About the Author
Howard Rudnick is an eccentric individual whose goal is to have his voice and stories heard by everyone. Faking it until he makes it, Howard gets a paycheck in the "real world" because writing isn't paying the bills. His sardonic views on world events and life often times get a great LOL response.

Tila Tequila Is A Desperate Little Nazi

Another day, another desperate celebrity trying to bring attention to themselves and revive their 15 minutes of fame.

Tila Tequila, who became famous back when MySpace was still a thing and we had a Bush in office, has upped the crazy meter on her antics to DEFCON One.

Read More: Tila Tequila Is Apparently A Nazi Now

In case you have either stopped listening to the news altogether since the November 8th Presidential Election, or you choose to ignore the growing white nationalist pride and racist rhetoric being spewed in this country, Ms. Tequila has decided that she wants to throw her hat in the race for craziest racist and modern day Nazi sympathizer.

Here is my problem with Tila Tequila.

She is a Vietnamese American sexually fluid woman who is named after a Mexican liquor who would have been exactly what Hitler would have tried to rid during his time in power.

She is everything white Nationalists want to get rid of. As much as she provides an outlet to spread the racist and vitriolic message that is promoted by the Nation Policy Institute, it also makes for strange bedfellows.


In an article in 2013 from Tablet Mag, they chronicle her journey from Jewish convert to her path to posing as “sexy Hitler” and openly and honestly explaining why she sympathizes with the man who proudly brought upon the deaths of over 12 million people who were deemed a problem and were not part of his perfect race.

Tila Tequila is not a credible person.

Having been a fan of Tila Tequila’s scandalous bi-sexual dating show “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila” I can’t quite fathom how she went from being someone who was representing the LGBT community to turning around and supporting an ideology that wants to see the end of those who brought her credibility.

Her brand is extremely tarnished and now she will continue to spew whatever comes out of her very fragile, damaged brain in an attempt to bring further relevance to herself, without thinking about the long term repercussions.

Unfortunately in 2016, it is no longer about your message having meaning, it is only about the message you are putting out.

While Tila Tequila has had a rough go of her life since she hit peak fame during the course of her show, she does not have much to show for herself since. Her failed relationship and then death of her girlfriend Casey Johnson, her very public and nasty abuse lawsuit against former NFL football player Shawn Merriman, her attempted suicide and subsequent rehab stint, her numerous outlandish and offensive remarks about the Jewish people all paint the picture of a woman who is not mentally stable.

As a Jewish-American, I am of course baffled by the idea that white nationalist pride and the growing Nazi sentiment are becoming prevalent in 2016, but I am also baffled at people who are part of the “minority” lying in bed with the people who view them as lesser human beings.

Even though I am still a white male in today’s society, I also understand the struggles of those who are not as privileged as I am because of the horrific history of my ancestors, those who had to suffer so future Jewish individuals could live a better life than they did.

The growing anti-Semitism and white Nationalist pride and assault on free speech by those on the extreme right are damaging the reputation of this country, and the true reason for the founding of the original colonies here in North America.

Our settlers were looking to escape persecution and no longer live in fear because of their beliefs.

Now we have celebrities like Tila Tequila (and using the phrase celebrity is being extremely generous) being used by the very individuals who they support, especially if what is being supported is not well received or downright inhumane.

Read More: Watch A Young Barack Obama Rise In The New Trailer For Netflix Movie

America was, has been and will always be great, so if anything, we need to make America respectful again.

We need to make America tolerant again. We need to stop breeding hate and we need to be willing to turn away notions of racism, of sexism, of misogyny, of anti-Semitism, of xenophobia, fear of anything that is not homogenous with the dominant white patriarchy that has run this country for 240 years.

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.

Do It For Yourself, Not The Gram

This piece is part of our “What Do You Live For?” series. It attempts to answer that confounding question that few people ask themselves.  

As a millennial, our lives are consumed with being connected at any and all times. Our daily actions include a continuous cycle of checking our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Snapchat feeds to see our friends, family and celebrities living their lives and giving us a sneak peek into how they are living their lives.

It is because of the habits we’ve formed as a society, as a generation that led me to rethink what my purpose is, what I am actually living for.

There is a term, FOMO (fear of missing out) that was coined a few years ago to sum up how you felt if you were not a part of something everyone else was doing.

Whether it’s at the latest concert, party, bar/club, and any type of activity that everyone would be talking about later on and leaving a digital footprint behind.

