“If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” ― Junot Díaz

Below is a link to a video of a young girl who receives a doll with a prosthetic leg. This is significant because the young lady has a prosthetic leg as well.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGhAcBwwpo0)
The young girl’s reaction is priceless. She opens the box and immediately begins crying because she has a doll that looks like her.
The crux of this statement emphasizes how important representation for all people is, specifically minorities.
We live in a society where the majority of people are white straight cisgender people and dominate pop culture. This is natural and makes sense that a majority is well represented in the society they live.
However, collectively we should always be working towards a more inclusive society. One way to do that is by representing all people in that society. This may mean through media, politics, educations, and other outlets.
It is imperative that children see people like them excelling in a happy and healthy way. This is one of the building blocks for developing positive self image and identity.
The little girl from the video doesn’t have many role models that represent her. I don’t know many celebrities or influential people in our society that have a prosthetic leg. So for her to receive a doll with one was a major deal for her. The same is true for People of Color, the LGBTQ community, women, and others.
By representing minorities in popular culture we are providing our youth an accurate depiction of all peoples that live in our society. Our media representing those communities should illustrate them as authentic three dimensional beings. We tend to think of people in only one way; usually the label we place on them. If our TV shows, books, and music provide depth to these minority characters it expands our youth’s ability to develop a positive self image.
The LGBTQ community, People of Color, women, immigrants, and other minorities don’t have much representation in government, academia, pop culture, and other aspects of life. By providing youth that is more inclusive and more like them we are cultivating a generation that feels more free to live genuine and more authentically than ever before.
If you this concept is new to you or you don’t understand it, count yourself lucky. You have had impactful person in your life that you could identify with. Not many of our youth get that opportunity. Working to be more inclusive of all others is a goal we should all work toward.
For the sake of the young lady in the video or others like her, we owe it to them. For the next generation.

“Surely it is one of the simplest laws of taste in dress, that it shall not attract undue attention from the wearer to the worn.” -Elizabeth Stuart Phelps

In recent weeks what has been trending in people’s news feeds has been the topic of dress codes and sexism. With school back in session for most folks, one can see why this topic has become relevant.

There have been a few stories where certain groups have determined that by nature dress codes are sexist. Recently, one high school girl was sent home for wearing a top that revealed her collar bone. In fact, some students are going as far as to hold demonstrations displaying their distaste for dress codes.

There are two issues at play here. On the surface it looks as if people are addressing the “sexist” tendencies a dress code has. Or in better words, the fact that dress codes typically have more statutes for girls than for boys. This cause is picked up by the average student who has to live with said dress code.

The second issue at play is that the zeitgeist of today are attempting to redefine what it means to be modest. The most recent example is #FreeTheNipple. Its an online campaign that is attempting “educate” others on how sexist it is when men can wear no shirts in public and woman cannot. I agree but not for the reasons they present.

On to the first issue. Dress codes exist for numerous of reasons. None of which should be “so boys won’t be distracted”. I heard that all of my life and that excuse is ridiculous. While I understand that what someone wears can distract others that should not be an argument for modest dress. It should be emphasized that in the work force folks are expected to dress and conduct themselves in a certain way. A dress code provides that training. It should be understood that the way a person dresses is one of the first things that affects a first impression. A focus on dressing respectfully and wholesome indicates a respect for yourself and those around you. Not just simply, do boys don’t get hot and bothered.

Also, none of that is strictly for girls. Boys should be dressing modestly for those same reasons. However, because men’s and women’s fashion are different there will be different standards of modesty for both genders. For example, a low cut top on a young lady is offensive where as sagging pants are offensive on a young man. I would imagine there are more rules to a woman’s dress code because there are more fashion choice. For a dude its simply a polo and jeans. For women there are many more options. I think focusing on those key difference is neither here nor there. You will not see the trees for the forest. The point is that the school administration had decided that there is a standard for modest dress and it should be adhered to.

Both male and female students are to go to school to get an education. They are not to come to school dressed in a way that would prevent that. They should realize that when they become an adult there will be expectations and they must be followed and that the way they present themselves will affect what happens to them in life. Imagine if you went to a job interview in something inappropriate.

