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Everyone Should Read This Incredibly Powerful Poem A Man Wrote To His Transgender Sister

A poem by Asia Samson

“Pink Crayons”

Originally performed at Lip Service Stories on May 9, 2015 in Coral Gables, FL.

Trust us, you will want to read to the end.


 

One early Christmas morning, in front of my entire family,

my baby brother

propped himself up on his own two feet

rose from his pile of new baby boy toys and

waddled clear across the room,

eyes locked at the pink Barbie doll my sister was unwrapping

 

We started laughing

My uncles made jokes

But when he snatched that Barbie doll from my sister and refused to let go

my father came swooping in with my new football

hoping it would distract him long enough for my uncles to

pry that Barbie from his hands

But my baby brother just

Took that football

Threw it with every intent to shatter the gender mold he has yet to understand

And we all watched as it rocketed just a few inches shy of

hitting my grandmother square in her face. To this day,

I have never seen an old Asian woman duck that fast

 

My parents said it was just a phase that would pass

My brother liking dolls. Or perhaps,

he just liked anything that’s pink

And there’s nothing wrong with liking pink

It’s just a color

It means nothing

Even the sky prefers pink before it turns blue and

one day my brother will too…after all,

 

We were all children once

We were all a box of crayons

Wanting free reign to let loose

And that was okay

At least until the day our parents felt it was time to grow up

When they could no longer see our imaginations for the scribbles they were

When they felt they needed to teach us that this world is a coloring book and

we need to stay inside the lines of whatever perfect picture

someone else deemed appropriate to draw out

 

So when it came to raising my brother, my parents became devout

Scolded him for skipping around the house

Force fed Tonka Trucks like vegetables

Snatched the pink crayon from his fingers and replaced it with blue

For the record, my parents were never cruel

They just wanted him to color a certain way but

 

By his 5th birthday

He still refused to put the dolls away

In fact, he was drawing them

Barbies wearing all the dresses he imagined out loud

colored each one with all the pink crayons left over after he

threw all the other colors out

 

By his 8th

my parents finally admitted it was clearly not a phase the day

my mother stopped him just seconds before he tried applying her makeup to his face

 

By his 16th

He was hiding women’s dresses in the closet behind his clothes

 

But on the day he turned 18 years old

My baby brother

Reached his hand to the back of that closet

Pulled out one of those dresses and said he was no longer going to hide

Swiped the first streak of makeup across his eyes

Looked into the mirror and told himself

I…am free

 

And my mother worries

That one day

My baby brother (I mean, sister) will be taunted by an angry village

Who will hold pitchforks the shape of picket signs

Who will want to

Hurl bibles hoping it may knock some sense into her

Douse her with Holy Water to try and wash the makeup clear off her face for good

 

And my mother worries

That a war has been brewing full of the self-righteous

Hell bent on making sure people like my sister will lose

Or worse

That a drunken man will whistle at her beauty

then beat her lifeless when he finds out her truth

Carla (L) and her brother Asia Samson, a poet.

I asked him (her) if she ever gets afraid

She said she’s more afraid of who she would become if she denied what she felt in her heart

She said if she had a choice

She would have tapped God on the shoulder the moment He started to piece her together and say,

Hey, I think you’re using the wrong parts.

 

But she can’t

Because God creates what he creates

She said

If I was created as a boy with a longing to be a girl at an age 

when I was still too young to comprehend the choice I was about to make,

Then I have to believe God makes no mistakes

And if God is the loving God you all say He is, 

Then I have to believe He would never create someone He only intended to hate

 

The poet in me wants to tell her she’s right

My left wing says hand her an ax and we’ll both ride courageously into the night

Chopping down every single picket sign we see in sight

 

But this is not a transgender pride poem

I’m not here to trivialize a struggle

I’m not trying to wage a revolution

I’m not even sure what fight this is

 

Because when it comes to all this

There’s a lot I don’t know

It’s a world I know nothing about

And to be honest, dear sister,

I’m almost afraid to find out

 

What if I’m not as open-minded as I’d like to claim?

What if I can’t help but cringe when I call you by your new name?

What if I can’t distinguish the woman you’ve become from the young boy we still think you are?

