By Brynn White
To be frank with you, the world is… Interesting. At least, that is what I say to myself to ease some of the confusion and the pain. My grandmother used to tell me that I have to be twice as “good.” I didn’t really understand what that meant. I would always ask that question, “twice as good as what?” She meant that I had to be twice as good as everyone. I needed to be immersed in the white and politically correct world just as much as the average joe and know what it means to be around my people aka the black community. I decided that it was all too much work and so I became accustomed to only living in one world the “white world.” After all, that is the more important “world” to live in because it promises a future that is stable and rich with opportunities in the real world. (I don’t actually believe this, it is just what I have come to understand about the state of our nation and our culture as it is today.)
With that being said, here is what I have learned as an African American Teen Girl living in today’s society.
#1.) Allow people to touch your hair
Yes, I actually get stopped in the middle of the street walking to work and people ask if they can touch my hair. It is weird at first but you eventually get used to the notion that people don’t understand how your hair can end up in an afro. For some reason, it is fascinating to them beyond belief. I try not to ask them why or get flustered, I just say yes.
#2.) Don’t Get Upset When People Use the N-word.
I know what you're thinking. Why would you even get offended? It’s just a word and it's not like they are using it in a derogatory manner. It is commonly used in popular songs, tv, social media,etc. But for me, it still nags at me when people use it who are not apart of my culture use it. I just try to refrain from punching someone in the gut.
#3.) Don’t Get Upset When People Say anything that is slightly or remotely construed as derogatory.
I have heard the line “ I just got a spray tan that is so dark. I like I am black.” or “That is so Ghetto.” You just have to breathe and walk in the other direction.
#4.) People will always assume that you are going to steal something
After a while, you realize that you are going to be followed and watched like a hawk in any kind of retail store. I just think of them as my little assistants. Plus, I will never have to go looking for a store manager... Ever!
#5.) Know that most people do things out of ignorance and fear
I know that ignorance isn’t a good excuse for all bad behavior but I would like to believe that most people have good intentions and just don’t understand the implications of what they are saying and/or doing. I have grown to have a high tolerance to b.s. and uninformed individuals.
By Angel Wright
Senior year of highschool is so pressure filled. Its not the part about getting into college
that I am worried about, its the part where I have to pay up more money than I have ever seen
in my life. College is so expensive and one thing that family members keep trying to shove down
my throat is that I don’t want to go into debt. That is something I obviously want to avoid, but it
seems so inevitable
. You have to be the best of the best to get the scholarships that help you avoid having
to pay a single dime when it comes to tuition and board. Along with being the best of the best is
a financial need that has to be proven my financial documents. If your parents make too much
money to qualify for the financial based scholarships, but not enough to actually provide any
contribution a person is pretty much on their own at that point.
So when you’re not the best of the best and you have the weighing pressure of how do
I pay for a decent education a few ideas begin to leak into one’s mind. One idea is spend your
last high school career mindlessly filling out applications and trying to claim the money that so
many financial advisors say is out there. There are also financial advisors who say that is not
the right way to go and to only consider a select few. Money seems unreachable and debt looks
likes its the only option.
Education comes at a very high price and so many people out there want it. To compete
with the best of the best is tiresome. A car payment is what the debt of college can gain you,
only you don’t get the car in the end. Instead you get a degree, and that if you have no prior
work experience in the field you’re searching for it can become nearly impossible to get hired.
It is a very time consuming thought of having to pay for college. Yet, I often wander into
thought of the possibilities that can happen once I go through the college experience. So many
amazing things can be learned and introduced to me. Passions and inspirations may be thrown
my way in a storm that would not be possible without that car payment of debt. I hate to think
that money is the only thing holding me back from those experiences.
So whether I like it or not, I’ll sit day after day listening to the educated financial advisors
searching for a way to pay for college. I think searching for money to go to school is closest I’ll
get to understanding not having primary and secondary school readily available for children in
other countries. Though I know in my search, I ‘ll probably never fully understand it.
By Lindsey Nield
The internet is home to various riches: videos of cats, marketplaces, and answers to homework problems; however, among this vast community lay hidden web pages dedicated to making the world a better place. They offer opportunities for users to make themselves into philanthropists by giving to those in need. Below are a few unique and constructive examples as to how a single idea has transformed the lives of women and others in the developing world.
