The term “mansplain” was one of many words added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015. Mansplain is defined as an informal verb meaning “(Of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”
While a condescending explanation isn’t something that is limited to men, it is something that many women have experienced over and over. Being silenced is something that many have experienced in one way or another, and mansplaining is one of the ways that that happens.
A good example of mansplaining is something you might have already seen from recent news – Matt Damon explaining how diversity in the film industry works to Effie Brown, producer of Dear White People during a discussion on Project Greenlight, which can be viewed in the TMZ video below.
He later released an apology, saying that, “My comments were part of a much broader conversation about diversity in Hollywood and the fundamental nature of Project Greenlight which did not make the show. I am sorry that they offended some people, but, at the very least, I am happy that they started a conversation about diversity in Hollywood.”
Damon’s apology has its own issues, starting with the fact that the discussion about diversity in Hollywood has been going on for years, but it certainly did add to the discussion about diversity in a way.
Now, I know that you would never want to be accused of mansplaining, so here are some ways to avoid it in all of your conversations.
1) Before jumping in with your thoughts, ask yourself these questions:
A) Did your conversation partner ask for your opinion about the topic?
B) Are you an expert on the topic?
C) Does your sentence start with “I don’t think you understand…” or “No, you’re misunderstanding….”?
2) How much does your conversation partner know about the topic? If you’re not sure, ask!
3) Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something. You aren’t always going to know everything about every topic. If you don’t know about it, open your ears and give it a solid listen – You’ll probably learn something!
4) Is your conversation partner plastering a fake smile on their face or responding with nods or “mmhmms”? If so, they probably aren’t listening to you anymore. Watch your social cues.
5) Limit your assertions to your own experiences or research that you have fully read and understand. If you don’t fully understand it, say so.
6) Last but definitely not least, respect your conversation partner’s experiences and viewpoint. It may be different from yours, perhaps even wrong by your beliefs, but you still need to respect them.
Cover Photo Credit: ☻☺/Flickr (CC By 2.0)
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About the AuthorCeillie Simkiss is a journalist from Raleigh, North Carolina and a 2015 graduate from Western Carolina University’s school of communication. She also writes book reviews for her blog, http://literateceillie.tumblr.com, and works part time as an obituaries clerk for the News & Observer.
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By Jason Leclerc
It wasn’t long ago—relative to the age of the universe—that Christopher Columbus defied the horizon and set off in search of a passage East.
As we’ve learned in the dominant, perpetuated myth about this series of events, he accidentally discovered a new continent.
Ever the salesman, mildly good at sailing and terrible at navigation, he convinced his fellow sailors they were in India and misidentified the exotic people he encountered with a misnomer that sticks to this day.
Columbus’s return to Europe heralded a great discovery that set off a wild fury of exploration, exploitation, and imperialism.
The “new world,” never-minding that it had been inhabited by humans for over ten thousand years, became a plucking ground for riches, resources, and renown.
Europeans that followed Columbus’s expedition brought with them diseases and conquest that ravaged the indigenous peoples of what would later be named the “Americas.”
Over the next 500 years, this America would grow to be the richest, most powerful nation on Earth.
Over the next 500 years, this America also built upon the atrocities pioneered by Columbus.
The precedent for exploiting the indigenous people of the Americas was repeated over and over again. Land was taken. Riches were appropriated.
The staples of a once-thriving civilization—herds, fertile land, sacred spaces—were either destroyed or confiscated.
The heirs of Columbus, now calling themselves Americans, enslaved, murdered, and marginalized whole groups of people in their march toward becoming this shining beacon of hope for the world.
America cannot celebrate Columbus for the former without rightly acknowledging other appropriate celebrations alongside Columbus Day.
Here is a list of five alternative observances that can be paired with celebrations of Columbus’s legacy.
1) National Monday off Day:
Let’s be honest. The more distantly past and personally disconnected we are from an event or celebration, the more space there is to re-interpret it.
In many ways, Columbus Day is as special as a national “day off” as it is a specific celebration of Columbus’s important place in our history.