 

But you

And your caring heart

Would never force us into such things

Would never bring the war inside our front door

 

And it’s because of that

I need

To be the one to step out dressed in your courage

To meet you where you might need me the most

 

Because even if there’s so much I still don’t know

All I need to know is my only job is to love you

And if the only fight you’ll ever ask of me

Is the fight within myself to not confuse him with her or he with she

Then believe me

I’ll fight to correct myself every single time

But just know if the turbulent time comes

when that’s no longer enough

when the fight wants to force you to run and hide

Then believe me, Carla

I’ll be by your side

Scribbling love with a pink crayon

All over their picket signs


Asia Samson is a spoken word poet. You can learn more about him by visiting his website: www.TheAsiaProject.com

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

This story originally was published in RiseMiamiNews on May 16, 2015.

Cover Photo Credit: Ted Eytan/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

White People, Posting Social Media Photos Of Yourself With Black Children Doesn’t Fix Inequality

We have all seen them.

You know what I’m talking about. You’re cruising Facebook and you notice that some friend from high school has posted a series of mildly over-exposed photos from their church’s latest mission trip to this or that exotic place in Africa or Latin America. The friend is surrounded by smiling children of another race. Everyone seems happy and, on Facebook, the likes and comments abound.

These sorts of trips are growing more popular and, these days, you certainly don’t have to be a member of a church to get yourself a likable selfie with some cute foreign kids.

An entire industry has emerged to serve the humanitarian in all of us, with, according to NPR more than 1.6 million tourists paying around $2 billion annually to tourism companies that match them with the perfect underdeveloped destination. It’s called “voluntourism,” and it is becoming increasingly popular among millennials.

Read More: Blacklisted- How Discrimination Forces Transgender People Of Color Into Poverty And Prostitution

It seems dirty, though, doesn’t it? I mean, just think about it.

Middle class Western students pay money to spend a few weeks ogling at the daily realities of people less fortunate than they are, armed only with their privilege and good intentions. For the “natives” (a problematic term in itself), poverty is their reality. For the volunteers, it is a vacation.

Lauren Kascak and Sayantani Dasgupta take this industry to task in a article for Pacific Standard Magazine titled, “#InstagrammingAfrica: The Narcissism of Global Voluntourism.”

They question whether “voluntour” trips are popular because they help to relieve suffering or because they offer some sort of egotistical fulfillment for the volunteers.

While volun-cationing, young idealists, usually white women between the ages of 22 and 25, take part in construction projects without any previous building experience, they help to build and maintain local health clinics without any knowledge of disease or pathology and, usually, they take lots of pictures. The black and brown children they pose with become nameless keepsakes, trophies that prove their generosity to their social media following. When their stay is up, these volunteers can pat themselves on the back, certain that they have done their part to ease the collective suffering of the third world.

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“What I think often gets lost is the host communities,” Theresa Higgs, vice president of global operations for United Planet, a non-profit voluntouring organization that trains volunteers told NPR. “Are they gaining? Are they winning? Are they true partners in this? Or are they simply a means to an end to a student’s learning objective, to someone’s desire to have fun on vacation and learn something?”

Much of the criticism of global voluntourism points to the unequal power dynamic between the volunteers and the natives they serve. Perhaps, some suggest, voluntourism is merely a manifestation of colonialism, when missionary volunteers made their way across Africa, spreading the good news of Christianity and all the while helping to feed a Western imperialist agenda.

None of this is to say that volunteering abroad is a bad thing. There is a long history of Western allies working in solidarity with social organizations based in developing regions.

To be truly effective, though, a certain level of self-awareness is necessary among volunteers. They must understand that they are also the oppressor.

According to the World Economic Forum, the United States had a Gross Domestic Product of $16.77 trillion in 2013. Global wealth inequality continues to increase, with the top one percent of the world population owning nearly half of the wealth.

So a volunteer may help to build a house, all the while buying products from corporations back home that contribute to global inequality. Merely living in the wealthiest nation on earth means that we benefit daily from the suffering of others.

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Cover Photo Credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

American Archaeologist Says That He Found The Biblical City Of Sodom In Jordan

An ancient city that matches the description of the biblical city of Sodom has been found in Jordan according to multiple media reports.

