Culture

North Miami Beach Enters Farmers Market Game With Monthly Event

What’s New With This Story: 

-North Miami Beach Farmers And Artisanal Market debuted to a solid showing the Sunday before Thanksgiving. 

-The Market will run monthly starting in January. 

-NMB Commissioner Marlen Martell has worked on delivering a Farmers Market to the city for years. 

-Martell teamed up with Wynwood Farmers Market CEO Melissa Frantz to get the project off the ground this year. 


The North Miami Beach Farmers And Artisanal Market opened on November 19.

The market is North Miami Beach’s first entry into the farmers market game and will become a monthly event starting in January.

The market was created after NMB Commissioner Marlen Martell approached Wynwood Farmers Market CEO Melissa Frantz.

NMB Commissioner Marlen Martell (L) and Wynwood Farmers Market CEO Melissa Frantz (R) were the driving forces behind the market.

Martell had long dreamed of bringing a market to NMB and was impressed by what Frantz had accomplished in Wynwood.

“I went to the one she runs in Wynwood, and it was fabulous,” Martell said in an interview.

Frantz worked with the city to develop the market and was given a big boost by local attorney Victor Dante when he offered to let his parking lot be used for the event.

Over 20 vendors had booths at the event and hundreds of local residents attended.

“I think the vendors are happy,” Frantz said of the first event. “Generally everyone made some sales and they want it to be successful.”

“This could become a really great market. The community really wants it,” Frantz said. “We could easily double what we had today. It brings community together.

Allison Academy provided the musical entertainment at the event.

The next NMB Farmers Market will be on January 20, 2018. The venue will be announced.

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Watch More: Did this South Florida Entrepreneur Just Invent The Next Tofu? 

Dan Piraro, The “Bizarro” Cartoonist Who Wants Us To Stop Shitting Where We Sleep

Cartoonist Dan Piraro looks up from his drawing monitor: “You mind if I keep working a little bit on the side here while we talk?”

Piraro is a busy man.

His one-panel comic series Bizarro is featured in more than 350 daily and Sunday newspapers, which requires him to churn out a hand-cramping seven cartoons a week.

He maintains a strict routine to keep up with this level of demand so he alternates his attention between his work station and his webcam where he chats with me via Skype.

Piraro is absolutely absorbed by his literal task at hand.

He responds to each of my questions with a laid-back gusto- not dissimilar to the feel of his daily strip, although there are some topics that get him going. Take the environment for example.

“Virtually all animals know not to shit where they sleep,” Piraro said. “They try to defecate as far away from where they live and raise their families. In a local sense we do that but in a larger sense we’re poisoning the one planet that’s inhabitable to us.”

That’s one of the few riffs Piraro goes on during our 28-minute conversation.

He is a man of passion when he feels drawn to a topic.

It was the way he was raised.

His parents were Kennedy Democrats.

Public service was a big deal in their home and they wanted their children, Dan and his sisters, to show the same sense of responsibility their beloved president had.

“I was raised to believe that certain things in life are more important than your job or social standing,” Piraro said. “We were sort of raised with that notion that it’s up to everyone to build and maintain a society worth living in.”

Piraro doesn’t hide his liberal political views in his strip but he said that he doesn’t consider himself much of a political cartoonist either.

He’s different. Hard to pin down. So is his work.

In the world of syndicated cartoons, there are humorous comic strips featuring cute kids or sarcastic animals and then there are political strips that maybe feature cute kids or sarcastic animals who have a bone to pick with a specific politician or political party.

Piraro tries to keep himself within the lines but sometimes his sensibilities get the best of him.

This happened in 2005 when he drew a panel relating to gay marriage and changed it due to concerns that it would not be received well.

Piraro said that sometimes he worries that his panel will be received differently to a general audience that he wants it to be.

“My editor will call me saying that a certain cartoon might upset people in more conservative markets,” Piraro said. “It could result in losing a newspaper client and getting my strip replaced with something that doesn’t make pointed political statements.”

Piraro will sometimes side with his editor.

It’s not worth losing a client over a panel he isn’t 100% invested in.

But most of the time, Piraro said that he will take the risk of getting his point across.

Public service, remember?

“I’m not a balls-to-the-walls political activist but with my strip I have a growing audience and a sense of obligation to address some issues that seemed to me to be social injustices that could be repaired with changes in attitude,” Piraro said.

