Tech Now + Beyond

Has technology ever betrayed you at the worst time and caused nightmares?

What’s the worst thing technology has ever done to you? Last year in the middle of my advanced public speaking class, my computer decided to update, which is annoying but not completely unusual. Computers always seem to have an update at the most inconvenient times.

This time, however, it took five hours to update, and then I received a “disk error” message.

war games explosion GIF by MANGOTEETH
[Image description: a series of computers explode]
Long story short, my computer never turned on again and my hard drive was completely erased. I was poor and couldn’t afford a new computer or to get my files extracted. So my roommate and I spent hours on the internet trying to build a new hard drive on her computer and download it onto my broken one.

It didn’t go so well.

I lost my school work, some of my articles for The Tempest, and every important file I’d ever saved on my computer, moreover, I was left laptopless for a month. I’m still feeling the effects today. I couldn’t access some of my older tax returns that I needed for financial aid this year. It’s like this nightmare won’t end.

Technology is great – don’t get me wrong, and is helpful in an infinite amount of ways, but sometimes it can hurt us more than help us. Even if it doesn’t hurt us, sometimes it can just be downright creepy, like Siri screaming random messages into the night, or seeing ads for a product you merely thought of that day.

It may be a dystopian ideal, but sometimes I can’t help but feel that our technology is out to get us or at least watching us very closely.

suspicious thats so raven GIF
[image description: woman chews gum and rapidly looks left and right in fear.]
So let us know if technology has every betrayed you or caused you nightmares in this anonymous survey, and you might be featured in a future Tempest fam article!

Life Hacks Editor's Picks Money Now + Beyond

These 5 tips will make applying for your student loans less scary

Getting accepted into my first choice university was simultaneously the most exciting and terrifying time of my life.

The school I wanted to attend was out of state, and expensive. I would be rejecting all the scholarships I’d earned for state schools and basically putting myself and my single father in a world of debt. Nonetheless, my father encouraged me to go. We both felt that with me being underprivileged, black, and a woman, I needed to take all the risks to give me the best chance for success. That meant going to the best school no matter the cost because, in the end, it’d be worth it.

Through my years I’ve dealt with so much strife and heartache relating to taking on student loans, but it’s taught me a lot about finances. Most people have to take on some kind of student loan to pay for our backward education system. It’s scary, I won’t lie, but here are a few things I’ve learned that could help you make the best decision for your future.

1. Fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible

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[Image description: a montage of cats on laptops banging and typing rapidly]
I cannot stress this point enough. FAFSA is the free application for student aid. This includes your scholarships, grants, and federal loans. You want to fill this out as soon as possible because aid is limited and on a first come first served basis.  You’ll need your parents’ most recent tax return and yours if you work. The applications open up every year on October 1st.

Personally, I had no idea about this and learned the hard way. One year my dad took forever to do his taxes and so I didn’t submit my FAFSA until January.  Subsequently, I got so little aid that I had to pay my school $7,000 out of pocket and since I didn’t have that, I had to take a year off from school. It was scary and awful and falling behind really messed with my mental health.

2. Understand the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans

the last man on earth what GIF by Fox TV
[Image description: a woman stares in confusion mouthing “WHAT?!”]
Now, these two types of loans refer specifically to government loans.

The type you will be offered is strictly need-based. A subsidized loan is a loan where interest doesn’t start to accrue until you are out of school whereas a subsidized loan accrues interest as soon as the money is disbursed. No matter how long you plan to be in school, it’s always nice to not have thousands of dollars added to your debt, so always go for the subsidized loan if one is offered to you.

3. Ask about institutional loans

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[Image description: man holding a mug, shrugging with a cheeky expression with the caption “asking for a friend”]
If federal loans still don’t end up covering your cost, ask your financial aid office about institutional loans. These are loaned out to you by your school and tend to have lower interest rates than banks and other private loan companies.

That $7,000 I owed to my school eventually had to be taken care of with an institutional loan, and my office helped me develop a plan for repayment after graduation that wouldn’t put a major strain on me in addition to my federal loans.

4. Choose Fixed Rates over Variable Rates

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[Image description: man wiggles eyebrows caption: decisions decisions]
A variable rate refers to interest and the amount charged to your outstanding loan balance. The variable rate is dependent on the market and so your interest could increase or decrease and will directly affect your repayment amount each month.

