Americans across the country just finished celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. For many, this meant traveling back to their respective hometowns and eating a hearty meal alongside friends and family. However, in one part of the country, a group of Americans are fighting for their rights over this holiday season.
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), intended to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois, was approved in July of this year. The pipeline would stretch over 1,000 miles, and its construction would eliminate a great deal of historically significant Native American landmarks along its path, which is why the protests started. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota has also cited potentially unsafe drinking water as another reason they do not support the project.
A hashtag has also been used fairly frequently in support of the tribe, #NoDAPL.
Even amid threats that they will be forcibly removed from their protest camp, the Standing Rock Sioux say that they will remain vigilant and stand against injustices they perceive are being levied against them.
Beverly Whaling, the mayor of Clay, West Virginia, responded positively to a racist and derogatory comment about the FLOTUS, Michelle Obama, posted on her Facebook feed shortly after it became apparent that Donald Trump would be winning the Presidency.
The comment in question was made by a friend and associate of Whaling, a woman named Pamela Ramsay Taylor. Taylor also happens to be the director of Clay County Development Corporation. On her Facebook page, Taylor said the following in response to Melania Trump’s eventual succession of Michelle Obama as the First Lady.
“It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels.”
Whaling can be seen in the comment section of the post replying that the comments “made her day.”
The backlash to the two women’s comments was swift and caused national attention to be cast on the small West Virginia town.
Look at the extreme racism all the way to a mayor in WV. Our nation is in this for a terrible few years. What happened to America?
After the story reached the national level, Whaling issued an apology via the Washington Post.
“My comment was not intended to be racist at all…I was referring to my day being made for a change in the White House! I am truly sorry for any hard feelings this may have caused! Those who know me know that I’m not of [sic] any way racist!
In an interesting decision, Taylor decided to portray herself as the victim in this situation, claiming that “hate crimes” have been levied against her and her family over the past few days. She remarked that her children had received death threats, and that she was considering taking some form of legal action against those she felt to have harassed her.
Since the incident occurred, both Whaling and Taylor were removed from their positions. Taylor was fired, and Whaling elected to resign with three years still left on her term.
Late Tuesday night (or early Wednesday morning, if you prefer), Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States of America. Trump’s win was considered a major upset, and therefore sent shockwaves through much of the country, and quite frankly much of the world. Many prominent figures in groups that Trump either alienated or flat out insulted during his campaign took to social media to react.
One of those groups was women, who Trump has a history of making rude and/or suggestive comments about and towards.
Another group that Trump made an enemy out of was Hispanics, as on the very first day of his campaign he referred to them as “rapists,” and his declaration to “build a wall” to curb immigration from Mexico became a major pillar of his platform.
This week, Beyonce Knowles performed at the 50th Country Music Awards. This caused a great deal of controversy, as some felt that her personal political views clashed with the major audience of the show, and others thought that she should have been invited or allowed to perform regardless.
Beyonce’s latest album, the critically acclaimed Lemonade, features a song called “Daddy Lessons”, which is thematically a country record and has been covered by the country group The Dixie Chicks during their recent tour. In fact, Beyonce even performed the song alongside the group at the award show.
Since Beyonce has not traditionally been a country artist, some on social media felt that her inclusion in the award show was a poor choice.
Whomever decided that Beyonce should be on the @CountryMusic Awards should be fired!
For the most part, the actual performance was positively received. However, in the following days, a new wrinkle was added to the story.
Much of the promotional material surrounding Knowles’ appearance and performance was hastily removed from the CMA’s social media platforms after the awards were over. The Country Music Association’s CEO issued this in response to allegations that Beyonce’s imprint on the show was diminished due to alleged backlash.
While Knowles herself is no stranger to controversy, this particular situation is new ground for her. Time will tell if she does more genre-bending crossovers in the future, as well as how they will be received.
Halloween is approaching, as are all of the things that come with it. Cheap candy, children trick-or-treating, and the seemingly endless number of costume parties.
Unfortunately, something else also tends to come up around this time of year, and that’s racial insensitivity.
Dressing up as someone other than yourself has been a long-standing tradition on October 31st. This can range from gamers dressing up as their favorite characters, to TV and comic fans going out as their favorite superhero. This is generally done in good spirit, but controversies have come up in regards to certain costumes, particularly ones that involve elements of different cultures.
In 2013, actress Julianne Hough wanted to dress as her favorite character from Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. She donned an orange jumpsuit and styled her hair like “Crazy Eyes”, the eccentric supporting character she was trying to emulate. Of course, this sounds harmless enough, but Hough decided to take the costume one step further by painting her skin brown to better match the complexion of the character on the show.
Hough, pictured above, issued an apology a few days later but continued to receive criticism for her actions on social media.
I'm sorry but I have zero sympathy for Julianne Hough. How could you not know dressing in black face would be frowned upon?
While one would think that Hough’s story would be a cautionary tale in regards to what not to do on Halloween, a similar story came about in 2015 involving country music star Jason Aldean.
Aldean dressed as rapper Lil Wayne for Halloween, and painted his face brown in the process. Aldean, like Hough, apologized (albeit an entire year after the fact) but his apology seemed to be for the trouble he caused, not for the actual act itself. He also said in his apology that he painted his face in order to not be recognizable while out partying.
While the need for anonymity may be apparent for someone as famous as Aldean, famous actors and singers are far from the only ones to make questionable choices when it comes to their Halloween costumes.