Despite the reluctance of syndicated strips to go political, Piraro says there’s one figure everyone’s making an exception for.

“When I started doing cartoons on Donald Trump I expected a similar response as to when I was doing George W. Bush cartoons,” Piraro said. “Lose a paper here or there but nothing happened. They didn’t mind I was taking these pot shots at Trump even though I’m technically not allowed to delve into politics.”

Readers don’t seem to mind either.

Dan claims his readership has actually gone up since Trump took office but he’s not allowing for “anti-president” material to dominate his strip any time soon.

He limits himself to one Trump cartoon for every seven panels he produces.

For now, Bizarro is more focused on the patented absurdism that makes it unlike anything else in the funnies.

Whether it’s a crossdresser lamenting the pointlessness of cross dressing in the Middle East or God creating mankind when he was piss drunk over a wild weekend, Bizaroo is the product of Dan Piraro’s hypernormal imagination.

It’s not die-hard political satire but it’s not exactly a cat who for some reason enjoys lasagna.

“My cartoons are an artistic representation of the way I think and imagine things,” Piraro said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m not a millionaire.”

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.

10 Of The Biggest Misconceptions About People Who Live In Rural Areas

The tiny towns that dot the landscape of every rural region in the country provide endless fodder and perpetuate many a myth and misconception, the kind of stuff urban legends are made of.

I can only speak to the Rocky Mountains because I grew up in Wyoming where “men are men and the sheep are scared,” and have spent most of my adult life in Idaho where potato trucks have been known to tip over, spill thousands of pounds of spuds onto highways, and force temporary closures.

I’ll share what I know.

I can also say with 100 percent certainty that the wide open spaces we are known for promise to embrace anyone brave enough to endure the howling wind.

Welcome.

Here are 10 misconceptions about people who live in rural areas:

1) We are all farmers

Photo Credit: Susanne Nilsson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

As much as I love home-grown food, I wouldn’t know the first thing about tilling the land. Too bad for me.

What’s more unfortunate is the fact that farms and other rural businesses are dwindling, which means the lack of job availability is driving country people into larger cities.

After the recession, deep poverty hit across the board, making rural life unsustainable for a large chunk of the 46 million people who live in rural communities.

But rural tradition is still strong in Idaho, especially during the fall potato harvest, when students in the eastern part of the state get a two-week break for “spud harvest.”

Yep, that’s right.

Kids get to miss school because farmers rely on the extra, strong hands to help with the potato crop, which will eventually be turned into delicious french fries.

2) We tip cows for fun

Photo Credit: Mikel Ortega/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

No, we don’t.

Because it can’t be done.

Cows weigh a thousand pounds or more and don’t sleep standing up.

If you want a good kick to the gut and risk death, go ahead and stand behind or next to a cow while trying to tip it over.

3) We are uneducated

Photo Credit: JACK SPARKS/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Just because the mainstream media attributed Trump’s presidential win to ‘uneducated rural America’ (the people who came out in droves to vote), doesn’t mean it’s true.

Rural areas are filled with all types of yahoos – from Harvard-educated yoga instructors, to small business owners and blue-collar workers, to freelance writers and tech gurus.

4) We are racist rednecks

Photo Credit: Joe Sepielli/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Here’s a stereotype that runs deep and can’t be summed up in one paragraph.

Let’s just say we don’t all accuse Mexico of sending rapists and criminals over the border, or call for a complete halt to Muslims entering the country.

We have been known to drive out white supremacist colonies, however.

5) We don’t know how to use the internet

Photo Credit: Toms Baugis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

For eight years, I worked for a thriving e-commerce company that is well-known nationwide for its booklets of admission tickets to the most iconic attractions in big cities.

It was/is a highly coveted place of employment in a town of 3,000 people.

Because millions of ticket booklets are sold online, it’s kind of mandatory to know how to use the internets to be employed there.

6) We are survivalist nuts

Photo Credit: ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

While possessing canning and freezing techniques are great skills to have, not everyone is that resourceful.

Not everyone stocks their basements with bottled water, cans of beans, Spam, fruit cocktail and powdered Tang.

Maybe we should, though, with the way the world is heading.

7) We all shoot guns

Photo Credit: Peretz Partensky/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

We don’t all shoot and kill animals in the woods for meat.

The hunters I know are very respectful of the animal and the land.

Poachers are considered bad people.

