In recent years, social activism has become significantly more accessible to the general public. From web surfers communicating through online forums to students demonstrating on college campuses, people are voicing their opinions on social, political and cultural issues more comfortably.
Does the act of more people getting involved more comfortably make activism more derivative?
A few decades ago, public protests succeeded mainly due to the element of shock. The Prague Spring, the South African Defiance Campaign, the Washington Civil Rights March, and many other famous demonstrations all these movements ended with thousands of arrests. Protests weren’t participated in to kill free time between classes, they were an indefinite commitment of time and safety. At that time, protesting meant placing your freedom on the line, and because of that, it meant so much more.
This article was written by guest contributor Blake Jones.
GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a federally funded program aiming to positively impact underserved middle school and high school students. Activities range from tutoring and mentoring to the facilitation of lessons and conversations about financial literacy and college readiness. I’m currently working as a GEAR UP Coach at Ben Franklin High School. This experience has honestly been life changing in some of the most unpredictable ways. I did not have any expectations of walking into the school like someone’s savior, just as a student trying to help others. There’s a certain level of authenticity within the students that one can never fail to appreciate, especially if you communicate that same level of genuineness.
Most people see the world of cosmetics and efforts to achieve social change as spheres that do not touch. However, Penn students, Via Lim and Chloe Minjoo Kim, prove that the two can thrive when combined. Founders of the newly created club called Penn Beauty, the two freshman have launched their organization with full force, focusing on cosmetics, nail art, hair styling, hygiene, and more.
So far, Lim and Kim have held their first information session and general body meeting, garnering over 20 members, a large amount of interest, and a passionate group of board applicants. After discussion and planning, they’ve organized several proposals for the year that are on par with their mission statement of using beauty as a means to social impact.
To explore the nuances of the Pen Beauty’s mission, I spoke with President, Via Lim, and Vice President, Chloe Minjoo Kim on their project.
Vice President, Chloe Minjoo Kim, and President, Via Lim (credit: Via Lim)
When the iconic red Netflix notification appeared on my phone – New Arrival: To Rome With Love – my memory faltered. I quickly googled the film’s director to confirm that yes, Netflix had just added a film created by a reported pedophile the same week that another male celebrity was, among many other men in Hollywood, accused of sexual assault.
On October 29, Buzzfeed first published allegations by actor Anthony Rapp accusing Kevin Spacey of sexual assault in 1986. In response, Netflix swiftly suspended production of House of Cards with the actor. Three days later, they added the 2012 film To Rome With Love, written and directed by Woody Allen.
Since sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein by many women were published earlier this Fall in the New York Times, Hollywood has reacted quickly against many of those now accused. Weinstein was voted out of the Academy; Louis CK’s film I Love You Daddy was pulled from its November release date; Kevin Spacey was recast in the upcoming film All the Money in the World. Yet Woody Allen has just added a movie to Netflix and is now shooting a new film with A-list stars including Selena Gomez, Elle Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg, and Jude Law.
Why is action being more directly taken against today’s outed perpetrators while one outed two decades ago enjoys an increasingly successful career?
Interfaith Youth Core is a Chicago-based non-profit organization dedicated to interfaith cooperation and religious pluralism.
In a time when the fundamental causes of today’s most pressing conflicts are rooted in misunderstanding and intolerance, the discussion of religious pluralism is needed now more than ever. Although less known to public, an interfaith cooperation movement has been gaining momentum. A former member of President Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships, Eboo Patel, has been leading a national non-profit organization that stresses the importance of religious pluralism, an idea based on the coexistence and diversity of religious beliefs. His organization, the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), seeks to make the idea of religious pluralism and interfaith cooperation more accessible to college students and beyond.
The age of social media is upon us. Everything from news to humor; from advertising to expression and art, is saturated with information and is a forum for an increasingly wide variety of debates and discussions. With the current chaotic sociopolitical climate in the world, people have found that the largest and most accessible way to inform and reach out to people is social media. And what better way to exercise your right to free speech than to use social media?
They needed girls.
It was such a natural statement, such a normal predicament. And easily solved.
It was the first night of NSO, and as my roommate and I stepped outside the quad, our night’s plans were quickly determined. Guys were sweeping the streets outside the dorms – “Are you bored? We need girls.” – picking up female students to add to their growing masses on the way to the frats. They couldn’t get in without us; it was all about the ratio.
I was intrigued, not by the fact that they needed more girls – what’s a party without heterosexual interaction and the prospect of hooking up? – but by the nonchalance of such a statement. The guys said it, the girls laughed, and the party began.
It has been over a year since Colin Kaepernick first decided to sit down for the national anthem before a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans to protest the ongoing incidents of police brutality against African-Americans. He finally broke headlines after going unnoticed for weeks, when a reporter asked him about the incident after the 49ers’ third preseason game.
When asked about why he chose to remain sitting for the anthem, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
Since then, the quarterback has simultaneously drawn support from celebrities and fellow athletes for his actions and become an electric rod for scrutiny in the media for his refusal to stand in reverence of the flag. His critics say he should have kept political issues out of sports, as it sullies the spirit of the game. For many, watching sports is an escape from the complications of everyday life, and his protest is an intrusion into their weekly sanctuary. Others who disapprove argue that he is disrespecting our nation and the soldiers fighting abroad, and his message has admittedly been inconsistent at times. During a training session with the 49ers, Kaepernick showed up with socks portraying pigs in police uniforms, generalizing and insulting officers risking their lives to protect the community. His ill-advised outfit distracted people further away from his primary issue, backfiring and drawing criticism for his offensive depictions of law enforcement officials. In November, Kaepernick dug himself even further into a hole when he declared that he declined to vote in the 2016 Presidential election. For someone who had been so outspoken against civil rights violations in recent months, why would he refuse to exercise his power and responsibility as a citizen to vote? The criticism came long, and it came hard.
I walked into the first day of RUSS001 excited to finally learn the language and culture that always left me in awe. The art and aesthetics I loved as a teenager were typically Soviet or Russian, from Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita to t.A.T.u. I was going to take it freshman year at Penn before my pre-major adviser suggested taking Spanish to fulfill my language requirement, and then to take Russian if I was interested. She warned me of the agony if I decided to take Russian but ended up hating it. I took her suggestion, figuring that it didn’t hurt to improve my Spanish. Now that the language requirement was out of the way, I could have fun. I was ready.
Not so fast.
It’s hard to return from a leave of absence. It’s even harder to come back knowing that you feel worse than before.
Let me explain: I took a leave after fall semester last year because of unbearable circumstances and experiences that rattled my emotional core. I could write an entire book on the events leading to my leave, but this is sufficient for now.