1In in India there is an estimated 3 million forced sex workers with about 90% of that being internal. The International Princess™ Project founder, Shannon Keith, discovered this display of modern day slavery on a trip to India in 2005. She heard stories of girls being sold by their families, mothers trying to provide for their families, and pimps picking up orphans off of the street. Unfortunately, the few who are able to return home must face social stigma and have no way to survive. Ignited by what she saw, Keith gathered up her friends and founded International Princess™ Project to empower women and provide opportunities for those who have lost everything. Working with a skilled seamstress, they created a simple pattern for pajama pants, termed Punjammies, made out of the traditional Indian Sari that women could use to learn how to sew. With each stitch, the brave women who escaped sex slavery can forge new and respectable lives. Now there are over 150 women employed by the Project at 3 of their sewing centers in India. You can donate directly to The International Princess Project, but by purchasing your own pair of pajama pants or any of their specialty products at http://intlprincess.org/, you are actively employing and assisting strong and independent women whom have experienced horrors that we can only imagine. The humanitarian efforts of Shannon Keith and her friends have transformed the lives of women in India and with every purchase of Punjammies, you too can be a philanthropist.
Furthermore, at http://www.shethinx.com/ you can purchase a pair of underwear for yourself while providing seven washable and reusable pads for adolescent girls in Africa. The undergarments that the buyer receives with their purchase are made with a moisture wicking layer, an anti-microbial and stain-resistant layer, an absorption layer, and a leak-proof layer that can absorb up to 2-6 teaspoons of liquid, depending on the style purchased. They have been designed for women to wear them during their menstrual cycle without the waste and burden of using pads or tampons. However, with every purchase, you ensure that one girl in Eastern Africa can stay in school, get a job, and be a productive member of society. Over 84% of girls in the developing world (approximately 10 million) are forced to leave school early because they are unable to properly regulate their menstrual cycle. Due to the lack of resources, women and girls must stay home when they are on their period and are unable to attend school or work. THINX has teamed up with AFRIpads to provide work for women in Africa to manufacture reusable cloth pads in order to2 improve menstrual hygiene which would allow girls to continue their education. The organization employs native women to produce their products, creating more opportunities for women in a male-dominated society. By making their products reusable, AFRIpads also ensures that the environment is protected as there is very little waste associated with their pads. With the spectacular benefits for the consumer, the recipient, and the creators of the kits, you can be sure that your purchase will benefit yourself and the developing world. You can also donate to the cause directly at http://afripads.com/blog/.
If you would prefer to give directly to an organization rather than receive a gift in return, the Global Fund for Women is a nonprofit organization which works to advance women’s rights. By giving at 3 http://www.globalfundforwomen.org/, you are supporting women-led organizations around the world. Their vision is a “just, equitable and sustainable world in which women and girls have resources, voice, choice and opportunities to realize their human rights.” By funding in more than 170 countries focused primarily in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Fund’s primary goals are to end gender based violence, ensure equal rights to resources and politics, and allow all women to make their own reproductive and sexual choices. They do this by challenging laws and cultures that promote discrimination and abuse, supporting democracy movements, legal reform and women’s participation in politics, and advocating for campaigns aimed to secure women’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Finally, the Global Fund for Women provides grants for organizations or groups of women whose aim is to improve the lives of women around the world. This organization not only advocates for women’s rights and equality, but also empowers women to take action and change the world.
Not every philanthropy website is based on women; http://freerice.com/ serves to provide food for anyone who is struggling to find their next meal. The website advocates two goals: to provide a free education and free food in the form of rice to those in need in order to end world hunger. As you are educating yourself in the form of games and activities, the points you accumulate translate into grains of rice that will be given to hungry human beings. Freerice is owned by the United Nations World Food Programme and is a nonprofit website. It promotes that “somewhere in the world, a person is eating rice that you helped provide.” While you spend some down time learning new information in a variety of subjects, you are providing someone’s next meal; it is a win-win situation.
Some of the activities available on the website are:
· World Hunger
· Famous Quotations
· English Vocabulary
· English Grammar
· Multiplication Table
· Basic Math (Pre-Algebra)
· World Landmarks
· Identify Countries on the Map
· World Capitals
· Flags of the world
· Human Anatomy
· SAT® Preparation
As the player moves on in the game, the questions accelerate in difficulty. One right answer is the equivalent of a donation of 10 grains of rice; the amount of rice to feed a single adult for a whole day is approximately 19,000 grains. The website boasts that they have raised enough to feed over 5 million people in the developing world. By playing for just 5 minutes you are actively assisting those who do not know where their next meal is coming from without having to concede any money. Being a donor isn’t about how much money you give; by giving your time, expertise, or services, you are considered a philanthropist.
Donating your time, money, and talents through internet based organizations changes people’s lives who are in need of help. The internet connects us to people around the world and in doing so, we able to interact and donate to those millions of miles away. Sitting on the couch, watching an episode of Friends, you can be a philanthropist. And these are only just four examples; on the vast expanse of the web there are thousands of websites dedicated to improving the livelihoods of women, children, and those in poverty in the developing world. It only takes a few clicks to make a big difference.
