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15 things I Learned Taking a Month Off of Social Media| Charlotte Theriault

     In the beginning of February, at 3am, I lost a snap-streak with my #1 best friend. For anyone who doesn’t go on Snapchat, that means that the person I interact with the most on Snapchat hadn’t send me a picture within a 24 hour window. I was deeply upset (which is ridiculous, I know) and felt very lonely. In that moment I decided to delete all of my social media apps for one month in order to restart my relationship with social media and lessen my dependence on it. I learned some important things during the month of February that I’ll hopefully keep in mind moving forward. To learn what to expect during a social media detox, keep on reading.


1. You miss out on all the memes:

You can’t miss out on memes if you never leave the internet

roll-safe (am I doing this right?)

     This was probably one of the first things that made me apprehensive about deleting my social media apps. Memes (images or phrases that spread rapidly through social media) are one of the best parts of being online. It’s like having an inside joke with the entire internet. Luckily for me, my co-workers spend as much time online as I did pre-detox. My coworker Chelby promised me that she’d keep me up to date on memes even if that meant she had to mail them to me. When I got back on the internet March 1st, I had to figure out the context of memes I had missed, mostly the “white guy blinking” meme and the “roll safe” meme (pictured above).

2. You have to evaluate what counts as a social media account

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I had to stay on groupme for my job even though it was technically a social media app. I also stayed on YouTube because I don’t interact with people on there (I’m afraid of the youtube comments section). I was on Pinterest for awhile too, pinning things to my collaborative board for my summer job. I became one of those middle-aged white women on pinterest & had to add it to my detox list because of my lack of self-control.

3. When people talk about social media you feel a strong desire to plug back in

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Not being on social media was really hard at first, but what made it harder is knowing that a lot of the conversations millennials have today is through sharing content online and offline. My friends would ask me why I wasn’t opening their snaps, or showing me funny tweets and tumblr posts. It was the reminders from others of my absence online that made it so hard to keep myself unplugged.

4. Serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) … Or None At All

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Snapchat: showing you what you’re missing out on since 2011

     Seeing everyone plugged in online made me feel like I was missing out on something important (like those aforementioned memes) but also it lessened my desire to know what was going on in people’s personal lives. I used to watch Snapchat stories and see people partying, hanging out with friends, and eating out. Seeing other people having fun made me feel like I was missing out on things even when I was out having fun myself. With snap stories out of sight, people’s daily lives were out of my mind and I didn’t have to worry about what people were eating or what people were doing.

5. You have no idea who’s birthday it is

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Shout out to Facebook for reminding me when my friend’s birthdays are because I’m seriously too lazy to put them in my planner.

6. Networking is harder

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When I deleted my social media it was during the CaCCCHE (California Council of Cultural Centers in Higher Education ) conference in U.C. Davis. Everyone I met there wanted to exchange social media accounts to network, because there were social justice centers from all over California. I had to have people add me first or give them my email because I couldn’t just scan their snap codes. I didn’t realize how essential networking through social media has become until I didn’t have accounts to network with.

7. Procrastinating doesn’t get any less difficult

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     When I was connected to social media, to procrastinate I would check all my social media accounts until I exhausted them and then went to work. During my social media detox, I got into watching youtube videos or Netflix, which meant that I would keep watching episodes or videos instead of doing my work. I finished a few seasons of Criminal Minds on Netflix, a show with 22-23 forty minute episodes per season. Since there were countless episodes on Netflix and countless youtube videos, I only had the threat of deadlines keeping me on track to do my work.

8. You end up switching out one ‘addiction’ for another

I also found myself eating unhealthier food more often because I was bored and wanted something to do. On top of this,

 

9. Boredom is more productive

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     I’ve been on many journeys this semester surrounding my lifestyle and one of those journeys is a shift to minimalism…. Something I’m decisively awful at. Having no social media gave me the free time to go through my things and declutter what I don’t need. I was actually keeping my room pretty clean for the entire month of February, something I can’t say that I’ve been upholding now that I’m back online and in the midst of midterm season. I also got really into project planning, which is an organized way to use up the makeup you already have instead of buying more makeup.

10. You might dip back into old hobbies

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When people ask me what I like to do I always tell them that I like to read and write despite not doing any of those things in years. Social media becomes a talentless hobby that’s always available. Being offline meant that I was reading more and writing more, I also had more time to reflect on myself as a person and really kickstart my mental health journey.

11. It’s good for your mental health

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Not everyone struggles with mental health issues, but as someone who’s mentally ill, I often found it taxing to be online and to see all the negativity on social media. It was an emotional labor that I was putting on myself because other able-minded people were retweeting heavy content with ease. I even saw a half-skinned dog on my facebook feed right when I returned. Even though the post was condemning animal abuse, I was still shocked that someone would share the picture of the dog without warning, as the content was incredibly graphic. Being off of social media gave be a buffer between the harsh reality of the world and my mental health. I also got back into doing my makeup for the aesthetic of wearing makeup, rather than for ‘looking pretty’. I also got used to how I looked taking pictures on my phone’s camera, because your phone flips your selfie whereas snapchat does not. I had to get used to how other people see my face instead of the reflection I always see when I’m getting ready in the morning, which eventually improved my overall body image as I got more familiar with what I actually looked like.

12. Keeping up with current events is hard

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Today most people get their news from social media through others sharing links. Admittedly, most people who share links on social media don’t read them (creating the spread of lies and propaganda) but unbiased news sources exist online and are a lot more instantaneous than watching the news on television. I also didn’t have a television, so I relied completely on The Young Turks and other independent youtube news sources to learn about current events.

Social media becomes a necessary tool when navigating social justice. Your voice will not be heard if you are not online or if your activism is not documented online. That’s not to say that all activism has to be done online, it is just as important to go to protests and partake in social justice activities outside of the internet if you have the physical or mental capability to do so. That being said, for protests like Ferguson, where there was a news media shut out, the locals documented police brutality and put it on sites like twitter, tumblr, and facebook. Even as the content of their videos were taken down, they were reuploaded and spread throughout the internet, causing people to demand justice.

