I am so scared to wear this hat. Maybe scared isn’t the right word. But when it comes to hats, I feel like I need a reason. I can’t wear a hat without some sort of validation. Hats need a purpose, right? Visors keep the sun out. Baseball caps support your favorite team. Snapbacks are for douche-bros. Floppy straw hats are for girls at the beach who obviously don’t sweat as much as I do. I want to be a hat girl. I strive to be a hat girl. But for some reason, I’ve never let myself become one.
Last summer, I bought a hat. It’s the hat everyone has these days—one of those black felt, wide-brimmed, Coachella-chic, witchy hats. When these hats first piqued my interest—back in 2014, I admired from afar—so sure I could never pull off the look myself. They were for models, Jenners and those Instagram-famous girls who look 27 but are actually 14. Black hats were for the California girls that do cool things like romp around the desert eating In-and-Out burgers, always smiling because their metabolisms are so fast they’d win an Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter dash.
I grew up with the belief that there is a time period in a girl’s life where she cannot wear at hat. Maybe it had something to do with the combination of school rules and self esteem issues, but I didn’t wear hats from ages 14 to 18. Plus, my mom always told me I looked great in hats, so naturally I avoided them at all costs. Once, when I was junior in high school, I wore a visor to keep the sun out of my eyes while playing a tennis match. I was so self-conscious the entire game I ended up double faulting on every single serve. While it may have had less to do with the visor and more with my athletic ability, I still blame the hat.
After finishing my sophomore year of college, I made a promise to myself: I was going to be a hat girl. I was now twenty, I drank Pinot Grigio and I had taken public transportation to the city multiple times. If that didn’t qualify me to be a hat-wearer, I don’t know what would.
I put on every black hat I came across that summer (which would probably explain the lice! Kidding.) Yet each time I tried one on, thoughts crept into my mind as I looked in the mirror:
Fast forward nine months, give or take. I haven’t worn the hat. Turns out, becoming a hat girl takes more than owning a hat. I think I can be a hat girl. A couple weeks ago, I bought a khaki felt hat. I don’t know why I did it, I was drawn to it. I am becoming a hat girl that never wears hats, but just collects them.
Children are so mean. Have you ever seen a group of thirteen year olds? They can pinpoint your insecurities and will gleefully call them out! Everyone at one point in time has been terrorized by a child. The most common and, perhaps, most traumatizing moment is being called “gross.” It’s inescapable! You sneeze and snot runs down your nose, a chorus of “Ewww!” surrounds you. You fart, everyone pinches their nose and laughs. However, there is one action so heinous it will affect you into your adult years—the dreaded egg salad sandwich.
Before I begin, let me take some time to say egg salad is one of the great loves of my life. If it is on a menu, I will order it. However, it took me almost twenty years to achieve this comfort level. To not feel like the ‘gross kid’ for enjoying this creamy goodness on rye with tomato and lettuce.
The irony of all this is it wasn’t even me who brought the sandwich for lunch. It was another kid—we’ll call him Todd. From the minute Todd took out his sandwich, he was a marked man. As he began to unwrap it, the smell wafted down the table, causing heads to turn. Faces morphed from curiosity to pure disgust. The tension could be felt before anyone had a chance to say anything. Suddenly someone yelled, “Ewww!!! Todd’s gross! Look what he’s eating!” The tabling erupted into laughter with kids all too eager to comment on the ‘gross’ sandwich. Even some of the teachers and aids had difficulty hiding their disgust, though it was clear some were not trying too hard. Too nervous to intervene (I was five!), I watched Todd’s face turn scarlet and slowly put his sandwich back into his lunch bag. In that moment, I vowed to never bring an egg salad sandwich to school.
I must have really confused my mum when I asked her not to pack egg salad in my lunch. She knew I loved it, but I remember telling her it was disgusting and I hated it. I didn’t really hate it, but it was easier to join the masses and pretend than to face the ridicule of twenty-five five year olds. I told Mum a peanut butter sandwich would do just fine for me. I don’t hate peanut butter. In fact, I love it almost as much as egg salad. I told myself I was happy. At times, I even went as far as telling myself I was content.
