NYT, CNN, BBC

I find it alarming that the White House banned certain news media from its Friday press conference.

The News isn’t supposed to be articles praising the President’s every move or claiming the President to be the greatest despite actions and policies that are not aligned with ‘greatness.’ The news is supposed to inform the people so they can understand the facts and develop their own opinions and feelings about it. The News is supposed to give different perspectives of events unfolding around them. The News is supposed to be critical, thought-provoking, and honest.

Fake news is not news that does not follow only one perspective or kiss up to a President’s awful policies and careless actions, but it is news that is so distorted to only see the event in one way, a good way that benefits only one person. Fake news is lies being told as truths, such as the 45th Inauguration having the highest attendance and the Bowling Green Massacre, by our government and its officials. Fake news is essentially propaganda blindly leading its people into thinking everything is fine when actually everything is not fine.

Having different news outlets is good because there are details in each story that come from different perspectives. It allows people to get a full understand of policies, events, and ideas. It provides a true democracy of speech and accessibility of the people with its government. The media is unofficially the fourth branch of government and has its power in making the people believe this and allowing them to know this. There is great responsibility in informing people and it depends on many different news outlets to develop their story and share it with others. By blocking some of these news outlets from doing their job, then it is only the people that are suffering at the hands of a tyrannical government. The news should not be allowed for a certain few who agree with you, Mr. President, but everyone who participates in this democracy of ours, and yes, this includes your critics, the 65 million who voted against you, CNN, New York Times, and BBC because democracy is not only limited to the landowning, white male, but to all of us.

green grass and tall trees

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Let’s just start out with cold, hard facts: the environment matters and global warming exist and is a bigger issue than we recognize it to be.

This is our home. Over the years, we have become like rebellious teens trying to create our rules that benefit only us and only caused conflict with the rest of the household. We have disposed of our trash at our ease out windows while driving onto the side of the road, into our rivers, or just left in the grass and trees because nature will take care of it. This is like piling another dish in the sink when your parents have asked you to do dishes or calling it almost when you throw a piece of trash away but it misses or leaving one dirty shirt on the floor and insisting on picking it up later when it becomes the first dirty shirt of many others.

We are cutting down trees at a faster rate than they can replenish and our actions of burning fossil fuel and completely disregarding our environment as our right to use and exploit its services and goods without accepting consequences in return is just insane to say is not an issue worth discussing or even saying is an issue.

Leaving our responsibility towards others to be the ‘bigger person’ means that we are saying that we have no responsibility for the mess we are creating of our home.

To say that this isn’t a problem because it doesn’t affect me personally is living with blinders on. The degradation of our environment means worst air conditions and water conditions that affect our health and because of this means a heavy medical bill from our pockets. The degradation of our environment affects the food we eat either from ocean acidification affecting our fish products and causing problems with livestock growing with weather irregularities because of the earth trying to heal itself from these problems. The degradation of our environment means that our home will not be able to sustain us and protect us from dangers, but instead make us sick and also hurt us.

The earth is warming up. Not just because of a cycle, but also because of our actions of deforestation, overfishing, burning fossil fuels, mass urbanization, and ignorance of consequences that is causing the earth to warm up and also cause more irregular and severe weather patterns around the world. This shouldn’t be a debate of whether it’s real or not anymore, but action in how to ease our contribution to this problem.

Maybe we have acknowledged this problem, but we haven’t really thought of it. In a first world nation especially it’s easy to think that this doesn’t affect me when we have a job or school and friends to hang out with and that new Giant Big Mac to try out. Our life and routine keep us from truly seeing this problem surrounding us and the world bigger than ours. Sure we pass by litter driving to work, but never really give it much thought but it’s trash. We should recognize that the trash shouldn’t be there and not only does it make the drive to work ugly, but it contributes to the overall pollution problem that will affect our water, air, and soil resources. However, in this first world nation I live in with others, we should be held more responsible with the established political, economic, and social power we have, oh and the knowledge we have of our world and actions. We have the knowledge and resources to look for alternative ways to live that coincides with the environment rather than aggravates it and will provide economically and socially.

As inhabitants of this home, we need to take part in keeping our home livable. We need to be aware of these problems and act towards a solution instead of debate and wait for a disaster to cause us to make us realize that there is a problem. We need to educate others and help them establish their needs rather than let them deplete their resources and further live in squalor. What we do and how we live is connected with everyone and everything else in this home. Let us live harmoniously with each other instead of conflicting with each other. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but we can start now by picking up that dirty shirt or really looking at this world around us.

Lemonade’s Legacy

I applaud Adele for her last acceptance speech in Album of the Year. She recognized how ’25’ was a great album, but it paled in comparison to ‘Lemonade’ in the effect, empowerment, and era to be redefined by.