After numerous incidents involving racially and culturally insensitive costumes over the past several years on college campuses (Clemson, Florida, UCLA), a few schools have decided to take a stand against students who elect to wear problematic garb.
The University of Massachussets-Amherst recently began posting a flier on campus detailing what constitutes as a bad costume, and how those costumes may make others feel. Florida, one of the schools mentioned above, has pledged to offer students who feel triggered by insensitive costumes counseling via a campus hotline.
While the main goal for everyone going out on Halloween is to have fun, it is important to be mindful of the things we say and do to one another, whether it be intended or otherwise. What may be funny to one person could be hurtful or demeaning to another. So, do enjoy Halloween and dress up how you’d like. But just make sure you do so mindfully.
During Wednesday night’s third and final presidential debate, Donald Trump referred to illegal immigrants as “bad hombres” that “we’re going to..get out.”
Some may have seen this as a benign comment, or even a joke. But some people in certain communities are having trouble finding the humor.
As soon as Trump uttered the remark halfway through the debate, it went viral, along with his labeling of Hillary Clinton as a “nasty woman.” Even Trump’s own campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, knew quite what to make of the phrase.
One of the cornerstones of Trump’s campaign has been an effort to curtail illegal immigration, and this focus caused his remarks Wednesday night to be magnified to great detail. Since Trump elected to use a Spanish word to describe the people he wanted out of the country, many felt that he was speaking exclusively about Hispanic immigrants, causing several members of the Hispanic community to speak out against both his remarks and his candidacy in general.
#BadHombres Really? Trump's wrong. Immigrants are less likely than native born to be criminals or to be behind bars. (AIC)
In an article posted on Thursday, Huffington Post editor Carolina Moreno spoke on Trump’s continued slights and insults directed at Hispanic and Latin people over the course of his campaign. Moreno points out that Trump began his campaign with the promise of “building a wall” to keep immigrants from illegally entering the country and making “Mexico pay for it.” The president of Mexico has since said that no such agreement was made. Moreno also makes note of how the phrase “bad hombres” itself can be problematic:
Politics aside, the language Trump uses is just as important as what he is, or rather isn’t, saying. Sure he’s repeatedly spoken about immigrants as if they were a biblical plague of sombrero-wearing, mustachioed criminals yelling “arriba! arriba!” as they run across the border with taco bowls filled with drugs. But on Wednesday night he turned to Spanish to make his point.
This is not the first issue that Donald Trump has had with sensitivity in regards to minority relations, and many of those issues have had to do with Hispanic and Latin individuals. In June, Trump said that Judge Gonzalo Curiel (who is of Mexican-American heritage) would be “biased” in presiding over a case related to Trump University because “he is Mexican. Despite these claims, Judge Curiel was indeed born and raised in Indiana, and even received his education at the University of Indiana. Trump was unsuccessful in having Curiel removed from the stand.
Trump also came under fire for tweeting a picture of himself eating a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo (May 5th, a traditional Mexican holiday) and remarking in the tweet that he “love(s) Hispanics.”
While “bad hombres” may be the latest point in a long line of politically incorrect and unfortunate statements from the Republican nominee, it is important to note that it is part of a pattern, and also the reason why many feel that they will not vote for him on November 8th.
Last Saturday, a college basketball player from the University of Wisconsin, Nigel Hayes, decided to make a statement on the state of college athletics, and specifically how athletes are not allowed to be paid per NCAA rules.
By doing so, he jump-started a conversation that has taken place for years, and one that has definite racial overtones and consequences for those on both sides of the issue.
Hayes, the star of the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team (and likely a first round pick in 2017’s NBA draft), protested with a poster at a taping of ESPN’s College Gameday on the Madison campus. The poster (seen above) included a Venmo username which viewers were encouraged to send money to. Since Hayes is a college athlete and would therefore be in violation of NCAA rules if he kept the money to himself, he elected to donate whatever he received to a local Boys and Girls’ Club. Hayes raised $700 through his protest, but that’s not where the story ends.
Through the week, Hayes has used his Twitter account (@NIGEL_HAYES) for further discourse on the topic.
You make a company millions. They "pay" you with only a college education (estimated UW $160,000).
And from others from all walks of life. Something that makes Hayes speaking out more significant is that this is not the first time he has used his platform for social issues. He has been outspoken on such social issues as #BlackLivesMatter and police brutality. In an interview with The Undefeated, he cited The Autobiography of Malcolm X as a major influence in his life and also spoke about how he empathized and agreed with Colin Kaepernick’s recent protests of the American flag.
While there has been some deviance from this point, a quick Twitter search of Haynes name on Twitter will show a pattern of who supports his stance and who take umbrage with it. Hayes’ supporters (such as the aforementioned Maurice Clarett) happen to be largely black or members of a minority group, and his detractors (like Fran Fraschilla and Doug Gottlieb) are mostly white.
A poll done in 2014 by the National Labor Relations board seems to support this pattern. The poll found that the majority of people of color felt that college athletes should be paid (51% said they agreed when asked), as opposed to 24% of whites who agreed. 66% of people of color felt that athletes should be able to form unions, while 56% of whites disagreed.
Nigel Hayes is not the first college athlete to pose this question or take this stand, and he will certainly not be the last. It remains to be seen whether or not his ideal will come to be a reality, but the conversation will remain a constant one as long as the current system is in place.