I lived with this throughout my school years. Even in high school when whispers of people liking egg salad turned to them openly bringing the sandwich for lunch, I continued to keep my head low. I enjoyed the delicacy at home, but to bring it to school was too much for me. The fear of being taunted and mistreated paralyzed me from being as brave as my following egg lovers. The irony was not lost on me. I could lead a classroom discussion, was unafraid to start a fight with a bully, and had several people tell me they wished for my confidence. I would simply smile and thank them, wishing I had the confidence they thought I did. If they actually saw how chicken-shit scared I was at times, perhaps they would have rethought their wish. But the bravery of others—those who proudly waited in the “Soup n’ Sandwich” line for their egg salad proving they would not be frightened by others—gave me the courage to publicly love egg salad again.
Despite how many peanut butter sandwiches I ate, my love for egg salad had never diminished but had been a private affair. A secret love I kept to myself, though I’m sure others could have guessed. Once I left for college and was surrounded by new people who knew little about me, I realized I could be anyone. I could be exactly who I was. With this realization, I began to have egg salad anytime I wanted and as often as I liked. I began to try different variations- with lettuce and tomatoes (very good), cheese (not so good), or pickles (in moderation). It was like a new world had opened up to me. I was so happy and truly, truly content.
Don’t let me fool you! Occasionally, a small voice will call my sandwich disgusting or tell me I’m gross. The difference between my past and my present is now I tell that voice to shut up. If that voice has a body attached to it, I walk away. I try to surround myself with people who accept my love for egg salad. To be clear, this is not to say all of my friends love egg salad. Some of them, like me, have always loved it, others realized later on. Some have tried it and loved it, whereas others tried it and it wasn’t their thing. The important part is everyone is welcomed at the lunch table. Everyone and their sandwich is accepted.
Julia Child once said, “There is little in life that could not benefit from a little love, a little time, and a stick of butter.” Perhaps in this case it’s some egg salad.
A recent video (below) began circulating around the internet featuring the 23 ways African Americans have been killed by the police. Celebrities like Beyonce, Rihanna, Chance The Rapper, Zoe Kravitz, and Alicia Keys are featured in the video, which aims to address the growing police brutality against minority populations (especially blacks).
I think it is important for every American to watch this video and understand the violence affecting the black community, as well as other minorities. Unarmed black men are killed by the police in the U.S. at a disproportionate rate, especially when compared to whites and other minorities. It is time we stand against institutionalized racism and demand criminal justice reforms to ensure the phrase “all lives matter” is truly enforced.
Regardless of where you stand on the #BlackLivesMatter / #BlueLivesMatter divide, we can all agree that the tension between law enforcement and civilians is unacceptable. We need to work to ensure every life is kept safe, whether that life belongs to a black man, a Hispanic woman, or a police officer.
Orlando opened a dialogue in the public sphere about LGBT+ rights, homophobia, and growing gun violence. These are conversations we should be having, considering the frequency of gun violence and mass shootings in the U.S. and the country’s treatment of marginalized populations (like the LGBT+ community). According to the Mass Shootings Tracker, there has been a mass shooting five out of every six days in the U.S. since January 1, 2013. We have seen and lived through approximately 1,000 in 1,260 days, far more than any other country in the world.
In addition, hate crimes against members of the LGBT+ community are just as prevalent. The LGBT+ community has been continuously vilified and alienated throughout history, and has been fighting against these stereotypes for decades. More than half of surveyed LGBT+ individuals are worried about being the victims of hate crimes. And there is good reason to be worried. According to the New York Times, members of the LGBT+ community are more likely to be the victims of hate crimes than any other minority group.
However, another dialogue was opened during this most recent mass shooting, one that exploits this tragedy and disrespects its victims. Some American figureheads, like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have used the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history to target another population; Muslims. Islamophobia and an irrational fear of Muslims has rapidly grown since the shooting as a result of dangerous generalizations against the religion.
