Tag Archives: Blog Post 4 – Exercising Public Voice

Pictures Are Worth Words, Why Don’t They Have Them?

Every month, you click through thousands of pictures, perhaps even more. You keep up with friends, shop for important or beautiful things, gather information from snazzy infographics. It makes sense. The internet is visual, pages on pages spreading before you in the interconnected, brightly colored smorgasbord of content inherent to its very nature. And it should be. Pictures are gorgeous, and our class text makes very clear how important it is that content catches the eye. But for some people, a picture alone doesn’t work, no matter how fancy the page. Some people need words. Thankfully, the internet has ways to make that happen. But content creators aren’t using them.

When people use words to describe a picture, its called alt, (alternative,) text. Not only does it help Google sort your images into better search results, it also makes images accessible to people who use screen readers, software that speaks everything on the screen and makes devices accessible without sight. More information on this technology can be found here. Without alt texts, screen readers might announce the word, “Image,” or read the file name such as “078GUU.jpeg, according to this thorough article. Such extraneous words when trying to look through a page are at best unhelpful and at worst cluttering as a totally blind user trying to scroll through a web page or a social media feed. But with good alt text, the pictures become relevant, clear and often interesting. Some platforms are beginning to attempt to bridge this gap with AI, but as this page so clearly illustrates,  it frankly does a terribly inadequate job, often spouting things like, “May be an image of cup.” Thankfully, humans do much better, though results are still varied.

Good descriptions differ a lot in length and focus, perfectly natural when there are so many types of images. They might be brief. “Model wearing a red floral dress with a sweetheart neckline and short sleeves,” for example, to accompany a listing in a shop that might have a wider description below. It might be long, “Two toddler boys, one with red hair and the other with blond, demolish a chocolate cake. The blonde-haired boy has frosting all over his face,” for something like a social media post or perhaps a description in a picture book. The above article suggests making sure you’re brief, no more than 125 characters, and clear in detail. Think about it like you’re trying to describe the image over the phone, and don’t include too much extraneous content. I’ve seen those same standards reflected in other research and real-world examples, but it’s very flexible, depending on the needs and preferences of an author. Its also an incredibly interesting art, because you get to decide what’s relevant, and that will very much depend on what kind of context or message your visual carries. Take the example of the two boys above. If they’re wearing yellow shirts, one is white, one is black, and they’re in a kitchen with blue walls, how much of that matters? All of it? None? If it’s a housing advertisement, perhaps the kitchen needs some love. Skin color is generally important these days, so an author might want to add that regardless. But so much around what gets highlighted has to do with purpose, so there’s no one right answer. This might make some people feel daunted, which might mean it gets neglected altogether, but that can’t continue to stand. Leaving images unlabeled is shutting a whole group out of the beauty, uniqueness and wisdom the Internet has to offer.

As of February 2021, a New York Times article states that 60.6% of home pages have no alt text, and a study in 2019 of 1.09 million tweets with images found that only 0.1 percent included it, as well. Please, help put an end to babbled file names and unhelpful descriptions. Here is a full guide on how to add alt text to some of the top social media sites. And if you want even more advice on writing descriptions, you can check out Alt Text is Poetry, a really unique project with a great mission to humanize the process while making it better for all involved. Shine a little bit of light into the darkened jumble at the heart of the net, one described picture at a time. Your visually impaired viewers will thank you.

It’s time for an extra cup

I have no doubt many of the bloggers here are like myself and can’t seem to get enough java during the workweek. Over the years we’ve all heard the warnings and hazards of having too much. While some concern is warranted regarding caffeine addiction and the ramifications of such should not be taken lightly. Coffee can actually provide a lot of positive effects for the body if consumed in normal quantities.

There have been a lot of studies conducted on the effects of coffee that prove, time and time again, that the benefits really do outweigh the risks. For example, a decade-long study that was concluded in 2018 found that 500,000 coffee drinking adults were 10%-15% less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers. If that isn’t enough reason to have another cup it’s worth mentioning that coffee is also a natural antioxidant and reduces inflammation. 

