Parkland Florida Mass Shooting: No More Thoughts and Prayers

On Valentines Day, the United States proved yet again that the second amendment is more important than the safety of American school children.

We let 17 high schoolers die because the backbone of the American government refuses to take action on gun control reform in a country that has the highest rate of mass shootings in the world.

That is why I am incredibly comfortable saying that member of congress who voted against gun reform is complacent in these violent, senseless and all too familiar murders.

wptv-parkland-shooting_1518654404676_77951839_ver1.0_640_480
Students walk in line after being evacuated from Parkland High School

A common rebuttal to this argument is that the problem isn’t the amount of guns but the mental stability of the people pulling the trigger.

You’re right, guns can’t shoot themselves.

But without the unprecedented access given to terrorists to buy guns at high quantities with unchecked amounts of magazines used in mass shootings – America wouldn’t be synonymous with this kind of unspeakable violence.

Addressing the “mental stability” excuse commonly used after mass shootings – a study referenced in Politico found those with serious mental illness are responsible less than 1 percent of all gun-related homicides annually in the United States and 14.8 percent of all of the mass shootings.

Blaming mental illness when talking about mass shootings is a copout.

We need to address the real and ugly issue at hand.  America is complacent in these mass shootings due to the unprecedented access to firearms for practically anyone who wants to buy a gun.

If we had stricter gun control laws, there would be no Sandy Hook. There would be no Columbine. There would be no Las Vegas. There would be no Parkland High School.

XFWJ5YTJRNFELLC7U4J6WU2WHM.png
Graph from L.A Times showing Parkland, FL in relation to America’s worst mass shootings

As humans first and Americans second , we can no longer fuel our moral high ground by simply spreading “thoughts and prayers” on social media in an effort to prove to our friends and family that we care about these kids lives.  If you are serious about your empathy and disgust at these mass murders then you need to combine your thoughts and prayers with action.

If you actually care, you will show up and vote in 2018 elections for candidates who support gun control reform. You will write to your congresspeople, everyday, and demand they take action on this epidemic.  You will support non-profit organizations, like EveryTown, that work to end gun violence and build safer communities.  You will not forget this mass shooting next week when the media coverage slows down. You will speak up about issues that matter.

If you remain silent, I will take your silence as complacency and that the mass murder of American children isn’t an important issue to you.

 

The Cultural Importance of K-Pop

Warning: I’m about to geek out really hard on this post about my love for K-Pop.

For the last year or so I’ve been listening to music, watching Youtube videos and consuming media in a language I don’t understand – and I love every second of it.

I’ve always loved branching out in all areas of my life and consuming media outside of my cultural bubble here in the Midwest. I had heard about K-Pop through acts like PSY and his record-breaking song “Gangamn Style” in 2012. But it wasn’t until one day when I was watching a Buzzfeed video where people were reacting to Korean Pop, commonly referred to as K-Pop, music videos that I began to fully understand the enormous impact Korean music has around the world.

In the video,  “Call me Baby” by EXO was one of the featured songs people were reacting to. And I was completely enthralled. If you’ve never seen a K-Pop music video you are in for the ride of your life.

The amount of time, money and synchronized choreography was something I’ve have yet to seen in Western music. The video was a collection of what seemed like a million beautiful, well-dressed Korean men dancing their hearts out to a song I genuinely enjoyed. I played that song on rotation for weeks and it was the entrance into my journey into the world of K-Pop.

These past few months I’ve been obsessed with the K-Pop band BTS who have broken records as one of the most successful K-Pop groups to break America.

BTS, a seven-member group of Korean men in their mid-twenties, were the first K-Pop group to win a Billboard Music award in 2017 beating out acts like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez and were the most tweeted-about artist of 2017 on social media.

BTS-instrumental
BTS: J-Hope, Jin, RM, V, Jungkook, Jimin and Suga

That is unprecedented.

So, this begs the question: How does a K-Pop group like BTS that has only one member who speaks English, tap into the hearts of fans around the world?

One word: Their ARMY.

That is what their fans are called. Online they live up to their name with millions of dedicated fans who help translate their music videos, lyrics, interviews and tweets so fans around the world can enjoy their music.

My love for this genre of music has made me reflect on the importance of music to allow fans to get a outlook on a culture and country they may not have otherwise been interested in learning about. The cliche that music has no language is incredibly pertinent in the world of K-Pop.

It’s not uncommon for their fans to learn Korean, educate themselves on the culture and Korean way of life in an effort to better understand the members of their favorite band. It’s something you didn’t see many fans doing when other popular boybands like One Direction were at the height of their popularity.

Maybe it’s because the customs and culture of the U.K are more prevalent around the world. Regardless, international fans have been introduced to much more than the music of Korea – they are educating themselves about the culture and customs of a population that is wildly different than their own.

And thats a good thing. Branching outside of our cultural bubble is something we all need to do in order to expand our worldview and become more empathetic and understanding of people who are different than us. If listening to music in a different language is the entry point into an expansion of ones cultural awareness – I’m all for it.

