Educators for education-not regurgitation.

Although by now the political climate of America is very forcibly divided, there remains one spark of hope-one area which has been passed down as sacred from generation to generation: the future. The children, it is said, are that future, and it is with them that humanity rests. But are we giving the future the skills it needs to survive?

In a time of information overload, young people are hard pressed to find a single skill set which enables them to navigate not only the political arena, but those which hit closer-to-home, such as healthcare, finances and the ever important education. As many of you well know, student loans are something I rant about rather frequently, the dangers of which remain quite unknown for many people from my parent’s generation. But I digress. The skill set most vital to each upcoming individual, in every generation is one that is in a recession all its own: critical thinking.

As a human being, in a much broader, globalized culture, critical thinking means the ability to objectively analyze and evaluate information (being able to determine fact from crap, essentially).

But Michelle-that sounds like you just criticized your own age group. What are you doing?

Pointing out a concern of mine in regards to the current Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. I’ve included a little context, but put the point of focus in bold. In a recent statement at the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), Mrs. DeVos said:

“How many of you are college students? The fight against the education establishment extends to you too. The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you’re a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.”

Link to the video: C-Span of Mrs. DeVos’ Speech

job-education

What is concerning, therefore, is not the fact that Secretary DeVos is of the opinion that the “fight” extends to college students (because she’s right-we’re at the front lines of a fight which extends far beyond education) but that she believes educators are not educating, but force-feeding their opinions to their students. What’s further troubling is her fixation with othering. Her statement is incredibly biased, in the way it undermines anyone who does not support Donald Trump. That in-and-of-itself is refutes her claim of anti-First Amendment work. You do not have to support the person who fills the role of President of the United States in order to be an American, with all of the associated rights. To have someone in an educational leadership position not be entirely educated on the core values of the country is terrifying. And it is for these reasons that colleges (students and educators) MUST be at the front of the fight.

While I am quite capable of passing along my opinion, I thought that perhaps it would be more prudent to provide the thoughtful discourse of a professor. In an email (which I have attained permission to reproduce), Professor Michael Phelan, Linguistics Department at The Ohio State University gave the following statement:

I have been teaching in public schools of various levels [for 14 years]. In all of that time I have never heard comments such as these from someone in a position of educational leadership; I am aghast and astounded.

Education is about two things: Getting you to ask deep, meaningful, interesting questions about yourselves, your neighbors, and the world around you, and training you to answer those questions. Good educators do not let you rest with *any* set of answers. Good educators probe deeper, asking you to consider how you know what you think you know, if there are special cases or more general formulations of your answers, if it is reasonable that other people in other circumstances may find different sets of answers to be more useful. The hallmark of really answering any scientific question is that your answer leads to more good questions, not fewer. Good educators force you to strongly consider the possibility that you might be wrong, and that your teachers might be wrong too. I firmly believe that if you somehow get through four years of university education without having had your deepest beliefs challenged you should ask for your money back.

Good education is not a systematic indoctrination to try to force you to think the way your teachers think. There are systems of thought and custom where that is the case, but education is not one of them. If you believe everything I believe, and your generation believes everything my generation believes, then we as a species have wasted all the years between because we haven’t learned anything new. But if either of us cannot back up our beliefs with rigorous argument and objective evidence, we are only fooling ourselves.

In the coming weeks, we will discuss issues related to language ideology, bilingualism, and the way that attitudes about people affect our attitudes about their language. We will discuss how the way we talk about political issues can strongly influence our beliefs about those issues, and we will use concrete examples including controversial topics like marriage equality, abortion, and physician assisted suicide. I have strong political beliefs, as doubtless many of you do too. We will keep the debate focused around the language used to talk about these issues because language processing is the point of the course, but it is important to know that we can have that debate respectfully, regardless of where we each come from politically.

Secretary DeVos said, “The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think.” I think she got her question words wrong. The faculty and staff at OSU and at any university worth the name don’t teach you what to do, say, or think. We teach you how to do things, how to say things, and more importantly, how to think clearly, deeply, and critically.

It is with this email that I leave you with the following quote.

Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.
Albert Einstein

As always,

You are valid. You have worth. You are irreplaceable. You are enough.

 

What is there to know?

So many things to speak of. On a quick side note, if you’re still trying to fight the fight, some interesting “trackers” are out there so you can get the Campbell soup (condensed) version of what’s going on. I HIGHLY recommend looking at primary sources and coming to your own conclusions instead of relying on third parties. If you need to know where to start, and want it made a little plainer so you can get started there are two places.