While the perks of coffee sound great, the catch is that the people receiving these benefits are drinking multiple cups a day. To maintain a healthy range the experts recommend that we drink three cups a day and no more than five since the positive effects diminish after that point. As I reviewed these studies I want to point out that there wasn’t a consensus on whether the coffee had to be caffeinated or not. However, logic would dictate that if caffeine intake is a concern it’s probably best to stay safe and drink decaf. 

https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/science-says-you-should-drink-this-much-coffee-in-2022.html

Why More Young People Should Consider Co-Buying

What is Co-Buying?

Co-Buying is the process of purchasing a house with two or more people in the pursuit of homeownership. Not everyone can afford a house these days and with the constant increase in inflation it becomes even more difficult to achieve. One must also consider the amount of insurance fees, maintenance costs, and taxes. That can be alot for one person to handle, so co-buying works as a stress reliever and means of shared equity.

Why Are Homes So Expensive?

The increase in price we have seen in the housing market is do to multiple factors but one that seems to almost be running unchecked and is also being enabled by our government is the mass purchasing of homes by hedge fund companies. Forbes.com states that the amount of homes for sale on a given day in february has gone down 24.5% percent from last year (https://www.forbes.com/advisor/mortgages/why-houses-are-expensive/). After the 2008 recession president Obama put the “Home Affordable Modification Program in place to help 4 million people with a $75 billion buyout but it didn’t work and 9 million lost their homes. The issue is that after these people lost their homes hedge funds would buy them out, sell them at a 30-50 percent lower price, and rent them out. As housing prices increased, the apartments around them increased in rental price as well. (https://peoplesworld.org/article/how-the-government-helps-wall-street-landlords-convert-family-homes-to-rentals/)

Proposition 13 is a piece of legislation that was put in place in california to protect homeowners from higher tax rates but instead fueled the government to do the exact opposite which was lower the incentive for the government to build affordable housing and instead focusing more on a gas station or mechanic which had higher gains in property taxes. Bills like this are being used all over the country and the main way they succeed is in making sure you do not know about it.

How Does Co-Buying Protect Against Increasing Housing Costs?

As time goes on co-buying will become a more common practice because of how our society is designed around equity. It is becoming harder and harder for the middle class to break into the housing market and this is an issue because passing down homes from a parent to child is one of the main ways members of the middle class build equity. Co-Buying allows you to get an earlier start on building that equity with others without having to handle all of the risk on your own, as no one wants to get stuck with a home loan they cannot pay off.

Why Masking Should Be Here to Stay

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/02/covid-mask-mandate-washington-dc/622860/

Of all the lessons that have scared me during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that you don’t know who you will hurt or kill if you catch the virus and silently pass it on to someone else. I have medical professionals in my family who have been taking care of extremely sick patients who sometimes would end up on ventilators and pass away, the majority of them being unvaccinated.

I am pro-vaccine, pro-masking and consider myself pro-public health. I grew up receiving the round of required vaccines for going back to school like many other children across the US. I have learned to accept the choice people have to decide whether or not they will receive a vaccine (even though it affects my family members working in the medical field who will end up caring for them if they get horribly sick), but I find it hard to accept a person’s choice to not wear a mask in public spaces during a pandemic.

Consider the fact that other countries who have faced deadly viral outbreaks like the SARS epidemic in 2003-04, where approximately 8000 people died from 29 different countries [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7159403/ – Overview on SARS in Asia and the World], where wearing masks in public expected. Yes, eastern cultures are typically more community-oriented – and in the west, particularly the United States, we embrace individualism and certain personal freedoms – therein lies some of the reasons why there is tremendous public discourse over things like vaccine mandates and mask mandates. The personal choice we have to wear a mask (or not) during COVID-19 pandemic is different than other freedoms we embrace, because it is a choice that affects the personal safety and well-being of others (if the virus is passed on from one infected person to the other).

The recent ruling by Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle to toss out the federal mandate for wearing masks on airlines has been deeply disappointing, and has no basis in supporting public health measures. “When U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle tossed out the federal government’s transportation mask mandate on Monday, she relied in part on her interpretation of the term “sanitation.”” [(https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/04/19/1093641691/mask-mandate-judge-public-health-sanitation#:~:text=When%20U.S.%20District%20Judge%20Kathryn,of%20the%20term%20%22sanitation.%22)%5D. I am hoping to see this overturned or challenged in the court system as soon as possible, because not only have many of us been looking forward to traveling safely, but it still affects the immuno-compromised who cannot get vaccinated and have a significantly higher chance of getting sick and passing away. Wearing a mask is a personal choice, but it is one that affects people around us and should continue to be mandated in public areas by the government to protect the health and well-being of everyone.