So one month the market could be good and you’d pay $100 and the next month it could change to $500. A fixed rate doesn’t change and your repayment plan would stay at $100 a month unless you decide to pay extra. This is why you hear so many scary things about private loan companies like Sallie May who have variable rates and repayment is really hard on individuals.

5. Repaying your loans

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[Image description: A person holding a wallet open to reveal another person looking around for money]
With all my financial hiccups I ended up taking significant time off from school and at one point I started to repay my student loans. It’s important to know that you don’t have to start paying immediately. Most companies give you a six-month deferment or postponement of payment. This allows you to find a job, save up, and gather your finances. Take this time to do so. Missing a payment can be really detrimental to your credit and affect you in a myriad of ways like preventing you from buying a car or home.

No matter how much you know, student loans are a scary thing. You’re never sure of what your finances will look like in the future and if you’ll be able to repay it. The only thing we can do is try to know as much as we can and continue to invest in ourselves and our future. That makes everything worth it and prevents hiccups along the way.

Movie Reviews Movies Books Pop Culture

Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is taking young adult romance to new heights through representation

In addition to Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians releasing in theaters, the movie adaptation of Korean American author Jenny Han’s book To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before will be streaming on Netflix August 17, 2018. With an Asian female-led cast this movie is making just as much of an impact as Crazy Rich Asians and I’m so excited to see some different representation on screen.

This teen romance follows the story of Lara Jean Covey or LJ (Lana Condor), a biracial Korean American teen whose seemingly normal life goes haywire when her secret love letters get sent out to five boys. This would be a nightmare for almost anyone, especially the imaginary romanticist like Lara Jean. How she overcomes her dilemma and falls in love for real is both hilarious and inspiring and will leave viewers of all ages with important lessons to take away.

Besides the inevitable love pentagon Lara Jean finds herself in, this movie is filled with gems.

First, we have the sisters’ unbreakable bond. One of the boys to receive a love letter happens to be her older sister Margot’s (Janel Parrish) boyfriend, Josh (Israel Broussard). This causes some tension between all three sisters but multiple times throughout the movie they can put their petty issues aside and stand together. As three girls growing up without a mother, their relationship and influence on each other are extremely important to them, and it shows with each sister’s actions, even the youngest bratty 11-year-old sister, Kitty (Anna Cathcart).

Secondly, the way they address loss in this movie I find really important. So often we see young adult media where there is a single parent but the effects of this are readily ignored. Both LJ and Peter (Noah Centineo), another letter recipient, live in single-parent households, one from death and one from abandonment, but neither have issues discussing their pain in an open and healthy way. I really relate to both Lara and Peter, and the solace they find in each other is admirable.

Furthermore, the subtle addressing of social issues in this movie is phenomenal. From calling out the racism in 80s movies in their disgusting portrayal of Asian characters to dealing with slut-shaming and comprehensive sex education. When older sister Margot relays to LJ that “it’s never worse for the guys” I felt like I was talking to my sister and friends. And I truly appreciate the gynecologist father who is not afraid to be open with his daughters about menstrual cycles, love, and safe sex. This movie doesn’t beat you over the head with wokeness but instead realistically portrays issues that teen girls are going through all over the world.

As to be expected when condensing a sizeable novel, the pacing of the movie is a little bit off. And you don’t get the full romantic growth that eventually buds between Lara and Peter like in the novel. Their love is still believable, however, and you root for them to figure it out.

My only criticism of the movie is a minuscule moment between the sisters that you would only notice as a book reader. When Margot comforts her sisters after the big climactic moment in the movie she says the words “Covey Girls forever”, but in the book, the sisters frequently refer to themselves as the Song Girls. It’s an important way in which they connect with their deceased mother who gave them the moniker of her maiden name as well as their Korean heritage. A lot of the moments that seemed to be cut from the movie are those that deal with the girls’ Korean identities. Maybe it’s not a big deal but the erasure felt deliberate and left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall, the movie is cute and I would 10/10 watch again. It ends with a cliffhanger of another letter recipient arriving at her door, John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Burchette) which only alludes to more drama for LJ to wade through. I can definitely say he is my favorite boy of all Lara’s boys and you won’t want to miss what’s next.

What I’d like to see most in the sequel (Netflix, I hope you’re working on it right now!) and hopefully the third movie is a full embracing of the Song girls’ Korean identity. I look forward to how New Year’s will be portrayed because in the book it’s a full celebration with traditional dress, activities, and their mom’s side of the family. These elements are essential parts of the characters’ personalities and motivations, includng their dad, and it shouldn’t be erased.

