History Has Its Eyes on You: Theater is Not a “Safe Space”

Acting is often one of the ultimate renditions of the human condition. It shows how people feel and creates images that you can’t ignore. That’s why movies are so striking- we often find ourselves somewhere in the hour and 15 minutes it takes to present the plot line. In live theater the world is much more on the line, though. Movies can be edited masterfully to present different points. Scripts can be rewritten. But there’s something about the stage that brings a certain truth and presentation. When people are acting out a world in front of you, it’s easy to be smacked in the face with the reality that the actors are trying to portray.

That’s one of the reasons’s Hamilton has taken the attention of millions. Not only is it unique in every sense of the word, but it’s also incredibly raw. White men are played by minorities. It showcases our most valuable foundation as a nation- interpretation, and, ultimately, freedom of speech. The ability to showcase our own story with the realities of today. Theater- in general- often shows the story of “us” (whoever that might be) in a way that only the stage could tell.

So yesterday, when Mike Pence visited Hamilton and the cast & crew had something to say, the words that were said were more than appropriate. Theater is about saying what needs to be said. That’s what they did. What was even more alarming was Donald Trump’s response:

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Theater is not a safe space- it’s a place to talk about real life. And if that really offends you, then I’ll take your tickets.

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Stop Telling Minorities What They Think

 

“I don’t think things will be as bad as you think,” he said, “You just can’t take a defeat.”

Friends likes to tell me that LGBT Americans are fine and that there’s nothing to be worried about. Those people aren’t LGBT. They’re just trying to make me feel better. As a lesbian, I feel the exact opposite. Most of my LGBT friends do too. The majority of us don’t feel safe, and while I can only speak for people that I know, I don’t think we are alone. At Capital University Pride the other day, police officers came to the meeting and sat in the back. Nothing bad happened, of course, but It doesn’t matter – it just matters that someone felt they needed to be there. During that meeting, the President of the organization made us all promise to stay safe and download an app on our phones that can help us contact police if something happens. Once again, It doesn’t matter if it does happen, we still felt as though that conversation needed to take place. That’s saying something. For the remainder of the week, I was told constantly that I was loved, because people were afraid I didn’t know. People were afraid that I felt like no one cared. I checked on my gay friends, they checked on me. Shouldn’t that say something?

I also fall into the category of “disability,” which is abnormal for a teenage girl. I have three autoimmune disorders, one of them rare and extremely life threatening, so my health insurance is a major part of my every day life. For me, the Affordable Care act, although broken in some respects, saved my life. The medication that keeps me alive and well costs 65,000 dollars a dose (every 28 days), costs the price of a house per-year, and hits my family’s healthcare premium for the entire year with one shot. In December of 2015, I spent the entire month fighting for my life in the ICU. Those bills were over 80,000 dollars. Without “Obamacare” my family would have lost everything. That’s the reality for people with health issues. It’s a lot greater than a simple cold. Healthcare can cost you your life, and as a new President Trump tackles healthcare, a lot more is on the line for me than the normal, healthy American girl. Other people can tell me not to worry- but those people don’t actually have the problem. Those people don’t live in my world.

I had a girl the other day tell me that Trump was the most “unracist president we’d ever have” and that “he loves hispanics.” I don’t hold that against her. She followed up the sentence by saying “but I don’t know that much about history. So I’m not really sure.” Yeah, I thought, I can tell. Somehow this person missed the fact that the majority of hispanics voted against him. I think hispanics should be able to decided for themselves if he stands for them or not- and the answer is obviously “not.”

In the end, the world likes to decide how a collective group feels – even when they themselves aren’t a part of the group.

“Black people don’t like _____.”

“Native Americans really don’t ______.”

“Gay people _____.”

“Women all feel _____.”

I don’t live the life of a black American. I’m not hispanic or Asian, and I don’t know what it feels like to be threatened because of my religion. But those people do- and I can’t tell them how they feel. All women don’t feel a certain way- but men certainly don’t know how to be women. I don’t know what it’s like to be a white man- or a man, for that matter. But all those feelings are valid and real- so stop shoving them under the rug. Stop telling me how I feel, and I’ll stop telling you how you feel, and instead try listening to how I feel, and they feel, and you might just learn something.

 

Photo From: https://s3.amazonaws.com/perrynoble-images/perrynoble/blog/categories/pn.category.people.2×1.jpg

 

You Never Know What You Don’t Know

I’m from a bubble, as far as the eye can see. I am. I grew up in upper-middle class conservative white-and-only-white Ohio. I could count the number of people of color on one hand in my graduating class. I didn’t really have friends of color- not because I was against them, but because in my world they didn’t exist. It wasn’t until I got to college, and moved back to Columbus, Ohio, that I found diversity in my life.