Homelessness in Minneapolis

Minnesota is ranked 16th for homelessness. You may be asking yourself what that means. In 2020, Minnesota had approximately 8,000 experiencing homelessness. This includes those unsheltered, sheltered, in hotels, or suffering from chronic homelessness. California is the leading state with the highest homeless rate with approximately 152,000 homeless. The difference of amount is what ranks us sixteenth and what ranks california as first.

Within the state of Minnesota, Minneapolis has a high amount of homeless in one area. It is quite obviously a problem. Not because there are homeless around our parks and schools. It’s the fact that the number of homeless are increasing, especially with the pandemic. This is an issue that needs to addressed. We need to take a step and act to help the community around us. If we don’t, the problem will only get worse.

Minneapolis’s Population of Homeless

There are many homeless encampments throughout the city of Minneapolis. The one that is most populous is the Powderhorn Park encampment. Homeless were evicted out of neighboring hotels suddenly after George Floyd’s killing. They were forced to venture for new shelter which landed them to the nearest park, Powderhorn. Currently, there are about 550 tents at this park. The people’s response was welcoming and full of helping hands. Volunteers, neighbors, and organizations rushed in to care for the homeless that was quickly evolving. Organizations started organzing funds to donate the bare necessities. Elected officals seemed to be overlooking this blaring issue as if it weren’t a problem. These volunteers advocated for the homeless and demanded help from policymakers of the city and state.

Problems still lingered despite these efforts. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, Governor Tim Walz sent $6 million of relief to the Minnesota Zoo. Money that could have been better utilized for the homeless. Now that the eviction moratorium has been lifted, those not eligible for the COVID-19 emergency relief can be evicted. This is worrisome because this means the homeless population will climb even higher as people and families are evicted from their homes. Protestors took this issue of ignorance into their own hands and camped outside of the govenors residence to advocate for the homeless and the funds they undeniably deserve.

City’s Response

As encampments started growing, the concerns from the surrounding community arose. Residents complained to the city and county because the encampment was mere feet from passing cars, and between two alternative high schools, prompting one to end in-person schooling and go online. They said people openly sold and consumed drugs and walked into traffic.

As a response to these concerns, the city began a clearing out process that affected many encampments. This act ultimately displaced the homeless residing there. The recent clear outs were the North Loop and Powderhorn encampments in Minneapolis. This upset both homeless and activists, so they took this into their own hands to protest this ugly act.

Activists confronted police and expressed the lack of understanding about homelessness. These activists were quick to inform them that not enough is being done for those who need a home the most, which is true. The city isn’t helping, it’s only making the problem worse. The clear outs are based on crime in the area that residents report and the deterioration of the area. These are baseless accusations and the city needs to realize that there is no proven correlation. It’s just a mask for the ugly truth of their feelings. Generalizations are drawn from the homeless population way to often. It’s time to stop and implement programs that will actually help the homeless and not drag them down further.

In order to change other people’s mindsets on the issue of homelessness, we need to bring awareness. Protestors are doing one thing that has made an impact, they are marching for the homeless that have died due to the homeless conditions. The frigid cold being the top cause of their deaths. Even though the tempature was below freezing on December 19 – the day of the march – they still followed through. This is only proving that they are desparate for awareness, and for help. I agree with them. The signs have names, ages, and locations. This personalization will impact those not aware of the cause substantially, hopefully,

Minnesota’s Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness

The state of Minnesota realizes that everyone should be treated equal. For the homeless, this means providing stable homes, employment, and resources for their overall well-being.If this is provided, the community will only prosper.

The state’s main program is called Heading Home Together, which was presented in Minnesota’s 2018-2020 action plan to prevent and end homelessness. This plan is different that the last that was proposed. This one urges for all minnesotans to take part in this cause. If we realize our awareness contributes to the prevention and end to homelessness, we can make a difference. We all play a role in this action plan and we will continue too, especially me.