We have a few of these federally prescribed holidays each year.
Governments and banks close to provide a welcome respite from toil and labor.
While on the surface it may seem a cynical approach to a holiday, it foils nicely with Labor Day which occurs a month earlier, and in a rather postmodern, twenty-first century way, celebrates the idea of celebration itself.
2) Myths and Legends Day:
The story of Columbus being the first European—as was taught to us in fifth grade history—has value, not in its verifiable fact, but in what it stands for.
Likewise, the notion that all people thought the world was flat is equally laughable as a statement of “fact.” European Christianity taming savages?
Such myths and legends around Columbus’s voyages do stand as symbols of a new era of exploration, discovery, and experimentation that highlight Europe’s emergence from the middle ages.
Rather than discount the value of these events based on the verifiable “facts” uncovered by recent historians, we can acknowledge that we need myths and legends to coalesce around to better understand the “stories” of us.
3) Indigenous People’s Day:
This is a fitting pair to Columbus Day and has actually been adopted as a holiday—in some places called “Native American Day” or “First Peoples’ Day” by many cities, states, provinces, and countries around the world.
The number of municipalities embracing this day is growing rapidly.
First designed as a protest fueled by the modern historical reassessments of Columbus’s legacy, it can also be a day of reflection and atonement for the deplorable actions of Americans who—in their quest to control the full continent—mistreated Native American nations, decimating their cultures and sovereignty.
We could also treat it as a positive celebration of the rich cultures and enduring legacies of the continent’s first citizens.
Further, it can be a day to reflect on the effects of such remarkable Native Americans as Black Kettle, Osceola, and Buffalo Bird Woman.
4) Immigrants Day:
Celebrations of Columbus’s “discovery” of America took place as far back as 1792. The history of Columbus Day as a national holiday actually has its roots in American Immigrant communities who were—during the 1870s and 1880s—poorly treated, mostly because of their unpopular Catholic faith, but also because they looked and sounded different.
Eventually these groups would gain acceptance and be subsumed into the mainstream culture of America’s melting pot—or salad bowl, if you prefer.
Even today, as different immigrant populations from new and exotic parts of the world arrive on the shores of our nation, as they seek asylum or freedom or riches, a reminder that we are a nation of immigrants wouldn’t hurt.
Like many other minority groups throughout American history, visibility is a great first step toward understanding and integration.
Such a holiday would be a perfect reflection that, at some point in our lineage, we are ALL immigrants.
5) American Atonement Day:
Americans set aside a full day to give thanks for all of the bounties that have been heaped upon us.
Thanksgiving is as necessary and culturally-ingrained a holiday as Independence Day.
We rightly observe Thanksgiving as a secular celebration of something beyond us and before us for which we should celebrate with gratitude.
Built, still, upon myths and legends and how we’d like to view ourselves in the prism of our collective history, Thanksgiving reflects upon a passivity that led to our success as a nation.
A national day of atonement—An American Yom Kippur—would be a well-placed point from which to view those regrettable things we, as a nation did, even as we were being blessed in other ways.
Quite aside from dwelling upon slavery as a national horror, quite aside from dwelling on our historical treatment of Native Americans, immigrants, gays, Catholics, Muslims, the poor, the disabled, and other groups that have not fully realized the bounties for which we can give thanks, we can dwell on how we may have fallen short—on an individual as well as collective level—of “earning” our pieces of the gifts of America’s potential.
Were we to dwell upon these things every day, we would be paralyzed in grief. Setting aside a day for reflection on how we have failed, even as we have achieved so much as a lead-up to Thanksgiving would be a timely and sanguine preparation for the holiday season.
Columbus Day is no less relevant today as it was two hundred years ago. It has accumulated more meaning and, when paired with these additional reflections, gives Americans a greater and broader view of who we are: worth celebrating, worth grieving, worth accepting that we still have much more to discover.