I was surprised when Donald Trump won. It took me off-guard, although it really shouldn’t have. Just a couple of weeks before I had gone home for the first time in months, only to find Trump signs scattered in yards up and down the streets of my hometown. I hadn’t been expecting it, but I left with a weird feeling in my stomach. “This is why I left,” I said. “I really just don’t belong there.” When I spoke to people from home, I was taken back by anger. The establishment. The economy. Recovering from 2008. But most of all I was struck by what people didn’t know and didn’t care about. People didn’t know the history of ISIS and couldn’t place Iraq or Syria on a map. People couldn’t tell me who the Secretary of State was or what Trump’s tax plan even entailed. “What do you think of Trump’s feelings on climate change?” Most people I spoke to from home didn’t care. To be honest, to these people, none of that mattered. Growing up there, I should have realized that. All of these issues- like climate change and Syria, and maybe even taxes, don’t matter to these people. The only thing that matters is that Dad still can’t get a job and Mom has trouble paying taxes. They don’t care what Trump says about disabled people. They care about being able to pay for Christmas presents. When people do economically well- like in the fast paced economies of the cities- they have more time to care about what someone says about the LGBT community and minorities. They don’t feel as threatened by people coming to “take their jobs.” When people are stuck, they don’t care about the possibility of human rights violations. They care about if they can afford a new car. People want to drain the swamp, replace the establishment, and get in new laws- ignorant of the fact that unemployment is only 4.7%. (http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/03/charts-whats-the-real-unemployment-rate.html). But that doesn’t matter. Because things are bad, aren’t they? I mean, Trump says that they are. So they must be. When I lived in that little bubble in northern Ohio, I might have thought that things were bad too if I never turned on another news channel other than CNN or FOX. People are overwhelmed by bad news on Facebook, Twitter, and popular news media without stepping back and realizing that the world isn’t ending, and things have actually gotten better economically since 2008. People in these towns don’t understand ISIS or Russia, and honestly nether did I. But their ignorance defines who they vote for. In some cases, people are ignorant of their privilege. Today, social media makes the problem worse. In an article for the Guardian published in October comparing Brexit to the rise of Trump, the article says, “Facebook’s news feed is designed to deliver information that users are more inclined to “like””. (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/05/trump-brexit-education-gap-tearing-politics-apart) This is true. Once again, people live in bubbles, ignorant of the rest of the world’s opinions. This article makes the point that the educated says the non educated know nothing, and the uneducated don’t want to be ruled by the elite. The class struggle is suddenly very real. The truth is, that I will never understand the reasoning of some of these people, but that’s because I haven’t lived their lives. I will never know what I don’t know, and I don’t know what they do know. But I also know that they don’t know what I know- and they won’t vote for that and don’t really care. That’s the scary part.

photo from: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-answer-tell-me-about-a-time-when-interview-que-1676084331

 

 

 

College Life: Unity March Protest

Capital University students hosted a Unity March on Tuesday, in order to bring awareness to the recent hate crimes committed on campus.

We marched around the campus for about 15 minutes, screaming chants that sometimes faded out into silence. I’ve been to a couple of these- and in comparison this one was much more chill. I appreciated the action though. The people leading the march really tried to keep it as unpolitical as possible- even if everyone knew why they were there. It was also nice to see the administration get involved and show up for the students.

I can’t help but think that this is real education. It’s one thing to sit in a classroom, it’s another thing to show up and put up. Capital University seems to consistently do that where it counts. The March itself was put together by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Campus Pride, but I love going to a school where students are passionate about the issues- and supported by the institution.

 

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Dear Trump Supporters, Sorry- You Are Still Not The Silent Majority

“I’m really glad we won,” she said. “We’re the silent majority.”

I winced a little. I was sitting in the library in a conversation with another girl. I knew she was a Republican. There’s nothing wrong with that. I beilieve strongly that Republicans have a place in politics. Opposition is important. But in that moment, we weren’t talking about Republican politics. We were talking about Trump.

Part of me in that moment believed she was right. They won the election. Trump had always claimed that they would win using these “silent people.” In that moment, I thought maybe she was right. Then I looked at the polls: http://www.cnn.com/election

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. A huge percentage of Americans didn’t vote. According to Mashable.com: (http://mashable.com/2016/11/09/voting-poll-numbers/#WJ2krZP2iqqd).

 46.6% didn’t vote

25.6% voted for Hillary Clinton

25.5% voted for Donald Trump

1.7% voted for Gary Johnson

The “silent” majority of American decided to remain silent. The voting majority voted in Clinton. This wasn’t a revolution by any means. The system, the one that Trump is so against, is the very thing that got him elected. Not the silent majority.  

There’s also the problem of voter suppression- which became very real in this election. However, in an article by Vox, the point was made that voter suppression actually wasn’t the cause. Hillary Clinton, “lost in states that didn’t pass new voting restrictions.” (http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/11/13597452/voter-suppression-clinton-trump-2016). So while the voting rights act is, indeed, broken, there is a lot more going on here than just “voter suppression.” Yes- it happened. No- it wasn’t the cause. Republican’s are actually right about that.

But let’s not make a mistake: Trump is still not the silent majority. Sorry.

Dear “I don’t appreciate being looked at as less of a person because I’m a white straight male.”