I admire what the state is trying to do here. The city’s response has been extremely negative and something I do not agree with. The only aspect I agree with is the positive advocacy. The state realizes the issues with this community of homeless. There is nothing for them. Nothing is provided or noticed by the city other than the crime in their area that residents pick on because they are uncomfortable for no good reason. This plan does the complete opposite and urges minnesotans to fulfill their role. The one thing we can do to make a change.

If more acts like this were implemented, the awareness could change the game. Influence from protestors would ultimately affect the city’s decision process when it comes to the homeless. Maybe funds will be allocated to the population, or donations will be made. If we try hard enough, we can make a change that’ll impact a community that needs love and comfort. I believe in helping the homeless and I hope you do as well after reading this.

Resources

https://www.fox9.com/news/protesters-gather-at-powderhorn-park-after-homeless-encampment-asked-to-vacate

https://mn.gov/dhs/heading-home-minnesota/

Adopt from a Rescue Shelter

A cause that I am very passionate about is adopting your animals from a shelter. When you adopt an animal from a shelter you are saving an animal’s life and emotionally rescuing them from their past as well. There are plenty of animals living at rescues that are in need of a home and need to be shown that they are loved. You could be the person that changes that animal’s life when you take them in.

Benefits of Adopting an Adult Rescue Dog

There is a big stereotype around shelter dogs having many behavior issues but actually many shelter dogs have been through some training. In the shelter, many dogs have been updated on their vaccines, and checkups through the vet. The shelter staff can also share important information about your new furry friend’s personality. This way you will know what to expect when you bring you dog home with you. This link that I found explains the many benefits, including the ones that I have listed above about adopting a dog from a rescue shelter. Adopting vs Buying a Pet — Are Purebred Dogs Better than Mixed Breeds?

This is the Best Time to Adopt a Dog

Ever since the pandemic started in 2020, most people have been stuck working from home. If you are one of those people who are working from home all the time, this is the best time to invest your time in getting a new companion to enjoy the time at home with you. Adopting a dog could not only save your new friend’s life but save another dog’s life who needs a shelter to save them as well! By adopting you will also discourage mass breeding from taking place as well. This link tells all about the benefits of adopting a dog: Why Adopt a Shelter Dog

When you decide to adopt a dog, please consider going to your local dog shelter and saving a dog’s life that day!

The Ocean’s Most Barbaric Practice Continues to Thrive

Humans kill 80 – 100 million sharks annually. Many have their fins sliced off and are discarded back into the ocean still alive. The fins are used for shark fin soup, an East Asian dish associated with wealth. As apex predators in many ecosystems, the disappearance of sharks is causing dangerous imbalances in marine communities worldwide.

What is shark finning?

Shark finning is the gruesome practice of cutting off a live shark’s fins and discarding the body back into the sea. Because of the high commercial value of shark fins and the relatively low value of shark meat, fishermen take only the fins and leave the rest of the body behind—an extremely cruel and wasteful practice. Appallingly, the sharks are usually conscious through much of the ordeal.

Why is it a problem?

Shark populations around the globe have faced extremely steep declines due to years of exploitation for their fins, cartilage, meat, and liver oil. There is a robust global market for shark fins in particular to meet the demand for shark fin soup.  

Around 50% of the dried fin market is brokered through Hong Kong and China is the primary market for shark fin. However, shark fin is still a major trade and is consumed widely in the USA, putting shark populations at risk.

Continued demand for shark fin soup, dumplings, and other shark fin dishes served in restaurants around the world perpetuates the practice of finning, resulting in an estimated 100 million sharks being killed each year for their fins alone. Large shark populations are declining globally, and many species are imminently threatened with extinction.

Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup, a delicacy once prepared exclusively for the Chinese emperors and nobility.

Business is good…

In the past 20 years or so, the demand for shark-fin soup has skyrocketed. It is still associated with privilege and social rank – a bowl of soup can cost up to US$100 – but the explosive growth in the Chinese economy means that hundreds of millions of people can now afford this “luxury.”