By Guli Grover
Very recently in school we were assigned to read Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. I really enjoyed reading this book and I strongly support that you read this book. First of all, the book is about a teenage boy’s life and his thoughts. I could agree with him on many different points and could understand many things he described. Coming from a teenager it made every word more relatable which kept me up reading all night. I am not going to give anything away nor will I explain with a lot of detail because I prefer reading a book completely from the start without much information given. Throughout the book, the teenage boy talks to us, the readers. He explains everything he feels about everything he sees which really helps us understand who he is and where he is. Secondly, his diction consist of many curse words. I am not supporting you to start using more curse words but it relates to the everyday diction I hear at school. His word choice explains his thoughts on a whole new level and helps me relate to him. It made me realize why some people say different words in different tones, there is always a story behind every person that relates to their everyday actions. Finally, Salinger uses many allusions, even though the plot was written in the “olden days” many examples are still relatable. All of the examples help me see where he is and makes me feel like I am standing next to him. Some of the allusions are things I have never heard of, which gives me the opportunity to learn more. The reason I love this book is because I can relate to it in many different ways. J.D. Salinger does a great job describing and keeps you entertained from beginning to end. I strongly recommend reading this book.
By Madeline LaMee
What will the Future Hold?
The Past, Present and Future of Native American Reservations in the United States
When people from the Americas hear the term “Indian,” we often associate it with the Old West stereotype of medicine men and horseback warriors. This association however, is not so widespread as one might think. To the rest of the word, an Indian is someone from the Indian Subcontinent, halfway across the world from the arid plains of the Old West flicks.
Many do not know that the term “Indian” was coined by Columbus himself, who, upon his first voyage to the Americas, was convinced that he was correct about the earth’s circumference, and that, by sailing West from Spain, he had found an alternate route to India. Although the West Indies where soon discovered to be part of a new Continent entirely, the term Indian is still widely used despite it’s incorrect and somewhat offensive background.
This ironic historical detail resonates deeply in the light of current debates surrounding Native American rights. Although to an outsider, the use of the current politically correct term might seem like an inconvenient overreaction, to many, stopping the incorrect usage of the word Indian is an important step in the reputing of common stereotypes surrounding the Native American people.
Europeans, and later Americans, have an unfortunately long history of forcing their own image upon their subjugated cultures; one must only look at how the great Aztec civilization is portrayed by the Spanish, or how the Celtic tribespeople were detested by the Roman Catholic church to see this fact. In the present-day United States, the process of subjugation has been no different, though this part of history is only now beginning to surface in the eyes of the general public.
The conquest and colonization of the Americas, which began in 1492, did not end entirely until the mid 19th century, when the last of the European Colonies gained political independence. Europeans came for many different reasons: but most came in the name of the Crown, the Church, or personal escape from the poverty and religious persecution common in their home countries. This vast movement of European culture and people to the Americas was accompanied by the mass killing of Native Americans by European disease and violence. In some places, especially in new Spain, the population fell by as much as 90 percent.
At the time, the present day Eastern and Midwestern United States was claimed by the English, Dutch and French as the dregs of the New World (by which they meant that it had less natural resources than New Spain or Portugal). The present South-West was considered the northern corner of the Spanish conquests. Here, the lands were used primarily to support the excess population of the European countries, and not as major food sources as seen in South and Central America.
In the beginning, only a small amount of Europeans came to North America. Some lived in harmony with the natives, but most tried to impose their culture on them and convert them to Christianity. Many times, they would negotiate with the natives for lands and resources. Because many native tribes had not developed a system or concept of land ownership, they were often exploited by the Europeans. One example of this is Peter Minuit, who is said to have purchased Long Island for only 60 Dutch guilders, the equivalent of 24 dollars. Today, it is some of the most expensive real estate in the world.
After the United States fought for it’s independence, it quickly expanded to many times it’s original size. As the colonists pushed out from the east coast, the Native Americans were forced to migrate into the lands to the west, a change in tribal boundaries that caused many ongoing conflicts. Americans soon developed an ideal called Manifest Destiny, the idea that it was their god-given right and duty to spread democracy (and their European culture) from “sea to shining sea.”
By 1853, most of the continental US was part of the new American empire; there was no longer any land for the Natives to escape to. Instead, they lived in small pockets between the growing American settlements. In such close proximity, the tribes and settlers fought constantly, though the settlers won more often than the natives. In one well known example, officially called the Battle at Wounded Knee, American troops shot down Lakota civilians with little to no provocation. Needless to say, they call it the Wounded Knee Massacre.
Around this time, it was a federal goal to assimilate Native Americans into our society. At the time, Native Americans were viewed with the same racist assumptions as African Americans. It was commonly held that they were uncivilized and dangerous.