Sometimes similar events won’t get equal “air time” which impacts the government’s response. For example, the Flint water crisis  started in April of 2014, and was ignored for years before images of the brown water spread and people like Little Miss Flint helped put a face to the issue. As of March 28th, 2017, a three year plan has been put in place to replace the faulty pipelines of Flint. The NoDAPL movement had a similar slow start and a similar issue; the Sioux wanted to protect their only drinking source from being contaminated with crude oil. Since the pipeline is still being pushed forward, cities are now divesting in banks like Wells Fargo who are funding the Dakota Access Pipeline.  However, there are other indigenous tribes that are struggling with water rights. A Wyoming lawsuit sat in legal purgatory for 37 years over the Wind River. Wyoming denied the right for the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes to use the Wind River. Since the lawsuit started in 1977, there was no access to internet, so the indigenous tribes had no way to gather support for their cause besides utilizing the mail. Other tribes, like the Navajo, have had their drinking water poisoned with Uranium since the 1950’s. A bill to assign accountability and to assist in cleaning the radioactive mess has been sitting in congress for 3 years. On a lighter note…

13. Coming back, I forgot all my passwords and had to reset them

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Because I’m always plugged in, I never used to sign out of my social media accounts. I literally forgot most of my passwords and had to create new passwords to my accounts.

14. Get ready to get a ridiculous amount of notifications

This is the hot mess express I came back to

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… enough said

 

15. When you plug back in, you might not think about apps the same way

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     I used to be obsessed with the concept of an instagram ratio, which showed how my account aligned with others. Basically, I took the amount of likes I had and divided it into the number of followers I had to see the percentage of followers who liked my photos. The average ratio between my likes and my number of followers was about even for my photos and for others, but if I fell below that percentage I began to stress out. Now that I’m back on social media I completely stopped caring about follower counts for all of my social media platforms, or how many likes I got on my pictures. I even have my notifications turned off so I don’t see who’s interacting with my account until I go online.


Charlotte has an instagram (@charcat_) but really doesn’t feel comfortable with you following her on other forms of social media. Please be respectful and welcome back to spring semester!

Real Friends; How Many of Us?: A Discussion About Solidarity | Kendrick Williams

 

Hi y’all! Welcome to this edition of the Mosaic E-digest blog! I hope you’re having a great March so far! Today, with events that have happened in the entertainment industry, I think it is important to have a discussion about solidarity in POC communities.

     pasted image 0.pngAbout a month ago, a Mexican-American comedian named George Lopez took the stage at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix for a stand up performance. As a long time fan of George Lopez’s combined with the feeling of nostalgia I experience when watching the TV show George Lopez, I was excited to watch his stand up  performance. I was shocked when I heard in his stand up
performance that he made a joke dragging black people.  The ‘joke’ was:
“There’s still two rules in the f**king Latino family. “Don’t marry somebody black, and don’t park in front of our house.” A woman offended, proceeds to give George Lopez the middle finger and attempts to leave, where George Lopez then begins cursing her out and telling her to “sit her ass back down” as well as a slew of derogatory slurs. George Lopez has defended his banter in the name of comedy. The video of the event can be seen here.

     My initial gut reaction was to scream “NO!” at the top of my lungs. How could this man of color, who made it big in the world of comedy despite its lack of diversity, say something so awful and bigoted?!

     Unfortunately,  I’ve heard this sentiment in most non black communities. Many non black people say that they fear what their parents would say or more specifically, their disapproval. I was just hurt to see a man who I liked so much say such an awful thing. Reading the Youtube comments comments, it also seemed that many black viewers were questioning their own allyship with the Latinx community because of his comment.  This made me just as uncomfortable.  

     I understand that I cannot excuse people of my own race who have also offended other communities of color. In 2016, during the Oscars Chris Rock did a bit where he brought out three Asian children. The joke in question was following how the Oscars failed to include pasted image 0 (1).pngany people of color to be nominated. In the bit Chris Rock did, he brought out the three Asian children to play the “finest bankers” from the Pricewaterhouse Coopers. He then introduced the names of these children (Ming Zhu, Bao Ling, and David Moskowitz) and proceeded to say “if you were offended by this joke, then you can tweet about it on the phone they also made.” Rock playing up two stereotypes about Asian Americans was met with offense and disgust. Celebrities also voiced their concerns with not only the act, but with the Oscars themselves for not stopping this ahead of time.

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Celebrity tweets regarding Chris Rock’s bigoted joke

     What bothers me about these actions of these comedians is that it shows the troubling power dynamic between minorities in the US. That we as people of color in this country feel that they need to fight amongst each other so we can “be on top”. The reality is we would only be knocked down by those in power once we get there. Recently, on y trip to Leadership Today, I learned a concept called “Horizontal Oppression”. What this basically means is when POCs have internalized oppression and are  prejudiced and discriminatory towards each other, it goes nowhere. It’s not helping anyone and the oppression simply stays on the horizontal line that POCs in the US are on. Nobody moves up and it only helps keep one group down. This type of behavior is never good nor helpful. If we want to fight against racism, POCs have to work together to dismantle systems of injustice, not encourage them. Don’t let these systems divide us, but instead let’s fight them together. Thanks for reading this addition of the Mosaic E-digest!
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How Beyoncé’s Life and Career Are Met with Criticism | Emilie Rodriguez

Article is a look into Beyoncé’s Pregnancy, The Grammy’s, Lemonade, and Religion


Maternity Photos… OH MY!

   Beyoncé recently shared with the public that she is pregnant with twins by posting a maternity photo of herself on Instagram Beyoncé is seen in the picture on her knees and holding her belly, surrounded by a bed of flowers. Her veil left the impression that she was trying to give off a ‘Virgin Mary’ look. Below is her instagram announcement:

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“We would like to share our love and happiness. We have been blessed two times over. We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two, and we thank you for your  well wishes. – The Carters” 

     The internet went wild and so did a lot of my friends! The day she released the pictures, I remember my best friend called me and asked me if I had heard the news yet. Like others I was definitely stoked forBeyoncé. She is great at keeping things very private until she chooses to share! Queen B was definitely the topic of discussion for the next couple of days.