I don’t think dress codes are sexist by nature. They do become sexist when you teach young ladies not to wear things that are distracting to boys and not teach boys to not wear things that are distracting to girls. Fair is fair.

Finally, there are group out there that want to tear down all forms of modesty. They preach a mantra of freeing yourself, loving your body, and not body shaming. It isn’t body shaming to believe that folks should present themselves decently. You can be proud of your body and not feel the need to show it off in all of its glory.

#FreeTheNipple’s movement is simple. Its sexist for males to go shirtless and females cannot. Most consider it inappropriate when a female exposes herself topless. Frankly, they are right. It is sexist.

If I haven’t lost you yet, I’m probably about too. Men and woman alike shouldn’t be exposing themselves topless in public. I’m not sure when culture dictated that men topless wasn’t immodest but it is. Here is where I differ with the groups that also believe that. I do not think men and woman should be going in public topless. Those groups would advise for woman to go topless. They would affirm that is how you make it not sexist. While that is true, it doesn’t make it right. People should be covering up more. However, we are too far gone in our culture for that.

I love the idea of a dress code. While in school I never received a dress code violation. I did not wear things I knew were not allowed. I wish more folks would go back to this understanding and compliance. I think one must be fair in developing a dress code. Its fairly simple. I would advise a uniform. Everyone wear kakis and a polo. Male and female. How neutral is that? Extremely. Then there will be no discussion of sexism and dress code. That is the path that most school will take if our culture continues to decide it wishes to be more and more immodest.

I hope people grow to respect themselves and the people around them.

This In Itself Is Humbling.

“Choices made, whether bad or good, follow you forever and affect everyone in their path one way or another.” ― J.E.B. Spredemann

We walk a tight rope when it comes to the first amendment. One must balance the ability to say anything with the responsibility of saying anything. I am thankful we live in a country where our government cannot penalize its citizens for its speech. However, society may do with the speech giver as it wishes. I always remind folks you have the freedom of speech but not the freedom of consequences.

Every one of us has a responsibility for what we say. Some of us have bigger platforms but we all have a voice and people listen to it. As an average twenty something male I recognize I have a responsibility with my speech.

I have two younger sisters that are affected by the things I say. I have a reputation that I wish to hold intact. I have friends and family members I have a responsibility to. I also have my employer and coworkers to consider when I make my thoughts public. Lastly, my speech, on a small scale, affects society.  At this point some of you are rolling your eyes.  But think about it. The above people mentioned are my world. I socialize with these folks on an everyday basis. For better or worse, they affect me and I affect them. In turn those folks go home to their family, coworkers, and friends and they affect them. People change people. This is why society is an ever evolving collection of ideas and norms. It’s quite astounding if you think about it. You where ever you are in some small way are affecting someone you don’t know half way around the world. Our interconnectedness is often astonishing. And we are lucky enough to live in a time when all of it is recorded and put on the internet. While I hate internet fad videos, it’s a perfect example.

I believe this illustrates my point about the responsibility we have with our words and speech. I love social commentary. I see myself as a social observer. I then write how I see the world. Some of today’s TV shows are a great source of social thought provocation. Criminal Minds had an episode from 2012 where a politician was speaking hateful rhetoric. He was campaigning on the notion that crime is committed only by nonwhite folks. This fueled a deranged man’s murderous plot to stage the murders of upper middle class white families preformed at the hand of minorities. I get it. It’s a TV show.

However, put it into perspective.  Two and a half weeks ago a white man opened fire on nine innocent black folks who were worshiping God. One of the most people acts a person can commit and they were hunted like animals. Its alleged that the murder was involved in several white supremacy groups or at least believed their ugly beliefs. As I watched this episode this was all I could think of. Those poor folks are victims of a sick twisted individual that was indoctrinated by evil vicious thoughts. I soon thought about the responsibility we all have for our words and to each other. Whether you like it or not you are an example to someone. You change someone and they change you. People change people.

Once we realize this we can work together to become more cautious with our words and thoughts. In no way am I affirming we do not have a right to say what we want but only reminding ourselves that we have a responsibility for what we say as well. May we use our words to build up rather than tear down.

This In Itself Is Humbling.

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” -Andy Rooney

TV Land is introducing a new dramadey called “Younger”. It is about a forty-ish recently divorced mother who is wanting to rebuild her life.