USA World News The World

The “French Spiderman” story is problematic for several reasons – here’s why

Mamoudou Gassama lived a quiet life in France before his life was forever changed. Without a moment’s hesitation, he decided to commit an act of selfless bravery and kindness. Bystanders stood by recording in awe as Gassama scaled a building with seeming superhero-like powers to rescue a baby dangling from a balcony. He successfully saved this child from sure death and was welcomed with cheers and applause. Video of his act soon went viral, and Gassama was deemed as the legendary “French Spiderman.” It didn’t take long for the President of France to see the video of this young man – who wasn’t actually French, but an immigrant from Mali. To thank him for such a brave act, President Macro granted him and his brother French citizenship. While this is a worthy reward for his act of kindness, president Macron’s “gift” really sheds light on the rhetoric in which we view immigrants.

I hate to be the person to find the darkness in a seemingly beautiful story. Everyone wins here. A baby boy lives another day with his family, a man gains the citizenship he was seeking, and President Macron and the rest of the French government can pretend that they care about immigrants or black bodies…at least for a little while.

Gassama’s act was truly an amazing feat, but as millions of undocumented immigrants risk their lives to enter countries like that of France and the United States, they do so knowing they won’t be appreciated. The kind acts they do everyday go (quite literally) undocumented, as they remain unnoticed. They know that they will face discrimination (and in some cases, even violence), but they continue to endure in hopes of a better life. Sometimes, that comes with the gift of citizenship and sometimes, it comes with death. We’ve all heard the stories of undocumented house workers facing sexual assault and abuse – and as soon as they speak out, they disappear.  

Even Mamoudou was shaken with fear when he realized that his act was now public record and his truth would be revealed. Like most immigrants, he didn’t expect to be met with kindness about his undocumented status because France is particularly unkind. Immigrant children are placed in jail and people who help refugees are criminalized. CNN writer Dawn Dimowo stated my thoughts exactly when she said, “a good immigrant is not so much about being legal or illegal, right or wrong, black or white. It is about being desired.”

The “reward” itself is also problematic, as it conveys an interesting and harmful message: that immigrants must be “superhuman” to be considered human.  Immigrants are automatically met with suspicion just because they’re immigrants. The world is quick to believe that they’re “sketchy” and trying to steal something – be it food, jobs, or citizenships rather than believe that these are real people trying to survive. Immigrants have morals just like us and care about other people. It’s almost insulting to think that the world is so surprised that an immigrant would commit such a brave act, because in my eyes, of course, they would! Immigrants are built on bravery. There’s no braver act than leaving your own country to one where you will face hardship and discrimination, just in hopes of building something for your family.

Like I said, this is an amazing story and not something we get to see every day – but I also can’t ignore the uneasy feeling it gave me in my stomach. So often we focus on America’s immigration issues and racism but forget that racism is a global issue that began in Europe. And France is JUST as racist as anywhere else especially against black immigrants who are coming from the countries that they colonized and ruined, so giving Gassama citizenship was the very least Macron could have done.

Gender & Identity Life

An open letter to my natural hair

While growing up, I was appalled by your nature. At the sight of you, I’d quickly plug in my straightener to iron out whichever kinks dared to show their face. Every month and a half I’d sit under my aunties fingers as she’d apply a relaxer or the “creamy crack” to my scalp. Even when it began to burn I’d push myself to sit and take it just a little longer because I knew it would be worth it. Afterward, I’d run my hands through my silky straight strands and bask in its glory. My hands would skip over the scabs and burns on my scalp and my eyes would block out my straggly, dead, split ends because my hair was shiny and straight and that’s all that mattered.

When I moved away from home to go to college and I no longer had my aunt to relax my hair I thought, “What will I do now?” I didn’t trust anyone with my “precious” locks and despite my skill in braids, twists, and ponytails, there was no way I was trusting myself with powerful chemicals. I’d seen the process done and experienced it for years of my life, but it just wasn’t something I could do. As the months went by and I viciously straightened my roots in hope for a miracle, the natural movement began to rise around me.  YouTube gurus emerged with tales of coconut oil, and my friend with the most gorgeous hair I’d ever seen kept encouraging me to go natural.

You, my beautiful hair, had been a major part of my self-confidence for as long as I can remember. I may not have been the skinniest, or the prettiest girl growing up, but I always had great hair. There was no way in hell I was just going to cut off my hair and be…bald. I’d rather be dead.