Dr. Steve Collins of Trinity Southwest University announced the discovery after wrapping up the tenth semester of excavation of a site he deduced must be where the legendary city was located after intensive study of biblical texts.

Even if it turns out to not be Sodom, the newly discovered city, known as the Tall el-Hammam site was very large and powerful for the time.

“Tall el-Hammam seemed to match every Sodom criterion demanded by the [Bible],” Collins told Popular Archaeology. “When we explored the area, the choice of Tall el-Hammam as the site of Sodom was virtually a no-brainer since it was at least five to ten times larger than all the other Bronze Age sites in the entire region, even beyond the Kikkar of the Jordan.”

According to Collins, the discovered city has a large wall and a gateway area that dates back to the Bronze Age. There is also a smaller nearby site dating back to the same time that Collins speculates could be Gomorrah.

If the city turns out to be Sodom, this could be proof for Bible believers of the religious text’s veracity.

Watch: A short film from 2009 detailing Collins’ work

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

Cover Photo Credit: Capture The Uncapturable/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Black-Listed: How Discrimination Forces Transgender People Of Color Into Poverty And Prostitution

It only took seconds for Kenya Inge to ruin the face full of make-up that her best friend had spent hours applying.

The tears came in heavy waves, sending streaks of mascara and eyeliner cascading through the layers of highlights and contours powdered onto her skin. Even though she was already in her 20’s at the time she had only ever seen herself dolled up this way in her imagination.

“I looked at myself in the mirror and I said ‘that’s her,’” Inge recalled. “That’s who I’m supposed to be.’”

Fresh out of the closet and eager to show the world what she was made of, she knew that she was no longer going to be William Inge, that confused and depressed little boy who had tried to kill himself when he was 14 years old.

No, Inge was finally free to be herself and she was going to be fabulous, honey- all six feet and seven inches of her.

Her battle was hard-won. When she was still in high school, Inge’s mother had plans for her son to become a minister, or maybe a pianist. She and her husband were alarmed at their son’s feminine tendencies but, nonetheless, they thought they had time to nip it in the bud before it was too late.

When their son started sneaking female clothing into the house and dying his hair blonde in order to look like T-Boz, the fashion-forward lead singer of TLC, they decided he was going through a phase. Even after Inge attempted suicide, her parents remained in denial.

Read More: Fresh Faces of Feminism- Why You Should Listen To The Teen Women Of Color

To this day, Inge’s family holds firmly to the belief that she will someday change her mind, get married and become a minister.

More than two decades have passed since she left her home in Eutaw, Alabama. She’s worked as a fast food worker, a custodian, a stripper, a drag performer and, more often than not, as a prostitute. Unlike the drag queens she performed with when she was younger, Inge doesn’t transform back into a boy during the day. The last time Inge went to an official job interview the employer stared at her and demanded to know which bathroom she would use.

Now 42 years old and living in a cramped efficiency apartment just two blocks from the only gay bar in Tuscaloosa, Inge has paid a heavy price for choosing to be herself.

Her tiny room is like a jail cell. Each wall is lined with cooking dishes and piles of clothes, leaving just enough room for Inge to sleep on a small air mattress, using only a single tattered blanket to fight off the cold draft that creeps in through the thin walls.

“Aren’t you Riley’s son?,” the woman asked. “I knew that was you!”

She can’t stand to sit idly for too long. Since the cute new mailman still hadn’t delivered the new EBT card she’d applied for, she decided to walk over to a local church that offers a food pantry. Usually, she doesn’t have to venture far from her front door to hear people howl in laughter at the sight of her.

“What is that!” people shout according to Inge’s telling, aghast at the sight of man so tall and bone-thin with the nerve to walk out of the house in a mini-skirt. “Is it a man or a woman?”

Things were different this morning, though. If someone stared or snickered, Inge just brushed it off and kept on moving. She even found a six-pack of beers someone had abandoned on the sidewalk. When she arrived at the church she was surprised at how accepting everyone was of her. No one stared or asked her to explain herself. Then she ran into an old family friend from her father’s church. Inge’s heart skipped a beat as the woman spotted her and waved her over.

“Aren’t you Riley’s son?,” the woman asked. “I knew that was you!”

Inge stewed over this for a while, sure that the woman had only been trying to humiliate her. She gathered her groceries and walked back to her room.