Not an original concept right? There is a twist. Their is always a twist.

In order to rebuild her life she obtains a new job and friends. In this new life everyone believes she is a twentysomething. I get it. Its a TV show. The producers needed a hook and a reason for the audience to watch.

What will be telling is how receptive TV watchers will be.

Society has a preoccupation with youth. Its no secret. I’ve just never gotten that mentality though. I suppose its easy for a twentysomething to make comments like that.

I don’t long for youth due to the fact I’m in my prime. I’m the definition of youth and twentysomething-tude. However, I have never understood being nostalgic for the past.  I have always said I never want to wake up in twenty years and desire the old days. I had a great high school experience, college experience, and now young adult experience. But I do not wish to go back to those days.

I understand the appeal. Why would anyone not want to go back to a time when he/she had limited responsibility.

I have always affirmed I wanted to live in a way that every faction of my life is good. I want to be happy everyday of my life. I want to be so happy with where I am in life that I do not long for “glory days”. Up to this point I have been able to do that.

I believe its normal for everyone to have a few days every once in awhile to pine for a simpler time. However, there are folks who think of those simpler times and stop living for the present and focus completely on how good they used to have it.

Here are a few characteristics that can help a person to stop living for the past and enjoy the present.

1) Stop acting like a victim. Understand that things happen. You weren’t singled out. Life isn’t fair.

2) Life and no one else owes you anything. Stop thinking you deserve something for nothing. Work for what you want.

3) Appreciate the people in your life. Accept that everything in your life can change at anytime. Loved one’s aren’t with us forever.

4) Thinking on positive things will help you have a positive outlook. Your outlook dictates your ability to handle your situation.

5) The present is the only time we have. We shouldn’t waste it on the past. Good or bad.

Often what we think about a situation will determine how we react to that situation. The present time can be as good as the “glory days” one so desperately clings to if one attempts to change his attitude about it.

At times its normal for one to think about past good times. However, it becomes unhealthy for one to dwell on the past so much he/she cannot live for the present.

We must love our life in all aspects. We must want to be so in love with life that we do not dwell on better days. If you find you could use better days, you should work towards them. You have the power to change your life and make improvements as needed. Isn’t that a lovely thought?

That in itself is humbling.

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals.” -Laurence Sterne

I’m never sure where to start when writing this particular blog topic. So, I’ll start with what prompted me to write.

I’m sitting on my bed listening to the radio and Pitbull’s number one single “Time Of Our Lives” starts to play. Anyone who knows me understands I have a distaste for Pitbull. If you hear one of his songs you have heard them all. Each song is like, insert: random city, a few Spanish words, and “Mr. Word Wide” and you have a Pitbull song.

I digress. This isn’t what prompted my blog. I hate the song “Time of Our Lives”. There isn’t anything redeeming about it. I especially hate the message it promotes to young people. I’m long past sounding like a prude. I get it. Its just a song. However, lyrics such as:

“I knew my rent was gon’ be later ’bout a week ago, I work my ass off, But I still can’t pay it though, But I got just enough,To get off in this club”

“I’m not talking ’bout love, I’m talking ’bout lust, Now let’s get loose, have some fun, Forget about bills and the first of the month”

“Go ahead baby let me see what you got, You know you got the biggest booty in this spot, And I just wanna see that thing drop, From the back to the front to the top”

promote irresponsibility, anything for a good time attitude, and objectifying women as sexual objects. Pitbull is not the only culprit. Frankly, our culture is saturated with this pollution. This garbage is being pushed at young people from every possible outlet. Its scary. Pitbull’s song is a good representation of what is wrong with our culture.

I will give the writer of the song props. The song is written as an excellent narrative. You have the ‘club goer” who explains why he is going to the club. He is frustrated/upset he cannot pay his bills and must have a release for his problems. So he goes clubbing to get his mind of his problems.

I’m all for a good time. This, however, is not what will help the “club goer”. The song is promoting irresponsibility. When you can’t afford your rent. You should be looking to understand why. Are you spending too much in another area? Where can I save money so I can afford basic amenities?