In 1851, the first Indian Reservation was made in Oklahoma. Soon, there were over 300 pieces of land allotted to various tribes. Instead of being able to stay in their own lands, most tribes were relocated to lands that were unwanted by the US government. Many were relocated forcibly, and had to walk to their new homes under the drilling of US troops. The relocation of the Eastern Tribes is often termed the Trail of Tears because the Cherokee, Muskogee, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw people who participated in the walks died in huge numbers, living in conditions comparable to the Death Walks during WWII.
Although the borders have changed, these reservations have remained intact into the 21st century. Since then, various laws have been passed to ensure the security of the reservations. For instance, tribal governments or “Indian Nations” began forming early on in reservations, but it wasn’t until the Self- Determination act in 1970, that they were acknowledged officially by the US government. Native Americans achieved sovereignty in US elections in 1925. Nowadays, Native Americans enjoy dual citizenship and public education.
I saw the effects -good and bad- of these past centuries of history firsthand when I visited Crownpoint, New Mexico with my church youth group. Crownpoint, a small town in the North-East corner of the Navajo Nation, is to my knowledge, a fairly typical example of what life is like today on a reservation. The people there wear Western cloths and speak English. Most live on a plot of desert were they raise horses or sheep and sleep in a small house or trailer. They were incredibly grateful for the help that our church gave to them, but I wondered often if any of the old men and women remembered the years not so long ago in which missionaries came not to rebuild their houses, but to force their religion onto them.
Still, thanks to the National Indian Education Association, the town has an elementary school, middle school, high school and even a community college. Children all over the area attend school in Crownpoint, but only 60 percent make it all the way through high school. The pastor of the church we stayed at said that the low graduation rate was mostly due to a broad disillusionment in the value of education. There were so little jobs available around the reservation, he said, that even high school graduates could scarcely find jobs. He was also worried about the number of kids that were turning to gang membership and drug abuse.
Despite these worrisome realities, the Navajo are actually relatively lucky in terms of history; unlike many tribes, they retained their ancestral lands, which they consider sacred to their people. Still, they are among the many tribes of Native Americans that are still struggling to reconcile their tribal heritage and modern influences, negotiate with the United States Government for greater autonomy, and ultimately provide a more stable future out of a troubled past. When people make judgements about the modern issues regarding Native Americans, whether it is about Native American Civil Rights or something as seemingly trivial as the newest PC term, I hope that they will take into account not only the present conditions, but the past and future of the Tribal Nations. Nothing in history happens in a vacuum, so it’s up to us to use history to aid our understanding of the world around us.
“Next Step: Your Mission Starts Here” packet Ways of the World by Robert Strayer
Guns, Germs, and Steal by Jared Diamond Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown Encyclopedia Britannica http://www.navajo-nsn.gov
On Sunday, 11 February, 1990, a little after 4p.m., Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I watched with my family as he triumphantly raised his fists in the air. There were tears, there were cheers, and a profound sense that I was witness to an incredible moment in history. I fell in love with South Africa that day.
The country's first, fully representative, democratic election was held on 27 April 1994. I was not old enough to vote. But I did accompany my parents, and watched with deep joy as they voted for the first time, for president. I proudly called myself South African that day.
The pride and joy I felt for my country grew tremendously throughout Mr. Mandela's presidency. In particular, his focus on two population groups shaped my social awareness: women & youth.
In his opening address to South Africa's first democratic parliament in 1994, Mr. Mandela said:
“It is vitally important that all structures of government, including the President himself, should understand this fully: that freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.”
Recognizing the importance of women and women's leadership, Mr. Mandela committed to an informal quota of having at least 30 percent of his parliament represented by women.
And to honor the women who fought for freedom and forged the path for justice, August 9th in South Africa is designated as National Women's Day.
Mr. Mandela's government reviewed the country's public holidays to ensure that the calendar was reflective of the total experience of all the people. As such, June 16th is commemorated as National Youth Day, for the young people who gave their lives during the Soweto Uprisings of 1976.
Youth have been very important to Mr.Mandela. He was one of the founders of The African National Congress Youth League - the organization that influenced his leadership.
As president, he was keenly aware of the responsibilities that lay with the next generation - he challenged and inspired them. In 2005, in an address to youth at the "Make Poverty History" campaign , Mr. Mandela passed the baton of action to all young people:
"I am proud to wear the symbol of this global call to action in 2005. This white band is from my country. In a moment, I want to give this band to you – young people ... – and ask you to take it forward along with millions of others to the G8 summit in July. I entrust it to you. I will be watching with anticipation".
"Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom".
These words have been the inspiration for The Blossom Project. I am proud that this program has been created from the inspiration of a true hero. I will continue to honor the life and vision of this extraordinary man, in all that The Blossom Project continues to do.
I hope that you, too can find inspiration from Mr. Mandela.
Hamba Kahle, Madiba.
Blossom Project Participants
We are empowered high school girls, inspired to make a positive difference in the world.