love trumps hate


It took me 24 hours to sit here and actually start typing something. I have felt so many things in the last 24 hours that I have become numb. I felt a lot of hope going into this. Living in a town like Ann Arbor and going to a school like the University of Michigan can give you a lot of confidence in the way our society is making progress. I am a double major in Psychology and Spanish – learning a lot about the world around me, through people and culture. I have a minor in the School of Social Work and am planning to go to Social Work school after graduation, learning about progression (and standstills) in society and how this affects every single person – how society takes someone’s rights and their dignity from them based on their race, gender, class, sexuality, etc.

Last night as there were 15 people in my living room following the live coverage of the election results – switching networks and comparing fact sites – there was a moment at around 1 am when the electoral college numbers were getting close enough to call it for red that I will never forget. Van Jones was speaking on how he was not sure how to explain this to children – to families of marginalized populations. In this moment, you could have heard a pin drop in the room. 15 people were stunned into silence, nothing but tears rolling down many of our faces. That is when I began to mourn. Yes, mourn.

I mourn for the LGBTQ friends and peers that I am so honored to know and love. For their fear of never being able to marry the one they love. Fear of being forced into conversion therapy to try to change the way they were born.

I mourn for my Muslim American friends being called terrorists on their walk to class. For those women and girls afraid to wear their scarves outside out of fear of hate crimes.

I mourn for the Mexican American girls I worked with this summer who told me that they were terrified that if this man won, their parents would be deported.

I mourn for those struggling with disabilities of any kind – mental or physical. Because this man believes that these individuals (myself included as one that suffers from mental illness) do not deserve affordable access to the care we need. This man also mocks those with disabilities in order to spark more hate.tumblr_m0r6v1kGTm1rrr4b5o1_500.jpg

I mourn because I am dedicating my life to social work – to serving the disadvantaged, marginalized and ignored – and that this is the reality I face going into this field. I dedicate my life to being the change. I dedicate my endurance and my passion to making the world a better place for every one.

I mourn for the 9-year-old who told me today that she would rather die than have this man as president, because he hates her family. For the 6-year-old who told me she was sad, because she doesn’t believe she could ever be president now.  For you both, even though you will never read this, I want you to know that we are all here for you to support you and lift you up.

So here I am as an American citizen, sad that this is what the outcome of this election is, but proud of the steps the Clinton campaign took to making this world a little closer to equal, because we are the next generation. I have done my mourning. The weapon that we have – the dreaded millennials – is love, and with that weapon, I am ready to fight.

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On Culture and It’s Absence in History Textbooks


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I feel as if a lot of my posts recently have been focused on topics discussed in my Social Work class this past semester. I guess that means it’s something I’m really interested in? Well, here is another video we watched in class and discussed. It is a poem by Fong Tran entitled “History Textbooks.” (The lyrics to the poem can be read here).

This poem focuses on the way history is presented to us in school. As a Native American, I’ve always been underwhelmed with the information about my culture taught in History classes.

“Eurocentric euphuisms like West expansion/Exploration, Manifest Destiny, and Spreading Democracy/Are just tactful translations from truth as/Slave trade, colonists, imperialism”

This whole idea has always been difficult to grasp. I loved History. It was always one of my favorite subjects in school. I thought it was captivating and so interesting. I still do. I love learning about past events, leaders, and movements. Until seeing this video in class, I could not realize why I never felt completely satisfied with my History education.

“History textbooks are written like/ A bad version of Lord of the Rings/ and I’ve been bored since the first book/ America is Frodo Baggins/ Uncle Sam if Gandalf/ And the evil Sauron/ Is made out to be every youth of color/ With a hoodie, Skittles and iced tea/ Or a man or woman/ In a turban or hijab/ Or someone with a family crest on his chest/Mistaken as a gang-related tattoo.”

After high school, I moved to a completely different region of the country to a pretty diverse school (At least more diverse than my high school…or my entire hometown). As I started to meet people from different racial backgrounds, religions, cultures and ways of life, I was struck with a realization that I was so incredibly ignorant. I knew nothing about other religions. I knew nothing about other countries or what their governments or daily lives were like. Ever since I moved, it has been a constant learning experience. I learned more about history from personal interactions than I ever did from sitting in a History class.

“Please tell my young students that/ Vietnamese people/ My people/ My History is more than 2 textbook pages about a war/ But we’re a culture/ A Peoples/ A Way of Life…We must reclaim the history that has yet been told to us”

As long as you are white and male, American History sounds like a pretty great time. If you’re a woman: a little bit less. If you’re a person of color: forget it! If someone had come up to me in high school and asked, “Sydney, tell me something about Vietnamese Americans. What about Hispanic Americans? What about Indian Americans?” I definitely would not have been able to list more than one or two things, and those things would have all most likely been about wars or something negative about those countries and their difficulties with the U.S. I want to hear the stories of these Americans. They are American just as I am. We claim to be a “melting pot,” but we forget that if we are going to use that title, we have to remember the reasons we became that. I want to hear about American History. I don’t want to hear only about the History of White Americans with a little bit of other cultures sprinkled in. Because that is not the truth.

“If you do not tell your stories, and write down your own histories, then someone else will. And I’m not saying it’s the man, but that someone is usually really white. Really old. And Really male. And the alphabet soup at the end of his name: Ph.D. confuses him. Confuses what he understands to be fact is really just an glorified opinion.”

So take this in. Recall what you were taught and what you were not. I am so beyond thankful that I have had the opportunities to learn from personal interactions over the past two years. I am so incredibly thankful that I have been able to have open dialogues about culture, race, power and privilege. I encourage you to write your own history. Think about your ancestry and your culture. You are more than just a by-product of a society of white males. Write your stories. Share your stories. We hold so much power in the ability that we have to speak, interact and share. Learn about the people you spend your time with, and let them learn about you.

“We will write our own stories, we will make our own histories upon canvas, upon page, upon walls, upon minds.”