Broadway Pop Culture

You loved Hamilton on Disney+, now what? Here’s 17 musicals to get obsessed with

Tony season is over but these TV musicals are here to get us through the winter months.

When news broke that Hamilton was coming to Disney+, Theatre kids and newbies around the world rejoiced with the pure excitement of finally being able to be in the room where it happens. Now, that more people have experienced the pure joys of musical theatre through the high-quality capture of Broadway, the fun does not have to end there. Hamilton is only the tip of the iceberg, there’s so much more for you to discover. There are plenty of other plays and musicals that you can stream or even, hopefully, one day, watch live as performed by your local theatre, touring company, The West End, or even on Broadway.

Here are 17 musicals to keep fueling the fire and passion of your inner theatre kid. These plays have killer soundtracks for you to get obsessed with and/or impeccable storylines that will keep you wanting more even after the virtual, or perhaps even the actual, curtains close.

1. Newsies

The promotional poster for the live recorded version of Newsies the musical.
[Image Description: The promotional poster for the live recorded version of Newsies the musical.] Via IMDb
Newsies is based on the 1992 film of the same name and inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City.

It follows the story of Jack Kelly,  a newspaper boy, and leader of the ragged band of “newsies” (fellow newspaper boys). The story highlights the power and significance of the so-called “little man”. Besides the riveting storyline, the Musical has outstanding choreography and a great musical score. The high-quality capture of the broadway magic of Newsies is available to watch on Disney+

2. In the Heights

An image of the playbill that was used during In the Heights run on Broadway.
[Image Description: An image of the playbill that was used during In the Heights run on Broadway.] Via Playbill
Lin Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece, In The Heights, is set in Washington Heights – a New York City neighborhood that is on the brink of change. The play deals with the themes of racism, identity, love, passion and lust, and community. This musical is truly revolutionary combining hip hop with Latin rhythms, which means that the choreography is insane.

3. Rock of Ages

The 2012 movie poster for the movie musical Rock of Ages.
[Image Description: The 2012 movie poster for the movie musical Rock of Ages. ] Via IMDb
Rock of Ages is a jukebox musical that is energetic, big, loud, brash, and a tribute to the 80s. It contains strong and powerful ballads, fierce guitar solos, and features classic rock hits from Bon Jovi, Journey, and Twisted Sister, just to name a few.

The story follows the whirlwind romance of aspiring rock star, Drew Bowie, and small-town girl and aspiring actor, Sherrie Christian, as they desperately attempt to pursue their dreams whilst also being part of the movement to save The Bourban Room. 

4. Kinky Boots

An image of the playbill for Kinky Boots on Broadway.
[Image Description: An image of the playbill for Kinky Boots on Broadway.] Via Playbill
Kinky Boots is based on the 2005 film of the same name; it tells the story of Charles Price, a shoe factory owner, who forms an unlikely partnership with Lola, a cabaret performer, and Drag Queen, to save his failing business by creating a line of sturdy stiletto boots that the world has never seen. The storyline, the choreography, the music and lyrics, this musical will leave you feeling inspired and whole.

5. Evita

Theatrical poser for the musical Evita.
[Image Description: Theatrical poser for the musical Evita.] Via Pinterest
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Evita truly is a masterpiece that concentrates on the Life of Eva Peron, an Argentinian political leader, and wife of President Juan Peron. A poor girl when she was younger, she later grows up to be admired by her people for her compassion for the less fortunate and the Argentine people. The musical shows both the ruthless power and righteous determination of the 20th Century matriarch

6. An American in Paris

Theatrical poster for the musical An American in Paris.
[Image Description: Theatrical poster for the musical An American in Paris.] Via Pinterest
Set in Paris, at the end of the Second World War, An American in Paris is a musical about finding love, happiness, following your dreams and celebrating life, the joys of being alive, and finding a new purpose in life. Featuring a complicated love triangle that is set to the timeless music by Ira and George Gershwin; the musical embraces the complexity and joy of life. 

7. Phantom of The Opera

Poster for the Phantom of the Opera with the caption that says " Eternally Yours".
[Image Description: Poster for the Phantom of the Opera with the caption that says ” Eternally Yours”.] Via Playbill Store
The Phantom of the Opera is a gripping and romantic story that follows the Phantom, a musical genius who resides deep beneath the Paris Opera House; he takes the promising and talented young opera singer, Christine Dais, and trains her for fame whilst falling madly in love with her. One of the most successful musicals of all time, it contains a range of Webber’s musical masterpieces including “The Phantom of the Opera”.

8. Dear Evan Hansen

Theatrical poster for the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen with the caption "A new musical for the outsider in us all".
[Image Description: Theatrical poster for the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen with the caption “A new musical for the outsider in us all”.] Via Pinterest
Dear Evan Hansen follows a young boy in high school who struggles with a social anxiety disorder and longs sp badly for a connection that he fakes a relationship with a deceased student to become closer to the student’s family. Evan is dragged deeper and deeper into his lies and is forced to decide to continue living in his lies or tell the truth and risk losing everything. Dear Evan Hansen’s fast-paced music score and lyrics will have you playing the cast album on repeat. And the m movie has just come out!

9.  Chicago

The movie poster for the film that was adapted from the musical.
[Image description: The movie poster for the film that was adapted from the musical.] Via Pinterest
Pop, Six, Squish, Uh uh, Cicero, Lipschitz. And now, the six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail In their rendition of the Cell Block Tango!

Set in Chicago during the roaring ’20s and the hotbed of Jazz,  this musical is a satirical take on the corruption of the administration of the criminal justice system. The music, lyrics, and choreography are catchy and sexy and the plotline itself is pure genius. 

10. West Side Story

Original poster for West Side
[Image Description: Original poster for West Side.] Via Wikimedia Commons
All I can say is to bring the tissues.  A modern take on Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is set in the mid-’50s in a multiracial working-class neighborhood in the Upper West Sider.