With the continued osmosis of social media platforms becoming one with our daily habits, too frequently do we find ourselves attending events only if to send a Snapchat or take a cool photo for our followers?

Since when did enjoying your free time become burdensome?

I will be the first to admit that I am as much part of the social media generation but it’s taken me quite some time to learn limits, boundaries and understanding of what is right and wrong.

At the beginning of the year I made a vow to stop using Twitter as frequently as I had once become accustomed to.

I deleted the app of my iPhone and my iPad and I changed my password so I wouldn’t be tempted to fall back down the rabbit hole that is binge scrolling.

Day after day, month after month I found myself no longer yearning for my Twitter account until one day when I realized Twitter had in fact deleted my account for some odd reason.

“What Do You Live For?” Series: An American Educated South African Answers That Question In A Poem

I didn’t even blink an eye that it was gone, because I knew that I was living completely fine not being “plugged in” to the social media network.

The generation that I am a part of has decided that as a whole we must document every aspect of our life, whether with a witty check in, a cheeky Instagram post, or a facetious Tweet about the 2016 Presidential Election.

We have become slaves to our social media following. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun to get acknowledgment and praise from time to time for something awesome or a life event that is once in a life time, but most of the time it is something so mundane or asinine that one doesn’t even bat an eyelash at.

When I think about what I am living for, I realized that I have to live for myself, for my happiness and what is reasonably acceptable for my life, both personally and professionally.

Too often I see peers who find the need to “do it for the gram” and it is that braggadocios attitude that continues to help divide our society as a whole.

It is a battle of the haves and have nots. Being a trend chaser, whether you’re at the latest music festival, or eating at the next biggest brunch place, these material things don’t matter in the long run. They’re short term activities that will have no bearing on your life in the future.

As a millennial who recently hit his “quarter life crisis” I’ve found myself become more introspective and take an inventory of everything and everyone in my life.

Over time, quality has become the overwhelming value in my life over quantity, from friends, to followers, to amounts of time I use my social media to brag to my “friends” about what I am doing.

I have put myself first in an attempt to live a better, more values based lifestyle. Instead of engaging with those who I don’t share interests with anymore, I choose to part ways and not look back.

Read More: How A Phone Call Changed The Life Of A Miami Dog Groomer (And Thousands Of Animals) Forever

Letting go of any ill will I may have harbored or any semblance of a relationship I once have has allowed me to open my heart and my mind to so much more.

I’m able to live a fuller life that focuses on who I am as a person.

It’s important in life to remember who you are as a person, and if the person you’re portraying outward is not the person you are on the inside, than that is not living a genuine and authentic life. That is superficial and will only lead to more insecurities later on in life.

If you find yourself questioning your choices because of what is expected of you from others, instead of giving in or feeling pressured to oblige, think twice about if that is something you would truly do, something you would feel good about as an individual with their own identity.

Self-identity is exactly as it sounds. Instead of doing what everyone else is doing, do what you want.

As a wise person once told me, be the flame, not the moth. Be the one to stand out, not the one who follows.

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: Robin Vintevogel/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

GB: A Unique Hip-Hop Hopeful Hailing From Boca

When I first met GB three years ago, I didn’t know at the time of his ambitions and goals nor of the immense level of talent he had.

I only knew him as a young man looking to get initiated into the fraternity that I was advising at the time.

Flash forward three years later and he’s on the cusp of reaching the next level.

GB is the definition of a millennial artist using the resources at his fingertips to put his music out there and take advantage of the open web to leave his mark. It was important for me to use the platform I have elevate GB to a larger audience.

I remember distinctly hearing GB play his guitar here and there and I thought, man this kid has talent. Of course I didn’t know what was yet to come. From performing at sorority philanthropy events to performing at actual nightclubs for the first time, his future is brighter than ever.

I asked GB, who is now in his senior year at Florida Atlantic University if he wouldn’t mind me speaking with me to share his story, his ideas and his passion.

RISE: First off, tell the readers something you want them to know about you?

Something you should know about me is that I do my best to keep out negative energy. Positivity is the answer to life, you can do and be anything in the world. If you believe in yourself and set your sights on goals that incorporate your passions and talents, you will be successful.

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RISE: When did you know you wanted to pursue music?

I knew I wanted to pursue music the day that I turned 20. I released my first album “Phenom” along with 20 tracks that featured my rap and singing debut. I could feel in my heart everything seeming to fall into place, each time I write, reminisce or think up something new. Music is truly my love and passion, no matter what comes out of it, I feel accomplished in knowing that.