A year went by of desperate blow drying and straightening when I realized that I was transitioning. I’d wash my hair and get a glimpse of my curl pattern and you were kind of cute. I began to binge watch natural hair gurus like crazy, naptural85, journeytowaistlength, jewejewebee, naturalneiicey, and jaemajette to name a few. I’d look at their routines and copy their techniques and each month I’d chop a little more of the straight ends off. My best friend was my cheerleader. She would send me so much information and then one day she also decided to big chop, and then I had a friend to go through this journey with. My hair definitely looked crazy during this journey, but it wasn’t so bad because I lived in a white town, they barely could tell the difference.

Two years had now passed, and I began to experience another hurdle. With each new growth, I began to love you less. I noticed that your pattern was kinkier than the girls on YouTube and Instagram. You were short and hard to manage. My wash and goes didn’t go as easy as there’s seemed to and braid outs and twists out barely lasted a day before the humidity got to them. And you were costing my college pockets a fortune. But we were too far into this now, so I kept going. All the girls said patience was the key, so I decided to be patient with you and I’m so glad I did.

This has been an almost five-year journey and one of the greatest experiences of my young adult life. My beautiful natural hair, I love you more than words can describe. I no longer groan at the process of taking care of you because it is the most relaxing part of my week. You are my therapy and self-care. Each time another black girl compliments you or asks me my routine I’m filled with glee because one day she will get to feel what I do now.  You are big, defiant, and unruly, a true reflection of me. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of being a queen, but with you, as my crown, I can think no less of myself.

Humor Life

10 feelings we all experience as graduation approaches

Graduation is one of those events that bring a world wind of emotions. You’ve spent hours scrounging over textbooks and rapidly typing papers, you’ve gone to games or avoided them like the plague, and you’ve hopefully made some lifelong friends who helped ease your misery and sleepless nights. Near the end, everything seems to go so fast and it’s hard to process your thoughts and emotions before it’s all over. Here are a few emotions you might experience and relate to during this trying time.

1. Over it

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[Image Description: A little girl lays face down on the floor in exhaustion clutching to a merry go round that drags her in a circle.] Via Giphy
All of a sudden every final, project and paper are all due on the same day.  The anxiety of tackling the finals mountain alone is enough to make you want to give up and lay in bed. You start testing how low of a grade you can get on the last assignment and maintain your grade. C’s get degrees, right?

2. Wait…am I going to pass?

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[Image Description: SpongeBob frantically blows on surrounding fire.] Via Giphy
You haven’t slept in a week and can’t remember what the taste of real food is because you’ve been surviving off of library fumes and vending machine chips. Your coffee stopped tasting good 5 hours ago, but you’re still sipping in hopes of an ounce of caffeine to fuel your veins. This is all a result of your procrastination and now you’re not sure if you want to take that C after all.

3. Leaving it up to God

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[Image Description: A man turns towards the camera with a smile and wipes his hands.] Via Giphy
You’ve officially finished everything and can finally hit submit. You know your work could have been better and maybe you should’ve proofread your paper one more time or at least used Grammarly but it’s all out of your hands now. Sleep is on the horizon.

4. I passed!!!!!

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[Image Description: A man stares in open-mouthed surprise.] Via Giphy
When you get your finals grade back and you somehow managed to finesse the system. You’re not even sure why you ever doubted yourself because you are genius and pure perfection.

5. It’s happening!!

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[Image Description: A woman starts a tap routine on the subway wearing a coconut bra and rainbow pants.] Via Giphy
You wake up on graduation day and everything feels surreal. You don your cap and gown and even though the cap is ruining your hair and your family is already driving you crazy, you are beyond excited for the show.

6. Please don’t fall

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[Image Description: A woman trips down a runway in very high heels.] Via Giphy
Whether you’re wearing heels or not, the walk across the stage is just as stressful as your entire school experience. This is your moment and you’re just praying not to fall especially with the added pressure that everyone in the crowd has their phones posed to make you the next meme of the month.

7. I’m going to miss this hell hole

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[Image Description: A man is crying and saying “Thank you.”] Via Giphy
You are making it across safely, you hear the cheers of your family and friends and as you shake your dean’s hand you find that you’re getting choked up. This experience has been anything but perfect but you’ve learned so much. Thank you to all the people who’ve stood by you and supported you through the rough times and the glorious ones.

8. 1…2…3…*pose*

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[Image Description: A woman turns and poses for the cameras on the red carpet.] Via Giphy
Celebrate good time come on! It’s time to take a million pictures with your family, friends, and classmates! You know your Instagram feed is going to be flooded tonight, and since you’ll probably only wear this outfit once, you can’t let it go to waste!