Some have tried to turn Orlando into a war against “radical Islamic terrorism,” even though they have little knowledge of Islam and lack the ability to recognize radicals (think ISIS and al-Qaeda, and not your local mosque). Some fail to recognize that the Orlando shooter was a terrorist because of his acts of terrorism against the LGBT+ community, and not his religion.
I am repulsed to see people like Donald Trump exploit an LGBT+ tragedy to not only ignore gun reform efforts being pushed in Congress (remember when Democrats had a sit-in in Congress to force Republicans to discuss the topic?), but use a hate crime to justify more hate crimes. We should not be afraid of Muslims, we should be afraid of the hatred being bred by scapegoating one population of people to spread dangerously inaccurate accusations. If you are interested in reading more on this topic, you can check out my article for The Odyssey.
It is also important to remember the victims of this shooting, even as the discussion is being shifted to marginalize a different population of people. Remember the 53 LGBT+ victims killed and 50 injured, as well as their friends and family, as we continue to push to fight for LGBT+ rights and gun reform. We cannot let hate crimes and gun violence continue to oppress America.
Recently I became aware of this interesting New Yorker article about the societal impact of Amazon's new Dash Buttons. I, personally, love the idea of this system of shopping, but the piece brings up a lot of interesting questions about what the buttons mean for us. Read the article and let us know what your thoughts are.
The “Democracy Spring” is an emerging social movement against political corruption and campaign finance reform in the United States. You can read more below from the movement’s website;
“Now is the time to take mass nonviolent action on a historic scale to save our democracy. Following a ten-day, 140-mile march from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to Washington DC, thousands are gathering this week in the nation’s Capital to demand Congress take immediate action to end the corruption of big money in our politics and ensure free and fair elections in which every American has an equal voice.”
On April 11, more than 3,000 people marched from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. to urge Congress to sign the following bills aimed around reform; The Government by the People Act and Fair Elections Now Act, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, the Voter Empowerment Act of 2015, and the Democracy for All Amendment (as stated by Common Dreams).
More than 100 people were arrested on April 11 (and more than 400 were arrested on April 12) as a result of the sit-in. Arrests have increased since these days.
Despite the massive protest, the movement has received very little media coverage from mainstream outlets. The best way to follow the movement is on Twitter. You can also read more about the protests through Alternet, The Young Turks (especially their Twitter), and RT. Ben & Jerry’s has also launched a blog on their website dedicated to the movement.
No, SARA is not a person. SARA stands for the Syrian Association for Rescuing Animals. It is composed of volunteers who are staying behind in war-torn Syria to care for the country’s abandoned animals. The Syrian war has not only displaced millions of people, but also their pets. Unlike these pets, not all families were able to bring their animals with them when they left, or they were killed before they could all leave together.
According to SARA’s Facebook,
“We are a team of members from Damascus City who are active in the field of rescuing, feeding, and treating every animal in need.
SARA isn’t the only organization helping Syria’s animals. Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel from Aleppo buys meat scraps from a local butcher’s shop to feed around 150 cats everyday. Aljaleel, and other Syrians like him, risk their lives everyday to care for the stray animals. Aljaleel says, “Every day, when I leave my house, I know I might not return. In Syria, it’s only going from bad to worse” (take from here).
You can read more about Syria’s displaced animals here, and Reuters provides pictures here. It is important to remember that humans are not the only victims of war; animals are suffering too.
SARA is currently working to relocate stray dogs at risk to killing sprees and abuse in Damascus. They desperately need funds in order to save as many of these dogs as possible. If you are able to donate money, anything helps. Please check out the fundraiser here and donate if you are able to! The lives of these dogs depends on you.
There has been a lot of discussion surrounding Muslims after recent bombings in Paris at the hands of ISIS and comments made against the religion by Presidential candidate Donald Trump. It is frivolous to argue that Islamophobia isn’t spreading in the United States, as well as other countries in Europe. Fear of Muslims, or more specifically Islamic extremists (individuals belonging to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda), has caused some U.S. states to close their doors to refugees from Syria*.
*(more than 9 million Syrians were displaced in the last few years and many are traveling to Europe and the U.S. to escape the violence perpetrated by groups and individuals like ISIS).