Viewed as a delicacy and status symbol, the shark fin is typically eaten shredded in a jelly-like soup at weddings and family banquets. “The shark fins themselves don’t taste of anything,” says Andrea Richey, Executive Director of Hong Kong Shark Foundation . “The taste comes only from the soup broth. It’s the texture of the shark fin that people like and the fact that it is a luxury item. It’s conspicuous consumption. It’s about showing wealth and status by ordering the best or most expensive item.”

The cartilage from a shark fin is carefully dried and prepared, and used as an ingredient in a soup flavored with seafood or chicken broth and herbs.

Is shark fin soup healthy?

Shark fin soup has been associated with a variety of benefits from increased virility to longer life.  However, the fin is purely cartilage, the same compound in human, cow, and other vertebrates.  Cartilage has no nutritional value.  Any benefit would come from the broth and other ingredients added.

Why this issue is important

This practice is barbaric in nature, unsustainable and unethical. As apex predators, large sharks like great white sharks, play an important role at the top of the marine food chain. Removing these top predators creates an imbalance called a trophic cascade leading to less abundance and declining ecosystem health. Without them, the entire food chain can be affected, negatively impacting the entire ecosystem, including fish humans love to eat.

Progress

The U.S. Congress banned shark finning in 2000, but the legislation has loopholes. For starters, fishermen are still allowed to have a limited number of separated fins onboard, if the rest of the animal isn’t dumped back overboard to die. But the measure can be hard to enforce and leaves plenty of room for cheating.

But the Shark Conservation Act closed such loopholes. The bill forces fishermen to bring sharks to port with their fins still attached—a requirement that advocates hope would, by virtue of freezer space alone, finally provide some real limits to their haul.

“It’s very sad to know that we are contributing to the demise of one of the greatest animals in history,” says HSI campaign manager Iris Ho, herself a Taiwanese American. “It’s shocking, it’s embarrassing, and I just know we have to stop it. And I just honestly think that if Chinese people, if we are contributing to the problem, then the solution is also with us. We have to stop it.”

What can you do?

Sign this petition to end the cruel practice of shark finning: https://chng.it/M8bxfCTMXD

Sign the petition asking Fed Ex to join 35 airlines including UPS, DHL and Air China and stop facilitating this unsustainable trade of endangered and threatened sharks. https://chng.it/qrt9Vtnp7t

Now that you are aware of this cruel and unethical practice, share this message on social media, inform your friends and family, sign a petition, donate to the cause, boycott restaurants that use shark fin in their foods, keep the conversation going.  

Sharks still lack sufficient protection from the cruelty of shark finning and because of the fragility of shark populations, this blog is a leading effort to compel you to care.

– April

Links:

https://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life/sharks-rays/shark-finning-sharks-turned-prey

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/shark-finning-cruelest-cuts

Food Waste in America

The Federal government and food industry in the United States need to find a way to eliminate healthy food waste (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, etc.) and increase these same foods at food shelves for low-income households. The FDA says, “In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30–40 percent of the food supply.”; and in the past five years an average of 41.5 million people per year are participants on SNAP, the supplemental nutrition assistance program, due to low-income.

It is so sad and makes me angry to think that all of this food is being wasted and at the same time people are hungry and children go to school with empty stomachs. Food costs keep going up, making it more difficult for people to pay their bills and still have enough food to feed themselves and/or their children. There are food deserts within cities, where families have difficulty finding fresh fruits and vegetables. Yet food is being tossed.

The difficult part is how do we create a more equitable food chain that can give farmers, grocery store owners, restaurant owners, food processing companies, etc., a successful livelihood that can also eliminate food waste and decrease the need for food assistance due to low-income salaries.

One thing we need to do is to encourage the types of companies I mentioned above to donate their extra food instead of tossing it. Per Waste Reduction Alliance, “84.3% of unused food in American restaurants ends up being disposed of, while 14.3% is recycled, and only 1.4% is donated”. This should not be that complicated; an example, restaurants should want to keep their prices lower in order to keep business. However, as a consumer, I understand that if I go into a favorite restaurant and I want to order a particular item that they have on their menu, there is a “cost” to the restaurant for the unspoken pledge of having it available. As a consumer, if I am paying for that “cost”, that we know the restaurant is including in their menu price, then the restaurant should have an obligation to me as a consumer, to use those products wisely by not throwing food away that could have fed someone in need. When my husband and I got married, one of the things we asked our vendor was, “What happens to the food you prepare but does not get eaten?” I was happy to hear that they donate the food to a local women’s shelter. From my understanding a lot of vendors for weddings, hotels, etc. tack on extra meals to make sure they have enough, and of course the consumer is paying for it, so at least if they donate the extra food, we know it is going to a good cause and our money has been well spent.