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Another one of Beyoncé’s maternity photos

 

Beyoncé’s Maternity Photo’s and Critics

     Beyoncé’s good news, however, was met with criticism. R.A. Farley, an author from The Refinery29 , responded to the photo’s saying,

“This excitement is all well and good. But it seems that no one, aside from a few brave souls on social media, wants to admit the truth: The pictures are tacky.”

     Later in the article she continues her critique of Beyoncé by criticizing Beyoncé for moving beyond her generally “minimalist” approach to fame.

 


Beyoncé’s Grammy Performance

     It is common to expect nothing but the best from Beyoncé when she puts on a show. The 2017 Grammy Awards Show was just that (in my opinion) the best. Beyoncé’s performance that included a hologram of Queen B. was considered a “magical” performance, and yet, some critics disagreed and expressed negative criticism for her performance.

     Piers Morgan tweeted ,” Didn’t really ‘feel’ that Beyonce [sic]  performance. [It] Seemed heavier on the narcissism than the music. #GRAMMYs” and, “Awful acceptance speech too. Looked bored as hell reading it. Come on Beyonce [sic] , you’re better than this.”

     I don’t think that folks, especially Piers Morgan, fully understood the religious symbolism behind Beyoncé’s performance though. The religion I am referring to is Santeria. Bey’s Grammy performance is not the first time folks have noticed her Santerian depiction of Oshun (a Santerian goddess), and it’s important to understand what messages she’s conveying about the religion.  

 


Santeria: Misconceptions and Truth

    image Santeria is a religion with spiritual practices that was started by Yoruban people from West Africa including: Nigeria and Benin. The Yoruba people were a group of many tribes with similar but distinct religious practices. Santerians worship orishas and saints.

Orishas and Historical Context

Before the slave trade, Yoruba lands had multiple major cities and were used as centers of worship for different Orishas. When slaves began “intermixing” and were forced to settle outside of their homelands, worshipping of Orishas got mixed up as well. This is when the practice of worshipping multiple Orishas became “standard” in the Santeria religion. There are sixteen Orishas. It is important to know that Santeria is not voodoo or black magic as the media likes to portray it. A Santeria worshipper said

“First, there are a lot of misconceptions about African-based religions in general.  If you go by what you see on television, you’d think practitioners of Voodoo and Santería are devil worshipers who practice black magic.  They stick pins in voodoo dolls and cast evil spells that kill their enemies.”

Some Orishas & Descriptions Provided by Santeria Church of the Orishas

“Eleggua”

  • the first and most important Orisha in Santería. He is the owner of the crossroads, the witness of fate and acts as the connecting agent in this world. Elegguá is often perceived as a trickster or impish child who tests our integrity.

“Ogun”

  •  Ogún is a mighty warrior, the divine blacksmith who crafts tools and weapons and the hardest working Orisha of them all. Ogún is the father of technology, the cutting edge of the knife and the power of metal. Ogún is often perceived as a powerful muscular man wearing a skirt made of palm fiber and he carries a machete.

 

“Oshun”

  •  Description: Oshún is the Orisha of sweetness, love and beauty. She is the embodiment of feminine grace, and is a flirtatious coquette.  She is a generous and loving mother, but she can also quickly turn bitter if she is wronged. Once she is soured, she is unforgiving and unbending. Oshún can accomplish miracles untold. She is the youngest of the orishas and is depicted as a flirtatious, mixed-race woman dressed in yellow, gazing in a mirror.

Speculation of Beyoncé Depicting Oshun: The Receipts

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     Above is one of Beyoncé’s maternity pictures and below is an animation of Oshun. In the picture above Beyoncé is being compared to the Orisha “Oshun”. Oshun is the goddess of love, fertility, beauty, and prosperity. Oshun also gave birth to twins, so it is fitting that Beyoncé is honoring the goddess with her maternity pictures.

Beyoncé’s Depiction of Oshun in Lemonade: (Similarities in Personality Traits)

    beyonce-hold-up-demo-compressed Beyoncé dressed in a yellow dress as she is dancing in the visual for “Hold Up.” In the song Beyoncé tells a narrative of experiencing infidelity. The Goddess Oshun is also known for experiencing hard times in her love life. At the beginning of the visual Beyoncé´ talks about wearing all white, trying to change, fasting for sixty days, and talks about being baptized in a river. Oshun’s main element is the river as she is the Goddess of the river.

As a disclaimer,I am not saying I am an expert on Santeria, but my best friend’s family does practice Santeria. I have witnessed both of her parents go through the the “crowning” process. During the process both of her parents attempted to cleanse themselves to become ‘pure’ once again. They wore all white for a year, had no sex, alcohol, and were told to avoid specific food and behaviors during that year.

Depiction of Post Infidelity Reactions

     As mentioned above Oshun is also known for having a difficult time in her love life. Though rumors spread about her being cheated on by her long time husband Jay-Z this narrative is yet to be proven. Regardless of whether it is fact or fictionBeyoncé plays the part of a Woman who has been betrayed by her lover, and calls herself “crazy.” Oshun is also known for falling head over heels for lovers who do not necessarily treat her as she should be treated.

Below is a picture depicting Oshun (left) who is dressed similarly to how Beyoncé  (right) is dressed in the Lemonade video.

 


Santeria or Appropriation: The Debate

     My motives for writing this post was not to prove that Beyoncé is Santerian. Regardless of my hunch, and other folks findings I still don’t know if  Beyoncé practices Santeria because she keeps her personal life very private. Some folks feel like Beyoncé is appropriating the African religion. My reason for writing this post was to invite others to ask questions before assuming a certain religion is just “black magic” or “voodoo.” The mainstream media and “white man’s” version of history has influenced folks to believe spiritual practices apart of the African diaspora are dark and demonic like. This is not true though. The African Diaspora refers to refers to the communities throughout the world that have resulted by descent from the movement in historic times of peoples from Africa, predominantly to the Americas and among other areas around the globe.”

    Here is a response from Maximiliano Goiz who’s post on Facebook went viral when he talked aboutBeyoncé depicting Oshun. He gives more context on why he thinksBeyoncé is emulating Oshun’s aesthetic.

 

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     Regardless of how you feel about Beyoncé  I encourage you to ask questions about the ideologies we are quick to believe and whose truths we are buying into!