It follows the star-crossed lovers from two rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, who are of different ethnic backgrounds. The dark themes, energetic choreography,  music, and lyrics help to create a focus on the social issues in their neighborhood. The musical was turned into a movie in the ’60s and the remake (directed by Steven Spielberg) will be released this Christmas!

11. Rent

Theatrical poster for Rent that is used for promotional purposes.
[Image Description: Theatrical poster for Rent that is used for promotional purposes.] Via Pinterest
Rent follows the ups and downs of a group of young and impoverished, artistic group of friends as they struggle living in Alphabet City in Manhattan’s East Village. Consisting of an ensemble class, each character’s story of their love, losses, and dream interweave through the narrative to portray the reality of living in the late ’80s in the bohemian world of New York City under the shadows of the HIV/AID.

The music, lyrics, themes, and overall plot of the story emphasize the raw and emotional truth of being a struggling artist. 

12. Fame

A West End promotional poster for Fame with its main cast featured on the front.
[Image Description: A West End promotional poster for Fame with its main cast featured on the front.] Via BroadwayHD
This musical well and truly is an emotional rollercoaster where you experience both the highs of high and the lows of low alongside the final class on New York’s most esteemed Performing Arts School starting from their first year all the way to graduation. The musical explores complex social issues such as drug abuse, racism, and sexual exploitation as it tells the stories of several students as they strive for a career in showbusiness. 

13. Heathers: The Musical

Heathers: The Musical theatrical poster.
[Image Description: Heathers: The Musical theatrical poster.] Via Amazon
Based on the cult film of the same name, Heathers follows the story of high school senior, Veronica Sawyer, at the fictional school Westberg High. A rock musical, the songs are edgy and catchy and will not leave you disappointed, and the plot twists will keep you at the edge of your seat.

14. Little Shop of Horrors

Promotional Poster for the musical The Little Shop of Horrors
[Image Description: Theatrical poster for Billy Elliot: The Musical Live. ] Via IMDb
A horror comedy musical, Little Shop of Horrors is a musical unlike any other with its unique plotline and characters. In its essence, it follows a florist shop worker who raises a plant who happens to feed on human flesh and blood. The musical consists of a musical score with early 60’s influence including early Motown, rock and roll, early doo-wop amongst many others.

15. Billy Elliot

Theatrical poster for Billy Elliot: The Musical Live.
[Image Description: Theatrical poster for Billy Elliot: The Musical Live.] Via BroadwayHD
Billy Elliot is based on the movie of the same name. Set against the backdrop of the 1984-85 Miners Strike, the musical tells the tale of Billy who begins taking ballet against the wishes of his father and brother, it explores his own personal struggles for fulfillment as he sees himself drawn to ballet whilst also exploring family and community strife as a result of the Miners Strike. 

16. Miss Saigon

The Miss Saigon theatrical poster
[Image Description: The Miss Saigon theatrical poster.] Via Pinterest
Set in the background of the Vietnam war and a retelling of the classic opera Madama Buttlefly, Miss Saigon tells the story of a doomed romance between an American Marine and a young Vietnamese girl who is orphaned and forced to work in a brothel. The story is heart-wrenching and will stick on your mind for years. The recorded live version of Miss Saigon is available to stream on BroadwayHD.

17. SIX

Musical poster for the musical The Six which features the six main cast members
[Image Description: Musical poster for the musical The Six which features the six main cast members] Via Pinterest
A modern retelling of the lives of Henry VII’s six wives that is presented as a pop concert. So, you best believe that they are catchy and brilliantly crafted songs that hold a feminist message and give prominence to the wives of Henry VII in a modern light. 

With COVID-19 lockdowns and curfews still in places in most countries, what better way to spend those hours. These musicals will keep the passion for musical theatre burning, for now you will have more casts to obsessed with, choreography to learn, and songs to play on repeat which is perfect given that all of the musicals mentioned above have cast albums that are available on both Spotify and Apple Music as well as most other music streaming platforms.

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Here are 20 bizarre beauty trends from history

When we think about beauty, we think about makeup, haircare, and skincare. We think dewy looks, wavy hair, bold lips, long luscious lashes, and defined jawbones. Beauty trends are constantly changing with new trends emerging from every direction. And as new trends come out, old ones die-hard. But in order to appreciate where we are, we need to take a look back and admire… or well, cringe, at the beauty trends of the past that led us to where we are today. 

Here are 20 of the most ridiculous beauty trends that at one point were just as popular, and sought after, as the beauty trends we have today.

1. Shampee

A woman washing her hair in urine and tossing it from side to side.
[Image Description: A woman washing her hair in urine and tossing it from side to side.] Via Giphy
No, that was not misspelled. The Incans actually did use urine as a form of anti-dandruff shampoo because of the urea found in urine. They would allow their urine to ferment for over a week and then would use it as their own version of Head & Shoulders.

2. And they were not the only ones. When in Rome….

Ancient Romans gathered around.
[Image Description: Ancient Romans gathered around.] Via Bust
Ancient Roman women would often use urine as a mouthwash to make their breath smell better. They would also brush their teeth with urine because of the presence of ammonia, which is a natural cleaning agent. Portuguese urine was the top of the range and was the most preferred. The product was so popular that Emperor Nero even had to place a tax on it.  

3. Mice wash

two women throwing up whilst one woman looks over them.
[Image Description: two women throwing up whilst one woman looks over them.] Via Giphy
If you thought the urine mouthwash was bad, the Ancient Egyptians took it a step further. Had a toothache or just wanted fresh breath? The Ancient Egyptians would mash dead mice with other ingredients to cure severe toothaches.

4. Europeans use to rub lead on their face to look paler

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I.
{Image Description: Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I] Via Historic UK

People from multiple historical civilizations used to use lead to make their skin appear paler whilst also giving themselves lead poisoning. You win some, you lose some.

