if you lack identification papers then you are a non-human. Being stateless means you will not have basic human rights such as medical care and education. You cannot get formal employment or even marry. Many stateless people face societal discrimination, exploitation and poverty.

Each country has laws to determine who can become a citizen. Some legal loopholes can leave a person stateless. For example, children in a country with unknown parents are called “foundlings.” By lacking paperwork from their parents or a birth certificate, it is almost impossible for them to get a nationality. Another reason statelessness occurs is when people move (mostly due to violent conflict), children tend to lose their nationality. This can also occur due to changes in borders and creation of new states. In the 1990s, the main cause of statelessness was the dissolution of the USSR.  In some countries, a person can also lose their nationality if they have lived too long outside of the territory.

When Vikash, a stateless 23-year-old in Malaysia was interviewed by the UNHCR, she said, “My entire life is a question mark.” Being stateless means having no sense of belonging, no land to call home and no protection from a nation.

One of the biggest reasons for statelessness are discriminatory laws that deny citizenship based on race, religion or gender. Hence, it is a man-made conflict. The UNHCR report is part of campaign called Ending Statelessness Within 10 Years. The campaign seeks to “harness a unique window of opportunity to to garner public, national and international support to finally eradicate the scourge of statelessness within a decade.”

In 27 countries, including Syria, women are not able to pass down citizenship to their children. It can only be passed down by the father, and if the father is gone or dead it means the child will remain stateless. This is specifically a big problem in Syria with the refugee crisis. More than 140,000 children are born stateless in countries neighboring Syria. Yet, families fleeing Syria don’t usually take documentation with them to proof birth and marriage certificates.

There are other cases such as the denial of citizenship in the Dominican Republic to people of Haitian descent. This year, a ‘cleansing’ occurred in Dominican where thousands of Haitians and Dominican citizens of Haitian descent were relocated to Haiti due to a citizenship law approved in 2013. The Dominican government stated that this was simply a way to solve immigration problem. Yet, many of the people sent back to Haiti had been born in the Dominican Republic and had never even been to Haiti.  (Check out the article I wrote about it).

Who is stateless and where?

  • The exact number of stateless people is unknown.
  • 600,000 people are stateless as a consequence of the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Only in Montenegro (formerly part of Yugoslav federation) has 3,300 registered stateless people.
  • One million in Myanmar’s Rakhine state are stateless because of citizenship law.
  • There are 700,000 stateless people in Cote d’Ivoire, and 300,000 are ‘foundlings’.

Statelessness is a humanitarian crisis that can be solved. Because these people don’t have a voice, many citizens of the world ignore the problem. Now it’s a good time to spread awareness and to protest against the injustices that these people are suffering through.

Watch the campaign video: #IBELONG

Sign the open letter to end statelessness: http://www.unhcr.org/ibelong/

Read more:

http://www.unhcr.org/546217229.html

http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c15b.html

Fun Fact: Did you know that Albert Einstein was stateless for five years? He renounced his German citizenship in 1896, and afterwards became a Swiss citizen in 1901.

It’s Time to Start Thinking About the 2016 Presidential Election

President Barack Obama’s election into office on November 4, 2008 was a momentous occasion. For the first time in American history, the United States had a president of color. Since then, Obama has signed the Affordable Health Care Act in 2010, repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” ended the war in Iraq and restarted war when ISIS surfaced. First Lady Michelle Obama also made great gains during this time, becoming the face of healthy living, an advocate for higher education opportunities and a role model to young women around the country.

As 2016 and 2017 fast approaches, citizens are becoming increasingly involved in the debate of who will replace Obama when he finishes his second term in 2017. There’s been huge controversy over Obama’s  policymaking, leaving citizens eager for a new president who will fix the economy, get the country out of the Middle East and pass bills that will bring the US back on top. Though the 2016 presidential election is still a while away, candidates for nomination have already started campaigning. For anyone who wants to stay on top of US politics and make an informed electoral decision, here are some of the running candidates and their stances so far.