  1. Trump Tracker This website allows for a quick, efficient examination of election promises and the progress therein.
  2. WTF Just Happened Today? This one gives a play-by-play of what happened politically, with updates as needed.

And of note, two issues near and dear to my heart. LGBT (SAGA) protections and water rights. I’m a member of the LGBT community, albeit one of the later letters. I have friends who belong to the beginning ones, friends that are just delightful people. And I worry so much about them. Especially now that “T” is coming under fire. The battle isn’t beginning, they’re setting fire to the soldiers.

The water. I didn’t appreciate water as a kid. I loved soda. Now, I pray for rain with the hope of a thousand prayers. And rain is only available because of the water cycle, which draws water from the earth to the sky, where it falls to the earth once more. My favorite smell is petrichor. And all the ones I pray to are in the rain. Water is where I feel at home. And it is the one place we’re destroying so fast. You can’t drink oil. And I’m discouraged that businesses and corporations (and governments) do not see that.

When you feel overwhelmed, you’re not doing enough. -Mark Ruffalo

Get involved. Be active. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter if we’re divided or unified: we will all fall as one.

But in happier news:

You are valid. You have worth. You are irreplaceable. You are necessary. You are vital. You matter. You are enough.

I Will Fight

I’ve seen a lot of things these past few days, and I’m sure you have too. There was, of course, the Women’s March a couple days ago-which was wonderful. There was the emergency #NoDAPL protest last night. And there are more, I am sure. The thing is, this is just the beginning. 

I saw a post on Facebook about where people would migrate to if they were leaving our country. There were plenty of places-people who have met with lawyers, people who have researched and gotten their passports. I won’t lie. I have a place picked out that should we go the way of WWII Germany, I will take my husband and dog to and we will fight from abroad. That’s not deserting, that’s smart planning. I cannot fight from the grave. I would try, but a dead gal can only do so much.

But while we’re on the subject of fighting, I have a plan. I know-I’m just one millennial (gasp!) but there are millions more of me (and older generations) who understand what we have to lose. I invite you all to go look at Trump Tracker. This is a working list of all of the things he promised to do during his time in office. There are 189 things, all of which are divided into categories: First 100 Days, Culture, Economy, Environment, Government, Immigration, Indigenous (not Native American-it means citizens), Security, Health, World, Education. These 189 things are what he has promised to do, and as of his 5th day in office, he has achieved 3, is working on at least 2 and broken 2 ( Not tweeting and a gun provision on his first day.)

I am one person. I have biases, I have limitations, I have a small voice. But I also have care and compassion and a willingness to use that voice.

So here’s my plan (and no-these aren’t alternative facts. And no, it’s not just me saying words together. This is a definable plan.)

-I will actively promote the availability to clean water for all human beings. This includes admonishing companies who do not produce responsibly.

-I will be in contact with my representatives at all levels over issues that are injust and oppressive. I will also be in contact with them on less controversial issues-because I am a constituent and they represent me.

-I will remain active in the fight for equality. Intersectional equality.

-I will fight for, continue to fight for women’s reproductive health, and healthcare in general.

-I will carry on being a mental health advocate.

-I will carry on being a sexual assault/rape/domestic violence survivor advocate.

I am going to law school in the fall. I picked my schools based on the programs, the ratings, the clinics and the networking capabilities. As you all know, I am going to law school to focus on my last point. But my ability to affect change does not end there. I picked schools that had diverse populations-because I love that. I picked schools that had LGBT+ (SAGA) faculty and clubs and classes-because I will continue to be active in the communities I belong to. I picked schools that have a track record for being active against DJT-because I want to be fostered in an environment that gives me passion, not stifles my abilities. I made these choices because I know it is my destiny to fight. And you’d best believe that I am ready.

Who I am is not a surprise or a novel realization. I frequently talk about my identity-because it allows me to see my biases and the way I think about things. It influences me. And also because I need to know if I am potentially overlooking something because I am too close to an issue.

Some of you will remember my IMADTTO project. I spent hours and days and weeks slaving over that project, creating something I saw as a beautiful entry into the history of women, something that would help the world be a little safer. As you know, I was rejected. And I know now that I was too close to the project. It’s not something that will change-I will always be too close to it. But that doesn’t mean I cannot look at it objectively and now carry on the fight being more aware.  