5. During the middle ages, women would remove their eyelashes

Portrait of a young girl painted by Petrus Christus in 1470.
[Image Description: Portrait of a young girl painted by Petrus Christus in 1470.] Via ParkPlace
Back in the middle ages, a woman’s forehead was considered the sexiest feature, so women would often remove all of their eyelashes and their eyebrows to highlight this part of their face.

6. Georgian women used acid on their teeth

A woman dressed up as a lady from the Georgian period, smiling.
[Image Description: A woman dressed up as a lady from the Georgian period, smiling.] Via Giphy
Women used to use tooth powders made out of cuttlefish and bicarbonate of soda to whiten their teeth. In other words, they used sulfuric acid on their teeth which is both painful and dangerous.

7. And they did not stop there…

A womam placing fake mouse hair eyebrows on her face.
[Image Description: A woman placing fake mouse hair eyebrows on her face.] Via Giphy
With lead being applied to their face, Georgian women often had their eyebrows fall off so they got creative. They would either pencil in their new brows or wore brows made of mice fur. 

8. Women were not the only ones who tried some weird trends

A man dressed in a grey outfit saying "Brilliant. Quite Brilliant."
{Image Description: A man dressed in a grey outfit saying “Brilliant. Quite Brilliant.”] Via Giphy

Men from different historical civilizations tried multiple things to cure baldness. In Ancient Egypt, men would blend lead, iron oxide, onions, honey, alabaster, and fat to apply on their heads, and in Ancient Greece, men would blend cumin, pigeon droppings, horseradish, and nettles. None of the mixtures worked at all.

9. The Ancient Romans and Greeks bathed in crocodile dung

A woman with a towel on her head having a mud bath.
[Image Description: A woman with a towel on her head having a mud bath.] Via Giphy
They thought crocodile dung had restorative and beautifying properties and would mix it with mud for a relaxing bath or anti-aging facials. Talk about luxurious mud baths.

10. Women would bathe in arsenic for perfect skin

A woman seated by her mirror looking at her reflection and applying makeup to her lips.
[Image Description: A woman seated by her mirror looking at her reflection and applying makeup to her lips.] Via Atlas Obscura
During Victorian times, women would fully submerge themselves in arsenic to get pale white skin; the bath gave them a glow, and also poisoned them in the process.

11. People ate arsenic to clear their skin

Sears ad for arsenic wafers.
[Image Description: Sears ad for arsenic wafers.] Via History Collection
Back in the early 1900s, in a time where Skincare by Hyram didn’t exist, people would eat Arsenic Complexion Wafers. The wafers were meant to get rid of blackheads, rough skin, and pimples, but it could poison them as well.

12. Women bled themselves to look paler

Scene of Bloodletting carried out by professionals, at the time, on a woman.
[Imae Description: Scene of Bloodletting carried out by “professionals” on a woman.] Via Wikimedia Commons
During the Renaissance, women wanted to look as pale as they possibly could, to achieve this they would undergo bloodletting where they bled themselves or would even use leeches and let them suck their blood; the blood loss made their skin paler.

13. Accentuated veins

Painting of Marie Antoinette
[Image Description: Painting of Marie Antoinette.] Via Wikimedia Commons
In the 1700s, French women would accentuate their veins by drawing them in to make their skin look almost translucent. They were obsessed with looking pale since it was a sign of wealth.

14. Tudor hair dye

A woman dyeing the hair of a Tudor woman in a salon.
[Image Description: A woman dyeing the hair of a Tudor woman in a salon.] Via Giphy
Along with porcelain skin, blond or fair hair was considered to be ideal for a woman, so women in Tudor times would use a mixture of sulfur and lead to dye their hair blonde. The dye was highly toxic and resulted in lead poisoning and the early deaths of many women.

15. Sparkling eyes

An eye dilating a look that Tudors aimed to have.
[Image Description: An eye dilating, a look that Tudors aimed to have.] Via Giphy
Women in the Elizabethan era strove to achieve sparkling eyes by using a few drops of belladonna in the eye to dilate the pupils, as that was considered attractive. The issue? Belladonna caused minor visual distortions, inability to focus on near objects, and prolonged use caused blindness.

16. Elizabethan skincare routine

A woman looking in the mirror and applying a paste on her face.
[Image description: A woman looking in the mirror and applying a paste on her face.] Via Giphy
16th Century skincare routines involved peel made from mercury. While some used lemon juice and rosewater as a remedy for blemishes and spots, others made a face mask of alum, honey, eggshells, and of course more mercury. Skincare by Hyram would scream.

17. Women broke their ribs wearing corsets in Europe

Italian corset from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
[Image Description: Italian corset from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.] Via Wikimedia Commons
In the 18th and 19th centuries, tiny waists were the trend and metal corsets were used to help with the look. But this look came with a price; women who wore corsets regularly suffered from displaced organs and broken ribs.

18. Ancient Chinese women craved tiny feet

Shoe used by women who took part in foot binding
[Image Description: Shoe used by women who took part in foot binding.] Via Wikimedia Commons
From the 10th to the 20th Century, many Chinese women desperately wanted small feet as they were a symbol of beauty so they took part in foot binding. The process started from the age of five to eight, where the big toe was left facing forward and the four smaller toes were bent under the foot and were tightly bound by cloth. Until her early teens, the binding would be loosened and retightened. It was very painful, and not uncommon for women to lose toes or even their lives.

19. In Japan, darkening their teeth was popular and trendy

Painting of a Japanese woman with Black teeth.
[Image Description: Painting of a Japanese woman with Black teeth. ] Via Ancient Origins
Black teeth remained a trend up until the late 19th Century. The practice, called Ohaguro (“blackened teeth”), was regarded as a sign of beauty and wealth in women.

20. During WWII, women would paint on nylon stockings

A model, modelling her Nylon stockings that have been painted on with gravy browning's.
[Image Description: A model, modeling her Nylon stockings that have been painted on with gravy brownings.] Via Giphy
In 1941, Britain introduced clothes rationing to conserve resources which meant that the beloved nylon stockings were one of the first to go. Women resorted to painting on their stockings. Gravy brownings were a popular paint and some women even drew in a seam with an eyebrow pencil to make it more realistic.