The Democrats

Hillary Clinton

hillary clinton

Probably the most well-known Democratic candidate is Hillary Clinton. A former First Lady and Secretary of State, Clinton would bring years of experience to the Oval Office. She’s returning after an attempt for presidency in 2007 with the goal of improving the economy and income inequalities present in the middle class. She appeals to women through her experience as a mother and grandmother. Some issues she plans to address include minimum wage, family and medical leave, education and child care. Despite her liberal stance, after her email scandal, many are hesitant about the quality of her character.

Martin O’Malley

martin o'malley

O’Malley is the former governor of Maryland. His stance is similar to Hillary’s in that he aims to help the middle class. He wants to improve education, raise minimum wage and create a plan for a future of renewable energy. However, whereas Hillary’s past experiences in politics have given her a distinct advantage, O’Malley is playing up that he’s a fresh face in the game. He’s relatively young (52) and relatively good looking. By interacting directly with citizens via guitar performances in bars and selfies on college campuses, O’Malley hopes to connect with the younger generation of voters.

Bernie Sanders

bernie sanders

Sanders is Hillary’s most direct competitor within the Democratic candidate pool. He is the Senator for Vermont and, like Hillary, has years of experience to pull from. For his campaign, Sanders is advocating a shift in politics to the far left. He intends to be more aggressive in regards to issues of minimum wage, college debt and other economic inequalities. The government’s involvement in these would be much higher. For a large population of students drowning in college debt, Sanders nurtures a passion for change.

The Republicans

So far, there are 17 Republicans running for the Republican presidency nomination. With such a large number, it may be difficult to become a distinct candidate. Several candidates, however, seem to be having no problem. Among them are Jeb Bush and Donald Trump.

 

Jeb Bush

jeb bush

This previous Florida governor, brother of former President George W. Bush, and son of former President George H. W. Bush, is not taking no for an answer. He’s running to win. While his lineage has both helped and hindered him—some are fond of his family, others are not—Jeb continues to stand for America’s conservatives. His goal is to reach four percent growth in the economy and an increase of 19 million jobs. The government will have a limited presence, with less influence in the standards of education; this should be decided upon by the school. When speaking of Obama and America’s presence in the Middle East, Jeb claims that Obama and his foreign-policy team have been so focused on becoming “history makers that they have failed to be the peacemakers.”[1]

Rick Santorum

rick santorum

Somewhere in the middle of all the Republican candidates is Santorum. The former US Senator of Pennsylvania says he is on the working class’s side. He wants to be a candidate focused on and caring about the working-class, not just big corporations. His economic plan has been dubbed the “blue-collar conservatism.” Through this, Santorum sees regulatory and entitlement reforms coming into play. As for other issues, Santorum opposes abortion and is against same-sex marriage.

Donald Trump

donald trump

Of all the potential nominees for the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump has to be the most talked about. He’s certainly the wild card. As a real estate billionaire, Trump has no formal experience in politics. This hasn’t slowed him down. Instead, his self-funded campaign has splashed his name all over the news and made him the topic of conversation at every dinner table. His promise: “To make America great again.” Whether he has any plans to back up his claims and actually produce positive results is up in the air. Any possibility of selected nomination and then election is also unknown.

The candidates above are only some of the many runners for the 2016 presidential nomination. Each one has a specific stance on where they want the country to go, either far left or far right or somewhere in the middle. Still, this is only the beginning. As heat for the election turns up, sides will be chosen and it’ll be a battle ‘til the end. The three candidates who will probably become the faces of this battle are Clinton, Bush and wild card Trump. The most important thing for any voter though, is to make an informed decision. We should choose a candidate we believe is the best choice as president, not because of appearance or what someone else says, but based on research and critical thought.

 

[1]http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/jeb-bush-2016-announcement-full-text-119023.html