So there’s me. I watched a video featuring Mark Ruffalo, in which he said “If you are feeling despair, you aren’t doing enough.” I happen to think that applies, to at least my own life action. 

So what about you? How do you feel? What are your plans?

Dear Melania Trump

You do not know me, but I know you. You are one of the women which millions now look to for a standard of living. They look to you with expectant eyes, watching each move you make. You hold a position which so many women will never hold as their own and with that privilege comes responsibilities. 

Your platform as First Lady, as you have said, is to deal with the issues of cyber bullying. I applaud you for this. Cyber bullying is something which is recent, but a pandemic nonetheless. I have some ideas which may help you in this endeavor, as someone who has been one the receiving end, but has also had friends who know what it is like.

Cyber bullying is an issue for teens across the country, and the world. It affects teens and young adults, girls more than boys and at nearly 1/3 people affected, is an urgent matter. But this also includes people of color and LGBT+ youth. I know that your husband’s cabinet would rather see to it that LGBT+ youth are not present in this-or any-discussion, but they are a vital part.

You see, as you became First Lady, you took on the responsibility to help the country you now serve. That means the whole country-whether they look like you or not, whether they love like you or not. I hope you understand the gravity of the power of the office you now hold.

The people of the country may be under the leadership of your husband, but ultimately our wellbeing lies with you.

Please, do not let us down.

Sincerely,

Michelle BB

No.

Three days. It feels like a countdown to doom. Just a couple short moments until the world as we know it pauses. I know that good things come from dire places, but doesn’t it feel a little *too* dire?

I’m trying. I’m trying to be the optimist here, to be the person whose logic and reasoning skills are intact. I’m trying to not let the fear and the crushing weight of all that is happening allow me to come undone. Really.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are a great many things that I feel. There are facets of my life that both thrill and terrify me (in the exhilarating, stressful way). And then there is just three days from now-when all the lowest things about human society become what everyone sees of my country.

I know I have a few international readers-and I do hope you see this for what it is and not an insult to your reasoning skills-but I have a message. A request, really.

Please do not look at January 21 and think that all Americans are like that. Please do not think we all hate differences, are afraid of people who aren’t the same as us. The loud minority is drowning us out, but we are here and we are fighting. There are those of us who care for the water and the planet we live on, who weep at the injustices at Standing Rock. There are those of us who value the lives of other human beings, both those who look like us and those who don’t. There are those of us who love openly, and rejoice when others can do the same-regardless of whether or not it fits our idea of love. There are those of us who are working to make the world better-not drag it back into hatred, ignorance, bigotry and fear mongering.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned. I am.

But do you know what I know?

I know that in dire times, good comes. When human kind needs it most, who should appear but Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Shirin Ebadi. The list goes on.

I can’t wait to see who our next humanitarian leader is. Maybe I’ll get to meet them. Maybe, dare I dream it-I might be them.

Sleep peacefully, readers. Be safe, be loved.

You have value. You are valid. You are irreplaceable.

We’ll make it. Together.

Mni Wiconi

Water is life.

Just let that sink in. Our bodies are made of water by more than 50%. We need to consume water in order to live. Clean, fresh water is a human right and so many, many people do not have it-abroad and here in the United States. I think of Flint, Michigan and the horrible injustices done there. I think of Toledo, Ohio and the similar story from a couple years ago. The self-proclaimed “Greatest Country In The World” should be able to provide safe drinking water to its citizens. Once a year, my own water, in the capital-Columbus is unfit for drinking or use because of nitrates.

My hometown is being plagued by fracking sites. When I looked at the fracking plans for the state of Ohio, my heart is just crushed. In the name of progress, we are killing the very earth we need to live. And yes, the pipelines will kill it-in the same way that not being able to drink water will kill human kind.

So Dakota Access.

What is it?

Dakota Access Pipeline is an oil carrying structure being built by Energy Transfer Partners. This is in no way the only pipeline being constructed this year, as you can see from this chart:
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You can also check out Pipeline Projects to see what’s been done in the past few years. There are multiple types of pipelines as well-the ones I’ve been looking at a lot are oil and fracking-because those are scariest (at least to me).

Why is it a problem?

