All posts by katiepemberton

Christmas Blues- Blog 6

 

It’s that time of year again! Stores are filled with fake trees and baubles and candy. There’s ad after ad of children playing with the newest toys and men having a blast with the newest tool accessory. Nothing says man like a new tool set!  There are ads for jewelry and clothes; because that is all women want to receive from their loved ones. There are traditions to keep alive like Elf on the Shelf, cookie baking, and Christmas carols. This is a time for family and happiness. You know, holiday cheer?

Then why do I, every year with out fail, feel something entirely different? I don’t know what it is, I have a great family that I love spending time with. I am usually pretty happy on the actual day of Christmas, but I am always Eeyore on the lead up to it.

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I don’t know if it’s that I spend too much money on frivolous things or if it’s a weird thing about my lack of parents. I do have parents, but they are just not around. I have plenty of sisters though, five in total, so I don’t feel alone. Maybe it’s that Christmas is so exclusive. People who are not Christian have to suffer through these weeks of Christmas being pushed into their faces. I have Jewish friends who shop in Target and have half of a shelf to shop from; then you look around and the rest of the store is filled with Christmas stuff. Yes, I know. America has more Christians than any other religion. I get that. I do. It doesn’t take away from people feeling left out.

My friend is an immigrant from Somalia and her child is now 4. She has no idea what Santa Clause is or why he would visit our houses in the night, but it is talked about every day at school. She goes home every night and cries, because she doesn’t get to do any of the things the other kids do. My friend feels terrible and would like her daughter to feel included, but she can’t. Many other kids like Shaima feel the same way.

My aunt lost her son in a tragic car accident a few years ago. Christmas and Thanksgiving are terrible for her and my cousin. It’s a reminder of the person they lost and a bitter remembrance of traditions of the past. There are many families that deal with loss during the holidays. There are families that are dealing with disease and sickness and their loved one being stuck at a hospital. There are military families who are missing their child, their sister, their father.

Then there are families who feel the stress and burden of the holidays, because they don’t make enough money to buy their kids toys, a Christmas tree, a fancy Christmas dinner and any other holiday “tradition”.  They worry that their kids will go to school and say, “Santa Clause brought me this coloring book and new crayons!” Then some other kids will say, “Santa Clause brought me a new iPad!” What might the kid with the coloring book feel about that? I can tell you from experience: that kid will not feel good. That kid will feel like they did something wrong. Maybe they were somehow on the naughty list. Maybe Santa hates that kid. Later that kid will learn; Nope, we are just poor.

I feel like a terrible wretch feeling this way when I am non-religious and can spend this time celebrating a religious holiday any way I want. I have a huge, loving family and here I am complaining about my feelings when there are people out there who have it way worse. I guess that’s my point; people have it way worse and I can’t stop thinking about it around this time every year.

A couple years ago, I started donating to local food shelf services for families to have a nice dinner and to places like We Can for families to have more support. I try to donate to Toys For Tots and I donate winter clothes like mittens and hats for children. I will admit; I do this for selfish reasons. I don’t feel as bad when I sit down with my sisters for dinner and exchange gifts. I feel better knowing I did at least something to help those with less feel more.

I’m not trying to make you feel bad for enjoying your holidays. I just wanted to write something personal for my last blog and this is always on my mind this time of year. If you want to donate to any charities this year, that would be cool. If you want to ignore all of the world’s problems and engulf yourself in holiday cheer, that’s cool as well.

I hope you guys have a great winter break. To those of you graduating; Congratulations! To the rest of you, maybe I’ll see you around!

 

What’s Up With Paris? (blog 5)

 

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Ahh, Paris. The city of romance. The city that lives and breathes chocolate croissants and espresso. If you’ve ever been to Paris, you will also know that there are SOOO many people living there. Paris houses around 2.2 million of them in only 40.7 square miles. Let’s put that into perspective. Minneapolis has a population of 413 thousand and 58 square miles. Do you see the difference here? It’s crazy. I was there last year and I noticed the amount of people immediately. My little Minnesotan heart was shocked. There was endless traffic- cars honking at every hour, scooters whizzing by,  people speed walking down the sidewalk and then there was me; saying “ope, sorry” to everyone that ran into me.