Dear, “I don’t appreciate being looked at as less of a person because I’m a white straight male,”

I’m sorry that you lost your house because you are a white straight male and the landlord didn’t want a white family living on their property. I’m sorry that you got stopped on the highway because you looked suspicious. I’m sorry that you have relatives in prison for small, non-violent drug offenses. I’m sorry that your family kicked you out of the house for being a white straight male because it goes against your religion. I’m sorry that you can’t afford birth control and don’t have the ability to get an abortion because of restrictions, and had to miss weeks of work for a pregnancy you didn’t want. I’m sorry that you constantly get accused of being “not from this country” and sometimes get mean looks for your religious garb. I’m sorry that people walk on the other side of the street when they see you alone, or assume that you are uneducated and poor because of the color of your skin. I’m sorry that you may not be able to adopt children or may loose the right to a marriage. I’m sorry you can no longer tell people about your cute husband and kids because you are afraid for their safety. I’m sorry you were told to “put the power tools down because you might get hurt” in high school woodshop or that “you should be more careful” when speaking your mind. I’m sorry you were called “sweetie” and “dear” when your angry or trying to talk. I’m sorry that you went to a party and got drugged, before waking up in the morning and not knowing where you were. I’m sorry that you were told “you look prettier when you smile.” I’m sorry you were made fun of for how dark your skin is or the fact you wear hijab. I’m sorry that you were made fun of by the president for a medical condition you were born with. I’m sorry that every single step you make towards your rights is ridiculed as unnecessary, violent or unneeded.

Your life is so hard,

The rest of the world

American Traditions of Protest

The Boston Tea Party was a protest most people didn’t agree with. It was somewhat violent, costly, and caused a lot of problems with our adjunct parental figure- the British. Today, we learn about it in classroom’s like it was some amazing moment that everyone agreed with. How could someone disagree with that?

The Civil Rights Movement is taught today in history class as a turning point for the black community. It’s taught as bold, brave, and beautiful- Martin Luther King Jr. as the hero, the white oppressors the villains. How could anyone ever be on that side?

“I would never be that person.”

Or are you?

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

-Desmond Tutu

On Facebook (*shudders), people have been calling for the world to “get over it.” People say “Love each other! Why are you so mad?” Friends say,”Stop being so hateful! So Negative!” A friend of mine posted on Facebook, “Why riot? It solves nothing!”

My answer to those people is simply that they are wrong. Half of the people in this country have rights because of protest. The black community. Women. LGBT people. What do you think Rosa Parks was doing when she said,”nah.” People didn’t appreciate it then. The world said, “just get up.”

She said,”No.”

Protest is as American as you can possibly get. We wouldn’t even be a country without it. Yes, it sucks. It’s inconvenient. But just think about how privileged you have to be to find it an annoyance. 

So as Anti-Trump protests stretch into there 5th day in many American cities, I can’t help but value the anger. (http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/13/us/protests-elections-trump/index.html)

Photo from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/12/01/how-history-got-the-rosa-parks-story-wrong/

Violence Against White America Is Not Oppression.

This is a chicken vs. the egg arguement. But in this case, the chicken is killing the eggs, and the eggs just want their children to grow up without being shot. 

All you have to do is turn on the TV, pick up a phone, or scroll through Facebook (which is what you’re probably doing right now) to see the violence. It stems from both sides of the argument. Angry Clinton supporters, liberals, and minorities have been caught looting, damaging property, and assaulting “trump voters.” A video went viral of a Trump supporter being beaten and dragged out his car. (http://www.dailywire.com/news/10664/video-trump-voter-dragged-his-car-and-beaten-gang-chase-stephens). On the other side, Trump supporters are terrorizing minorities, harming and threatening members of the LGBT community, and bringing back harmful messages of white supremacy. Kids are chanting “build a wall” at middle school lunch. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnnCJg33o08)

‘Merica.

I recently got into an arguement with a friend over this. I showed him photos of a girl who had been assaulted on my campus. His answer was “There’s violence on both sides. It’s never okay. I saw a man be assaulted for being a Trump supporter.”

This is true. But it’s also different. 

Violence against minorities, women, and the LGBT community are hateful acts perpetuated by a violence narrative. These are instances of oppression that take place frequently and have historical roots. They also stem from more systematic, “hidden” injustices, that were made okay in some people’s minds overnight. However, when an oppressed person commits an act of violence against the oppressor- such as violence in Ferguson or a Trump supporter being pulled out of a car- there are different forces at play. Yes- violence in any form sucks. It’s not okay, and should never be perpetuated. But in instances of oppression, to say that this “violence” is unimportant and “holds no purpose” is ignorant. Yes- it perpetuates a hatful act. But it also signifies something a lot deeper. Slaves murdered their masters. LGBT people have committed violent acts. Riots are never pretty. That doesn’t change the fact that they are oppressed. Just because a white man is assaulted for being a Trump supporter, does not make him oppressed. He’s still a white man at the top. He’s not being “victimized.” He will never loose his house for being a white man. He will never loose his job for being a white man. He will never have members of his family disown him for being a white man. When that Donald Trump supporter was dragged out of his car, it was a hateful act that can not be condoned. But it’s also incredibly different, and fueled by different things. It’s an anger at the elite- not a discrimination against them. Violence against white America is anger at oppression, not oppression itself.

 

Photo: Slate.com, Accessed November 12th, 2016