RISE:When you dropped your first album “Phenom” what did that feel like?

It felt nice dropping my first album “Phenom” with 20 tracks because it was [and is] something that rarely anyone is doing. The doubt of my peers really pushes me harder and harder everyday, support definitely builds you the most though. I released my second album “The Bakery” with 21 tracks just to prove to people I could do it again and come even hotter. With my third album release “TRILLA G,” it was all about capturing the best aspects of my artistry. I released 8 tracks that all pushed for futuristic style and vision. My main goal now is to just keep pushing singles in hopes of making that one hit song that everyone falls in love with.

RISE:Who are your musical influences?

My biggest musical influences at the moment would have to be Bryson Tiller, Jeremih, Chance the Rapper & Frank Ocean. My passion for music started with John Mayer but I really enjoy listening to music that enhances my ear for R&B influenced hip hop.

RISE:Who are you listening to right now?

I am really selective with what I am listening to, I have been listening to Frank Ocean’s new album “Blonde.” I am in love with the pop influenced vocals; With this type of sound coming back into the mainstream, as well as influencing myself, my own music is being taken with ease to listeners of all genres.

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RISE:Who would be your dream collaboration?

I would love to make a dope R&B influenced track with Bryson Tiller or a party influenced hit with Chance the Rapper.

RISE:Who are other up and coming artists that you have worked with in South Florida that you hope make it big?

My favorite artists in Boca Raton are Mansa, Vaughny Vo & Ali Embry. I have worked with plenty of producers & engineers that deserve credit too: MaClean Studios, Influence Studios, Lykia, Equus & more. They have all been big parts of my evolved sounds and I appreciate all their efforts and advice. Other than that, I have worked with so many artists, going on 100 hip hop songs in the past two years. I really enjoy working with people and making music that people can enjoy and possess as their own as well. That is what it is all about.

RISE:Tell me about what it’s like working with other people who are also trying to break into the music scene?

It is great finding those artists that have the same mindset as you. A lot of people are really only focused on breaking into the music scene and don’t have the talent or work ethic that comes with that success. The best collaborations are when the music comes from the heart, you should take each confrontation and learn from it. Each artist I have made music with has taught me something whether it be what to do or what not to do.

Listen to one of GB’s songs: 

RISE:How would you describe your sound?

The sound that I am consistently working towards in my own mind is a mix of positive catchy lyrics, a marketable theme throughout, hard-hitting instrumentals topped with impressive pop vocals that could impress any listener with soothing melodies. I am very persistent on my new sounds being based around my singing.

RISE:How often do you go into the studio to record?

I record at least a couple of times a week. I have 4 studios in Boca that I flip flop between and make my music at. When it comes down to it, I built my own recording studio in my room and I am able to record literally at any moment of the day. Whenever I am feeling something heavily, I will not wait around, I definitely feel at home in the studio.

RISE:Do you ever feel creatively stifled? If so how do you combat that?

Most definitely, it happens to the best of us. Whenever I am feeling stuck on something, I will just put it away and work on another topic. It always seems to brighten a new light when I come back to something at another time with a fresh mind and full attention.

RISE:What is the headspace you put yourself in when you go into the recording studio?

I really just put it in my head to be comfortable. You never want to push it too hard or blurt something too loud, studio recording is a lot different than singing live. By the time I get in the studio I know the lyrics so well that I really try and focus on the pronunciation of every word and melody.

RISE:If you wish you wrote any one specific lyric or bar, what would it be and why?

There are countless lyrics that I love to be honest? In every song there is something that I probably enjoy most about it, but when I first started rhyming I said “Like a foreign student way he study abroad, know the heavens must be the real the way she shaped by the gods, GB must stand for Gary Blessed…” and that was how I was stuck with “Gary Blessed” being the acronym for my initials GB. Before that song, GB just stood for Gary Baker.

RISE:What was it like to take the stage truly for the first time at Crowbar in Tampa, your hometown?

It felt so nice to be on stage performing the sounds that I had been working so hard on. I had been on stages before considering I have been making music since I was 16 and played in my own band in high school, but this was definitely the first time it was 100% my music. It felt like the start of destiny.

RISE:What is your end goal with your music?