I have been keeping up with the protests in Paris this past week and, even knowing that protests are not uncommon in this city,  I am a little surprised in the amount of people taking to the streets. And not just Paris either, people all over France. Here’s a little refresher on what’s going down:

The “Yellow Jacket” activists — named after the neon vests French drivers are obliged to carry in their vehicles in the case of roadside emergencies — want Macron to call off the tax increases.

Motorists have blocked highways across the country since Nov. 17, setting up barricades and deploying conveys of slow-moving trucks.
Around 280,000 protested in the streets across the country that day, with 106,000 people attending rallies on Saturday, according to French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.

-via Time

"Yellow Vests- Gilets Jaunes" Protest Against The Rise Of Fuel Oil Prices In Paris
Source

This protest is horizontal; there is no leader (well, according to some, there are about 8 speakers of the movement). And just like the Occupy Wall Street movement in the U.S., there is not one single demand; there are many demands from over 200,000 people. A large protest movement has been done before and with little to no organization, nothing is accomplished from it. Let’s say that President Macron agrees to meet and discuss the protest; who meets with him? Who will be the De facto leader, the speaker of the whole movement?

This movement didn’t start out of thin air. The people of France are tired of paying 30% of their income to taxes. They want a less expensive cost of living. If you ask Rachel Marsden (political columnist living in Paris), this movement is a revolt against socialism:

This revolt is about the rejection of socialism and corporatism (which is the corruption of capitalism through government cronyism at the corporate level) by people who want freedom from the oppression of government micromanagement and taxation, and who have lost faith in the government to spend their taxes wisely and appropriately.

via Chicago Tribune

On the other side of that is Famke Krumbmüller (co-founder of OpenCitiz, a political consultant firm) and her opinion on this movement; which is basically that it’s a general response to reform:

She noted that protesting was a part of France’s political culture and could only be expected in response to Macron’s agenda.
“That is the challenge when reforming France. Whenever the reform is a little bit ambitious you’ll have the entire streets against you.”
“I always say, ‘you say reform and they say strike.”

via NBC news

Any way you slice it, People in France are unhappy. It’s getting harder to live comfortably with the exorbitant amount of taxes weighing them down. President Macron wants to be rid of gasoline and diesel and thinks increasing taxes on these fossil fuels will lead the way. In trying to save the world from climate change, he might actually be hurting the people that voted him into power.

 

 

 

When Has the United States Ever Been Unified? Blog Post 4

If you ask someone why our country is so divisive, they might tell you any number of things. People are blaming the media, the president, the democratic party, and the republican party. It seems like everyone is to blame. The President is very openly partisan. He does not like Democrats and would rather they did not vote in this upcoming general election. He ran as a Republican, so this isn’t surprising, but you would think that the President of the United States would want everyone to vote. He tweeted on oct, 26th, “Republicans, go out and vote!”. This is divisive rhetoric in of itself; as President Trump is dividing the Nation into Republican Vs. Democrat. I also found it a little odd that he put quotes around “Bomb” and called it “Bomb stuff”. He wants the news to be talking about politics rather than a serious and disheartening threat against Democratic figures by an extremely hateful Republican/Conservative man.

What exactly does President Trump mean by “Fake News”? Is he referring to all media, or just the media that reports negative things about him and the Republican Party? In this tweet from Oct. 28th, President Trump is upset that people are blaming his rhetoric for the divisive nature of our country.

On Oct. 29th, President Trump, was upset again, and tweeted that he meant only fake news being the enemy of the country rather than all media. Putting Media in parenthesis after Fake News is a little confusing, so maybe he should just not tweet things that can be misconstrued as  fear mongering.

Based on tweets from just the past week and this article from Washington Post, one can see how President Trump isn’t helping the divisive nature of this country. The question is, can we blame him for it? And if it’s not his fault, then whose fault is it?

If you ask Robert Hills, who wrote an opinion piece for nwfdailynews, it’s the democrats and liberals who are to blame. He blames the recent protests and news coverage and the “pictures of mean, angry, in your face, shouting, and name calling encounters” for the divisiveness.

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If you take that avenue of thinking, then isn’t the Republican party and their news affiliates just as “in your face” divisive?