Peace,

Emilie Rodriguez

Another Quiet Asian Woman | Jenna Edra

During an evaluation of my work performance, a supervisor told me that I could speak more during the weekly meetings. I brought up the point that the weekly meetings often consist of debriefing events that are optional to attend, for which I am not often present due to class or other obligations. My opportunities to speak are partially limited. But their viewpoint remained the same–I was just “so quiet,” which is nothing that I haven’t heard before. “Quiet” accurately describes me, but I still felt defensive because her comment seemed vague and unconstructive. What is it exactly that I need to verbally provide during meetings? More feedback? More ideas? Am I not helpful enough–a more specific critique–or am I just… too quiet? Is my quietness that much of a problem?

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It’s hard to not take critiques of my quietness a little personally because it is ingrained in my character. I have always been an introvert to the fullest; I am one to listen rather than speak or at least to ponder before speaking. If I were to speak more spontaneously and more often, my articulations would be messy. I need time to process my thoughts and choose my words.

During a work retreat, I could feel the pointedness of the question when someone asked whether anyone else in the large group who hadn’t shared yet would like to speak. I chose not to talk at that time. Shortly after, I was asked directly if I wanted to add anything to the conversation. I declined but insisted that I was still reflecting, processing, and engaging.

Silence seems to make people uncomfortable. It is interpreted negatively; to be silent is to be awkward, unsociable, or lazy or shy to speak. I am grateful for people who do not poke and prod silence away: professors who don’t grade participation solely off of how many times a student speaks in class, friends who appreciate active listening, etc. The same people are not often supervisors or bosses.    

I have a small fear that I will not succeed or be taken seriously in the workplace because I am 1) a woman, 2) a woman of color (Asian, specifically Filipina), and 3) a stereotypically quiet Asian woman. For Asian women, being stereotyped as quiet goes hand in hand with being stereotyped as docile and submissive. Not only is it considered unpopular and unusual to be quiet in U.S. society, but in the professional world specifically, the Western concept of leadership also prizes people who are talkative, extroverted, aggressive, charismatic, and skilled at public speaking. Undoubtedly, traditional conceptions of strong leaders and/or employees help to build the “bamboo ceiling,” the collection of barriers that Asians face when pursuing leadership positions in the workplace.   

Recently, I attended a speaker panel with two Filipina professionals. One spoke of her experience of being the only person of color during meetings. Despite being in the middle of the age range among the professionals, she is always treated as if she is younger by her white coworkers, who dominate the conversations. As she put it, they like to hear themselves speak. Initially, she was withdrawn and discouraged from talking. Now, she speaks freely–albeit not as often as her counterparts. But when she does speak, she is very intentional. Her words are original and thoughtful, never a parroting of what someone else said. And they listen closely to her.

Her story gives me hope. I liked that she didn’t change who she was; she communicates well and is respected, while still being relatively quiet. But I remain wary for myself and my professional future, knowing that I probably still have to work on my speaking skills and to accommodate a little to Western ideals until it’s more socially acceptable to be a quiet Asian woman.

The Quietest People Have the Loudest Thoughts: Introversion in Society | Kendrick Williams

     The definition of an introvert according to the website introvertspring.com is “a person who gains energy from being alone and loses energy in stimulating environments, such as social events”. However, even as the website says, there is much more to being a introvert and someone’s introversion can vary from person to person. Some can be shy, while other have no problem dealing with people.  Unfortunately, we live in a world built that discourages people from displaying introverted traits, no matter how varied. Parents constantly encourage their children to “come out of their shells” Schools, the workplace, and even among introverts, extroversion is the preferred personality type. Extroverts seem to have an advantage in many social facets of life. However, there is no one “better” of the two and extroverts even have their own struggles.

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     Introverts prefer to lose themselves in a world of thought while extroverts lose themselves in reality. Introverts draw meaning from an event or experience, while extroverts express the experiences themselves. If introverts and extroverts were machines, introverts recharge themselves by staying in with a good book or a movie. For extroverts, a quick jolt of another person is just what does the trick. Introverts need lower levels of stimulation such as a quiet dinner or getting lost in a novel or a movie. Extroverts need a higher space of stimuli such as meeting many people at a party or coming home to tell someone about their day. Introverts and extroverts just find their energy and enjoyment in different settings.

     Despite there being no “better” personality type, introversion is stigmatized and introverts can face discrimination. Found from the website Pit Journal, submitted by a user by the name of skela in an article titled “The Stigma of Introversion and Why It’s Wrong” a test is run by an introverted teacher, his students and he took the Myers Briggs personality test. He believed that at least a handful of students would score the “I” for introversion on the test, so it was to his surprise when he realized that none of his students had scored for introversion at all.  However, at a further glance at the questions, it began to make sense of why many of the students were reluctant to answer the “introverted” questions. For example one of the questions was “ would you rather go to a party or stay at home reading a book?” The question has a “correct” or “socially acceptable” answer. The teacher, William Pannapacker, states “Given that introversion is frowned upon almost everywhere in U.S. culture, the test might as well have asked, “Would you prefer to be cool, popular, and successful or weird, isolated, and a failure?”

      This fantastic article also references another high school English teacher by the name of Natalie Munroe. In 2011, she became famous for writing on her blog about how she truly felt about some of her students. She said things such as “A kid that has no personality.”, “She just sits there emotionless for an entire 90 minutes, staring into the abyss, never volunteering to speak or do anything.” as well as “shy isn’t cute in 11th grade; it’s annoying. [he] must learn to advocate for himself instead of having mommy do it.” She was later fired for what was considered “poor performance” While details of whether the case is still going on is unknown, she has decided to fight the termination and has taken the Central Bucks School District to court.

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Natalie Munroe

     Unfortunately, the discrimination doesn’t stop after high school graduation. In the late 1940s, the Provost of Harvard has said that Harvard should deny people that are “sensitive and neurotic”  and “intellectually over-stimulated”. Many employers in jobs today will administer personality tests in hopes of screening out introverts, claiming that they prefer people who can work better in a group setting. An employer would rather hire someone who has “conviction” in their voice even if they are not even truly passionate about the thing they’re talking about. Psychologist Russell Green performed a study where he gave math problems to introverts and extroverts and changed the background noise while they took the test. The study revealed that introverts performed better with less background noise while vice versa for extroverts.