“She’s too tall to be a woman,” Starr said in a retelling of what others tell her. “She’ll blow your cover.”

Normally, Inge isn’t concerned with what other people think of her. She’s used to hearing other queens mock her cheap outfits. Others are sometimes annoyed if she asks them for money. She doesn’t talk openly about her prostitution, but people are used to seeing her pace the streets near her apartment.

“Everyone has their way of doing things,” Inge said. “Others girls do the same thing I do, they let a man take care of them and pay their bills. They just don’t have to walk the street for it.”

Inge’s closest friend lives in the building across from her, in a room roughly the same size.


 

Montasia Starr is what Inge must have been like when she was a few years younger- louder, freer and less apologetic about her lifestyle.

The two are like sisters, they both say. One borrows money from the other, they get angry if the other doesn’t pay back on time, and then they quickly get over it. People tell Starr not to hang out with Inge, though.

Read More: Could Sexism Be Behind The Success Of John Green’s Books?

“She’s too tall to be a woman,” Starr said in a retelling of what others tell her. “She’ll blow your cover.”

Starr doesn’t mind, though. Her mind is usually occupied with her dreams of moving away to New York City. She speaks of it as if it’s a Wonderful World of Oz for trans girls. There, she could get all sorts of benefits like housing and food assistance. That would help her to get on her feet, and she could finally finish her transition.

unnamed2

Kenya Inge poses for a picture one recent night in Tuscaloosa, AL. Photo Credit: Judah Martin

“That’s when I’m going to be real fish,” she said, the word “fish” meaning she would be like a real woman. “I’m gonna have boobs, body, everything. I can just wake up in the morning and put on my clothes without having to pad my body… real fish, honey.”

But Starr’s journey to New York City is anything but a certainty.

Until then, she makes her money the same way that Inge does. For Starr, prostitution is a chance for adventure, it’s a distraction from the boredom of sitting around in the same apartment each day, making small talk with the same neighbors. While Inge said she does her best to “mentally check out” when she’s working, Starr is determined to make the best of it.

Every bit the 21st century entrepreneur, Starr made herself a Craigslist ad under the headline “Sexy Black Girl From the South” and she has plans to take her brand a step further by building a website so that men can pay for her to fly out to see them. She got the idea from a friend of hers who works as an escort.

“She goes everywhere, from New York to… to… she goes everywhere,” Starr said of herself in the third person. “The men pay for your hotel fee and everything. That’s what I want to do, I want to travel.”


 

Harper Jean Tobin is all too familiar with the struggles of trans women like Inge and Starr. Tobin serves as director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality, a social justice advocacy organization founded by transgender activists in 2003. Tobin has spent the last eight years advocating for public policy changes that will end the discrimination that forces so many trans Americans into poverty.

“Most folks are doing sex work because it is the best economic opportunity available to them right now,” Tobin said. “How do we increase their economic opportunity and help them protect their health? Not by arresting them. We change it by providing social services that don’t discriminate and that help them meet their real needs around safety, housing, health care, addiction, and barriers to other jobs. We change it by ensuring Medicaid pays for their hormone medications, and that there’s a clinic in their neighborhood that provides hormones and HIV care and where they’re not stigmatized for being trans or doing sex work. We change it by ensuring they don’t get stopped for ‘walking while trans.’”

Tobin, who is also a transgender woman, has watched numerous friends endure countless forms of discrimination.

“Things are getting a lot better for a lot of people, if you’re lucky enough to be someone who lives in a family that is accepting and you go to a school where people are accepting,” Tobin said. “However, we still see extraordinary levels of discrimination, and that is impacted by factors like your race and where you live.”

Montasia Starr. Photo Credit: Montasia Starr/ Facebook

Montasia Starr. Photo Credit: Montasia Starr/ Facebook

Even as transgender Americans gain more visibility in popular culture, employers and landlords alike are free to discriminate against them, and there’s not much anyone can do about it yet.

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Technically, this can be classified as gender discrimination. Still, only 19 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have passed laws that specifically address employment discrimination against LGBTQ workers. Only 17 states, along with D.C., protect against discrimination in public accommodations. Without laws that prohibit LGBTQ discrimination specifically, employers can easily find loopholes.