Jason Leclerc is a poet, prolific blogger, film-maker and political columnist. Learn more about Leclerc and his new book Black Kettle on http://momentitiousness.com/
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Mike Steele/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 530
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Sierra Black has been gambling since she was 6 years old.
Now she’s gambling on a future as a country music recording star, which looks bright after recording her debut album in Nashville.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Black is now on the road promoting her debut single, “Heart On Ice”, to radio stations.
“I immediately fell in love with it when I heard the first verse,” Black said of “Heart On Ice”, a song written back in 2002.
On the up-tempo country song, she sings: “Flying 90 miles an hour down a dusty road, pushing this thing to just see how fast this thing will go; engine hot enough to burn up the fuzzy dice; I better put my Heart On Ice.”
Black finds herself on her debut single preaching to the choir about “having to step back and cool off” when hot in love.
Black, who is 22, fondly remembers how her father sparked her love of country music at age 6 when he used to play guitar and sing Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash songs to her.
Sierra’s love of music didn’t just originate with her father though. Her grandmother was Babette DeCastro, one of the members in the trio, DeCastro Sisters, who were famous for their 1954 top Billboard hit “Teach me Tonight.”
Unfortunately, her grandmother never got the chance to hear Sierra sing because she passed away before Sierra was born in 1992.
WATCH: Sierra Black’s “Heart On Ice”
Sierra proudly wears her grandma’s necklace to keep her close to her. Interestingly enough, her grandmother provided the voices to the animals, including the butterflies, in Disney’s animated film Song of the South.
Sierra has been playing around with music ever since she can remember.
As a young girl, she would put on her own stage shows, alone, in her bedroom.
Fluent in Spanish, she could sing “El Paso” by heart by age 7.
She wrote her first song at the age of 12.
Her first break came when Keith Urban handpicked her out of 14,000 contestants to sing alongside him at a music festival.
“I wasn’t nervous meeting him or singing with him but the experience was surreal,” Black said of singing with Urban.
Chalking up her lack of nerves and comfort singing on stage to being an “old soul”, Black is determined to take the country scene like a dust storm.
And unlike many other young stars, Black actually has some chops in writing songs as well.
“I start with the title first and then the lyrics come to me,” Black said of her songwriting process that eventually leads to a melody.
With a bit of luck, Black eventually found herself in Nashville working with Grammy award winning producers Michael Omartian (who has worked with Donna Summer and Trisha Yearwood) and Tom Hemby (who has worked with Faith Hill and Bebe & Cece Winans).
She was recruited from Vegas after someone at one of her live shows caught wind of her voice. One thing led to another, and she was flown out to Nashville for back-to-back meetings with the producers.
“It’s been a bit of talent and luck and being in the right place at the right time,” Black said of the events that’s led to her rise.
Black’s promotional single, “Casino”, was her first release to iTunes and will also be featured on her debut album.
Lyrically, the song is a metaphor for love where Black says, “Sometimes you win in the game of love and sometimes you lose.”
On this ballad, she sings: “Like a coin I was tossed into a wishing fountain. I was only one of a 1,000 looking for a little fortune,” and further laments that her heart is like money a lover blows with “I was a card you were using and a trick that you were good at playing. Luck didn’t build up the Monte Carlo just like love never promised tomorrow.”
WATCH: Sierra Black sings “Casino”
Black describes her sound as “twang with a slap of gospel.“ Like a true Vegas Show Queen, she laughs, “you can never have enough rhinestones.” Hoping to have a show like Shania Twain in distant future, she is now hoping for a duet with Jason Aldean in the near future. She has already opened up for Joe Nichols and Uncle Kracker to name a few.
She is not hoping to hit the jackpot with slot machines but instead with her music. What is truly special about both of her songs, “Heart on Ice” and “Casino”, is that they do something that most songs in the music business fail to do. Both songs brilliantly forfeit a clunky bridge and offer a seamless melody to sing along to.
The music is already there. As long as she doesn’t forget her bedazzler at home, Sierra Black will surely be able to forge her own luck and have a long career in the business.