I remember buying Lemonade as soon as I got money. I had only heard of Formation from the Super Bowl half-time show and was like wow Beyonce has a new album coming out. I honestly didn’t care much for Beyonce before – yet respected her musicianship. But then once the music video came out and the teasers for the visual came out, I just had to buy it and oh boy I was not disappointed.

Lemonade is art. Through its music to the poetry and its picture, my gosh, is it beautiful. I won’t lie the prose before ‘Hold Up’ with the ‘I plugged my menses with pages from the Holy Book’ inspired some of my writing for a while because it was just an inspiration and work of art through everything it was. ‘Sorry’ was another part of Lemonade I thought was just amazing, the look, choreography, and song is amazing. It’s beautiful and just recalling my first time watching it makes me feel speechless.

Then the cultural effect. There are artists who always skim around social issues and politics by vaguely putting their support for LGBT rights, feminism, or black lives matter, but then Beyonce drops Lemonade and reminds us that this is who she is and the issues that not only affect her because of her race and identity but others that look like her. She didn’t skim around politics, but she made it clear that Black Lives Matter and it is empowering to be a woman, and not only that but how seeing ‘black’ also affects the treatment of women. There is a difference between sexist actions towards a white woman and towards a black woman and Beyonce enlightens us about these issues. With her skin and her sex, she declares how she is proud of both and how it empowers her despite what everyone else tells her.

Lemonade empowered the marginalized and those who thought lowly of themselves because they had darker skin and were women. It showed them that they can be bigger and greater than their perceived worth but in their person.

Adele realized and told millions how it was Lemonade that deserved the award because of the impact it had not only with how much it sold and charts, but with her black friends and how they are now empowered and stand up for themselves. An album that can create that kind of impact of power and understanding of racial issues and construct of intersectional sexism deserved the Grammy award for the next ten years.

But you know, it’s not Adele’s fault for having a tremendous talent win against an equally respected and high talent of Beyonce. Adele rejected her Grammy and expressed how it should’ve been Lemonade – I think that’s real feminism of women recognizing each other’s talents and respecting each other in such an honest way and helping each other no matter how famous they are – but hey who made this contest/award show?

It’s surely not Adele. She showed up to be with other great talents and was nominated for a couple awards. It’s not her fault. More than anything it’s the Grammy’s.

Not only do they pick repeats in categories, but they overlook other great musicians due to popularity and maintaining its image. Most performances are of the pop genre and a selected few are like filler performances of the other genres of jazz, rock, and country. It’s not a wide variety being reflected off a music show of the widest range being picked for nominations or does it expose us to what music can be beside the overplayed pop song and classic band arrangement. It’s not about popularity with only showing pop music, but it should be a reflection of music and all its kinds and forms. It should be about exposing jazz music, classical music, indie rock bands, Latino music, R&B, and all the others forgotten.

I now realize that the performers and nominations selected are those that made some kind of noise within that year, not exactly talent. Music connects us all and shouldn’t be treated as only prioritizing those that made the radio station with Ryan Secreast, but those innovators who are changing the game and leaving their legacy.

Very much like Lemonade has.

the greatest show on earth

When I was a kid, I always woke up right away because I was excited about today’s adventure. I remember the sun peering into my room and waking up feeling happy. It’s not always like that anymore, but today carried those same light, happy feelings. Like that childhood innocence, I was able to live much like my younger self by going to the circus.

It’s this certain kind of nostalgia that hits you when you relive your past. There’s a sense of joy because you remember those vibrant memories that impacted your life and there’s a tinge of bittersweet because they aren’t the same memories as your more younger and vulnerable days. This type of nostalgia was especially strong attending the last Ringling Brother’s and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

When the news broke that this would be their last year traveling the country performing acrobats and daredevil stunts, a certain sadness washed over me. I hate endings and am terrible at saying goodbye. I always try to prolong a conversation so I won’t have to say goodbye and part from people I love and warm events I’ve enjoyed. I hadn’t attended the Ringling Bros. circus or even been to a circus since I was 5 years old, but the acknowledgment of an end made me sad. I wanted to watch this show one last time before its end and got the rest of my family to watch with me.

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We headed to the Buzz City early morning to catch the 11 o’clock show. It was a beautiful chilly morning with a clear sky. My dad told me he wanted to catch the early show so it wouldn’t be crowded because the Bible Belt population would be attending church than the circus. I thought ‘smart’ and enjoyed the drive with this lazy Sunday morning drive and Arcade Fire playing on the radio.

When we arrived, it was already packed with lots of people who I bet were trying to enjoy The Greatest Show on Earth one last time. When I saw the souvenirs and toys, it made me smile thinking how years ago I used to have one of those light up toys with the spinning top and how happy that toy alone made me.