9. So what are your plans after graduation?

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[Image Description: A little girl stares in disgust.] Via Giphy
Almost immediately after you walk the stage someone is bound to ruin your good mood with the infamous “what are your plans after graduation?” question. You know they mean well but it’s annoying and pressuring. I’m working on it auntie, please let’s eat!


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[Image Description: A series of cats frantically banging on computers.] via Giphy
Sadly, your aunties questions will haunt you into the night. You’ve already applied to six thousand things but what’s a thousand more if it’ll secure your future? Adulthood continues to loom over you like a dark monster in the night and you must defeat it.

After all your hard work just know that success will come, whether, in the form of more school, a job, or an internship, you got this. Don’t stress too much and be proud of all you’ve accomplished! It can be hard but try your best to take a moment and soak it all in, you did it! Happy graduation! I am immensely proud of you.

Gender Inequality

I’d never heard about Muslim women in prison – until now

I had never heard of the Muslim Women in Prison project until I watched Youtuber Dina’s Tokio’s “creators for change” series.

She chose to highlight amazing Muslim women around the world who were just living their lives as they saw fit and breaking barriers at the same time. One of the women she met up with is Sofia Buncy, who founded the Muslim Women in Prison project and they discussed all that could be done to help these women.

Before this, it had never even occurred to me that Muslim women might be prisoners or had ever broken the law in any way, even as a Muslim woman who has broken the law herself.

My outlook on my friends, my mother and Muslim people, in general, were that despite the stereotypes of terrorism, we were all just pious and perfect law-abiding citizens. Little did I know how dangerous this outlook was and how I was acting on another stereotype that aided in the oppression and misunderstanding of Muslim women.

Society has this idea that religious persons are perfect persons and religiosity and morality go hand in hand. We see outward signs of piety like a hijab, a nun’s habit, or an orthodox cassock and we expect the people wearing them to be morally strong, impeccable human beings. And while these garments often do remind the persons wearing them of their faith and their faith’s practices which can align with societal morals, they are anything but perfect.

Often if these persons are caught doing something unlawful or immoral they receive harsher judgments and are castigated.

This is the story of so many Muslim women in prison today.  Along with the same mistreatment that all women receive in prison like abuse, rape, and denial of basic human rights, these women often face language barriers, community backlash, and stigmatization, as well as discrimination from the officers who oversee them.

The worst part of it all is that when you look at the records of these women, they usually aren’t even hardened criminals.

According to Buncy, they are frequently first-time offenders, victims of abuse, and familial circumstances, and yet they are treated like the worst of the worst. It truly seems that these women are being punished for their crimes as well as for being Muslim.

They should not be held to some higher standard to then later be dragged through the mud. When a woman puts on her hijab, it is her job is to hold herself to the standard that aligns with her religious beliefs, not anyone else’s.

We do not speak for them and we definitely do not speak for God. Our job is to treat all people equally.

It’s time we start thinking of these women. We habitually forget about women in prison but Muslim women?

We don’t think of them at all.

Gender & Identity Life Inequality

These are 5 ways you can honor Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

The best part about scary stories isn’t the suspense, gore, and unimaginable monsters coming to life, but the endings. The part where good wins over evil and the monsters are defeated only to be heard of again through storytelling. Growing up I used to view slavery and the holocaust like a scary story. I knew they were real but like all bad things, they came to an end. The monsters were defeated and ceased to exist. In my mind, there was no more racism or antisemitism and everyone lived in peaceful harmony and equal opportunity no matter their skin color or religion.

But here in the real world, it feels like there’s been a surge of antisemitism around the world. The villains are now Neo-Nazis and they are recalling a time that we must never let happen again. The Holocaust, which ended the lives of almost 6 million Jews and other innocents, is a dark stain in history that we will never forget. In accordance with the Hebrew calendar, we remeHolocaustholocaust and all those who survived such terror.

Here are a few things you can do for Yom Hashoah (Remembrance Day), to not only make an impact today but to keep remembering and fighting against hate and persecution.

1. Take part in the Mourner’s Kaddish

[Image Desciption: A photo of a woman praying near a window.] Via Unsplash
The Mourner’s Kaddish is a series of Jewish prayers that honor the dead and is extremely important in regards to the holocaust. It’s been translated into English from Aramaic and anyone can recite it or visit a synagogue to join in the prayers. This act is not only respectful of victims and survivors but shows religious tolerance that Jews often aren’t afforded in comparison to Christianity.