I have really grown an obsession with music, my first end goal started out just getting a feature with my favorite rapper at the time, Cam Meekins. My ultimate end goal would be me as a major recording artists, the executive of my own label, have a few businesses that incorporate my own brand and different lifestyle aspects, and consistently release music that is noticed and perceived by the world in a positive way. In the least, I want to be recognized in the music industry and make a living from it.

You can check out all of GB’s music here:

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: GB/ Instagram

Asking People To Pay For Your Vacation On GoFundMe Is Actually Pretty Insulting

I can’t stand it when other people call my generation entitled.

The word entitled is such a filthy word to me, especially because I personally don’t find it applies to me.

My biggest pet peeve in life is to be grouped into a group of people based on similar traits, characteristics or because of my demographic.

The fundraising platform GoFundMe is a great way for individuals to bring awareness to their cause, often times to help those in need or even complete strangers with financing for medical hardships, unexpected deaths, etc.

Real, true causes for people who need it. Life happens and not everyone can be prepared for it financially.

My heart breaks every time I see a donations page for a family struck by tragedy, whether it be from the recent storms, the loss of a loved one from cancer or other medical injustice, or a bizarre or freak accident that took the life of someone unexpectedly.

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, one person can ruin a good thing for everybody, and is exactly what has happened with GoFundMe.

My peer group thinks it’s okay to use the fundraising platform to afford a lifestyle or trips that they can not afford, but have no problem asking friends, family and strangers for money for it, because they don’t know any better.

As the times continue to progress and more and more people take to the platform, the novelty of the website will become obsolete like most things, and those most in need may be second guessed.

It may be because I grew up in a home where my parents taught me the importance of work ethic, because I’ve had a job since I was 14, or because I know that it’s pitiful to ask people to pay for things that I shouldn’t have/do without working for it.

Let’s take for instance Rachel.

She wants to go to Bali because she enjoyed traveling while her parents were often deployed around the world.

She says she’s a poet, artist, etc. and wants people to fund her trip to Bali because she didn’t work hard enough to save up the money before her trip.

I take great insult to this idea because it insults the American Dream and the American work ethic.

I haven’t taken a TRUE vacation in close to two years, oftentimes because I had changed jobs but also because doing so would be detrimental to my savings account and my goals towards financial success.

Every last “luxury” I have wanted, I have worked for because that is what you are supposed to do, not beg for it on the Internet in hopes random strangers will donate to your cause.

I’m all for people following their dreams, but I also believe in having to compromise during other times in order to truly pursue your interests.

This generation has become so obsessed with finding themselves and “living their dreams” that they’ve forgotten about those who came before them who worked their entire lives to afford them the lifestyles they’ve grown accustomed to.

How about Jason? Instead of saving up the funds like a normal human being from his various odd jobs he has listed, he has taken to the Internet in hopes people will pity him and give him money because that is the new norm.

There is also Tom who asked his friends, family and the Internet community to fund his trip to Vietnam.

He didn’t even bother to mention whether he was working towards his goal to help get him to his destination on his “humanitarian” trip, instead hoping and spamming his friends and family begging them for money for his irresponsible decision to take a trip he could not afford.

I think it’s absolutely disgusting that people have the audacity to go online and ask people for money for things they cannot afford without thinking about how it may be perceived.

There are hard-working Americans out in the workforce who don’t have the luxury of picking up and going on a trip, who can’t afford their rent or to eat a decent meal because of their situation, but they don’t all take to GoFundMe asking people to fund their lives.

Since when did the citizens of this country become so dependent on others instead of creating and reinforcing their work ethic?

So please, next time you think about asking people for money, think twice about and the insensitivity that comes along with it.

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.

Just Being In A Fraternity Doesn’t Guarantee Career Network Advantages

I am a member of The Sigma Chi Fraternity. I have been out of college for 3 years going on 4 and I still say “I am” a member of my fraternity.

Too often we hear about joining Greek Lettered organizations and the so called “benefits” of networking and career advancement that comes along with membership.

As an individual who pledged myself to a fraternal organization I can say that is true, but with a caveat.

The member has to put in the effort to take advantage of the network available to him.

Do you know the old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink?”

That 100% applies to your undergraduate career.

I have encountered numerous brothers who have the resources at their fingertips but forget the crucial step of TRYING.

Call it entitlement, call it laziness, call it sheer stupidity or ignorance, but unless you put in the effort, the rewards and benefits are not going to be given to you.