The gun menacingly placed on the rack in the back of the pickup always intimidated me.

Can’t they just buy a handgun and put it in the glove box like everyone else?

8) We don’t have indoor plumbing

Photo Credit: Bill/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This is actually partially true.

It’s crazy to think that nearly 63,000 households in this country do not have complete plumbing.

This means 1.6 million people are living without indoor plumbing, including toilet, tub or shower, or running water.

Many Americans can still remember what it’s like to use an outhouse.

Relics of the past, outhouses are now cute little storage sheds with the crescent moon carved neatly into the door.

9) We use farmersonly.com to find dates

Photo Credit: Joey Harrison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

We find our mates like everyone else – in bars, at the gym, and on the internet.

What’s funny is I’ve seen people on Tinder making the joke that they thought they were joining farmersonly.com.

The joke is on them: They are on Tinder.

10) We ride our horses to the bars

Photo Credit: Jean van der Sluijs/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Ok, this is true.

I’ve seen it in remote, rural towns, places where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid used to raise hell.

Although a horse probably isn’t the best designated driver, cowboys have been known to tie their horses to the hitching post in front of the bar.

Why else would a hitching post exist in front of a bar?

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: Robb North/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Does Cultural Appropriation Really Even Matter?

Asking whether cultural appropriation matters or not is like asking if a fat kid loves cake… Of course!

But it’s such a taboo subject to talk about that people usually keep quiet about it.

Let’s start with a definition of cultural appropriation.

Cultural appropriation is the exploitation or oppressive cooption of elements of one culture by members of another culture without permission.

Now that we got a working definition, let’s ask this question again: does cultural appropriation matter?

Yes, and especially in America.

This question sparked an interesting debate with my sorority sisters and me.

Some of them actually believed that cultural appropriation shouldn’t matter since everyone takes from everyone to make their culture unique.

However, the rest us believed it to be a bad characteristic of society that needs to be addressed.

We live in a country that was built on the backs of the oppressed.

Because of this, the melting pot that we are said to live in comes with double standards.

Many of these ‘new’ trends that appear in mainstream come from someone else’s culture.

Let’s talk hair.

Braids have been a part of the African American culture as a protective style to protect our natural hair from harsh weather conditions.

When worn by us, we are negatively stereotyped and ostracized by society.

Photo Credit: Alvaro Sasaki/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Yet if someone like Kim Kardashian wears it, then it is accepted by those same people that called it ugly and ghetto.

For anything to be magically accepted by mainstream America, you have to be of a fair complexion.

Let’s talk dances.

Breaking out of her Disney barrier, Miley Cyrus decided to twerk as part of her on stage performances.

Before then, this was only heard of in the black community as a form of dancing.

She often kept black women in her videos and performances as pieces.

Usually having some sing and some dance but objectifying the dancers to those equivalent to a sex toy.

But she isn’t the only one.

Shall we go on?

Let’s talk appearance.

Society is a monster.

From a young age, we are taught to hate ourselves, especially young minority girls.

As a black girl, I was often teased for my full lips, milk chocolate complexion, and my naturally curvy body.

Now that I’m older, the same things that I was being teased for are the same things that are being praised on others.

Let’s use the lovely Kardashians as the example.

Kim altered her body to have curves and an ass which she didn’t have naturally; Khloe got ass injections that are not proportionate to her body; and Kylie got lip injections that she swore wore not lip injections.

It seems like the features that many minorities have are favored on other women who are not in the minority.

Not convinced yet?

Let’s give it one more shot.

Cultural appropriation matters because it is a form of oppression.

Typically, the ones that are being oppressed are usually the ones that have a problem with this.

This is just another example of how white privilege works.

White people take something, give no credit for it, and claim it as their own and repeat the process.

White privilege and accountability don’t go together at all hence why we have cultural appropriation issues.

Minorities have given the false hope of ‘all man is created equal’, forgetting the fact this quote wasn’t meant to include everyone at the time it was first said.

So in turn, the foundation of this country has been built on the unequal stature of those who take from those who are defenseless.

And in the end, cultural appropriation does matter and needs to be recognized.

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: Alannah Giannino/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Our Whole Generation Needs To Watch “Love Jones”

On the 20th anniversary of the release of Love Jones, I used my snow day from work to see the film for a second time.

The first time, I finished it with a very negative attitude, immediately texting the friend who suggested it to ask why she loved it so much.