All these fashion and beauty trends that seem bizarre today were once the height of popularity. Who knows, maybe centuries from now, some of our modern-day beauty trends may join this list.

For more awesome history facts, follow our brand-new history Instagram account. 

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History Historical Badasses

The greatest athlete you have probably never heard of

Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias was arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time; she mainly focused on track and field, basketball and golf throughout her career but was also an outstanding player in softball, baseball, billiards, tennis and was even a great diver and bowler. 

Born on the 26th of June, 1911 in Port Arthur Texas to Norwegian immigrant parents, she was the sixth of seven children. Her mother worked in laundry while her father worked as a seaman and furniture maker. Coming from a humble background, Didrikson and her family moved to Beaumont, Texas in 1915, where she began her amateur sports career playing neighborhood baseball with the boys. She got the nickname “Babe” after Babe Ruth because of the consistent home runs that she got while playing. Didrikson excelled in nearly every sport she participated in all throughout middle and high school. While playing for Beaumont High School, she was offered $75 a month to work for the Employers Casualty Insurance Company in Dallas and play on the Golden Cyclones, the company basketball team. Didrikson’s parents were initially hesitant as she had not graduated high school yet, but she was ultimately allowed to play. She played for the team from 1929 to 1932. Didrikson had to have a job as a secretary at the company because she would have lost her amateur status has she been paid to play. 

Throughout her lifetime, Didrikson earned multiple athletic achievements across different sports at a time in which it was rare to see women compete. Arguably her most notable, and spectacular, athletic achievement occurred during the amateur track and field championships in Evanston, Illinois in 1932. Didrikson was the only athlete sent to represent the Employers Casualty Insurance Company, competing against other company teams of 12, 15, and as high as 22. The crowd was shocked and gasped at the audacity of Didrikson as a “one-woman track team.” Over three hours she competed in multiple events, tying for first for the high jump and finishing first in the long jump, javelin, shot put, baseball throw, and 80-meter hurdles. Didrikson collected 30 team points, placing first in the event. The Illinois Women’s Athletic Club placed second with 22 points, despite having 22 athletes to represent them. Didrikson also managed to qualify for five Olympic events but was only able to pick three due to a ruling a the time which only allowed women to participate in a maximum of three Olympic events. 

Didrikson put on a spectacular performance during the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles as well. She won gold and broke her own record of 11.7 seconds in the 80-meter hurdle, won gold again for javelin and set a new world record, and tied first for the high jump. Despite all these achievements in track and field, she is most known for her career in Golf after winning 82 tournaments throughout her career, 13 of which she won in a row. She competed in both the US Women’s Amateur and British Ladies Amateur which made her the first American woman to ever win the British competition. She was one of the thirteen founding members of the L.P.G.A, establishing the professional women’s game while also winning 10 L.P.G.A. Championships, making her arguably one of the greatest female athletes across the board.

Didrikson’s athletic achievement did not come without scrutiny from both the public and the media, having to deal with sexist reporters, classist golfers, and misogynistic sports fans. She received criticism for the way that she looked and dressed as it was “unladylike.” The media became even more critical after the 1932 Olympics, with people openly speculating her sexuality. Critics called her a lesbian simply because she did not fit into the expectations of women. Instead, she broke these expectations to show that women can be athletes in a time when people thought it was unhealthy for women to even play sports.

Unfortunately, in 1954 Didrikson was diagnosed with colon cancer. Despite this, she returned to golf in 1954 winning the US Women’s Open in Massachusetts by a dozen strokes while having a colostomy bag strapped to her. The media and public perception of her changed after this win, as she had gone public with her illness and spent a large amount of time working with the American Cancer Society. She passed away in 1956 at the age of 45. Despite having such a short life she accomplished a lot and is made great strides in sports both as a woman and an athlete. 

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College 101 Life Stories Life

The pandemic took away my college experience but I’m learning to accept it

My first-year university experience was unlike anything that I had ever imagined. Like any person finishing their last year of high school, I was incredibly excited for university and more than ready to start this new life that I had spent months fantasizing about in my head. Let me preface this by saying that I started university six months after all my close friends started university because my school started in February instead of September as most do. 

Like every naive first year, I was going to throw myself a lot of clubs, go to parties, make loads of friends and spend all these sleepless nights in the library studying and rushing to finish these final assignments that I had left to the last minute because of procrastination. As cliche and tacky as it sounds, I was going to live the ultimate uni experience and soak up every opportunity that was thrown my way. University was going to be a chance for me to restart, really figure out who I was, and find myself as an individual. 

However, as I arrived in a new place, so did the COVID-19 pandemic. Within a matter of weeks, I found myself going into lockdown by myself in an environment that was completely unknown to me. Needless, to say I was devastated with the life I was living and hated every minute of it. I gave myself a hard time for feeling the way I did because I knew there were other people who may have had it harder than me, and being upset meant that I was being selfish and ungrateful. I’ve learned now that, behavior like that was destructive for me mentally. I should have allowed myself the space to experience the emotions I was feeling even if they were minute in the grand scheme of things.

University itself was hard enough to adjust to, my mental state made me less motivated and made me lose interest in what I was studying. I found myself barely being able to attend my online lectures and tutorials which meant I barely kept up with the content. I was not doing myself any favors. I felt incredibly isolated, did not know anyone in my classes to ask for help if I needed it, but was also intimidated by the idea of emailing my tutor and lecturers. I felt helpless. I’ve learned now that at the end of the day they will help you, but I needed to reach out first in order to receive it. My situation was not unique to just me but to multiple other students both local and international who have either lost out on a semester, a year or even graduation

One thing I did not anticipate was how long this pandemic would last. You hear the phrase “COVID normal” being thrown around so often and I realized that this could very well be my new normal. I had to come to terms with than rather than fight it. I needed to do this in order to spare my own feelings but to also provide myself with relief. There still is, no date for when, or if, life will return to normal. I found that once I stopped comparing my situation to what it should have been like, I started to appreciate it more. Yes, lectures and tutorials would have been a lot more fun in person, but I learned to appreciate the freedom in being able to just wake up and hop into class whilst still being in my pajamas. It made me more motivated to actually “show up” for class. I also appreciated the mundane details, like that I did not have to worry about catching the bus to campus or running late for lectures. 