During my 2.5 years as an undergraduate member of my local fraternity chapter, it was up to me to make the most of my membership and expand upon it.

I knew that I would be held to a higher standard academically and as a member of the college community.

I pushed myself to do better in my classes and I also pushed myself into taking on responsibilities I probably would have laughed at had I not joined a fraternity.

Student Government, Homecoming, Greek Council, Pre-Law Society, Hillel, and the list goes on and on of the places I spent my time volunteering, taking leadership positions not only to gain valuable life skills, but to network with those who shared similar goals, values and ambitions with me.

There were plenty of positions and opportunities I did not get because there were more qualified candidates and that was okay as well. It taught me to work harder and it also showed me to be an example to the other guys in my chapter.

The opportunities at my feet were presented to me because of my work ethic.

When I spoke to new potential members as they came through recruitment every semester, I proudly talked about the benefits of joining and the career advancement and network of brothers across this nation who would be willing to help them, as long as they helped themselves.

I know in my fraternity alone, there are bountiful opportunities for networking and job placements on the numerous Facebook career pages that have been set up by older alumni looking to hire from within, the within being the fraternal order we all took an oath for, that bonds us together for life.

The Delta Gamma House on the University of Oregon campus. Photo Credit: Rick Obst/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Delta Gamma House on the University of Oregon campus. Photo Credit: Rick Obst/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The brothers both old and young who are looking for new careers, entry level jobs in fields they are trying to break into, it is all their at their fingertips.

I cringe every time I hear someone say that their Greek Lettered organization didn’t do anything for them in terms of their career because it means they did not try hard enough.

I recently was featured on the television show “Tomi” and when I was done and the clip became available to me to share, one of my fraternity brothers, not from my own chapter, but one who had been almost a mentor to me, asked if he could share my video with the larger brotherhood in the international page.

I was so blessed by the responses, both good and bad because I knew that would open up even more doors for me to further my job and career prospects.

The Greek Lettered organizations that are on college campuses across the country are regularly under fire for a small sample of people behaving poorly, and those members who are making positive strides on campus often get overshadowed.

Members of fraternities and sororities are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, they are Presidents of the United States of America, they are doctors and lawyers, activists and hometown heroes.

The only thing that separates them from their peers is that they took advantage of their connections and the networking skills that were afforded to them and made something of themselves.

I am so grateful that I decided to join a fraternity because it taught me to work for what I wanted and that hard work brings great reward contrary to popular belief.

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: Evan Guest/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Daniel Radcliffe Is Right To Stay Friends With Racists

Daniel Radcliffe, who will eternally be know for playing “The Boy Who Lived” aka Harry Potter, recently did an interview where he addressed having racist friends and stated that he doesn’t agree with their thoughts but remains friends with these individuals.

It raises the question about privilege and the “white ally” as well as not addressing racism head on.

Personally, I agree with Mr. Potter because you can have all the conversations you want with a person and engage in a dialogue about the issue, but you can’t make them drink the potion to magically fix the issue.

As a white male, I am the definition of privilege and on top of that I grew up in privilege.

I also went to public school and interacted with other students who were less fortunate than I, who came from families different than mine, who lived in areas that were not safe, filled with violence and uncertainty.

These individuals did not want to be products of their environment and welcomed conversation about our differences.

I am also a Jewish American and I do know that anti-Semitism still exists and I have encountered it many times before but instead of getting angry about it or writing a person off, I try to bring about a dialogue to understand where it comes from.

It has been drilled into my head since I was a child the history of my people, my ancestors and those of my heritage who have been slaughtered time and time again because of our beliefs.

It is about the education that comes as a follow up to the racism and anti-Semitism that is what matters.

Don’t be a bystander. Ever.

No one person can ever say they have never made a racist remark in their life because that is a fallacy through and through.

I do believe as a society though we have become so afraid of offending individuals and those who are not considered to be the “norm” that we continue to build the schism that divides our society.

It is entirely possible to remain friends with people who make remarks that may be deemed racist and that can be offensive.

Is there a line that should never be crossed?


These types of topics should bring about civil discourse and provide learning opportunities for all to engage and be a part of a larger conversation.

I look at Donald Trump as an individual who uses rhetoric that is meant to rule up those he is speaking about, riling up his supporters and those who believe what he has to say, who might not be exposed to those different from them, and it provides opportunity for racism to grow and become a much larger conversation.

The problem I have with the conversation about racism and deeming someone racist is that it often turn them into a target and gives them a stigma.