2. Experience history through museums

[Image Description: A photo of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.] Via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This is as good a day as any to visit a Holocaust museum to hear the stories of what victims endured. If you are unable to visit a museum today, still make sure you take a moment and reflect. Also, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has online interactive activities that you can read through and take part in. They include things like understanding propaganda and the dangers that come with silence and compliance, which translate well into issues we see today.

3. Engage with unproblematic media

[Image Description: A photo of books in a library.] Via Unsplash
If you’re not a museum person, there are many movies and books out there that will teach you so much.

My favorite books include:

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak that highlights the book burning that occurred in Germany during WWII through the eyes of the dead.
  • The Boy Who Dared by Susan Bartoletti is based on the true story of Helmut Hubener the youngest person sentenced to death by the Nazis. He shared anti-Nazi material after discovering the lies told by Germany while listening to forbidden radio broadcasts.
  • Schindler’s List where a Nazi is forced to face the reality of WWII and begins to rebel and save Jewish lives.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas tells the story of forbidden friendship between a German boy and a boy in a concentration camp and exemplifies the innocence often forgotten in war.
  • Fiddler on the Roof  follows the life of a poor Jewish man and his life as antisemitism threatens everything he holds dear.

4. Tikkun Olam

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[Image Description: A photo of a Holocaust Memorial in California, U.S.] Via San Francisco City Guides
Also known as “fix the world,” and seen as a loose translation to social justice. In Judaism, it’s seen as God’s direction to help those in need. Religious persecution and genocides are still currently happening around the world and it’s important to be aware of them.

The Darfur genocide occurring in Sudan against the non-Arab population is horrific and violent. There’s also the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, where Muslims are being persecuted for their religion and constantly fleeing for safety to neighboring Bangladesh.

It may seem hopeless and out of your hands but awareness and spreading the word always makes a difference.

5. Remember why we call certain people “neo-Nazis”

[Image Description: A photo of people walking through a memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany.] Via Unsplash
In further conjunction with Tikkun Olam, remember to not exclude anti-semitism in the current conversation. We’ve been so quick to name the alt-right neo-Nazis and call them out on racism, anti-Muslim rhetoric, stupidity and bigotry and while those reasons are accurate and warranted, anti-semitism has frequently been left out the conversation. These people hate Jews and don swastikas on their arms. We have to protect the Jewish as fiercely as we protect our other allies.

The important takeaway is to remember and to learn to see the signs and take a stand before millions die.

We cannot allow history to repeat itself.

USA World News The World Inequality

On April 3rd and every other day, we are vowing to love a Muslim

April 3, 2018, and every April 3rd after that shall now be known as #loveamuslim day.

A day where we highlight religious freedom and a hopeful end to xenophobia after leaflets were spread around the East London area of the UK calling for xenophobes and racists alike to use this day to “punish” Muslims for their religious beliefs. Muslims and allies decided to strike  back against such gross hatred with the hashtag “love a Muslim day.” On this day we aim to not only to stand by Muslims and protect them against hate but also to listen. To listen to their stories and not silence their voices with our own ideas of martyrdom and allyship. Religious persecution has pervaded our globe for far too long and it’s time to put an end to it all.

This leaflet that was spread around the streets of London and sent to people’s homes indicated a system where people could commit hate crimes for points. Points that had no meaning or value but could be earned for committing hate crimes like ripping off hijabs or “butchering Muslims with knives or vehicles.” It encouraged people to not be sheep and let “them”, meaning Muslims, overwhelm the white majority while simultaneously encouraging herd behavior by following the leaflets ideology.

It can be easy to just write this off as hate speech and think that Muslims have nothing to fear, and I wish that were factual but xenophobia is a global issue and isn’t going anywhere. Just in the UK alone, rates have increased by 40% reports the Guardian and in 2017 there was an average of 38 hate crimes daily. These are terrifying numbers that only mildly highlight the pervasive nature of this issue. With Trump’s “travel” ban that clearly targeted brown countries that were predominately Muslim and real hijabi women getting acid thrown in their faces almost every day, a stunt like this is far from funny or cute.

It’s time we begin to recognize the xenophobia in our everyday lives that are pushing this rhetoric and hateful ideology. It’s in our laws, our social ideology and even our media. Like the Disney movie Aladdin that pretends to be some inclusive movie but subtly portrays Muslim dominated countries as barbaric and misogynistic. I just find it so hypocritical for us to constantly condemn Nazis for their hate but refuse to see the very same actions in our own xenophobia. Real people are dying due to their religious beliefs. This is blatant religious persecution in addition to being incredibly racist for targeting those who “look Muslim” when Islam does not have a face.