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However, most workplace settings are jam packed with people and rarely have a place where an introvert can sit in silence.  Huffington Post writer Carolyn Gregoire writes in an article that “Many workplace set ups undermine introverted employees by failing to accommodate their personalities and productivity styles — over-stimulation and excessive meetings can easily stunt their full brain power.” (Gregoire, 2013). Starting at birth, introverts are forced to learn how to live in a world made for extroverts. Introverts are forced to mask who they truly are so they can play a game that was designed for them to lose.

     It is not all doom and gloom for introverts though. Susan Cain, author of the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking states that without introverts, we would not have the world’s most brilliant thinkers, we would never have some of the world’s greatest literature, scientific breakthroughs, influential leaders, and most amazing advancements in technology that the world has ever seen. Cain sites people such as J.K. Rowling, Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, and Steve Wozniak as introverts.pasted image 0 (1).png    pasted image 0.png   images.jpeg    Steve Wozniak.jpg

Barack Obama describes himself in his book Dreams From My Father as a “lonely old man who lives in a building” . “Introversion has been one of his assets. He plans his campaigns intricately and gives very cerebral speeches.” says Susan Cain. J.K Rowling also describes herself as very introverted “especially when she was a child”. Steve Wozniak  is credited with designing the first Apple computer by himself. “He still advises people to work in solitude” says Cain. Cain even starts the first passage of her book with how she had always imagined Rosa Parks to be a woman with “a bold temperament, someone who could easily stand up to a busload of glowering passengers” (Cain, 2012).  At the time of her death in 2005 however, she was described by obituaries as being soft-spoken and thoughtful, as well as being timid and shy. Obituaries also noted that she had “the courage of a lion” and “quiet fortitude”. Even the title of her autobiography is Quiet Strength. Introverts have been shown that they have truly shaped the world for the better.  

      I myself am an introvert. Growing up in a small household made me feel comfortable and at home being alone form a young age. I too have personally felt the struggle of being the quiet and soft-spoken one in settings. Especially as a man, these traits are seen as being “weak” or a “pushover”. At times I have felt left out and other people have regarded me as “boring”. It took me years to realize that being quiet did not make me uninteresting and that not wanting or liking to talk a lot is OK. Even though today I still struggle with accepting my tranquil nature on occasion, I know that with introverted role models like those listed above, I too have potential to do great things.

Thank you all for reading and I hope you have a great rest of your Feburary!  

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby: Virginity is a Social Construct

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog will talk about sex, virginity, and struggling to form opinion and self-identity around the concept of virginity as a sexual abuse survivor. Sexist slurs are also mentioned in this article, uncensored. Survivors of rape, sexual assault, and/or sexual abuse may be triggered by the contents of this piece.


 

The notion of “virginity” is one we are typically all familiarized with from an early age in life. Virginity is discussed in our religions, in the media, in our homes, and in our schools. In my experience, virginity became a regular conversation topic when I entered the sixth grade as I hung out with peers with older siblings, a number of which were also sexually active themselves. I began to hear “virginity” in the context of someone having lost it or someone having taken it from another person, rather than the standard statement of “I am,” or “he/she is a virgin.” Stories of partnerships began to circulate the school; intimate secrets and rumors were spread surrounding the sexual activity of my classmates — predominantly of girls, with boys only being mentioned as the person who the girl “gave it up” or “lost it” to.

 

     Even the language that revolves around virginity is problematic. We’re taught to say “I/he/she/they took their/my virginity” or “I/he/she/they popped their/my cherry” in a way that is boastful and insensitive. Why do we talk about it this way when sex is something that is mutually entered into? Why are we not taught instead to simply state that we “had sex with” that person? Why do we want to talk about it so much at all? (Answer: our society is hella hyper-sexualized; there’s tons of research to prove this, especially on how it affects girls.) The language surrounding the term “virginity” could fill a whole other blog post, so I’ll digress.

 

     So, what even is virginity? In my personal experience, the most common understanding of so-called loss of virginity seems to be engaging in cisgender-heteronormative penetrative sex; re: penis-vagina intercourse between a cis man and cis woman.  This definition is problematic for lots of reasons.

 

    This definition is clearly exclusive of trans, Queer, and non-binary individuals who do not necessarily engage in the standard cis-heterosexual penetrative sex. People have sex in lots of different ways, including penis-vagina penetration, and all of these different ways are valid and respectable so long as consensual.

 

    This definition is also dismissive of the feelings of the individuals involved in the sex. Sex should be defined in a way that feels comfortable and right for you and your partner, not by some societal standard. As long as what you are engaging in is consensual, and it feels like sex to you— then it should count.

 

     Virginity is also frequently centered around sex that reaches climax, which is unhealthy and exclusionary of individuals who may be physically unable or may struggle with reaching climax; it’s ableist. This focus is unhealthy because sex should be focused on communicating with your partner and making each other feel good — not just through orgasm but through the process of potentially reaching orgasm.

 

     This definition is also detrimental to survivors of rape, sexual assault, and/or sexual abuse. As a survivor myself, I found the question “Are you a virgin?” extremely complicated to answer; because technically, by society’s definition provided by my own experiential understanding, I was; by my own standards, which I possessed because of what I’d been told by society, yes. But my body had been invaded to provide someone else sexual pleasure, and wasn’t that what sex was in essence anyways? My experiences hadn’t been consensual, so did they count? Being questioned about my virginity only further confused me about the concept of virginity as a whole, and made entering a relationship intimidating. How much would I need to disclose? Was I a liar if I said I was or wasn’t a virgin? Did non-consensual sex acts count as loss of virginity, even if I hadn’t willingly “given it up?”

 

     I ultimately decided that I could not allow non-consensual, abusive experiences to determine my value or worth. Virginity is a social construct that is frequently used as a tool to control women, and to determine both men and women’s worth. A man is not seen as “man enough” if he is a virgin past a certain age, wants his “first time” to be “special,” or wants to wait until “marriage.” Conversely, women who engage in premarital sex are deemed as “sluts,” “whores,” “hoes,” and every synonym in between once it is learned that they “gave up” or “lost” their virginity. Alternatively, if women do not have sex, they’re seen as “prudes,” “bitches,” “boring,” and a “tease.” You literally cannot win.