“In some cases, employment discrimination, lower wages, and lack of legal protections make it harder for transgender people to cover basic necessities like rent, food, clothing, and healthcare, let alone save for the future,” Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center said. “In other instances, legal inequalities mean that transgender people are forced to pay higher costs for needs like housing, healthcare, and education.”

This discrimination has had devastating impacts on the quality of life for transgender people.

According to data from the Movement Advancement Project, an independent organization that researches inequality levels among LGBT people, trans people report unemployment at twice the rate of the general population and are four times as likely to have a household income of less than $10,000.

“Now that I’m back on the scene I’m not going to take it for granted,” Inge said. “I always say that Genesis is my angel. She looks out for me.”

According to Tobin, this lack of economic stability means that many trans people are deprived of adequate health care. For trans people of color like Inge and Starr, these inequalities are compounded by additional racial inequalities.


 

Inge still believes in a sort of optimistic cosmic fate. After all, the stars and galaxies above can’t judge.

Inge said that she believes that if one puts positivity out into the universe, the universe will eventually return the favor. She believes that despite all of the ugly statistics, despite everything that she has been through, things will eventually turn out okay.

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Kenya Inge poses for a picture one recent night in Tuscaloosa, AL. Photo Credit: Judah Martin

Early in August, Inge was still reeling from her last break-up. She was looking for a little luck but she knew it wouldn’t come to her if she continued to lay in bed moping. Racking her brain for some way to busy herself, she had an urge to fix her room up a bit. Even the smallest efforts toward improvement can lead to big rewards she reckons.

“Something told me to turn the bed around,” she said. “As soon as I finished moving the bed, that’s when Genesis called me.”

Genesis Hughes is sort of the head honcho of the drag shows at Icon, Tuscaloosa’s one and only bar that caters to the LGBTQ crowd. She’s the club’s main event just about every weekend, and it is up to her to decide which queens get booked. It just so happened that Hughes was going to be out of town a few weeks later, and she wanted Inge and Starr to perform in her absence. Inge was taken aback by the request. She hadn’t performed at a club in at least 12 years. She would have to find a way to scrounge up the money for an outfit, but was excited.

“Now that I’m back on the scene I’m not going to take it for granted,” Inge said. “I always say that Genesis is my angel. She looks out for me.”

The night of the performance fell on a weekend when the Alabama Crimson Tide football team was playing an away game.

With Icon’s main performer absent and most locals out of town for the game, the club was nearly empty.

Read More: This College Paper Just Decided To Start Using Gender Neutral Terms

Inge and Starr were like two little girls left home alone to prance around in their mother’s high heels. The crowd mostly consisted of a few regulars and a few of their friends who came out to support them.

Inge went on stage first. She spent about $10 on her first outfit, a short flower print skirt and matching tank top. While she couldn’t afford to dress like the usual queens who take the stage, she could out-dance just about any of them. She knew there were people in the crowd who were staring her down, expressing dismay at how tall she was or judging her clothes, but she danced on anyway.

“People are always focused on what you have and what you don’t have,” Inge said. “They think if I have less than them then somehow that makes me irrelevant. I tell them if you can put on Miss Kenya’s size 12 sandals and walk in them better than me then you can tell the story.”

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

What The Rise Of Women In Comedy Really Means About Society

By Kelsey D’Auben

This past Saturday night millions of Americans tuned into the second episode of Saturday Night Live’s 41st season with host Amy Schumer, whose performance included a number of hilarious sketches such as “Porn Teacher,” “Hands Free Selfie Stick,” and an opening monologue where she showcased her roots in stand-up comedy.

Schumer was made an overnight sensation this past summer with the premier of Trainwreck, a film she wrote and starred in. She also won an Emmy award for the third season of her sketch comedy show Inside Amy Schumer.

While hosting on SNL, she also promoted her upcoming HBO special, Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo, which will be available Saturday. It’s safe to say that just over the past few months Schumer has risen up to the top of the comedic world and has become one of the biggest names in comedy today.

For most of history, men have run the comedy scene. From the early days of Charlie Chaplin, to Monty Python in the 70’s, and even into the early 2000s when Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, and Will Ferrell dominated the genre.

But recently things seem to be changing.