The reason why she suggested it was due to what I was going through in my current dating life: the ups, downs, and everything in between.

A little bit of background: Love Jones is a 1997 romantic film that intertwines love, poetry, and career choices between Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate) and Nina Mosley (Nia Long), and the highs and lows that come with it.

The two lovers struggle with admitting their true feelings for each other, and this notion is constantly tested throughout the film.

The movie has gained a cult following because of its unique take on love during the late 90s, a time when technology was starting to make real change in the way we saw each other.

After watching the film again, I realize why I had such a bad taste in my mouth the first time and why I fell in love with it the second.

It solidified how different things are nowadays in terms of dating and relationships: we hide our emotions behind a screen.

We text each other our affection with some emojis thrown in there rather than picking up the phone to hear the voice on the other end.

We say “I don’t care” instead of taking the risk.

We find ways to not be memorable rather than to be something the other cannot forget.

With my first (and only, for now) relationship, my boyfriend and I never necessarily asked each other if we wanted to be in one – it just happened.

We would only get on the phone when we needed to resolve an issue or when we were in a fight and needed to clarify things.

The first time we broke up, he did it through a text message because he was “busy with his boys.”

When we first said “I love you,” we would text each other constantly, repeating it over and over again because the feeling was so fresh, new, and alive.

However, there is a difference between texting it and saying it loud and proud.

Although things did not work out, our relationship and time together did teach me what I wanted in my next relationship and what I did not want, and for that, thank you.

With the man I was dating over the summer, we were very much out and about.

However, we were known as “bae” to each other and as “friends” to everyone else.

Love is weird man. Photo Credit: Johnny Lai/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This was the first time I did not feel like creating a label for us because “labels complicate things,” as most people my age tend to say.

With him leaving to law school by the end of the summer, we were able to talk and still do.

However, our talking is, yet again, by texting.

Do I remember his voice?

Hardly, but he did write me a poem, which I still have.

I can say he tried.

With the guy (I think?) I am dating now, we absolutely never get on the phone, and quite honestly, we have not decided what we are other than “just having fun.”

While I was OK with it at first, I realized I am a person who enjoys having labels because labels do not complicate what you have with someone.

If there are complications, it is because of you, that other person, or both.

Do labels mean I want a relationship?

Not necessarily.

It just means that we are mature enough to have a conversation and talk things through.

Darius and Nina confess their love for each other by the end of the movie and how they will make things work although they are on different sides of the country.

That is not necessarily saying that they will get into a relationship – they are going to work things through.

That is what I commend.

People say women tend to get caught up in the idea of a Hollywood romance.

However, who would not want a love such as the one in Love Jones?

A man who publicly admits his admiration through a poetry performance.

A woman who is set on her career but also is set on love.

A love that has Lauryn Hill singing in the background.

A love where you can remember the voice of the person you are into because you take the time to call each other.

See the movie for yourself and decide.

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.

I Went To The Actual “Gossip Girl” School. Here’s What I Learned

Gossip Girl.

Not just a set of novels or a television series that shows an exaggerated interpretation of “Manhattan’s elite” at an all-girls’ independent school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Truth be told, the fictional Constance-Billard School for Girls is based on my real all-girls’ independent K-12 school on the Upper East Side (but its name is “a secret I’ll never tell” – unless you can figure out the clues I sprinkle throughout the piece).

While some of the women I called my classmates had been at the school since kindergarten and had mothers who attended the school as well, I entered in the 7th grade as a financial aid student through an academic program that targets high academically-achieving students of color in New York City public schools.

My dream school as a 12-year-old applying to these independent schools was co-ed and on a campus that housed huge fields for their sports team, exactly what you would see on Friday Night Lights.

However, the program required all students to apply to a single-sex school, something my father was truly ecstatic about and something I cried about (I was very boy crazy at 12).

Due to my birthday being in September and my mother signing me up for pre-kindergarten at the age of 3, most schools wanted me to repeat the 6th grade so that my age could align with my future classmates.

However, the all-girls’ school that I did not want to apply to was the only one that decided to take a chance on me and allowed me to continue onto the 7th grade.

The months leading up to my entrance through the blue doors of the famed school felt like a crash course: having to pick up books that I never imagined having access to, preparing for the academic differences between the public school I was so used to and the independent school that housed women whose worlds I would not understand at first (and at times still do not), and buying a uniform that was beyond any clothing budget I could imagine.