 

     As I came into my Queer identity and entered a consensual sexual lesbian relationship, I was flabbergasted to hear from a then-friend that they still saw me as a virgin because I had not slept with someone of the opposite sex. Again, you can’t win.

 

So, what’s a person to do?

 

     Challenge the ways of thinking that society has programmed into you when it comes to virginity and sex. Question the language that you use, and be especially critical around this topic. Question why you are interested in talking about this topic if it does not relate to your personal business. Our society has an obsession with paying an excessive amount of attention to other people’s lives, business, and sexuality. Reflect on why. Challenge why. Define things for yourself and do not allow others’ opinions to change your definition.

My Natural Hair Journey | Chelby Gill

     I have had an enlightening hair journey over the past couple of years.  January 2016, I officially started my journey towards “natural” hair.  “Natural” in the Black community means to not use chemicals or heat of any kind that will alter the growth pattern of the hair. The journey so far has been exciting, liberating and expensive. Having natural hair is a personal choice but can also be seen as a political choice too. Embracing natural hair is political because it means that you are embracing your Blackness through your hair.

        For the majority of my life up until a year ago I had only been wearing my hair chemically straightened. It was routine for me to ask my mother if she could schedule a hair salon appointment to relax my hair once every 2 to 3 months. For me getting my hair relaxed was not about style or choice, but rather a form of upkeep. Whenever I saw my “roots” or “new growth” growing in around my edges, it looked “weird and fuzzy”.  I would become anxious and eager to go back to the salon. My hair at that time was relaxed, so it was shiny, thick, and  bra strap length. Those long straight strands of hair felt lifeless to me. I felt completely disconnected from the hair that grew on my head, it was not indicative of my personality.

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Before I began my natural hair journey

     In January of 2016 I decided to join the natural hair movement that so many of my Black sisters and siblings had joined. I began watching hours upon hours of natural hair Youtube tutorials hosted by other Black women that were already fully natural or transitioning to natural hair. Watching the Black women taking such pride in their curls was so inspiring, I was in awe of how they enjoyed doing their hair. I learned that going from relaxed hair does not happen overnight it can range from six months to a year. I was introduced to so many black owned natural hair products, and although I wanted to buy them all, they were expensive . While the process of learning about natural hair was exciting, I was also scared, because I had never actually seen what my natural hair looked like. I was not sure what my curl pattern would be and if I would even want to deal with the upkeep of natural hair.

For the first four months I spent transitioning to natural hair I was frustrated, I would attempt do different twist out methods such as bantu knots, braid outs two or three strand twists; the end result was never the same as the tutorial. I spent money on products that I often didn’t need or weren’t right for my hair. I would sit on social media pages dedicated to natural hair and see images of beautiful women with full heads of bouncing curls and coils, and I would wonder why my hair did not look like theirs. I was comparing my hair to those who were established naturals and new how to take care of their hair and I was just at the beginning. There were times I wanted to give in and get it flat ironed and just go back to chemicals and heat but I chose to stick with what I started.

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After my first big chop, this picture is in the middle of me transitioning to natural hair

The most liberating part of my journey to curly hair is the process of cutting off the old chemically treated strands. I had my first haircut when I got my “big chop” done at my local salon, I cut off six inches of hair in one day. The big chop is a phrase used within the natural hair community meaning cutting a large amount or all of your hair. The cutting of hair was symbolic because I was also cutting off the bad memories and unhappiness I had with that straight hair.

Overtime my hair became thicker curlier until I too had a head full of healthy looking curls. I see this process of transitioning to natural hair as an overall journey of self-love. So now when I look at my hair I am filled with a sense of pride and I am confident in my hair. I feel that my hair is an extension of me and my crown.

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follow me on instagram @chelbaey to follow me on my natural hair journey!

Why Jennifer Lawrence’s Apology Won’t Suffice | Emma Cárdenas

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We all have problematic faves. Jennifer Lawrence, or “JLaw,” as tabloids have dubbed her, is a critically acclaimed actress who is the youngest to be nominated for four Academy Awards. In addition to being a favorite within the academy and amongst others working in her profession, Lawrence has won over much of the U.S. — and the rest of the world — with her “quirky” and seemingly down-to-earth personality. At awards shows, instead of talking excitedly about designers and gushing about other celebrities, Lawrence is often quoted talking about how hungry she is or how much she wants pizza. This behavior has made Lawrence a fast favorite amongst young girls, especially those who followed her work through The Hunger Games film series; and people, like me, who appreciated Lawrence for the body-positive love for food she exhibited, empowering her young followers to eat what they like.

In a recent appearance on the British talk show, The Graham Norton Show, Lawrence recently unveiled herself to be another problematic fave. The clip from this appearance is attached below, although closed captioning was not available. In the clip, JLaw talks about a time when she was shooting for one of The Hunger Games films in Hawaii and was wearing nothing but a wetsuit. The place they were filming at has large rocks, which are spiritually significant to the native Hawaiians, who view these stones as their ancestors. These rocks are sacred, and as such, people are not supposed to expose their genitalia to them. Lawrence said she used one of the rocks to scratch her butt while she wore the wetsuit. She disclosed that she scratched so vigorously against one boulder that she dislodged it, sending the stone flying down the mountain, wiping out a sound equipment set-up and nearly impaling a film crew member; and resulting in the native Hawaiians viewing it as a sign of a curse. Lawrence disclosed all of this while laughing, and wrapped up the story saying, “I’m your curse. I wedged it loose with my ass.”

White people disrespecting indigenous culture, land, spirituality, and identity is nothing new — it’s the literal basis of this nation’s founding. This disrespect is evident in the recent actions happening out at Standing Rock in North Dakota over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, in disrespectful Halloween costumes, in the use of traditional headdresses at music festivals by non-native people, and even in our team names, such as the National Football League’s Kansas City “Chiefs” and Major League Baseball’s Cleveland “Indians.” However, the fact that this blatant disrespect is still the norm does not excuse it; especially not by someone with such a powerful platform as Jennifer Lawrence, a highly successful actress with especially great influence over young folks everywhere.