I have plenty of friends many who I disagree with and many who disagree with my opinion and statements, but we don’t throw away a friendship over that.

It is the understanding that we accept one another’s beliefs that continues our friendship.

It is the role of the parents and educators both at home and in school to teach about acceptance and understanding to give children the proper building blocks to grow and be more well rounded members of society.

It is up to the parents and educators to mold the future generations and teach them right from wrong but to also be understanding of those who don’t align with their views and values.

I look back at the history of this country and the American people have been a people who have longed for their own identity, their freedom and the right to live how they want without the constraints of religion or government.

As a people, we have progressed backwards in my opinion because we let our religion and our politics blind our views of the world, blind our ability to decipher the truth and bring about actual change.

We’ve become a society divided with a very black and white view of many issues.

As a member of the current society I am living in, it is my duty to engage with those who I come in contact with, whether they are coworkers, classmates or peers and learn about them, engage in conversation with them and allow them to share with me their life experiences.

It is up to the individual to decide whether or not they want to continue a relationship of any kind with an individual who may in fact say very racist things.

Together a community, as an educated and progressive society need to bring a better understanding of our differences and do our part to combat the true hate that is experienced by many.

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.

Why Tomi Lahren Has Pierced Through My Democratic Heart

I love America.

I appreciate and cherish the rights and liberties afforded to me by those who fought for them throughout time.

I also believe in justice and what is fair.

As I grew up and learned who I wanted to be and what I wanted to believe in, I realized that in this post 9/11 world I was living in, there was so much hate, so much injustice and so much sadness that it would be impossible to align myself my ideal system with those who didn’t believe in equality for all across all spectrums.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a registered Democratic voter and a staunch supporter of all things that were supposed to be deemed “Democratic.”

As I spent time around those who didn’t grow up in the privilege bubble I lived in and exposed myself to other ideas and opinions, I started to question everything I had once believed true.

The 2016 Presidential Election has been the most divisive, abusive and zany political experience I have encountered in my very short time as an educated voter.

The rhetoric, the antics and the very pointed “journalism” by both sides to discredit the other has been extremely off putting.

Then I saw a Tomi Lahren video.

The first time I saw a Tomi Lahren video it was on my Facebook newsfeed and it was “liked” by one of my many “friends” on the social media platform.

I took the time to watch the brief two minute video of Ms. Lahren expressing her opinion on the Black Lives Matter movement and the radicalization of it’s members.

Her delivery was sharp, her tone was unapologetic and furthermore she was not afraid of whatever backlash was to come to her.

She wanted her audience to know her “Final Thoughts” on that topic and shed light on what she felt was the truth.

For those of you who don’t know who Tomi Lahren is, she’s a young Conservative political commentator who rose to prominence in 2015 over her remarks about the Chattanooga shootings.

Since November 2015, she has been working for The Blaze, owned by the one and only Glenn Beck, known for his very staunch Conservative views.

She’s gained quite the following among the Republican base both old and new and brings a millennial feel to the Conservative movement.

On a daily basis on her Facebook page she has new content of her show “Final Thoughts” usually about a topic that is in the headlines that day, whether it be the Dallas shootings, the 2016 election, or her thoughts on what’s going on in the world at the time.

READ MORE: Here’s The Ugly Truth About Conservative Talk Radio

She doesn’t hold back and her segments back it up.

Video after video I’ve watched, often times binging if I’ve missed a few, I find her words resonating with me because she brings a different look at headlines, often times forcing viewers to think outside the box, strip away the big media machine telling you what they want you to hear and laying out the facts.

Yes, she is a Republican.

Yes she often says things I don’t agree with, but I also identify with the views she so often shares with her viewers.

She takes her targets to task for their actions, specifically the Black Lives Matter movement, the Clinton & Trump campaign, our government officials, and those who can often times be so one sided.

Her intent is to get viewers thinking, to be engaging in civil discourse about issues that matter.

While her tone and her rhetoric may often be described as subjective rather than objective, she also backs up her pieces with fact, whether it’s statistics or it’s video clips or reports.

She’s a woman who understands accountability.

Her intent isn’t to incite a riot, rather it’s to awake her demographic from the mainstream media news cycle we’ve grown accustom to.

It is because of her I’m able to further engage in conversations with my peers about the issues in our community as well feel confident enough to ask questions and do my research and take an interest in subjects I may not always feel so comfortable with.