 

 

What does “Latinx” Mean?

Hola! Last night I had the honor of attending an event on the University of Iowa’s campus discussing Latinx identity. Panelists were a mix of students and faculty and were asked a series of questions pertaining to their own struggles coming to terms with what it means to be Latinx.

Latinx is relatively new term so lets dive in a little bit about what it means before we go any further. It’s a gender neutral term used for those who identity with their Latin American heritage. It denotes the “o” and “a” traditionally used at the end of “Latina” and “Latino” to signify a persons gender in an effort to be more inclusive to those outside of the gender binary.

3085ef6876a90b40_A
From Refinery 29’s article:  This Is Where the Word “Latinx” Comes From”

In 2017, NBC News did a report on the term and showed that there is mixed feelings among the Hispanic community whether or not to use the term. Quoted in the article, Roy Pérez, an associate professor of English and American Ethnic Studies at Willamette University said that the resistance to inclusivity is what turns people off from using LATINX.

“‘The underlying gender critique is what fuels hatred towards Latinx,” he said. “But why should we only have one word to describe ourselves? Latinx is just one solution to the complexity and slipperiness of labelling Latinos. And it doesn’t have to supplant other words.”

Make sure to check out the NBC article mentioned above – they do a great job of explaining the new term and getting the full scope of mixed feelings among the Hispanic community.

Now, back to the panel I attended last night. As a woman who identifies as Latina, it really opened my eyes to the diversity and mix of identities within the Hispanic community. There are so many ways to be apart of this community and not one way is the “right” way. A panelist, Danielle Martinez, used the term “imposter syndrome” to describe how she feels about her Latinx identity because she isn’t a fluent spanish speaker and said that there is a shame and guilt associated with trying to fit into a mold of what traditionally is considered Latina/o.

“There is a  shame and guilt that comes with who is and isn’t Latinx,”

When she used the term “imposter syndrome” a lightbulb went off above my head. It was the perfect term to what I had been struggling with my whole life. I identify as a Latina woman but I don’t have dark skin, my father is white so I took his last name and I don’t speak Spanish. I always felt the need to prove myself or give people a whole monologue about my Hispanic roots when the topic was brought up. I even felt embarrassed saying I was a Latina in front of people I perceived as more Hispanic than I am.

But the truth is I grew up in a very strong maternal Mexican household with the values, culture and history being passed down to me from my Mom and Grandma. My cousins may have a different experience than my sister and I because we were the only ones who lived near Grandma and Great Aunts growing up (still do) in a city with a rich Hispanic population and were exposed to our Hispanic roots more.

I can’t even begin to tell you all the parties we went to with mariachi bands or the amount of times people would tell me how proud I should be to come from the Rocha family who did so much for the Hispanic community where I grew up. I wrote a bit about my grandpa being one of the founding members of the League of Latin American Citizens in a post awhile ago which gives you more insight to where my advocacy roots come from.

What I’m trying to say is I carry my Latinx identity with me everywhere I go and this panel gave me the strength to me embrace my identity and not have to feel as if I have to prove anything to anyone.

I am a Latina woman – nobody can take that away from me.

If you want to check out some highlights from the panel – I was live instagramming it so here are some of the best moments.

Activism Quotes That Keep Me Fired Up

As the former, and iconic, President Obama use to say: Fired up and ready to go! But maintaining that go-getter attitude can be really hard.

Life gets busy, people can be mean and sometimes the world seems so doomed that you  just want to lay in bed and watch Grace and Frankie on Netflix.

In order to keep up morale and brighten up either a situation or my overall mood, I look at my inspirational board I created with some of my favorite quotes from people that have shaped my outlook on the world and made it a better place through their activism. I wanted to share some of my favorites with you today to keep you motivated and fired up and ready to take on this Monday!

Creating lasting change has never been easy. Especially for minority populations who don’t have the luxury of being able to pick and choose when they will be active members in the fight for equality.

It’s an every day job. A 24/7 gig.

Looking at these bright, colorful and uplifting images helps me maintain my focus and grounds me in the mission ahead – equality for all.

From The Depths of Hate: Christian Picciolini’s Redemption after White Supremacy

Sometimes the voice of one individual fighting against hatred can ring just as intense as the chants of protestors marching in the streets for equality.

Often times the work of the masses, in fighting against the systematic racism affecting minorities, can overshadow the work that individuals do on an everyday basis to fight against the powers of supremacy.

Continue reading “From The Depths of Hate: Christian Picciolini’s Redemption after White Supremacy”

The Power of the #MeToo Movement

trigger warning: this post mentions sexual assault.

Women and girls around the world have mobilized into a sisterhood in rebellion to the culture of protection that allowed them to suffer at the hands of men who took advantage of them. Meet the #MeToo Movement.

Continue reading “The Power of the #MeToo Movement”