Although the clip from the show has been widely shared for its “comedic value,” it has been shared even more largely with disappointment and disdain. Lawrence and her fans have since tried to defend the storytelling, which happened a few years back and was initially shared in 2013 on the American talk show, Live With Kelly and Michael, by stating that JLaw didn’t know that the stones were sacred at the time. Even if this is the truth, it still doesn’t let her off the hook. Lawrence still took this experience and story as an opportunity to joke about the entire thing, rather than apologize for her ignorance and actually put forth any effort to become more educated so that similar situations could be avoided going into the future. The biggest problem with JLaw’s story is that it was rooted in ethnocentrism. She spoke about the rocks and the native Hawaiians’ beliefs in a way that implied savagery and stupidity, a painful common theme in the treatment of Native Americans and Hawaiians throughout this country’s history.

After this clip went viral, calling Lawrence out for this story, the actress issued an apology:

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When she was called out, Lawrence cried “self-deprecation” — that she never meant offense, disrespect, or ethnocentrism and only meant to make fun of herself; but ethnocentric offense and disrespect is exactly what she did. It is evident through her Facebook-issued apology that Lawrence needs a lesson in “intent versus impact,” as well as how to be respectful of indigenous cultures, traditions, spirituality and history. Jennifer Lawrence needs to be held accountable for her actions, behavior, and half-hearted attempt at an apology. Thankfully, when celebrities fail to hold themselves accountable, we can always count on the internet for help on calling people out:JLawFix.jpg

It’s also important to note that both of the other guests were also white, wealthy & powerful celebrities who failed to speak out against Lawrence’s story. Although many internet users have suggested that Chris Pratt, seated to Lawrence’s direct left in the clip, seemed uncomfortable or disapproving of her tale; the blame, although belonging predominantly to Lawrence, also falls on Pratt and Jamie Oliver, the famous chef who is seated next to the acting pair in this clip. They also should have spoken out against Lawrence’s blatant ethnocentrism; and for failing to do so, they should issue apologies, too.

We sincerely hope that Jennifer Lawrence will use her power, wealth, strong platform, and white privilege to educate herself and others about the injustices that occur against native peoples today and historically, the dangers and effects of ethnocentrism, and how to be a white ally. Just because you can count on the internet to call you out when you’re wrong doesn’t mean a lazy apology is excusable. Do your research, get woke, and don’t be a lazy apologist or ally.Hold yourselves accountable when you make mistakes — and hold others accountable, too. Growth comes from conflict and discomfort, so lean in.

Ableism Is alive and well in 2016 | Charlotte Theriault

Trigger warning for ableism, sexist language, bodily fluids


Following the shocking results of the election, many people took to social media to express their thoughts, fears, and concerns about the bigoted President-elect Donald Trump as well as the majority republican House and Senate. It quickly became apparent that the people of the United States were deeply divided, and that we needed to take a hard look at our governmental and political party systems. One of the reaction videos that was suggested to me on youtube was Glitterforever17’s video with the title “Cutting My Hair Off *TRIGGER WARNING*”

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      As someone who struggles with mental health and has a very complex relationship with the hair own my own head, I clicked the video link. The first thing I noticed was that the video had no captions, which is annoying but common in videos I find on youtube. The video opens with Glitterforever17 saying things like “I would just die if [Hillary Clinton] lost [the election].” as  she’s pretending to watch the election results. After Donald Trump is named president the screen turns black and white and you can hear the phrase “it’s Britney, bitch” with the sexist slur repeating over and over again as Glitterforever17 runs her hands through her hair. Finally, she decides to cut her hair off. The song ‘Gimmie More by Britney Spears continues to play as she cuts of chunks of her hair dramatically. The screen goes white and the words “The Next Morning…” appear. Suddenly we come face to face with Glitterforever17 sobbing, holding her chopped hair. She sobs to the camera, saying that “Hillary was my life, and like, her becoming president was my life… and now that she’d not president it’s eating me alive inside”.

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    She expresses that she doesn’t know what happened last night, and even throws up thick green slime on camera. Crying over the state of her hair and mental health, she says that she needs to go to the hair salon because she is so ugly now that she cut her hair. The video goes white once again with  “…”  displayed across the screen

     Suddenly, Glitterforever17 pops up, in full glam hair and makeup, excitedly saying “Just kidding!” Any traces of her mental breakdown or her being sick are gone, because they were fake. She confesses to lying about having a breakdown over the election, saying “I was just joking! Please don’t kill me!” She goes on to say that she didn’t have an opinion on the election. Then she tells the audience to thumbs up if they voted for Clinton and thumbs down if they voted for Trump, and jokes that that’s how she gets the thumbs up on her (seriously ableist) video.

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     Glitterforever17’s video currently has 72,450 upvotes, and 62,970 downvotes. While I’m sure many people voted based on how they felt about the election, I personally downvoted the video because it was so ableist in nature I felt a direct hit to my mental health. Let me just break down this video and explain why it was so problematic. First of all She made a direct reference  to Britney Spears’ mental breakdown in 2007, where Brittney completely shaved her head. While people speculated that Britney shaved her head to avoid being tested for drug use, others claim Brittney said she shaved her hair off because she was““tired of plugging things into it. I’m tired of people touching me.

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     Britney at the time had been under the micro-management of many people, who were all controlling her image through telling her everything she could or could not do. No one argued that Britney didn’t have a mental break down, because it was very apparent through the act of her shaving her head. Although people made fun of Britney’s decision, she utilized her breakdown as a turning point for not only her career but for herself. Today she is doing much better, but still acknowledges that her breakdown was a huge part of what shaped her as a person today. Glitterforever17’s use of Britney’s mental breakdown not only is ableist because she’s making fun of someone’s struggle with mental health, but because she’s doing it for shock factor and clickbait.

     I personally found it disgusting that she gave her followers a mini tutorial on how to make their own fake vomit. I find it disgusting that she would cut up a wig on camera and make herself up to be mentally and physically ill.

     I do not find it funny in the slightest. Mentally ill people are not here for your entertainment. We do not exist so that you can do something “crazy” and get new subscribers and likes.