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It seems that everyone is to blame. It’s the media, it’s the democrats, it’s the republicans. It’s everyone’s fault. This country has never been unified. It’s always been partisan. Every election, it’s the Democratic Nomination Vs. the Republican Nomination. That Is where the problem starts. We cannot be unified, if even our government is divisive. How are we, a very large population of people, going to put aside our differences, if our differences are so integral to who we are? The short answer is, we’re not. We are never going to agree. I think something that would help, though, is having a president who will stand up to this partisanship and say, “Listen, you can be Democrat or Republican, you can be Independent, but what you can’t be, is hateful. This leads us to destruction.” Instead, what we get is, “Republicans, go out and vote” and “Fake News (Media) is the enemy of the people.”  Nothing is going to change.

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Scary Time, Indeed. Blog 3

 

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I woke up this morning and did what I always do; which is go on my Google News App and read up on anything that happened over night.

I saw the headline, “Man facing groping charge after flight: Trump “says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts”, and I honestly thought it was fake. Is it Aril Fools Day? Oh, that’s right, It’s October!

Here’s the gist of the article I read: This guy, Bruce Alexander, groped a woman’s breast TWICE while sitting behind her on a flight. The woman assumed the first unwanted touch was an accident (okay, what?) and then got upset when It happened again. She yelled at him and asked to be moved to another seat. When the flight landed, Bruce Alexander was apprehended by police. This is what Alexander told the officers in defense of his actions:

“The President of The United States says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts.”

I really am at a loss for words. Or I was. I was reminded of another in-flight situation from just a few days ago. The flight actually had to make an emergency landing! Some guy was touching his seat neighbor and tried to play “footsie” with her. She moved seats and he approached her again. Then he started yelling at her and at the flight attendants and because they feared for their safety, the flight landed. Thankfully, he did not try to use Trump’s views on women as a defense for his gross and creepy actions.

This also reminds me of the way some men reacted and continue to react to the #Metoo movement. As more women and men are opening up about their own sexual assault/harassment survival stories, more men are being arrested and held accountable for their actions. This is a good thing. People sometimes ask, “Well, why didn’t she report it right away?” Well, to those people I would like to slap them in the face point out how uncomfortable it is for someone to admit to being a victim let alone talk about it out loud. People might not believe them, or they do, but then they have to keep talking about it over and over, or maybe sexual harassment is so common place that, until this year, it wasn’t taken seriously.

I can’t tell you how many times my friends and myself were out at a bar and some guy grabbed one of our butts or said something completely inappropriate to one of us. We used to just keep on with our night, hoping that the guy will take a hint. Not anymore baby! We will call you out on it and we will report your actions.

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Then we have the whole “Scary time for men” thing. I’m sorry. But if you (men, I’m talking to you; and I know- #notallmen) think that your actions or words might be misconstrued as harassment, then maybe you should do some reflecting. I am not usually scared to walk alone at night, nor do I assume every guy has bad intentions. But I have been scared of men and I have carried pepper spray with me. I have pretended to be on the phone while walking alone and If a guy is walking alone behind me, I do slow down to let him in front of me. It’s not something I constantly think about, but I do feel unsafe sometimes. And that is nothing compared to how many women around the country feel. I leave you with this funny sad song:

Advocating for Positive Change- Blog 2

An advocate is someone who cares about another person, a group of people, a political stance, an endangered animal, etc. An advocate is a person that cares deeply enough to do something; to act on it. If you want the real definition from a credible source (the dictionary), here you go:

ADVOCATE:
“A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.

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This is a great definition, but it’s no longer enough to just support or recommend a cause or an organization. It’s time we act. This can be something as simple as volunteering at a soup kitchen, picking up litter, voting, donating money, volunteering at a helpline, etc. A huge non-profit organization that could always use your support is the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU advocates for American Citizens and the rights that are often stolen from us. Consider donating by becoming a member. You could also consider donating your time by volunteering at Neighborhood House; a small, local organization dedicated to offering services to those in need. There are so many things we can do!

Advocacy is powerful. This video offers ideas on how to advocate for something you believe in:

 

Many of us feel we just don’t have the time. In that case, you could stay involved by keeping up with current events. You can stay involved by voting on every election day; whether it’s a special election or a general election. You can be involved in a social change by interacting on social media- most of us are on social media anyway. We can even sign petitions online now. Many organizations would love a monetary donation.

My suggestion: Find the time. Do something positive for this world. It will make you feel better and it will help make the world a better place. A little kindness and sacrifice can go a very long way to helping those in need.

You can start now by voting on November 6th! Get that Sticker!