It’s tiring.

So today we stick a huge middle finger to the hate and stand with Muslims against those who only want to inspire hate and death. I know that no matter the day I will be sure to use my voice to protect those who need it most as long as I have the privilege to do so.  It’s also important to remember that the best way for you to #loveamuslim is to ensure that these acts of kindness are not just a one time thing. This should be a part of our everyday lives because Muslims are targeted every single day, whether it’s an official hate day or not. It’s also important to remember that being an ally is not your chance to speak over a narrative or claim a moment for martyrdom.

We need to step aside and let Muslims have a voice and control the narrative about their communities, all the while supporting them through it all.

The World

Fertility clinics are huge part of women’s reproductive health, but they’re ruining women’s lives

One of the toughest hurdles a woman may have to face in her lifetime is infertility. As if that’s not enough, women are inundated by society’s expectations on motherhood, while also being fed false information that ultimately serves to make them feel like infertility is their fault. Undoubtedly, this can be a devastating experience. Many women turn to alternative methods of conception,  like tracking their ovulation, trying home remedies, going to fertility clinics and trying to preserve their eggs for possible in-vitro fertilization. For many women, fertility clinics are their last hope, be it for illness, old age, and other personal reasons. 

Imagine you are struggling to conceive a child, and you decide to trust a fertility clinic to store your eggs for possible in-vitro fertilization. Now imagine that your eggs were damaged due to mismanagement and that your chances of conceiving were forever ruined or severely set back. This is the reality of hundreds of women face due to devastating annual mishaps at fertility clinics. 

Both Cleveland University Hospital’s fertility center and the Pacific Fertility center had to disclose to their customers this month that due to temperature levels and other maintenance mishaps, their eggs and embryos were at significant risk for no longer being viable. This caused a world of devastation to many families who were probably on their last resort like Kate and Jeremy Plants, who were dealing with the devastating effects of ovarian cancer. To go through something as horrific and exhausting as cancer and then to hear that your only chances of having a biological family are extirpated due to the incompetence of a company; I can’t even begin to imagine what that detriment would feel like.

Now, a class action lawsuit has been filed against Pacific Fertility Center for this heinous mishap. According to the Washington Post, one year of storage in this facility costs almost $9,000, and that’s not including consultations, medicine, lab work, and the appraisal of a healthy embryo or egg. With the sheer number of eggs that are now conceivably damaged, this maintenance error has thrown millions of dollars down the drain for these families as well as caused insurmountable pain.

While a mistake is never purposeful, this is a pretty bad one that has ruined thousands of peoples lives. From ruined eggs to fertilization mishaps and switched embryos, these accidents continue to cast doubt on clinics nationwide with helping parents conceive. They look unprofessional, thoughtless, and to be quiet honest, they look a little evil. 

I’m not exactly sure what the right solution is in order to quel tensions, help these women, and restore faith in the capailities of these clinics, but something needs to be done so that women and families never have to go through this again. Fertility clinics are essential in upkeeping the scientific progess in regards to women’s health and they should act like it. Regulations should be tightened up to avoid frequent “low-risk mistakes” from reoccurring.  All we can hope is that this class-action lawsuit will make a difference and ensue change.  While you could never put a price on someone’s body, the money won would not only force these clinics foster new and secure regulations, but it could also fund more expensive treatments for women who may still have a chance or adoption costs for those who don’t.

History Race Inequality

Hey America, the Confederates lost the war. It’s time to start celebrating the right people.

Harriet Tubman is finally recognized in Baltimore – and America clings to racism instead

Recently, a Confederate site in Baltimore called Wyman Park Dell, has been rededicated to honor Harriet Tubman. The Confederate statues of both Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee were removed, and the park has now been renamed Harriet Tubman Grove in honor of the 105th anniversary of her death. 

What ensued feels like déjà vu.

It was a little over a year ago when the horror of Charlottesville occurred. We saw the clash of racist neo-nazis and protesters fighting for equality in America; this event would become a pivotal one for our current political and racial divide in America. The whole debacle started because neo-nazis were angry over the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the infamous Confederate soldier, from Emancipation Park. It didn’t make sense for a person fighting against the emancipation of slaves to be honored in a park about emancipation (but maybe that’s just me).