Schumer, along with others such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, or any of the very female heavy cast of Saturday Night Live are just a few of the big names you think of when you talk about comedy today. All of these women are constantly gaining success and popularity, especially among the newer and younger audiences of today.

These women have the numbers to back their success too. Some of the most popular comedies at the box office this summer were films featuring female leads. Trainwreck starring Amy Schumer grossed over $130 million, Spy starring Melissa McCarthy over $236  million, and the all female cast of Pitch Perfect earned a whooping $285 million at the box office.

“To a degree, everyone’s going to be offended by something, so you can’t just decide on your material based on not offending anyone”- Sarah Silverman

While on the other end, some comedies with a male lead were not nearly as successful at the box office, including an under whelming performance by the Ed Helms helmed flick- Vacation and Ted 2, a macho soaked comedy about a talking bear.

Female comedies have also been popular with critics. Trainwreck scored an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Spy a very impressive 93%. Meanwhile, Get Hard starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, was expected to be a huge hit only scored a 29% on the popular movie rating website.

So why is it that this type of female driven comedy has gained so much popularity over the past few years? It could well be because comedy is now being aimed at a younger, more socially aware audience. Previous generations were much less conscious of political correctness so comedians of the time felt much less inclined to avoid offensive material, and most of these comics were men.

But this is not the case today. Younger audiences now are much more sensitized and much less comfortable with hearing offensive jokes. They just don’t find it funny anymore. Some older comedians, like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock who were very popular in the 90’s, have even gone so far as to say that they will no longer perform at college campuses because the audiences are “too politically correct.

However, this old school way of thinking isn’t as popular amongst female comics. Sarah Silverman, whose career also began in the early 90’s and was known for being edgy and not-so-politically correct, has spoken out against comedians like Seinfeld and Rock who believe political correctness is ruining comedy.

“To a degree, everyone’s going to be offended by something, so you can’t just decide on your material based on not offending anyone,” Silverman said in a recent interview. “But, I do think it’s important, as a comedian, as a human, to change with the times. To change with new information.”

Because female comics have only started to be taken seriously within the past few years their style tends to be more progressive and more politically correct to accommodate to the taste of today’s audiences. They are reaching out towards younger demographics that the older male comics just don’t understand. Not only does this progressive female comedy make them more popular amongst younger crowds, but they are also generally more accepted by minorities and other diverse groups because their type of comedy is less likely to exclude people by making them the butt of a joke.

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

Cover Photo Credit: Jeffrey Zeldman/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Does The Movie “Suffragette” Create Delusions About Modern Day Feminist Success?

By Sean Moran

At the October 7 London premiere of the film Suffragette, several activists from the group Sisters Uncut crashed the red carpet and released smoke canisters as part of a protest against recent budget cuts to facilities that offer care to victims of domestic violence. When asked why they chose this film for the protest, one activist replied that the film’s “celebratory sense” has created a “delusional element” that feminism has accomplished its goals.

Suffragette, set to begin a limited American release on October 23, tells the story of one mother’s experiences as she gets caught up in the female suffrage movement in early 20th century Britain. The movie stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter (who also happens to be the real life great granddaughter of H.H. Asquith, the Prime Minister who opposed female suffrage), and Meryl Streep as the leader of the suffrage movement, Emmeline Pankhurst.

A movie can be effective in getting an ideological message across, but how much can you ignore or even distort actual history?

Along with the protest at the premiere, the film has also received some backlash against a promotional photoshoot where the actresses wore t-shirts that read “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” Critics immediately began criticizing this quote for perceived racial insensitivity. Some pointed out that Emmeline Pankhurst and many other suffragettes were not advocating for black female suffrage too.

As much as people try to argue that the Pankhurst was a progressive feminist, the truth is that she wasn’t. Pankhurst was aided by her two daughters, Christabel and Sylvia, the former much in her mother’s image, while the latter had much more radical beliefs. Neither Emmeline nor Christabel believed women should wear pants or short hair, and both detested the rise of the Labour Party that represented the working class. Emeline also believed women should remain chaste, and all but denounced her daughter Sylvia when she had a child out of wedlock.

This raises an important issue with historical films: is it okay to force historical facts to fit a modern narrative? A movie can be effective in getting an ideological message across, but how much can you ignore or even distort actual history?