Truth is, if you cannot afford your needs you can’t have your wants. Its a simple concept and sadly the family unit doesn’t teach it. People want what they want when they want it. So the “Club goer” spends his last twenty dollars on a good time. Forget that heartache that will cause at a later date.

If the “Club goer” was under distress about the situation he should have been looking for a way to make some extra cash to pay his bills. Legal ways mind you. There is nothing like working for an honest days pay.  That should be the message that is promoted in our music and culture. Not something for nothing.

If you can’t afford housing you shouldn’t be going clubbing.

The second lyric I have highlighted illustrates the desire for a good time. Its something we should all want but unfortunately our culture’ s idea of a good time is meaningless sex. The “club goer” is only interested in lust. He doesn’t care about love. He only desires the here and now. It doesn’t even matter with whom he has the sex with. This attitude is rampant in today’s culture.  Why do people go to bars? To meet other people. Where are they hoping it leads? To bed. It is sad.

A good time can be had by committing yourself to the right people. I haven’t met a single person who actually favors going to the club, getting sloshed only to not remember the events of the previous night as opposed to spending an intimate evening with close knit friends enjoying each other’s company.

Give me a few friends, good conversation, and coffee and I’ll show you a good time. People perpetuate the myth that young people need to have crazy times to be happy. People want young and crazy days so they can look back and say “look at how stupid I was when I was younger”.  Some of us never needed to go through that phase. It isn’t necessary.

I grow tired of society perpetuating the myth that something is wrong with you if you aren’t interested in doing things deemed as “cool”. What are we, in 7th grade?

Lastly, Pitbulll and every other male artist is awful about objectifying women. I have always found it interesting feminist tend to be quite when the Liberal Hollywood elites are participating in anti-feminist behavior.

This song details what is wrong with our culture. The woman in the song is seen as a sex object. She is told to get her booty low. Because the “Club goer” wants to see her get down.

Why is she being gawked at for her looks? Why is the “Club goer” not appreciating her for her intelligence?  He only sees a conquest.

Unfortunately, today’s culture perpetuates the idea of over sexualized women. The woman in the club is not there for your sexual pleasure. She isn’t there to ensure you have  good time.

Yet, music such as this perpetuates this thought. It is sad.

Our culture is saturated with these issues. It isn’t just one Pitbull song. Young people are being bombarded with these concepts from every orifice society has.

Our goal as well rounded adults should be to combat this thinking. We should help young people learn responsibility, the good in an honest day’s work, and  dangers in seeing people as only sexual objects and not humans.

This in itself is humbling.

“Surround yourself with people you like and make cool stuff with them.” -John Green

I’ve been wanting to write on this particular subject for sometime. Its a subject that not everyone is going to understand. That’s fine but it was a big part of my life for a small part of my life and I wanted to express the thoughts that are floating around in my mind. Inevitably, here is a blog:

Internet culture did a lot for me in 2014. Admittedly, I had a brief stint of it in 2013 but my internet consumption hit its high note in the last year. For one to understand its importance to me you will need some background information:

I graduated college in 2012. The economy was not great. So upon graduation I stayed at a job I worked in during high school and through college for about eight months. I then found a higher paying part time office  job. It was shift work. I worked second and third shift four days a week for eight hours at a time. I worked alone because only one employee was required on second and third shift. As one can imagine I got lonely very quickly. A void was created by my new working conditions. I also was becoming very dissatisfied with my current position in life. I was working a dead end part time job. It was shift work. I worked holidays and I worked alone. This void quickly became a black hole.

How did I fill this void? In the infamous words of Timmy Turner “The Internet”.

It sounds weird. Maybe even simple. But it was wonderful and spectacular all at the same time.

I started watching Youtube. At first I was watching videos from the most popular page and with each video I dug deeper into Youtube culture. I started watching Daily Grace (Grace Helbig). She was my first daily vlogger I watched. Then I would watch Joey Garceffa. I then moved onto Hannah Hart, John Green, Tyler Oakly, Connor Franta, Blimey Cow, and Miranda Sings. And then I discovered the British Invasion. I watched Alfie Deyes, Zoey Sugg, Marcus Butler, Jim Chapman, and Ben Brown. I loved watching gaming channels. Who would have thought, its entertaining watching someone else play a game.  I watched Simmers, Deli, Caithlin, and James Turner and NateWantsToBattle and Dookieshed.