Sierra Black is on a radio tour promoting “Heart On Ice”. You can find it along with her promotional single, “Casino”, on iTunes. Look out for her self-titled debut album in the Spring. And don’t forget to request “Heart On Ice” on your local radio stations.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!
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#VestGate: UK University Challenge Program Ignites Controversy Over What It Means To Be “Intelligent”By Mariam Ansar
University Challenge, hosted by Jeremy Paxman and witness to the UK’s most intelligent of students going head to head to represent their universities, is a show which can clearly be seen to favour substance over style.
Focused on providing only the most gruelling of questions, its reputation is one of baffled English home-audiences rejoicing when answering correctly between themselves, university pride, and the classic jumper-collared-shirt combo. However, one episode, which aired last week, hosted one contestant whose choice of attire raised more than a few eyebrows.
Kamel Shah of King’s College, Cambridge, injected a certain amount of controversy into the show courtesy of his leather vest and gold chain.
Raising questions on the idea of propriety, some argued that the values of BBC 2, typically home of the straight-edged middle-class crowd, had been compromised. For many, the clothing choice was regarded as a sign of disrespect, aligned on ideas of good manners and appropriate attire which being on a show as esteemed as University Challenge supposedly demands:
— The Weirwolf (@jon_weir) September 7, 2015
However, the issue of the vest could be seen to prompt a much deeper discussion. When it comes to representations of intelligence, is there something inherently problematic in disputing the decency of someone who refused to toe the line of what many see as an out-dated ideal?
Shah in his leather vest, dragging #universitychallenge kicking and screaming into the late 1990s.
— Ali (@AliBonce) September 7, 2015
King’s Shah – brave choice of vest-top, defying usual boring clothes expectations for #universitychallenge. Nice one!
— Ted Loveday (@TedTalksUK) September 7, 2015
It is no secret that questions on the University Challenge appeal to an educational standard more at home with the privately-educated than anything else; which isn’t to say that its audience must simply be privately-educated. It simply suggests that when questions are focused on, for example, literature of the 17th century, Latin translation, or minimalism in music, one wonders at the concept of common knowledge, and knowledge in itself.
An example of previous University Challenge questions:
“Your starter for 10: A schoolboy play-on-words between Latin and English, what jocular translation is usually given to the phrase semper ubi sub ubi?
Three bonus questions on the opening lines of novels:
(a) Which novel, first published in serial form from 1914 to 1915, begins “Once upon a time and a very good time it was…”?
(b) “It was a dark and stormy night”’ are the first words of the 1830 novelPaul Clifford by which writer, whose other works include Eugene Aramand The Last Days of Pompeii?
(c) The novels Midnight’s Children, The Thirty-Nine Steps, Robinson Crusoe and Tristram Shandy all open with which word?”
What does intelligence mean and what is it measured by? When contestants famously previously failed to recognise a musical question sampling the modern R&B sounds of Frank Ocean, one must wonder as to what extent the non-typical, but very valid, contributions of the rest of the world are unnoticed by the majority’s standards.
It is very likely that Shah’s vest is improper, a fashion faux-paux which does not do well to read too much into. We cannot be sure that he donned the chain and the vest to question the legitimacy of educational standards. However, it is also clear that the impropriety can be interpreted as a sign of defiance. Within the elitist environment with which we both patrol the playground of the deemed intelligent and set the standard, there are remnants of inequality which would favour the symbolism of, for lack of better words, of the jumper-wearer over the vest-wearer.
#GeekAndGangsta. The hash-tag speaks for itself. It’s clear our clothes feature their own identities, can speak without saying of our cultural awareness. But as culture is so easily manipulated, the inference of what this can mean cannot be easily decided upon.
The conclusion is that Shah chose to don non-typical attire on a game show set to test intelligence and provided the ripples of an aftermath which suggest that clothing is not just clothing: the underlying current of values being tied up with appearance, and in this case intelligence, is definite.
Cover Photo: Iain Weir/TwitterPost Views: 640
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