Interestingly enough, I did in fact manage to truly understand myself and discover who I was. There’s beauty in being your own company for months on end because you spend an almost awful amount of time reflecting on your past experiences and who you are as an individual. I find that I do understand myself better; the pandemic sent me to the bottom of the earth. It was the most mentally challenging thing I have ever had to experience and it honestly made me a lot stronger whilst showing me how strong I was. 

I spent the majority of my time frustrated that the pandemic deprived me of these experiences, it took me a long time to finally accept it but I’ve started appreciating my seemingly different experience. Sure, it’s not what I expected of college, but I’m determined to make the most of it. 

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The Environment The World

This is what its like to live in the world’s largest e-waste dumpsite

Each year around 50 million tons of e-waste is thrown away, with some of it being sent off to countries in Asia and Africa like Agbogbloshie. With the increasingly widespread availability of new electronics and the constantly evolving technological environment, the e-waste issue is a growing problem and could easily expand into a global health risk for urban areas.

Agbogbloshie is already amongst the world’s top ten most toxic environments, rated with places such as Chernobyl, which suffered a nuclear accident in 1986. So what is life really like in the world’s largest e-waste recycling dumpsite?   

250,000 tons of electronic waste is sent to Agbogbloshie, an area in Ghana’s capital, Accra. It is known to be the world’s largest e-waste recycling dump. Situated alongside the Old Fadama slum, the site is home to 80,000 people, many of whom make a living primarily by retrieving and selling copper cable and other metals from e-waste. The area consists mainly of economic migrants from the northern and rural parts of Ghana who flocked to Accra and settled in the slum of Old Fadama. The area nicknamed Sodom, known in the bible as a city destroyed by God, for the open fires that are used to extract the core metals from old electronics. 

At first glance, Agbogbloshie looks like a place right out of a dystopian novel for its apocalyptic feel. However, within it is a system of interconnected chains and hierarchies that extract, sort, and sell core metals and scrap parts as part of a massive, informal recycling process. Up to 10,000 workers, mostly young men in their teens or early 20’s, sift through discarded goods and manually dismantle anything from automobiles to old phones to microwave ovens. Revenue from the recovery of metals like iron, copper, and aluminum produces relatively low wages. They tend bundles of burning insulated copper wire that contains copper from everything, ranging from USB cables to harness wires in automobiles. However, sorting and selling electronic scrap aren’t the only jobs. Often you will find women and children selling foods, and water that is used to set off the fire produced to burn through the insulation to reach the copper. Many of the workers in Abobloshie do not mention what exactly they do for a living as the occupation is considered dirty, holding a negative stigma in the city. 

Life in Agbogbloshie is not easy. Recycling e-waste can retrieve 90-95% of materials that can be reused. However, Agbogbloshie takes part in the unsafe dismantling of electronic waste due to the lack of funds and resources. These unsafe practices release toxic substances like cadmium, brominated flame retardants, lead, and mercury into the soil. Several studies that have been conducted in the area confirm the high levels of lead in the soil which is predominately due to the burning of plastic coverings that cover the copper wires. Ailments such as back problems, burns, infected wounds, chronic nausea, headaches, and chest and respiratory problems are all brought on by the toxic pollution and hazardous work environment. These fumes are hazardous to children as well since the toxins are known to inhibit the development of the nervous system, the reproductive system, and in particular the brain. Already 80% of the children living in these areas have dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.

These toxins and chemicals do not just pose a threat to human health, but to the food chain as well. The Agbogbloshie area is home to one of the largest food markets in Accra, the toxic chemical released from recycling e-waste enters the soil resulting in high levels of toxins being discovered in food samples. Livestock graze and roam freely across the dumpsite which further increases the number of toxins entering the food chain. An egg hatched by a free-range chicken in Agbloshie exceeded the European Food Safety Authority limits on chlorinated dioxins 220 times over. Chlorinated dioxins have been linked to damaging the immune system and causing cancer. 

Agbogbloshie continues to be a dumping ground for electronic waste from the Western World. There is a constant blame game as to who exactly is responsible for producing and sending the e-waste. Some documents and reports even claim that most of the electronic waste is produced within Ghana and Western Africa. Nonetheless, the workers need better working conditions and more Governmental support through better resources and funds to support safer recycling practices which would prevent more chemicals and toxins from entering the environment. Because as of right now, they work and live in an entirely toxic environment that is slowly killing them whilst the rest of the world runs to upgrade to the latest phone.


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World News The World

Australian mining companies are destroying sacred aboriginal sites

Australia has had a longstanding history of mistreatment toward Aboriginal people which has carried on to today. It came as no surprise when the mining giant Rio Tinto blew up the Juukan Gorges caves, a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal cave in Western Australia that dates back to the Ice Age, back in May. There are only a small number of Aboriginal sites that are as old as these caves. To continue to rub salt on open wounds, the blast took place two days before National Sorry Day, a day meant to remember and acknowledge the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Mining giants like Rio Tinto, BHP, and Fortescue Metal Groups (FMG) are invested in Western Australia’s rich iron-ore regions which ultimately leaves sacred Aboriginal sites at risk. Rio Tinto is not the only mining company to disregard the requests of the Traditional Owners of the land. Last year, BHP, admitted that it was aware that the Aboriginal people did not want their sites disturbed but continued to apply for legal permission to destroy them anyway. BHP submitted an application to destroy aboriginal sites at its $5 billion South Flank iron-ore region. The sites included ceremonial grounds, ochre pits, and rock shelters with evidence of human occupation that dates back at least 10,000 to 15,000 years. In the last 10 years, mining companies have been given legal permission to damage 463 sites