These wonderful people entertained, educated, and excited me.

To this day these people did more for me than television. Because of the nature of Youtube it felt more like socializing with friends. These people let you into their lives. Whether intended to or not you grow a connection with these people. I understand Youtubers control every aspect of what you grow close to but none-the-less you develop a relationship.

If you don’t believe me ask one of the millions of people who watch these guys how it feels when one of their favorite Youtubers misses a day on their upload schedule. Its not pretty.

I was able to watch videos about travel, food, life hacks, video games, books, movies, and pop culture. It was great! Until recently that is. In October I accepted a full time job. It is in my career field, pays three times as much as what I was making, and makes me happy. The draw back? I have essentially left internet culture behind. With the exception of following these guys on Twitter, the occasional pursing of Buzzfeed and checking Facebook notifications I have lost touch with something that got me through a difficult time. A time when I was dissatisfied with the direction my life was going.

I appreciate what Youtube and Internet culture did for me in 2014.

Here are my top five things I got from the “World Wide Web”:

1) A sense of acceptance and thrill for finding like minded people.

2) My sense of adventure was reawakened. I created a travel bucket list.

3) I was entertained by talented people who are doing what they loved.

4) I was educated. Opinions were changed and some were reinforced.

5) I was inspired to go after my dreams,

Its why I started writing a blog.

A huge thank you to all of the youtubers I came to love to watch. Also, I may not watch every single video anymore but I keep up with you guys.

The biggest lesson learned from Youtube and Internet Culture was “do in life what you love”. The above Youtubers never failed to make you feel included and that you too could have a dream.

This in itself is humbling.

“Chivalry is not just a fancy word with a neat meaning; it’s a way of life.” ― Vaughn Ripley

Tonight I went to dinner with some of my friends. As I left the restaurant I witnessed an elderly man open the car door for his wife/girlfriend. 

In that instance I immediately thought “awesome that man is be chivalrous”! Then I started thinking about chivalry and its place in today’s society. I asked myself has chivalry really died? The answer I decided on was no not entirely. Gentlemen still practice chivalry. 

Of course I do not have any data on attitudes about chivalrous behavior or even if it is still being preformed on a regular basis. It just feels as if our culture is pushing us away from chivalrous attitudes. 

From the male perspective, modern American culture does not teach young men to treat women with respect.

Instead pop culture objectifies women as sexual objects rather than people. Music videos have women half dressed and gyrating in sexual ways. Typically these women are dancing around the male singer and he is singing about the questionable things he wants to do to her. While looking at her as if she is a piece of meat.

Often crude language is being used to express his desires for her. Last year’s summer hit subtly perpetuated rape culture. Many argued that Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” was affirming the idea that women in general were their’s for the taking. 

Also, from the other end of the spectrum, we have certain groups of women that feel men having a chivalrous attitude is archaic. So women become offended when men do things for them. They do not want their significant other to hold a door open for them or pay for dinner. Most likely they believe that their significant other views them as incapable and therefore they feel the need to prove a point.

Honestly, I believe this to be the minority of women.  I think most women like to know they have someone that is willing to show them respect and manners. Chivalry can provide that.  

Here are a few behaviors that will help you become more Chivalrous:

1) Always open a door for someone. It will never cease being polite to hold a door for someone else. 

2) Always pull her chair out for her. Then you may sit once she is seated.

3) Always meet her at the door. Also, walk her to the door. 

4) Stand up when she enters the room.

5) If it is chilly offer her your coat. 

Chivalry is not about trying to prove dominance. Its about respect. Communication is key. She may advise that she doesn’t like one of your chivalrous behaviors and that is more than okay.  Its better for her to tell you which one she doesn’t like rather than you have never preformed one at all. 

Here is a comical YouTube video that discusses chivalry. I found it entertaining. 

Chivalry is a way of showing affection, care, and attention. I would much rather have our culture utilize these attitudes and behaviors instead of what is currently being offered. Chivalrous behaviors teach people how to be respectful of others. It brings about more polite outcomes. Overall, chivalry is nothing but manners. It seems as our culture progress it becomes more self centered. Chivalry helps restore ourselves from that self centered attitude. 

This in itself is humbling.