If anything, I’m grateful for Tomi Lahren because she allowed my bleeding blue Democratic heart to be challenged and force my hand to continue to learn.

Take a moment, regardless of your political beliefs and view one of her videos and then think about all the issues you weren’t actually thinking about before you watched her.

That is the magic of Tomi Lahren.

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.

Why Adult Kickball Leagues Perpetuate Gender Stereotypes

Some time has passed since my season as an adult kickball player has come to a close and I’ve had a week to reflect on my experiences.

Kickball, a game that is supposed to be fun and played amongst school age children has become a phenomenon of sorts for the 20-something crowd who pine for the nostalgia of their own childhood.

I decided to join a team in a league with some friends to see what the hype was about and to stay active, if even once a week (there are only so many hours a day one can binge watch tv).

I had zero expectations going in to the season and I was only hoping to have some fun, be goofy and enjoy my time.

Little did I know that the random strangers who were on my team with my friends and I took this game way too seriously.

We are all grown adults with big boy and big girl jobs that we clock in and out of each and every day, yet the idea of kicking a ball and winning turned them back in to the school yard children they once were.

I realized in that first game, when a teammate and team captain who had placed me in right field (because he took one look and me and assumed I had no athletic skill without any prior conversation) screamed across the field asking if “I was awake out there.”

It was in that moment that I was brought back to my childhood when I first experienced being teased for lack of athletic prowess or skill.

It was in that moment that I once again felt my manhood had been called in to question, being treated as if I was like one of the many girls on the team who they also assumed had no physical skill on the field.

I flash backed to those times in the school yard when I chose to sit out from playing with the other boys who played the recreational games at recess because I didn’t want to be shamed or made to feel lesser as a male because I was not as athletically inclined as they were.

My interest and desire to “be the best” in sports never existed.

It was meant to be fun, to be spectated on, and because of my views I often times found myself on the outs with those who I shared the same genetic makeup as.

My frame, my build and my stature have always indicated to others merely from my perception alone at first that I am not to be taken seriously, that I am not into sports and that I am just a joke.

As the years have gone by I have more than come to terms with not being the sporting type but that little bit of insecurity always existed, even if it was so far buried.

The five weeks I played on the kickball team I was subjected to those same insecurities I had as a young boy, a teenage male, and an adult male by the other males on the team who didn’t value me as an equal because I had not played kickball bi-weekly since the incarnation of these adult leagues.

I was told to “bunt like the girls” because they thought I couldn’t kick.

Week by week I attempted to try to prove them wrong.

There were weeks where it just wasn’t my week and I was okay with that but it was those five weeks when I realized how idiotic the whole thing was.

I was letting people who take kickball seriously get under my skin when I realized that it was so minute and unimportant in the grander scheme of life.

The idea of what a man is has changed drastically over the years and it’s because of these new roles and non-conforming ideas of what “men” and “women” are that I felt okay that I wasn’t an athletic specimen.

It’s okay to not be physically inclined to kick a ball far out in the outfield that won’t be a pop up fly.

It is because of my experience on this Co-Ed adult kickball league that made me think about my future children and who they will become.

No longer does gender conforming roles guide how children are raised and no longer are stereotypes acceptable.

Our value as a person should not be based on how much or how less we equal up to our gender identity.

Next time you think about putting someone down because they’re not performing by what society’s standards expect of them because of their gender, remember that they have insecurities just like you and that their interests vary from yours and they should be respected.

There is a fine line between a joke and an insult.

Think before you speak and before you pass judgement on those who you don’t know.

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.

Cover Photo Credit: James/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Dashed Dreams: How My “Audition” For A Reality Show Opened Up My Eyes To The Fleeting Fame Of The Genre

We are all inherently narcissistic whether we choose to admit it or not.

The appeal of being famous has crossed our minds, especially mine.

I can remember the first time I saw MTV’s The Real World when I was about 8 years old. At that age, I thought it was a cool idea to be on television and live in Hawaii.

And as I got older, my understanding of the concept of the show, as well as the growing scope of reality television made me think I would be great for reality television.

The realm of reality television is so vast from reality competition programs (i.e. The Bachelor, Survivor) to reality social experiments (i.e. Big Brother, The Real World) to reality docu-dramas (Sister Wives, The Real Housewives) and a mix between reality and scripted (i.e. The Hills, Duck Dynasty).