You might be wondering how these mining giants have been able to get Government approval to destroy such sites. It all comes down to section 18 of Western Australia’s Aboriginal Heritage Act which essentially legalizes the destruction of these sites. Rio Tinto applied for and was granted section 18 approval to destroy the Juukan caves in 2013. The Act benefits mining companies more than the Aboriginal People who have limited rights over their land and heritage sites. Often, nations would sign individual contracts with the mining company that mined on their land, but the companies would manipulate the owners of the land into an agreement with empty promises and restricted rights. A prime example of this is when The Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people signed a series of agreements with Rio Tinto, in 2006,  which included a clause that the PKKP would not oppose section 18 applications as long as Rio Tinto made “all reasonable attempts” to minimize the impact. The Aboriginal people’s rights are not entirely protected under section 18, and multiple companies are using it as a source of manipulation; they lodge section 18 applications without, or briefly, conducting an Aboriginal Heritage Survey.

More than 100 Aboriginal sacred sites are at risk of being destroyed by these Mining giants against the wishes of the Traditional Owners of the land. The destruction of the Juukan caves was extremely devastating for the PKKP; the only positive is that it shed light on an ongoing issue that is often kept very quiet. Rio Tinto only apologized after there was international backlash – so essentially they apologized because they got caught. Public attention is what has kept these mining companies from further destruction of these sites. BHP halted the destruction of 40 sacred sites amidst the global outcry over the Juukan caves. Rio Tinto, FMG, and BHP have all said that they will not proceed in the destruction of sites without further consultation with the Traditional Owners of the land, but they ultimately retain the final say. Once again leaving the Aboriginal people with limited rights over what happens to their cultural heritage sites. The change needs to come in the form of law reforms.

The Western Australian Government should reconsider the rights of the Aboriginal people by providing them with the right to have the final say; they need to be able to have a veto over section 18 applications. There are also needs to be extensive consultation with the Traditional Owners to mitigate the harm caused to cultural heritage sites before approving section 18 applications to destroy them. These reforms need to protect the rights of Indigenous Australians and their cultural heritage sites. Australia needs to prioritize and put the Aboriginal people first before the money. Money cannot bring back the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge Caves and other indigenous sites after it has been destroyed. 


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Immigration The Breakdown Race Inequality

The model minority myth: a benefit or a burden to the Asian American community

The Breakdown is a Tempest exclusive series that attempts to tackle issues, concepts, terms, and histories that are relevant and intrinsic to conversations about social justice. This is our version of a 101 on Social Justice, with a grassroot level approach that hopes to simplify and make political and cultural conversations accessible in a global level.

The concept of the “Model Minority Myth” has been in existence since the late 60’s, however conversation around it has increased following the BLM movement, especially through conversations around how Asian Americans intersect in the systemic racism and inequality that disadvantages minorities in the US. So, what exactly is the Model Minority Myth?

The term “Model Minority” was first used in 1966 to refer to the growing success of mainly Japanese Americans, but has now grown to include both South and East Asian Americans. The myth distinguishes Asian Americans as law-abiding, productive, and polite citizens who have achieved higher success than the general population. Since its inception in popular media, the Model Minority praises Asian Americans for their apparent success across economic, academic, and cultural domains which is oftentimes used to contrast the achievements of African Americans and Latin Americans. 

Asian Americans have not always been praised as being the model minority. The 1965 Immigration Act revered years of restrictive migration that prevented immigration from Asian countries. The Act allowed for a greater number of immigrants, namely highly educated professionals and scientists, to migrate to the US. Highly educated individuals were prioritized before any other profession which essentially set them up for success in the US in comparison to African and Hispanic Americans. This then posited them as being the “ideal” immigrant of color.

The myth itself marks Asian Americans with seemingly positive characteristics and many Asian Americans have embraced the positive stereotype, but it does raise the question as to whether the Model Minority myth is a benefit or a burden on the Asian American community as well as other minority communities. 

On the surface, the myth hoists up the community on a pedestal for their relative success, which emphasizes the progressiveness from being referred to as “Yellow Peril” and accused of flooding the country. But now the Asian American community is seen as a socially integrated, economically successful, and an upwardly mobile racial group.  

However, the Model Minority Myth can appear to be a double-edged sword. Although it does have positive characteristics associated with it, those same characteristics, of being quiet and diligent, limit Asian Americans from reaching leadership roles within corporate jobs as they are perceived as lacking confidence. This has essentially contributed to the phenomenon of the “Bamboo Ceiling” – a metaphor that stunts Asian Americans from climbing above a point on the corporate ladder – which is harmful to the Asian American community. The concept of the Bamboo Ceiling is reflected by the fact that Asian Americans make up 27% of the corporate workforce, but only hold 14% of executive seats. The positive stereotype praises the community for thriving in school and work, but again it asserts that Asian Americans are incapable of doing anything outside that scope.

On a societal level, the myth has been frequently used to drive a wedge between Asian Americans and African and Hispanic Americans. During the peak of the civil rights movements, Asian Americans were used as an example to suggest that no matter how ingrained racism could be, it could easily be overcome by working hard and by being a law-abiding citizen. They were used as proof that the inequalities that minority groups faced were brought about by sheer laziness. It allowed the white majority to rid themselves of any responsibility for the systemic racism that was faced by African Americans through Jim Crow laws.  The inaccurate idea, of hard work being able to counteract racism, has continually been reinforced amongst the Asian American community which further created a belief that other minority communities, especially the African American community, were simply not working hard enough; some members of the Asian American community have used the narrative to undercut the experiences of black people since the myth places them as the superior minority. The myth further neglects the historical inequalities that have formed from the enslavement and dehumanization of African Americans and the deeply entrenched racism that occurred as a result. So, as African Americans consistently experience police brutality and racial profiling, the Model Minority myth acts as a shield to protect Asian Americans. 

