Tag Archives: social change

19 Years.

weapon-violence-children-child-52984.jpegToday marks 19 years since the Columbine High School shootings. But what was once shocking became a regular occurrence. How could we have ever known where this state of gun violence would end up?

In this final post in my three part series, I want to share my story with my peers, the rest of the Xenials/Millenials. A story of shock, inaction, repeated shock, inaction, indifference, and hope.

Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook.

I was a senior in high school when Eric Harris and Dylan Kliebold went on a 51 minute shooting spree in their high school that ended up with 13 dead and 21 injured. The school year was almost over and I was looking forward to graduation in June. Life was pretty great in our sheltered pre-9/11 world where my biggest concern was what dress to wear to prom.

And in less than an hour, that innocence was taken away. I’d lived through the Oklahoma City bombing and Operation Desert Storm, but this was different. This could have been me.

As most tragedies go, the focus sadly shifts from the victims to the shooters in a very short amount of time. Why did they do it? Was it video games? Goth culture? Were they outcasts taking revenge? Even I pushed aside what happened as the news shifted to the shooters and then, when the 20/20 specials ran out of new content, moved on.

Several years later, with Virginia Tech, the same thing happened to me. Shock, anger, obsession, apathy. Then Sandy Hook, then countless others, and I stopped even being shocked.

My generation failed, big time. We could have been the ones who said enough with the thoughts and prayers. Do something. Stop this now. But we forgot. Moved on.

And then an old friend of mine got shot last year in Las Vegas. When he healed, I still did nothing.

Today kids walked out of class in solidarity to ask for gun reform. This culture of gun violence that gets normalized by the older generations with the thoughts and prayers has stopped with them. Why now? What makes them take action where their parents didn’t?

I truly believe that in addition to seeing their peers murdered on a regular basis, that social media has played an enormous role in their movement. Scott says “Your smartphone is all you need” and mentions the importance of Facebook Live (pp. 305-306). Though his writing is more in regards to marketing and PR, it still holds true for social movements. This generation grew up on social media, and they don’t hesitate to use it. Videos that are happening now, that are current, that are anything but what their parents would do to promote a cause. These kids can’t help but see what’s happening live all over the country, and the messages that spread so rapidly can create an urgency to act now.

Today, remembering Columbine, I still can’t help but feel a sense of guilt about my generation’s inaction. And yet I feel pride and hope and inspiration in these kids who have done what we failed to do. It’s not too late to join the fight.

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#HandsOffSyria

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My audience for this blog post is my fellow students as well as other individuals looking to educate themselves on social media or social platforms.

Through my last two blog posts, I have written about how social media or any type of social platform can be used to not only spread awareness but to start a social movement as well. On Saturday, the U.S. decided to bomb Syria along with the U.K. and France. There were a variety of different responses to this attack but this sparked a new hashtag called Hands Off Syria. Through this hashtag, people are showing what Syria looked like before the seemingly endless war started as well as the problems with the long history of the U.S. creating their own terrorist attacks but not calling them that. This hashtag brings light into the horrible acts that have been orchestrated by the U.S. over the past decade. In order for something to stop, it needs to be discussed which is what is being generated by this platform.

Twitter allows for so many different people to share their opinions as well as find a commonality with others to spread awareness and even make a difference just as was mentioned by John Coate (1998) in “Cyberspace innkeeping: Building online community”. I hope by reading my last three blog posts, readers have been able to see change for their eyes themselves and understand the importance of social media as a different platform than the rest.

#Enough… Calling Students “Dumb”

Audience: Parents and others who support the 2018 Walk Out to remember Parkland school shooting and call for action relating to gun control.

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Thousands of students walked out of their classrooms on Wednesday morning. At 10:00 until 10:17,  they rallied in silent protest and in remembrance of the 17 victims of the Parkland school shooting one month prior. Some students held inspiring signs, other students banded together to form peace signs or phrases like the trending hashtag #enough. There were beautiful blogs and news articles highlighting the walkout…others were strongly against the walkout.

Why is it so hard to pass by with a simple click of the like button and NOT read the comments? It never fails to drag me in. How many times on Wednesday did I stop and put my two cents in when someone says “This is so dumb. Why don’t they do something productive that can actually bring change?” ARG! I feel an overwhelming sense of, I don’t know, rage? And just like that my fingers are on that keyboard like wildfire, feeling like maybe I can just change one person’s mind…unlikely I know, but I just can’t help myself!