It would seem more authentic if characters did have inconsistent beliefs about equality, believing men and women should be equal but only some men and women (white, educated, upper class, etc.).

So in a way, the protestors at the premiere were right; this film shouldn’t be seen as the epitome of feminist ideology (Note: I have not seen the actual movie yet, and the film could totally address these issues).

Having said all that, I think this film will provide an adequately objective viewpoint. In an interview with Variety’s Kristopher Tapley, screenwriter Abi Morgan admitted that she didn’t want to do a feminist film.

“I don’t think any of us said, ‘Let’s make a feminist movie.’ I think we kind of went, ‘This is exciting. We never see women blow up buildings. We never see them militant.’”

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This New Edible Water Bottle Might Be The Answer To Plastic Pollution

Design student Rodrigo García González is working on a concept of an edible water bottle, reports aol.com and the Smithsonianmag.com.

Americans use roughly 50 billion plastic bottles yearly, but the edible seaweed extract casing around the Ohoo could solve that. The casing itself is similar to that of tapioca pearls for bubble tea. However, despite the approachable idea, there are still some kinks to work out of the plan. González said that not all of testers have warmed up to the idea yet, comparing the texture to jellyfish or breast implants.

Another issue is the fragility of the casing. “This is a problem we’re trying to address with a double container,” González said to Smithsonian. “The idea is that we can pack several individual edible Oohos into a bigger Ooho container [to make] a thicker and more resistant membrane.” However, despite the problems, González said that a few beverage and food companies have approached him on marketing.

American Apparel Files For Bankruptcy

American Apparel finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy early Monday. While the stores will remain open, more than $200 million in bonds will be exchanged for stocks as part of the company’s reconstructing. It was a long time coming, as the retail chain has not made profit since 2009. American Apparel will shrink its debt from $311 million to $120 million.

American Apparel founder Dov Charney will receive the blunt of the loss, as his stake in the company will be removed. The bankruptcy comes one year after Charney was ousted from the American Apparel board for allegations of misconduct, including sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior in the workplace and mishandling money. After being fired from the company in 2014, Charney made efforts to exert control of the company, causing the company to file a restraining order against him.

The company said in a court filing that it will remove stores that are unprofitable, but it did not say when or how many. Though the retail chain’s future is unknown, the bankruptcy should absolve enough debt for the company to remain in business.

Cover Photo Credit: dovcharney/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Exclusive: Aaron Parker Is The Next Big Thing in Country Music

By Corrin Mason

Named one of the Huffington Post’s 15 Country Artists to Watch in 2015 and inducted into Country Music’s #CMchat’s exclusive One to Watch club, Alabama native Aaron Parker is making waves in Nashville following the release of his first EP and the beginning of his fall tour last month. Aaron’s music truly captures the nostalgia and romanticism of the rural south with songs like “Dust and Diesel,” “Homesick,” and “Heaven on Wheels” that strike a chord with all those who have grown up on a farm, surrounded by fields. And that’s exactly how Aaron grew up; his music is honest.

“My brand of country music is tall grass grown up next to rusted out 1980 Z28 Camaro, it’s a big sky, good friends, good tequila, church on Sunday, not being afraid to be who you are, and loving your people,” Parker said in an interview with Rise News. 

 

Although his career has taken him off to Music City, Aaron says city life hasn’t changed him. “I try not to ‘adjust’ to city life but I do love the town with my whole heart,” Parker said.

“Im just more about forever, less about tonight.”

He still misses watching the “Sunset on a familiar tree line” amongst other things back home, but Aaron says there’s a lot to love about Nashville, too. 

​ “I love the energy, the work, the food is amazing, the people are super laid back and love to create and collaborate. It’s a maker’s town.”​

And Aaron is definitely a maker. His work is true country, and his genius is evident in his thoughts on the country scene and music altogether.

“You’re witnessing an evolution in my music and in music in general, with Spotify and other streaming sites available its opening the hearts of artists to create; not just genre specific music, but the music their heart wants to make and to let the public be the judge. Someone in manhattan can find that country song of mine that speaks to them and they give me permission to live in their life for three minutes per day. That’s an honor. So my place in modern country music isn’t as important to me as my place in ‘Music’ as a whole.”