The parallels between this event and Charlottesville are creepy, to say the least. A common denominator? Riots. Don’t forget – Baltimore experienced massive riots in 2015 as a result of police brutality and the wrongful homicide of Freddie Gray.

The rededication of Harriet Tubman Grove has once again sparked conversations about the removal of Confederate monuments around the U.S. (the South in particular). Personally, I’m very excited to see these statues taken down, and people on the right side of history finally getting the honor they deserve. It’s completely ludicrous that these monuments even existed. The Confederates lost the war – and still, America has the audacity to glorify them and claim that racism no longer exists. If you think about it logically, it doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.

confused tituss burgess GIF by The Late Late Show with James Corden
[Image description: Man jumps back in confusion and shock]
Psychology today explains how symbols affect the subconscious. Powerful symbols (like the statue of a racist!) “[can] convey a complete thought, concept, or ideal without the use of words to describe it.” So basically, no matter how many words people may say to deny it, these symbols that carry a history of racism are conveying the message that they are still perpetuating the same dangerous message of subservience. 

The neo-nazis don’t really care about this, however, and despite their hateful rhetoric, we need to continue to knock down these symbols. When you compare America and the horrors of slavery to Germany and the holocaust – both horrible stains on each countries reputation – Germany has handled things a lot differently than the U.S. They destroyed all symbols of the Nazis. There are no monuments to Hitler or his most famous and ruthless generals because Germany is actually sorry for what it did and wants to atone for its egregious mistakes.

America, on the other hand, is proving that it isn’t sorry for what it did to black people and continues to deny and try to erase its past. When has covering up the truth ever bode well in history? Literally never. If America had handled this right the first time, we could’ve avoided the constant tantrums of people who worry about the “erasure of American history.”  

What was done to slaves and what is continuing to be done to African Americans will never be forgotten, but knocking down these monuments is the first step in apologizing for those mistakes. And there’s something just so sweet and satisfying about black people being honored and standing on the earth that a racist was knocked down from.

Politics The World

Our government representatives are sleeping on the job – and it’s putting women in danger

As a full-time college student with a fellowship and a part-time job, my days and nights are filled to the brim with work. I go to bed extremely late and wake up as early as possible. The only way I survive my long and arduous days are with quick naps in the middle of the day. Being a U.S. representative, however, is much different. I’m sure their lives are filled with much more time consuming and stressful work, and it seems that they are determined to get their naps just like the rest of us. There’s nothing wrong with that – in fact, I encourage it so they can be more level headed when making decisions that will affect our everyday lives. I definitely know my naps help me in that way.

But I nap at home, not at work.

According to Politico, members of the Black Caucus have recently submitted a letter to the ethics committee to investigate the legality of Congress members sleeping in their offices.

Some members like Paul Ryan argue that this act of sleeping in their offices shows that they are hardworking and dedicated, but I know if I was found sleeping at my job it would not be seen as dedicated. I’d be fired for laziness, stealing from the company, and for the sheer audacity of my actions. Not only are these representatives stealing taxpayer dollars by getting free housing and amenities, but it’s a suspicious act altogether. A room full of politicians with no supervision will never give me an assured feeling.

CNN brought up another very real and terrifying issue that is directly affecting victims of sexual assault. With over 50 people reporting instances of sexual violence on capitol hill, nothing is scarier than having to stay late in the office to actually do work, with your abuser sleeping right next door. How are you supposed to stay concentrated on all you have to do with a very real threat looming over your head? If we aren’t going to actually take action and seek justice for victims, the least our government can do is ensure these victims have a safe work environment.

Be extra careful of the male lawmakers who sleep in their offices — they can be trouble. Avoid finding yourself alone with a congressman or senator in elevators, late-night meetings or events where alcohol is flowing. And think twice before speaking out about sexual harassment from a boss — it could cost you your career.”

These were the rules that female representatives, staff, and interns would follow to keep themselves safe, according to the previously cited CNN article. At this point, it’s no longer mind blowing that even within our own government women can’t feel safe. We aren’t safe in our own beds, our schools, the workplace, and even within our government. From this one quote, it’s clear that these representatives are doing more than just “working and sleeping” in their offices. If they can’t be trusted around another human and complying with the laws regarding persons how can we trust them with making new laws. We can’t, we literally cannot and the congressional black caucus was right in questioning them and calling for an investigation.

If the people in power can’t act like adults and follow the same rules as everyone else, why should they be allowed to make them?