The U.S. media and political figures consistently misuse Islamic concepts like Sharia law and jihad, resulting in more public fear and confusion. The Council on American-Islamic Relations established an Islamophobia monitor to collect and display the sources of Islamophobia.
Some politicians and large corporations are using Muslims as scapegoats for foreign and domestic security concerns. Donald Trump is one of the most notorious of these figures, leading a strong movement against the Muslim “problem.” In addition to the various statements Trump has released, like these from NBC News, The Telegraph, and The Washingston Post, he also discusses his ideas with Jimmy Kimmel in the video below (entitled “Donald Trump Says Muslims Support His Plan” from the Jimmy Kimmel Live Youtube channel).
Filmmaker Michael Moore was one of the responders to Trump’s incessant Islam bashing, helping fuel #WeAreAllMuslim with his petition and letter to Donald Trump that you can sign.
Others are standing up against Islamophobia and working to address America’s fear of the religion. Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York (HONY) posted the below statement on his Facebook page regarding comments made on some of his posts profiling a female refugee from Iraq named Aya (you can read more about her here). HONY has dedicated many of its recent posts to Aya’s journey from Iraq and her application to come to the U.S. as a refugee.
Another avid opposer to Trump’s anti-Muslim campaign is presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an Independent Senator from Vermont.
#WeAreAllMuslim has made a significant impact on the general Muslim and non-Muslim populations in the U.S. Mariya Tayyab, a student at the University of Virginia and writer at the Huffington Post, wrote the following article, “We Are All Muslims Indeed, Michael Moore” in response to his post.
“Messages like Michael Moore's were what reminded me that not everyone is okay with stereotyping, not everyone is okay with putting the blame of a few extremists on an entire group. So I want to thank him, thank you for reminding all of us that we are all Muslim. That we are all Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists. That we are all black and white.
If you’re interested in joining the movement, you can look at and sign Moore’s petition/letter to Trump here. It is very important to stand against xenophobes and Islamophobes, especially with recent attacks committed by a very small percentage of the religion’s population. Show Trump and all the others lashing out at Islam that you do not stereotype or condemn Muslims for their religion and the acts of others.
I always write resolutions for myself at the end of the year, but I never seem to keep them past January. As always, I hope this year is different. Here are my 16 resolutions for 2016. What are yours?
1. Be more sustainable - Waste less, recycle more, and think about the long-term impact of your actions.Recognize that you don’t need to drive everywhere, you don’t need to keep upgrading your phone, and you don’t need to leave the light on while you’re in class.
2. Be more local - Try to support local businesses over large corporations and companies. Give your money to businesses that really value it, and stop going to Walmart so often.
3. Be more aware - Make an effort to volunteer more and give back. Get involved in your community.
4. Be more present - Live in the moment and stop checking your phone. Your messages will still be there when you’re done.
5. Be more positive - Stop the spread of hate and fear, and make an effort to be more optimistic.
6. Be more adventurous - Go outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
7. Be more assertive - If you want something, ask for it. If you want to do something, do it. Don’t be so hesitant and reach for what is yours.
8. Be more open-minded - Judge less and understand that everyone has their own internal (and external) struggles.
9. Be more accepting - This applies to other people as much as it applies to you. Accept yourself for who you are and learn to be happy.
10. Be more healthy - Get more than 5 hours of sleep in a night, and work to establish a regular and consistent sleep cycle.
11. Be more motivated - Stop procrastinating on tasks you’re supposed to do; get that paper written more than a week in advance, make that phone call before 5pm, and send that e-mail sooner rather than later.
12. Be more knowledgeable - Improve your French and Spanish language skills, and try to use Duolingo more than three times a month.
13. Be more outdoorsy - Spend less time inside and more time outside (when possible). You still have so much more to see that can’t be experienced from inside your house.
14. Be more active - Make a difference and make the world a better to live. You don’t have to change the world for everyone, but change the world for someone or something.
15. Be more confident - Be more confident in yourself and who you are. Be sure of yourself, stand by yourself. See your worth.
16. Be more focused - Focus on the new year and focus on what you want out of it.