IVotedSticker250

Blog Post 1- NOLA: This Southern City Has A Dark Side

 

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From my Instagram

I recently visited the city of New Orleans. It’s a port town on the southern coast of Louisiana right along the tail end of the Mississippi River. It’s a town of French and Spanish culture that resulted in Creole culture and is a hub for unique people to thrive. They have this festival called Mardi Gra– Oh! You’ve already heard of it? Right. It’s only one of the most known celebrations in The United States; even in the whole world.

History

New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne a wealthy and prominent explorer. He and his brother set out to establish the colony of Louisiana and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne loved the small area and dubbed it New Orleans after the Duke of Orleans. Then New Louisiana was given to the French Empire after the Treaty of Paris in 1763 and want back to French control in 1803. New Orleans (the tug-of-war child of a divorced Europe) was then sold to The US in 1803- mysteriously this sale was/is called The Louisiana Purchase. The city of New Orleans became what it is today, because of it’s rich French and Spanish history.

creole
Courtesy of FrenchCreoles.com

The Birth of the Creole culture in Louisiana

The term Creole is French and refers to the people native to Louisiana before it was sold to the US in 1803. The term was used to differentiate between Louisiana natives and European immigrants. The Creole culture is a fascinating mixture of many different countries’ languages, customs and histories. Food like Gumbo, red beans and rice, and Jambalaya are Creole. Their language, bits and pieces taken from Spanish, French, and African is known as Louisiana French. They also developed their own music called Zydeco.

Mardi Gras

“An American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans”

-Mark Twain

Mardi Gras is an epic celebration that resulted from the Catholic Christian holidays Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. The term Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday) and usually consists of a feast before a great fasting called Lent.

mardi gras
Courtesy of Fox News

New Orleans is a fun city full of interesting culture, great food, fun energy and Mardi Gras! It has alligators and French Quarter and Bourbon Street! It’s Fun Fun FUN.

But Wait…

From my Instagram

New Orleans is also a town of darkness. It was a well known Port in the 1700s and 1800s servicing the Atlantic Slave Trade. The town is a hot spot for paranormal enthusiasts due to it’s rich history of death and crimes resulting in Haunted houses, graveyards, churches, and other buildings. A must-do of visiting New Orleans is a haunted tour or a ghost tour. You can learn about New Orleans’ sordid past and visit some of the most famous horror stories in the United States. My friends and I did our own tour with a phone app that had a list of the most famous places as well as the background of the hauntings and a map. One of the most famous of New Orleans is the house of Madame LeLaurie (story used in the second season of American Horror Story) who, along with her doctor husband, tortured and dissected slaves in their attic for years. They did the most disgusting and atrocious things! Eeuugghh!!!

The Real Scary Stuff…

However, is the amount of violence in contemporary New Orleans and the amount of homeless. New Orleans, in 2017, had the highest rate of gun violence in the US; more than Chicago and Detroit.

The homeless and bums/drifters flock to New Orleans, because of all the tourists who also flock to the city to spend money and have a fun time. These tourists are most often drinking and/or drunk and are much more generous when it comes to giving out money or help.

Many are homeless, because of huge personal and professional losses after Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans suffered a 42% loss in revenue after the hurricane.

Tourism has been steadily growing after the hurricane, but the city is still reeling almost 20 years after. This town is beautiful; it’s blend of cultures, it’s creole and jazz music, it’s creole food, the bayous and swamps, the history, and the art make it a European get-away right here in the U.S. It’s definitely worth visiting, but while you’re there, don’t ignore the dark side.

Good MOURNING

I’ve always thought the saying, “Good Morning”, to be quite funny and also, punny. When I wake up early, the first thing I do is mourn my past self that was blissfully sleeping just minutes ago. Also, my favorite response to “Good Morning” is always the sarcastic, “Is it?”

I have many interests, but a few of the most important are reading, writing, basketball, camping, traveling and even video games. I am pretty political, especially lately; and I try to be bipartisan, but my viewpoints tend to stray to the left. I also really enjoy watching movies, reading movie reviews and screenplays. I love to watch behind the scenes stuff and my biggest goal in life is to write a movie/ direct a film/documentary and using my communications and writing major to bring social change through film.

Anyways, Good morning and good mourning; however you feel about it. It’s nice to meet you all and I hope we have some fun this semester.

Signing off,

Katie