It’s this combination of old-time nostalgia and forward thinking that makes Aaron really special. He pays homage to the greats before him while incorporating new ideas. He’s realized the opportunity of making music in the modern era; the opportunity to reach a wider audience than ever before and to share his passion with the whole world. Aaron Parker’s country isn’t just for those who grew up in the south, it’s for everyone. 

“Im just more about forever, less about tonight which I guess isn’t [just] country, because everyone wants to fall in love, everyone wants to find that someone, everyone wants to have a great time on the weekends, forget about their troubles, drink a little, or a lot, and everyone loves their mom, I love my mom, so I sing about it. ”

And that evolution he mentioned earlier is especially interesting. 

“On the evolution of my music, I can just say this first EP is a milestone and 1 chapter in a book, and it’s a LONG book.”

The future for Aaron and his music is truly exciting – Aaron has done something wonderfully artistic for his fans, who he loves dearly. 

”They are all great, anytime anyone comes to see me at the end of the night I can’t hold back a smile. I love them. They always stay till the lights come on or someone makes them leave. They’re my style.”

He’s given his fans all a metaphorical front row seat to watch as he reveals the massive art project that is his music little by little. We are all spectators as this story, this evolution, unfolds. With his fall tour in full swing, that front row seat doesn’t have to be metaphorical, either. Catch at least one show this season because with an artist like Parker, you’re going to want to be able to say, “I was there when…”

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21-Year Old Dylan Ifergane Takes Fashion World By Storm

Before Dylan Ifergane was an internationally renowned fashion designer, he coordinated some of the largest and most exclusive house parties, art expositions and warehouse mini-festivals in South Florida.

All before his 22nd birthday. At 21-years-old, Ifergane is the lead designer and founder of Scandal fashion house.

“I consider my designs a marriage of high-end style, effortless chic, and real-life wearability.”

In the last four years, over 500,000 of Ifergane’s Italian-made designs have been worn and bought. Working with brands like Nordstrom and Macy’s, Scandal was listed as one of the top 100 growing fashion companies in the U.S., winning multiple design awards, prompting Ifergane’s hopes to open up Scandal franchises in California, Texas and Florida.

“Scandal and my designs are a mixture of what sells and what I love,” Ifergane said. “I consider my designs a marriage of high-end style, effortless chic, and real-life wearability.”

At the start of his career, Ifergane rented out venues in Miami, throwing lavish parties–his last party hosting boasting over four thousand attendees. His presence left an impact in the city, and he began receiving offers from a few nightclubs in the area.

Ifergane was part of the senior staff founders of Miami nightclub ‘Amnesia’, now known as STORY. As Ifergane got involved with the upper echelons of the nightclub industry, He began talent buying for almost every major night club in Europe. Talent buying is the business of booking artists for nightclubs who would otherwise not have the connection to do so. Ifergane booked the likes of David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia, growing personal relationships with some of the most talented musicians worldwide. Soon, his network expanded to the fashion world.

“I quickly realized that many of the fashion pieces that dazzled on the runway were completely unwearable, and that ready-to-wear versions often sacrificed their original artistic edge in favor of ‘fast fashion’ mass appeal.”Ifergane said.



As of now, Scandal has been sold to 750 stores internationally, branching out in international markets of Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Korea. Ifergane recently returned to his home in Los Angeles from attending New York Fashion Week. At NYFW, Scandal showcased on runways alongside top tier designers like Givenchy, to more accessible brands like Free People.

Ifergane said he didn’t expect Scandal to reach the international acclaim it has today.

“ I started this thinking it was going to stay a one or two-year project,” Ifergane said. “I thought I would’ve failed because I opened up during recession, which was the worst possible moment because people were cutting back on things that weren’t necessities. I was quite surprised that it took off so quickly.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 4.30.54 PM

Ifergane relayed advice for up and coming fashion designers trying to break into the industry.

“Be careful with who you share things with,” Ifergane said. “We live in a predatory world in which people hunt for anything you give them. Be extremely careful, work hard. In a over-saturated industry like fashion, make sure you aim at making your designs and overall concept as unique and diverse as possible, and target a clientele that would wear your designs.”

You can learn more by visiting www.SHOPSCANDAL.COM

Photos: Dylan Ifergane

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