Lastly, there’s the celebrity driven reality show documenting any given celebrity train wreck (i.e. Lindsay Lohan). You name it, I’ve watched it, binged it, digested them all. I’ve also learned from my countless hours of viewing what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to being on reality television.

When I finally turned 18 years old, the floodgates of reality television applications opened. The possibilities were endless. As I said in the beginning of the story, I was fascinated by The Real World.

I told everyone and anyone that I was going to be on the show. I even won “Most Dramatic” during my senior superlatives.

I had the bumper sticker hanging on my wall at home that said “what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real?” (A phrase from the opening sequence of the show.)

The stars should have aligned right?

I should also note that I take the Jeopardy online test at least once a year, in hopes of winning some big money. Unfortunately I have never gotten past the initial test. I’ll enjoy sitting at home shouting out both incorrect and correct answers from the comfort of my couch, much to the amusement of my girlfriend.

Every season I would fill out my application and hear nothing. I googled casting tips (prior to the ease of access of Twitter and Reddit), then moved my stalking to Twitter for any tidbits from former castmastes, production company employees, even going as far as engaging in borderline harassment to get their attention.

I was a man possessed by a dream.

I was a man possessed by a dream.

I took it another step further and drove two hours to casting calls in hopes of being discovered. That didn’t work out as I had hoped.

I was not going to give up though.

As we entered the Spring of 2014, a new opportunity to apply for the next season arose and a a chance of turning nothing into something was mine.

For three days, I sat and contemplated what I wanted my application to say.

This was my first impression, and I wanted to make it count. With the rise of Vine and Instagram and these “instant-fame” outlets, it was becoming harder and harder to stand out and be unique.

I also knew that as a loyal viewer of the show that I needed to have a voice. One that was definitely out front and center. After a lot of internalization and mini panic attacks, I finally clicked submit and awaited my fate.

Two weeks later I received the most incredible e-mail I thought I could ever receive.

Having received what I assumed was my own version of the “Golden Ticket,” I drove two hours to the casting to what turned out to be the most shoddy and poorly run event I had ever been to.

The “VIP” wasn’t VIP at all. I had to wait around just like everyone else did who walked in off the street. I wasn’t given any preferential treatment. I was treated like a regular person. It was extremely disappointing.

Yes, I was guaranteed to go into the casting room, but it was in a large group setting with 10 other people and they ask you ONE question. In what world does that mean VIP?

Sitting there in that group interview listening to people talk about their strained relationships, drug and alcohol addictions, lavish lifestyles (and how they got them) made me realize I’M TOO NORMAL for reality television.

Reality TV is a rotten industry and it isn't getting any better as social media continues to mature. Photo Credit: Mario Goebbels/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Reality TV is a rotten industry and it isn’t getting any better as social media continues to mature. Photo Credit: Mario Goebbels/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Reality television is an abyss that sucks it’s cast members and spits them out at a rapid pace. Look at any of The Real Housewives.

Over the course of numerous locales and countless replaceable women, their relationships with their loved ones soured and ended, they file for bankruptcy, get bad plastic surgery, and the list goes on and on.

The most infamous reality television contestant, Richard Hatch, was sentenced to federal prison on tax evasion.

These of course are the most dramatic and most noteworthy of what life is like after reality television.  Look at the girls on America’s Next Top Model for instance; did any of them truly become household names? The Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants vie for the opportunity to be the next man or woman looking for love and maybe a summer in a nice house to win some money by being awful human beings.

The cast of Big Brother and Survivor, two staples of the 2000s, have seen their fair share of racists, bigots and homophobes.

If you were to search for any of the cast members from any MTV or ABC reality show on social media, their accounts are filled with them posing for cheesy selfies hocking whatever product they’re getting paid to advertise, or their promoting bar and club appearances.

Many go back to their real lives, the ones they left prior to their television debuts, hoping their time on television doesn’t come back to haunt them.

The most glaring issue with reality television is that it gives people a false sense of security.

For the viewers, it’s an escape from their daily lives by watching other people ruin their own, while those on the programs we watch are hoping to change their lives financially by participating on these shows. They don’t often consider the long-term effects of their appearance.

For better or for worse, reality television will continue to be around, but the men and women who grace our screens will be scratching to extend their 15 minutes of fame. A fame I no longer find desirable, especially if I need to make a mockery of myself to attain it.

The actress Meagan Good said it best: “make sure your desire to do what you’re aspiring to do is deeper than just fame and being a celebrity.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Justin March/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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