The trope of the wealthy successful Asian appears to further the burden on the community as it obscures the fact that they are the most economically divided racial group in the US. It also takes away from an individual’s own lived experiences as it homogenizes them, portraying them as a monolithic group with a singular identity that cuts out the struggles and discrimination that they face. 

The myth is still very relevant within today’s society, continuing to feed into the Model Minority Myth could do more harm than good especially in the long term. Not only does it impede career paths by supporting the bamboo ceiling, but it also allows Asian Americans to be used against other racial minorities as an example as to why systemic racism does not exist. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has reignited old prejudices against Asian Americans which contradicts the idea that working hard and being a law-abiding citizen can overcome racism.  

The Model Minority Myth has remained controversial for decades with some people wholly embracing the myth for its positive stereotypes as they benefit off of it, whilst others see it as a burden on the community as the stereotype limits their potential earning and their ability to get promoted. Although it is important to realize that some Asian Americans have benefited from a broken system and recognize their own privileges, there also needs to be a continual strive for change as the myth creates a burden on the Asian American community and other minority communities. 

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Race The World Inequality

As you are gearing up for Halloween, keep in mind that these costumes perpetuate offensive stereotypes

Looking for more spooky stories? Check our Halloween series here!

Halloween is a fun holiday complete with themed parties, sharing candy and dressing up in costumes. But Halloween is also the time where people try to be clever with their costumes which often come at the cost of offending minority groups. Making fun of other cultures by dressing up as a member of that culture in a way that is both exaggerated and humorous will easily and rightly come across as cultural appropriation. Halloween seems to be the most visible holiday in which people find that it’s completely appropriate to mess around with cultural icons, symbols and even skin tones that are not their own. 

Minority groups already have to deal with severe discrimination, exploitation and hostility on a regular basis. So, when Halloween comes around, it ends up being a slap in the face to see people making fun of their culture through the perpetuation of false stereotypes.

The quick rebuttal to “that’s offensive” is typically met with “it’s just a costume,” but that’s the thing, it’s not “just a costume” for a lot of individuals and here’s why.

1. A “Gypsy”

A woman holding tarot cards and a glass globe in a stereotypical costume.
[Image description: A woman holding tarot cards and a glass globe in a stereotypical costume. ] Via Costume Supercenter
The term “Gypsy” is often used to refer to the Romani people, a population that has been displaced and persecuted for centuries since their migration from India to Europe. The term “gypsy” in itself is an ethnic slur and completely derogatory. The costume plays into the same negative stereotypes of being thieves, scammers and fortune-tellers, that were previously used to justify the persecution of Romani people. The costume further reinforces the stereotype that essentially glorifies their marginalization as we would often associate these traits with that of Romani People.

2. A Geisha

A woman holding a red parasol, with a black kimono and high heels.
[Image Description: A woman holding a red parasol, with a black kimono and high heels.] Via Amazon
Geisha is a Japanese term used to describe women who are highly trained in dance, music and entertainment, it translates to “artisan”. However, the West somehow managed to translate the concept of a Geisha into a prostitute who is perceived as exotic. The very concept of Asian culture as exotic is grounded in Orientalism where Western cultures viewed Eastern Cultures as foreign and “other”. The costume is also a form of cultural appropriation considering the extent to which it has become hypersexualized. It essence, such a costume trains people to view certain cultures in a way that strips them of their respect and ignores the rich cultural traditions around it.

3.  Thug

Five white girls posing and dressed up in baggy pants, white t-shirts and tank tops.
[Image Description: Five white girls posing and dressed up in baggy pants, white t-shirts, and tank tops. ] Via Sorority Please on Pinterest
This costume consisting of baggy pants, white vests and tattoos has been seen multiple times before, but it feeds into racist stereotypes about Black men. The term “thug” has been commonly misinterpreted to mean “criminal”. Thug life is a word meant to describe a person who started from nothing and built themselves up to something; it’s an expression of pride by the Black community. It was only in the latter half of the 20th century that the word “thug” took on a radicalized subtext regardless of whether these individuals actually engaged in criminal life or not. Wearing these costumes encourages the negative stereotypes that perpetuate Black Men as criminals and have negative consequences on their lives every day. 

4. Polynesian Culture

A child smiling, dressed in a Maui costume.
[Image Description: A child smiling, dressed in a Maui costume] via Huffpost
Back in 2016, Disney pulled its controversial Maui costume from its website after backlash arose. This action highlighted significant issues in the appropriation of Polynesian culture for the sake of a Halloween costume. The tattoos on Maui’s costume essentially ignore the fact that tattoos are sacred to a lot of Polynesian cultures and date back 2000 years. Commodifying this is degrading to Polynesian culture and disrespectful as it neglects the rich history surrounding it.

5. A “Señor” or  “Señorita”

Man wearing a sombrero, poncho, mustache and holding maracas in both his hands.
[Image Description: Man wearing a sombrero, poncho, mustache, and holding maracas in both his hands. ] Via Costume Supercenter
Sombreros, mustaches, donkeys and ponchos are all costumes that play into Mexican stereotypes, not to mention that these also fuse Mexican culture with Latinx culture as a whole. It enforces the negative tropes that have commonly been associated with Mexican culture, especially during the years that Trump has been president of the United States. It also ignores centuries of rich cultural traditions and practices and reduces it down to whitewashed symbols that skew what Mexican culture actually looks like.

6. A prisoner

A woman dressed as a prisoner wearing an orange jumpsuit that is cropped with high heels.
[Image Description: A woman dressed as a prisoner wearing an orange jumpsuit that is cropped with high heels.] Via Costumer Supercenter
Inappropriate costumes also extend past the bounds of culture. Making fun of a person’s situation is not clever or funny, especially in the era of the Black Lives Matter movement. As a society, we have become more aware of the faulty justice system that is in place and have watched many individuals be wrongly incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. Making this into a Halloween costume neglects the gravity that it has – especially for those who were, or still are, wrongly imprisoned.