These protests are not dumb. These students are working to bring about change. People who don’t believe one person can make a change, let alone a whole generation of students, made me think of the Tunisia Revolution of 2011. In Castells Prelude to Revolution, he tells how one person can indeed make a difference. In Tunisia a man ignited the spark of a revolution by literally setting himself on fire. A little more dramatic than we hopefully need here in the good ole USA.

Support our kids who want to feel safe in their schools. They can’t vote (yet!) so they are asking, begging for our help. Stand with this generation. They are powerful. They will not back down. I won’t either. So go ahead– unfriend me, unfollow me, block me. I’ll keep my thumbs on the ready to defend and encourage the students and other fed up citizens who are fighting for change.

We Need to Talk About the Eviction Crisis

Why is This a Crisis?

Evictions are a nearly unreported threat to Americans, but an increasing population are experiencing them. It’s long been the standard that people should spend no more than 30% of a person’s income on housing. But a recent Harvard study found just over 21 million households spend more than 30% on housing. 11 million people were reported to be spending more than half their income on housing.

When families spend more on housing, they are forced to spend less on other items. Spending more than 30% on housing makes paying for basic needs like electricity, groceries, and clothing like buying a luxury item. Children and seniors are impacted more from this reality as they are the most vulnerable.

It makes other items we tend to take for granted, like internet access or cars, practically impossible to possess. While that may sound like less of a “need,” consider applying for a job. In this age it’s nearly impossible to apply for a job without the internet. It’s equally as hard to go to multiple interviews without a car.

Matthew Desmond wrote a book called “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.” In the video linked here, he talks about the how big of an effect evictions have on American families.

Of that 1/4th that receives housing funding  that Desmond mentions in the video, they have to endure long waits to actually receive that help. The remaining 3/4ths will likely continue on dangerous eviction cycle, which could last for the rest of their lives.

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A Milwaukee eviction of Ara Sprakman

What Can be Done Right Now?

A problem as big as the eviction crisis can’t be bundled up in one solution. That said, there are many promising efforts. Desmond mentioned that people are at a disadvantage in eviction court, as they either don’t show or can’t afford a lawyer. New York City passed legislation to afford legal assistance to tenants. The move resulted in an 18% drop in evictions within a two-year span. The legislation has recently been picked up by Rep. Keith Ellison as a house bill (H.R. 1146), but not much has come of it the current congressional session.

In Desmond’s book, he championed the expansion for Section 8 voucher program. While I fully support that, there are serious issues. The biggest issue is that landlords can legally reject Section 8 voucher funding. This is a form of discrimination, plain and simple, but there still is hope. The Minneapolis city council passed legislation that prohibits landlords from rejecting Section 8 funding. This legislation need to be expanded on the state or federal level. City laws are a short-term fix as they can be overruled by the state law or  withholding federal funds.

How to Take Action

First, there are many groups that have been doing great work in this effort. On Just Shelter, there are links to both local and national resources supporting the cause. Consider volunteering with a group to either assist families or spread the message in your community.

The biggest work that can be done is through our government. Long lasting and sustainable efforts will have to be done through policy. Find your local council-members and mayor and call them. Once you’ve done that, consider calling your congressional representatives, both in the U.S. House and Senate. Remember to stay calm and respectful. Chances are you going to speak to a college intern. They already have enough on their plate. That said, make sure you stress how important affordable housing is to you.

Lastly, we need to do what we can to convince the greater public that housing is a basic human right. People have the right to have a consistent place to sleep, eat, and live. Children and seniors have the right to a place that offers security from harmful elements. Housing doesn’t need to be lavish, but it does need to be there.

Take the Poo to the Loo, yo.

WATCH THIS VIDEO.

Mr. Poo is an excellent subject for my introductory blog post (that’s right, Lady Procrastinator over here, hello). What a wonderful example of using media and potty humor to spread the message of a serious social issue. This might not be the most tailored blog post, but I’ll be damned if anyone beats me to posting about this. It’s just too good.

Mr. Poo. the face of Unicef’s recent health campaign in India, aims to decrease the number of people defecating in public (which is estimated to be half the population, which is a lot of public poo). It’s a big task to take on, but I think Mr. Poo can handle it.

The humor in the video is interesting because it mixes more juvenile/cartoon graphics with a funny, catchy tune that just happens to drop verbal shit bombs many times over (pun intended). Am I that square that I didn’t think an organization like Unicef would use (what is commonly referred to as) a profanity in a campaign? Does the word shit have a different place in India as far as social acceptance goes? Or is Mr. Poo and his Bollywood-dancing poo fools just that bad ass?

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There is a definite entertainment factor to Mr. Poo and his jingle, but is the video effective? Do you think it will inspire change, like the radio show Taru did in Abirpur?

Let’s discuss below, cool? Cool.