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We were lucky enough to get $20 seats and a pretty good view despite being up so high. We could still enjoy the intergalactic entertainment and circus mischief from above. There were ice skaters from different planets zooming around the arena, astronauts from space, trapeze acts from daring heights, clowns that made us smile from silliness rather than afraid of them trying to kill us, fire acts awing us, trained tigers following their trainer’s command, acrobatic acts flying through the air, and two circus masters that travelled the galaxy to find performers to have the greatest show on earth.

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For one last time, the show delivered in entertaining. But that nostalgia feeling hit. It was great to be happy like a little kid with the amazing acts and talents you don’t see every day, but it was sad to know this was it and that it wasn’t as thrilling or lively as I remembered it. It was a circus with its continuous odd acts being performed, but it wasn’t the same fulfilling feeling I had like when I first saw it with “oooh’s” and “ahh’s” and confetti at the very end. Maybe it was the lack of elephants that made it less than superb.

After the circus, it was nearly 1:30. We were hungry and in the Buzz City. Unlike the small country town I’m from, we had lots of options to pick from rather than the same McDonald’s and Chili’s choice. We explored uptown for some options and came across some beautiful places. Charlotte is a combination of old brick buildings meet new industrial skyscrapers, and to stitch the past and future are scattered pieces of art across the city. There’s poetry on old brick buildings and there are sculptures along the sidewalk. It’s beautiful when you really look at it. We walked along these artworks while we looked at the Market Square and the garden area nearby. After this little exploration, we finally decided to eat at Grand Asia supermarket for some rice and meat for my family and vegetables for me. My dad got this guava drink and I got jasmine tea that tasted amazing, and that was my highlight of our meal.

It was still early and we were all still very happy with going to the circus and didn’t feel like going home yet. We drove around with the radio loud and windows down going down the freeway. We decided to go to the mall before calling it a day and prepare for the Super Bowl – my dad hopeful for a Falcon win and me for an amazing performance by a queen, Lady Gaga. We walked around joking about the lack of elephants and the farm animals that had replaced them and talked about the differences from our first circus to this last one. We were all happy and enjoying each other with sarcastic jokes and genuine smiles.

It was a very good day. Even at home, we decided to eat together and enjoy the Super Bowl with their anti-Trump commercials and Lady Gaga’s amazing Half-Time performance. It was a bittersweet day going to the circus knowing it was coming to its last spotlight, but it was still able to create vibrant and beautifully warm memories that will entertain and last for years to come.

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who is you

There’s this group of people from a summer camp that I still think are the greatest group of people I’ve ever met. We befriended each other because of mischief. From sneaking out and outrunning the night to passing around an accidental playboy flyer from dorm to dorm; we were up to no good. The purpose of this camp was to learn about environmental science, but we could care less once we found each other. We did fun things and we talked about everything. We had the best conversations. And this one is my favorite.

“Change is inevitable, it just happens to us,” I declared.

“Nah I don’t think so,” my friend said.

“How so?” I questioned.

“I don’t think people change, I think people just become more of themselves,” he explained. “I think over time, we find out more about ourselves and what we like to form our identity and . . . us.”

“And that’s change,” I retorted.

“No . . .” he started, “Change is like your hair being black today and blonde tomorrow, but this is discovery, this is growing, this is honesty.”

I thought it was stupid when I first heard him say this while we were eating lunch and went back to my Starbucks drink. I’m opinionated about everything and stay grounded in them until something makes me consider another truth. I sat beside of him and silently argued against his claim, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. It made me silently hate him during our lunch together, but also grateful for this new perspective.

We start out as blank sheets basically and over time we put some pencil marks there and some paint splatters there. We aren’t just one piece of art entirely of sketches or blobs of paints, but we’re first a sketching, then the painting, the shading, and finally the picture. There are times where we realize we didn’t like how something looked and erase some pencil sketches, but not the whole thing and make it better over time. Then there are times where we paint ourselves a certain color, but not the whole picture because that color means something to us, but does not define us. Essentially we are our own masterpieces of different collections of art we make of ourselves and not just one piece scrapped and becoming another piece.

This discussion still makes me think. I think of myself from high school and how I was obsessed with punk pop music, being seen as an intellect, and into fandoms obsessing over Doctor Who and Harry Potter. I don’t think I’ve changed like I would’ve argued then, but became me. I still like Misery Business and Dance, Dance and will turn it up when it comes on, but do not listen to it all the time. I liked to be complimented for my mind and have realized it’s good to be smart, but compassion, loyalty, and honesty are also admirable traits to have. I am still fond over Doctor Who, but haven’t seen it since Matt Smith left and love Harry Potter, but not with the same obsession. I am still that me from high school, but I’ve also developed an interest in classic novels, developed more sympathy towards others and humbling attitude towards life, and have an undying love for jazz music. I’m still adding color from the rough sketches I made.

This is my work in progress of a masterpiece. I’m still not done yet and you’re not either.