7.  Homeless Man

A child dressed up as a homeless person holding a sign saying "will work for candy."
[Image Description: A child dressed up as a homeless person holding a sign saying “will work for candy.”] Via Amazon
Dressing up as a “hobo” may appear as a harmless costume, but it is a striking reality for thousands of individuals who struggle with homelessness or displacement every day. It’s downright offensive to make fun of someone’s living situation. In the U.S. alone, there are 567,000 homeless people. The “hobo” costume also perpetuates negative stereotypes about homeless people that are further reinforced when people choose to adopt these as part of their costumes. This can have very real consequences on people who are actually homeless.

8. Native American

A woman dressed in a sexy "native" American costume.
[Image Description: A woman dressed in a sexy “native” American costume. ] Via Costume Supercenter
To put it simply, there are 562 Native American nations, and each have their own history and customs that are unique to them. However, the stereotypical Native American costume still persists to this day. Americans have continually erased the visibility, voices and rights of Native Americans. So, to wear a costume of what is essentially a way of life is incredibly offensive and is insensitive to the history of the Native population and the present day difficulties that they face. The costume has been hypersexualized, too,  which has dangerous consequences on the community given that Native women experience one of the highest rates of sexual violence; they are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted in comparison to other women in the US.

There are plenty of good costumes out there that are perfect for Halloween. A good tip for the spooky holiday is to think about whether your costume perpetuates a harmful stereotype. Go with your gut – if you are questioning whether your costume is offensive then you probably should not wear it. These costumes are a part of a culture and a way of life and should not be commodified.  

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Reproductive Rights The Breakdown Inequality

Here’s what you need to know about Roe vs Wade, the landmark decision that shaped abortion rights in the US

The Breakdown is a Tempest exclusive series that attempts to tackle issues, concepts, terms, and histories that are relevant and intrinsic to conversations about social justice. This is our version of a 101 on Social Justice, with a grassroot level approach that hopes to simplify and make political and cultural conversations accessible in a global level.

From the time abortion was legalized in the US, a woman’s right to an abortion has been stigmatized and politicized, becoming a divisive political battleground between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. Now, in the wake of Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s passing and the weight of the elections looming ahead, Roe vs Wade, the landmark decision that shaped abortion rights in the US is on thin ice.

Roe vs Wade was issued in 1973 by the US Supreme Court and legalized abortion across the United States. The decision involved the case of Norma McCorvey, referred to in her lawsuit under the pseudonym “Jane Roe”, who became pregnant in 1969 and wanted an abortion, which was illegal in the state of Texas. The lawsuit was filed in the US federal court against her local district attorney, Henry Wade. The US District Court (for Northern Texas) ruled in her favor, but the state of Texas appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided to strike down the Texas law banning abortions, which essentially legalized abortion across the country.

Two important decisions came out of Roe vs Wade that still holds to this day. The US Constitution provides a fundamental right to privacy under the 14th Amendment that protects a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion or not. However, the right to an abortion is not complete and should be balanced against the government’s interest in protecting prenatal life and a woman’s health.   

Therefore, under Roe vs Wade, a framework was created to balance both government interests and a woman’s right to privacy. The court defined the rights of a woman into three trimesters. However, since the decision, a number of opponents have pushed for stricter abortion laws, and many regulations placing restrictions on abortions have successfully been passed in several states.

The reason as to why Roe vs Wade is at risk of being overturned is a lot more complicated than it appears to be; it stems down to multiple reasons but ultimately leads back to the Supreme Court. Roe vs Wade has always been controversial with multiple presidents looking to challenge it. President Gerald Ford, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush were amongst those who opposed Roe. President Reagan who was in office between 1981-89 used his administration to attempt to reverse the abortion ruling and made it a top priority of his Justice Department.

During the 2016 election campaign, Trump pledged that he would appoint Justices to the Supreme Court who would look to overturn Roe. The US Supreme Court consists of nine members who serve lifetime appointments; the court is typically split evenly between right and left-leaning individuals with one swing vote. However, since being elected, President Trump has already appointed two right-leaning Justices to the Supreme Court (Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018), and the recent passing away of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg creates more worry for abortion rights as a seat on the Supreme Court has opened up.

Unsurprisingly, Trump has nominated socially conservative Jurist Amy Coney Barret, and if approved by the Senate would then result in an extremely conservative Supreme Court (6:3). Given that the Senate holds a majority of Republicans, it appears to be very likely that Barret’s nomination may lead to her joining the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court shapes public policy in the US, and its current conservative nature creates worry for abortion rights and Roe vs Wade. As we speak, opponents are attempting to, or have succeeded in passing regulations that ban abortions based on fetal age and type of procedure. Currently, these issues are being contested within the lower courts of the US but could easily make its way up to the Supreme Court which could have a full reversal on abortion rights in the US. 

So what happens if Roe vs Wade is overturned? The answer is quite simple. Roe vs Wade established a framework for abortion regulations at a federal level, so if overturned by the Supreme Court abortion rights would revert to the decision of the States. This would mean that abortion rights will only be protected in less than half of the states, and it will become illegal in about twelve. In another ten states, their trigger laws state that the legislature is allowed to meet and decide upon the legality of abortion but given the conservative nature of these state legislatures, the likelihood of abortion being made illegal is relatively high. Overturning the decision would also mean that more than one-third of all American women of reproductive age would lose their access to abortion. Laws relating to abortion would vary widely across the country which would further increase the discrepancy in reproductive rights between individuals in the US.

If you’re interested in learning more, here are some sources that further explore Roe vs Wade

Reversing Roe – available on Netflix

AKA Jane Roe – FX Documentary

Is this the end of Roe vs Wade – VICE News Discussion

Some Thoughts on Autonomy and Equality in Relation to Roe v. Wade – Essay by Ruth Bader Ginsburg


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