Obviously, we as consumers can eliminate food waste by buying only what we need and actually eating it. We can go to restaurants that use the sustainable way of cooking; you do have to be a little more open minded with these restaurants because their menus may not always be the same. They cook what is in season, grow their own produce or buy locally, and manage their waste. We can also keep an eye on the expiration dates of foods on our shelves at home, and either use ourselves or donate to a local food shelf for someone to use.

An organization in the United States that is having an impact on food waste is Feeding America, who along with other partners, “…work with manufacturers, retailers, and farmers to reduce food waste and get rescued food to people in need.” This is a great practice to make sure that what they have grown, bought, canned, etc. will be used.

Our government can follow France’s model by banning supermarkets from tossing edible food (and they should do this for food producers too). Creating this ban, gave supermarkets in France a chance to be creative, and they realized they could donate this food to charities. The government can continue to encourage healthier eating so that these foods will not go to waste, which in turn help lower health risks; and to increase better agricultural practices to eliminate harmful practices that increase production of food but not the quality of the food.

We as individuals can do a little, but companies and the government can make a larger impact to create equity of healthy foods for everyone. Healthy foods is a human right, that should be given to all.

Harry Potter and the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

Somewhere in Florida, a child is hearing about a bill called “Parental Rights in Education”, called by some the “Don’t Day Gay” bill, and does not begin to realize how their education is going to be ruled by the government, starting with restricting speech on gender and sexuality. This child, from preschool to third grade aged, does not know there is a bill that has been passed which prohibits stating certain genders or races are oppressed. This child does not know in their earliest years that they will have books taken out of their classroom, BANNED, because they talk about race, sexuality, or gender in a way that calls to light oppression.

This is taking books from children, moreover, taking knowledge from children, in effort to have parents have more control over education.

I could try to tell you how insidious this is, even though some say they are just trying to protect the children (Putin is also trying to save Ukraine, but that’s for a different day), but I love a good analogy. Bear with me folx, because we are about to go on a metaphorical journey. Grab a butterbeer and buckle up.

To explain, if you don’t know, the Harry Potter series is a mix of Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations and The Alchemist, set in modern day England. Long story short, little wizard boy doesn’t know he’s a wizard, tragically loses his parents, lives with neglectful Aunt and Uncle. Harry finds out he’s a wizard, his mom and dad were killed by Lord Voldemort, a man on the mission to cleanse the wizard bloodlines to create “pure blood”. Our boy Harry was almost killed on the same night when his parents resisted Voldemort, but weird magic stuff happened and he didn’t. Voldemort hung out in the shadows, doing horrible things like becoming a parasite on another wizard’s body, waiting around until he had the moment to kill Harry and return to power. Today, we are specifically talking about the fifth book, (The Order of the Phoenix) when we meet this witch:

Don’t let her fool you. She looks pink and cute and parades around as though she loves children, but really she was appointed by the government (the Ministry of Magic) to come to Hogwarts (a magic school) as the “High Inquisitor” of the curriculum. She starts to make changes, which are agreed upon by the PTA equivalent of Hogwarts (with a dark side). One of the main men on the PTA is one of Voldy’s supporters, who believes in purifying the blood of all wizards (i.e. eventual enslavement of all non-magic folx). He also has a big history with threatening to kill people on the PTA, if they don’t do what he says. He’s making some big decisions, even though he doesn’t have a degree in education and is definitely in the wizard equivalent of the KKK, wealth ‘n’ all.

Back to the lady in pink, Dolores Umbridge. She starts small at Hogwarts. She observes lessons, critiques instruction, then distributes government-made curriculum in place of history books. She fires people who don’t adhere to the government’s standards, or are speaking out against government interference in education, eventually firing the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, who is actively working against Voldemort and the idea of a wizarding hierarchy. She even fired teacher because he had “giant” blood, which is something that was said to make his disposition wild and dangerous, although Hagrid was one of the most beloved people at the school. And she does this all on the orders of the government and a select group of folx at the Hogwarts PTA, who are *criminals*.