     Hollywood has been using disabled people for decades, we’re always the villain, always the monster, the psychopath, the circus freak. Half of American Horror Story’s plotline revolves around the physically and mentally disabled, painting them as dangerous creatures that need to be avoided.

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     As someone who is both physically and mentally disabled, I am constantly humiliated and “othered” by people who make fun of the disabled. The word “trigger” has become a constant reminder that when I have flashbacks because I hear a certain song or read a certain name that they aren’t seen as valid. I cringe when I watch videos like Glitterforever17’s; I am not a character trope, I am not disabled for your entertainment. I am a real person and so are many other’s that have mental and physical disabilities and illnesses. I will not be linking the video because I do not want to give her more views and make her think that this kind of behavior is okay. 

Please remember that disabled people are human. Have a great break and I’ll see you in 2017 Spartans!

Sexual Assault, Mental Health, and Re-traumatization at SJSU | Jenna Edra

Trigger warning: Sexual assault, rape


     For survivors of sexual violence, school can be a danger zone of potential re-traumatization–an emotional relapse into the initial trauma caused by the assault. Re-experiencing trauma is also a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which almost one in every three victims of sexual assault develop. Incoming SJSU undergraduate and graduate students are required to complete two online courses developed by Haven, one on alcohol and the other on sexual assault. From there on, throughout students’ college career, professors may choose to discuss sexual assault in the classroom at their own discretion. Good intentions to prevent or raise awareness about sexual assault can still strike a blow against survivors’ mental health by exposing them to triggering content.

     This problem first came to my attention when my fellow SJSU student and MOSAIC Diversity Advocate Intern, Charlotte Theriault, told me that their partner completed the course on sexual assault for them.

     “Being Hard of Hearing and a sexual assault survivor, I didn’t feel as though I had adequate resources to help me through the program,” Theriault said. “My boyfriend did the course for me because there was a threat of having a hold on your classes if you didn’t finish the courses.”

     On a separate occasion, during a lecture on rape in one of my classes, a female student (who would like to be kept anonymous) told me, “As a raped victim, this lecture is hitting me hard.” Students also had to take a quiz on Canvas based on the in-class presentation.

     In both situations, there was an absence of explicit options for survivors to not participate due to trauma. When options are not made easily available and accessible, the burden is placed on sexual assault victims to go out of their way to find solutions. Victims may also consider whether they have to come forth as a survivor of sexual assault and divulge details to a faculty member–and that in itself can be re-traumatizing. The idea of going to this trouble is enough to stop survivors from trying to seek help.

     When I spoke to our school’s Title IX Officer, Natalie Potts, about these two incidents,* she found that Haven developed an alternative for sexual assault victims that allows them to opt out of the online training. Potts told me that students should contact the Wellness Center in order to access the alternative, but I am unsure as to how they would know to do so in the first place.

     “There wasn’t a clear opt-out [in the Haven course], although there were hotlines listed in case I needed to talk to someone,” Theriault said.

     I asked Theriault, my classmate, and another student, Madelynn Smith,** for their suggestions for professors and faculty who want to navigate conversations around sexual assault.

     My classmate recommended not making triggering lectures mandatory to attend, while both Theriault and Smith suggested giving trigger warnings. However, Smith has had challenges with professors who refuse to provide warnings.

     “I’ve had three of my professors this semester say that they’re against using trigger warnings in their syllabi because they feel that, if you’re entering a place of education, you should be aware that you’re going to be discussing content that may be triggering, especially within my department, which is Sociology…” Smith said. “So I understand that on an academic level, but on a personal level, as a survivor, I feel that it’s very dismissive of the mental health aspect of the situation… I’m not saying that the professors are feeding into the rape culture, but definitely feeding into the stigmatization of mental health, which does nothing to empower or support survivors.”

     Smith also mentioned that the impact of re-traumatization on mental wellbeing is a hindrance to academic success.

     “Professors need to become more educated about re-traumatization, which can really impact a student’s ability to perform well in a class. And when you are re-traumatized, sometimes it takes several weeks to recover from it, if you recover from it at all. So it can affect you just that class period or it can ripple through the rest of the semester,” she said. “Instead of being concerned about feeding into [politically correct] culture, as I’ve heard one of my professors refer to trigger warnings as, I think that it’s important to be mindful of mental health and support your students as best as possible.”

     I  urge SJSU faculty to approach programs and discussions about sexual assault with a trauma-informed lens. Sexual assault survivors should not have to compromise their mental health for the sake of their academic performance. This problem at SJSU reflects larger issues in U.S. society, particularly the stigmatization of mental illness and the desensitization to sexual violence.

     Giving trigger warnings and providing clear, painless ways to opt out of triggering situations are just a couple of ways to support survivors. Here are additional suggestions to prevent re-traumatization, given my own perspective and the input of the survivors I spoke to, directed toward faculty who want to talk about sexual assault:

  • Acknowledge that there’s a good chance there are survivors in the classroom. For example, I gave a workshop on rape culture and prefaced the content by stating, “Given how common sexual assault is, it’s important for everyone to keep in mind that there may be survivors in this room.” This reminds students that survivors are people we interact with on a daily basis and, whether we realize it or not, we all probably know a sexual assault victim. If students keep that in mind, they may be less likely to say something triggering or re-traumatizing during discussions.

 

 

  • Just be mindful. Don’t rush through a lecture or discussion about sexual assault; take your time and be wary of any students who seem visibly uncomfortable. Correct participants who perpetuate notions of rape culture.  

* In reference to the lecture on rape, Potts explained that professors have academic freedom, protected by their union. Trigger warnings before lecturing on sexual assault or other traumatic experiences would be immensely helpful, but a proposal to make them mandatory for professors to use would also receive major pushback.  

** Name has been changed to protect privacy


     If you have experienced similar problems as a survivor of sexual assault or any traumatic experience, feel free to fill out this form. Responses are confidential to me, Jenna Edra, and your information will not be shared without your consent. My intent is to continue to raise awareness about this problem by collecting more evidence that re-traumatization has been impacting the SJSU community.

     If you’d like to be interviewed in person instead or to connect with me for any reason, you can reach me at jenna.edra@sjsu.edu or via Facebook.