This is a problem for a few reasons. First (courtesy of this screen capture)

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Here’s an image of the United States and the lines which run below it. Blue lines are gas lines, red lines are hazardous materials.

pipeline map.png

This is a source of major concern when you think about the amount of water which could be damaged in the event of a spill or explosion. And speaking of:

Other places pipes have caused great concern?

There are plenty of places which give credit to the concern of the DAPL. 2016 Problems lists out all of the explosions, leaks and issues in 2016 in the US. Amongst them are the ones like the Alabama explosion which killed someone. But there are other examples as well. A MAJOR oil pipeline issue occurred this year in Peru, in which the Amazon River looked like this:

Amazon Leak.jpeg

All that yellow? You guessed it-oil. 3000 barrels as a matter of fact. And this just shows the river, there was substantial impact to the flora as well. Read more here. One barrel holds 42 gallons of oil, so that is a total of 126000 gallons (476961.885 liters). The Amazon River is the water source for 20 million people (I googled “How many people rely on the Amazon River for water”). That’s a LARGE number of people without water for drinking, cooking, bathing, washing and the like.

Who are the water protectors?

The water protectors are the individuals of the Lakota nation (a sovereign collection of indigenous peoples in North America) who are trying to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from being put on their land. This group has expanded to many (and I mean MANY) groups of people coming to stand up against this injustice. Tribes from all across the globe, peoples from not only other First Nations, but other religious groups, other ethnicities, other delegations. Water protectors has been applied to those who are against not only the actions of ETP, but against the desecration of the lands which belong to the First Nations, all for the safety and freshness of the water. The water is needed for 15 million people to drink, bathe and perform all of the human necessities. The Missouri RIver also flows into the Mississippi, where another 18 million people get their water. So 33 MILLION people are at risk of losing clean water access in America.

Now, for those of you not in America, or who have not taken a “Native American” class, let me tell you a little about why DAPL is a problem. I know I won’t cover everything, but hopefully, this will give you a little bit of an overview.

When “Manifest Destiny” was coming to an end, and assimilation was proven to be monstrous, the First Nations (indigenous, “Native American”) were treatied off land which would be their “homes”. This happened to just about all of the First Nations, with the understanding that these peoples would be able to govern themselves, their land would be their own and that would be that. DAPL was originally going to go through a majority white neighborhood, but was rerouted into Lakota lands.

The Dakota Access Pipeline went through sacred resting grounds for the ancestors. This is the equivalent to a bulldozer plowing through Arlington National Cemetery so that oil can be moved around the country. Not only that, but there is brutal force being employed against the water protectors.

What happened over Thanksgiving?

Over Thanksgiving (a holiday celebrated in remembrance of a time when colonists stole land and killed members of the First Nations in order to expand the country of America-then Colony of Britain/France/Spain) a particularly heinous event occurred. Although reported as a defense against fires started by the water protectors and violence, Morton County PD enacted several crimes against the people. Now, Morton CPD has been working FOR DAPL, in the sense that they are not protecting the people, but the DAPL workers and equipment.

So these officers used water cannons to spray down the water protectors. It’s below freezing in the Dakotas (about 28* at the time) and there is no active heat source. Hypothermia became a very serious condition immediately.On top of this, mace was used, sound cannons and tear gas were also employed.

The officers also used rubber bullets shot directly at the individuals. Contrary to the thought the name implies, rubber bullets are actually solid metal rounds coated in a thin layer of rubber. A 13 year old girl was shot in the head with one and this is not the first time someone has been shot point blank instead of being hit because the bullet bounced (as is how they’re intended to be used). But perhaps the most discouraging piece of news is that of a 21 year old New Yorker who was bringing water to the water protectors and was hit in the arm by a concussion grenade.

The fires were started by Morton CPD, in case you were wondering. The full story can be seen here however: WARNING-graphic picture. They included a picture of the poor woman’s (Sophia Wilansky) arm-a fact which I didn’t know the first time I looked at the article. It’s since been amputated (I think-I can’t find any information since).

What can “we” do?

If you’d like to provide encouragement to Sophia, here is the only address I could find for getting her cards in the hospital. I do not know if she is still there, but I cannot imagine she isn’t.

HCMC, c/o Sophia Walanski, 701 Park Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55415

If you want to donate to her medical expenses: Do so here.

If you choose to make the trip to Cannonball, make sure you are self-sufficient. There is a group of peaceful veterans going on December 4th (Read about that here.) There also seems to be a movement trying to get the water protectors removed (article 1 and article 2) which I’m not entirely sure is legal.