It’s not long before she is torturing students. She literally tortures students in detention by making them write lines with a quill that takes the blood from their body. As we see this unfold, we see that her influence is not only harming children, but also providing a education which makes them basically defenseless. They never learn anything with the books they receive, they are never taught to practice spells; they are told if they think Voldemort is real and going to hurt them, they are telling lies.

Slippery slope indeed, but does it sound familiar?

Voldemort is a pure blood supremacist, and Dolores and the government think they are doing the children a favor by telling them they don’t have to worry about violence, white wizard supremacy, or oppression, because it doesn’t exist. They change history books, they erase people of color teachers who have non-magical blood by firing them, and they torture students for not maintaining their silence.

When the government and a select group of parents start controlling the curriculum for all children, ignoring blatant truths in the world such as oppression, injustice, racism, sexism, and homophobia, we start this scary cycle. Understand: identity is intertwined with perception, which starts before school even begins. Perception of inequality begins as soon as a child is treated different then his or her peer because of race, gender, or sexuality. Now, that child doesn’t have the crux to understand that their government-appointed textbooks and teacher (not there yet, but slippery slope) is treating them differently because of their gender identity, their race, or their culture. No. Instead, they think they are bad children who deserved to be punished (that’s almost a direct quote from our dear friend, Dolores). But they never even know why. And I haven’t even got into those who it doesn’t directly affect (outside of the state of Florida); the eyes of the LGBTQ and BIPOC world are on Florida. Once they begin to erase gender, identity, and sexuality, what validation will those people feel for their journey?

Thank you for taking that magical metaphorical journey with me. Horrified? Terrified? Scared? Me too. Here’s what you can do:

Look at the facts. I didn’t say much about how empirically harmful this is — but here’s some cold, hard data.

Tell lawmakers to oppose this bill.

Teach the people around you, your children, your friends and family, that erasure is harmful.

As an LGBTQ+ kid, I was bullied. I was told I should be essentially lynched so I can spend an eternity burning in hell for my homosexual sins. I was reported to the principal for holding hands with my girlfriend as inappropriate, when straight couples would share buckets of saliva by their lockers. The whole softball team refused to change with me in the locker room. It’s okay to be gay, to say gay, and to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity.

I AM VALID. I AM HISTORY. I WILL NOT BE ERASED.

It should be noted, Harry Potter actually a challenged book. Many schools have challenged the idea of the witchcraft in the novel. It’s also contested due to transphobic comments made by the author, J.K. Rowling. Many of the community members who do enjoy Harry Potter condemn the acts of the author, but state that the book does not portray any overt transphobia, and in fact, is a book about love, peace, and goes against racism, sexism, bullying, and xenophobia. I do not condone any comments made by the author of Harry Potter that have negatively impacted the LGBTQ+ community.

Watch Out for Motorcycles

When I was younger, I had a fascination with motorcycles. I don’t know if it was the sound of them or how fast they could go, but I was in love with them. I always said when I got older I was going to get one and I did. My first bike was a Honda Shadow.

I learned how to ride on that bike. Even joined a motorcycle club. I got my first road rash on that bike. I got right back on. Before I rode, I would drive the chase car to long distance and out of town and events. That’s when I seen the disrespect of two wheelers.

Motor vehicles seem to not know that motorcycles have the same right on the road and require the same space. I’ve seen people bogart there way with motorcycles. There are over a thousand of motorcycles fatalities a year across the United States. The biggest reply by motorist is, “I didn’t see them.” https://bringmethenews.com/tag/motorcycle-crash

Minnesota had a high number of deaths in 2020. Statistic show that over 63 motorcycle fatalities occurred. According to the Department of Safety 2021 has been one of the largest ever for Minnesota and that’s not counting those accidents that haven’t been reported. https://dps.mn.gov/blog/Pages/20201214-minnesota-motorcycle-fatalities-2020.aspx

Everybody needs to be safe on the road, especially our motorcycles. They deserve what the four wheels, 18 wheelers, and all deserve; their life. Save a life by looking twice!