You can also close out your accounts to the banks who are funding the pipeline. This article might be helpful in determining next steps if that is how you can help.

You can also call your government officials and let them know not to send your police and guard members to Cannonball. Here in Ohio, we raised a petition and our officers were brought back. It can work.

You can also hold supply drives for the water protectors. They have Amazon wishlists and the like.

The request of the water protectors is simple-in all you do, do so in peace. Pray. Be peaceful. Protect the water.

I know that religion can seem like a barrier between a lot of people, but there are many things that I think can bring us all together-and water is one of them.

So if you are Christian, pray. If you are Jewish, pray. If you are Muslim, pray. If you are pagan, pray. Lift your voice to the universe.

And then go out and live your peaceful life, protecting the earth. It’s the only one we have and if we don’t protect her, we won’t last long when she’s gone.

rezpectourwater48

(This picture belongs to Urban Native Era.)

This Program Has Been Rated E/I…

As an anthropology student, I am always surprised by humanity. I don’t mean that with any connotations-I’m simply surprised. I am surprised by the depths of narcissism, by the amounts of self-loathing that seems to characterize our species, by the unselfish nature shown by people in times of dire need. I’m also surprised by growth curves. Not the physical ones, but the mental and emotional and psychological ones. If I were still going to grad school for anthropology, I might just look into trends, sociophobics (shared fears) and the way that shapes our “shared experience” (that comes from Durkheim-a theoretician whom I seem to gravitate toward for his work on suicide and social association).

This isn’t political-insofar as I can tell, because I feel like we’ve said what needed to be said, started to make changes and everything else is up to actions. I’m going to try to make this E/I-Educational and Informative, whilst also being at least marginally entertaining.

The Out of Africa Model

This is one of the ideas behind how humans came to populate the whole globe. The general idea is that our species evolved in Africa and began to spread, following food, climate and several other reasons. This is supported by archaeological finds.

The Multiregional Theory

This one is the idea that a predecessor to our species (usually thought to be Homo erectus) left Africa, split off into the different geographic locations and THEN evolved into us. This is also supported by archaeological evidence.

So why am I telling you this?

Recently, there have been people who feel that it is okay to tell others to “go back to Africa” or various versions of that idea. And I need you to know that we ALL came from Africa-one way or another-some of us have just been gone a little longer than others. There is no, I repeat NO reason to tell someone that they do not belong somewhere. There is no such thing as an illegal human being. 

Craniometry

This idea has been DEBUNKED-or at least the applications of it. Craniometry is the study of the measurements of skulls. But it was used to “demonstrate racial difference” in a way that provided a hierarchy. That is to say that someone with a smaller skull was considered inferior to someone with a larger skull. Add in skin color and you have the formula for some very Hitler-esq discussions.

It was debunked because so many factors influence the size of your head-which are indiscriminate. Poverty in utero, poverty in general, geography and disease are just a couple I can think of off the top of my head.

Race

It’s hard to pin this one down. On the one hand, you have differences which *appear* to be attributed to people who belong to a certain demographic. That is how crime scene analysts tell you which amount of melanin that person had. But on the other hand, race is also a social construct. White people are white because they are devoid of “other”. The terminology is outdated and offensive (hence why we don’t use words like “mongoloid” or “negro” or “Caucasian” to describe people–the exception here is the people who really do live in the Caucasus Mountains-who, by regional association are called Caucasians. But the fact remains, we (as a species) categorize others into “us” and “them”-even when there is no reason to.

**Waiver** That is not to say that terrible things haven’t happened in the name of “race”. That would be a great disservice and offense against people who have experienced it. I’m stating that there is no reason for racism to have happened in the first place.

So what now?

Being an ally means that you accept the struggles someone else has gone through and not trying to use it against them. It means accepting their experiences, and not removing their sense of validity. This is true of survivors of sexual assault, of people with mental illnesses, of anyone who is different from you, of yourself. If you feel that you cannot do that, you may consider taking a long, long look at yourself and asking the hard questions. You know the ones.

I found all of this information on Google, through sites which I’ve used during my college career. I can provide links if they’re requested-I’ve been using dual computers which aren’t linked, so I’m unable to copy/paste at the moment.

I just wanted to provide a basic overview, so that other people can battle this ignorance. The more you know.

You are valid. You are valued.