However, by the time I graduated from the school, I wore my plaid blue, white, and grey skirt that always would just make the length cut-off with my head held high (each all-girls’ school had their own unique skirt).

As the co-head of tour guides my senior year, I received many questions from admitted students regarding my experience, many of which oozed with confusion and concerns.

Well, now is as a good a time as ever to pass along the advice that came from these conversations.

Here’s what’s it really like to go to an all girls prep school:

1. Yes, you will interact with males.

You do not move to another planet.

I will admit that my heart did flutter whenever I saw someone of the opposite sex; however, I think that happens whenever you are going through your first set of crushes.
2. Going off of that, take advantage of the opportunities given to interact with your brother school(s).

It is nice to have friends from there when you are forced to do plays and community service together.

3. You will not feel uncomfortable if and when you decide to go to a co-ed college.

If anything, I felt more confident.

I had strengthened my voice during my 6 years at my school.

I knew how to speak up and to speak with confidence.

Just because some testosterone was added to the mix when I started college did not mean I forgot how to raise my hand and share my opinion.

4. You will get many questions asking if you are now an uber feminist.

Always say, “Hell yeah. We never shave our legs, burn bras, never wear make-up, and you don’t even want to know what happens at school.”

You won’t get the dumb question again. Only a face of mixed emotions.

5. Be grateful that you are in a place that knows the importance of women in this world.

Faculty and staff go above and beyond to ensure your success because they know how much you are needed.

6. Also be grateful that you can shout about needing a tampon or pad without the confused, horrified, or joking reaction of men.

Be free, and happily catch that tampon that is thrown across the room.

7. You will become attached to your uniform skirt.

You will never want to throw it out.

You will take it with you to college and most likely use it as part of a costume.

8. I graduated with a class of 38 other women, and with such a small group, you are bound to know A LOT about each other.

You all may be at very different stages of our personal lives.

Do not feel as though you are lagging or are way ahead.

Everyone goes at their own pace, and it just may intensified because you see the same small group every day.

9. Almost everyone at your school will become a familiar face.

Be happy about it, especially when the cute little kindergarten student waves every time she sees you.

10. There are many moments when you will feel a lot of love accompanied by hugs.

11. Remember the moment you enter the blue doors (or whatever color your school’s doors are) as well as the moment you leave them behind. The experience you gain at an all-girls’ school is a very unique one that can never be replicated.

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: William Murphy/Flickr (CC by-SA 2.0)

Confessions Of A Tinder Ghosting Queen

Picture two lonely twenty- somethings, 2.4 miles away from each other, both struggling through the end of tumultuous relationships.

Two lonely people seeking very different things- one of us had good intentions, and one of us had none.

I was your typical tinder troll.

I was the QUEEN of ghosting boys on Tinder, and, unfortunately, Michael was the result of one of my most crafty “drink and ditch” plans.

My life as a Tinder ghost went through many phases but it ended in an incredibly unlikely way.

The Broken Hearted

I would venture to say that this is the most popular group of people responsible for Tinder ghosting.

These are the guys/ girls that will text/ snapchat you all the time.

They’ll make plans to meet up, but chicken out at the last second.

When I matched with Michael in the summer of 2015, I had just broken up with the guy that I had been dating off and on since high school.

My best friend convinced me to download Tinder “just for fun.”

I didn’t think I needed it, but I went along with it anyway.

The night I downloaded Tinder, I got a message from Michael.

He was going out and wanted to meet up.

I was freaked out about the whole idea of it, so I thought maybe I would just take a free drink for my best friend and I and ditch.

When we met up, he was a true gentlemen, he bought us drinks and we chugged them.

We left shortly after, and about an hour later, he saw me hanging out with another guy.

Although it may not sound like a valid excuse, I can assure you that the broken- hearted do not understand the damage that they may be causing.

These people are hurting and they probably cannot yet identify what a good guy/ girl looks like.

These people are looking for love, but still need to heal.

The Attention Seeker

This one is all of us to some extent.

Tinder is a great daily ego booster.

I don’t know of any other place where you can experience a variety of cheesy pickup lines crafted just for you (or used on 10 other people), get told how pretty you are, and rummage through hundreds of messages, choosing whom to reply.

Hangout two with Michael happened about six months later.

I had deleted and re- downloaded the app more than a handful of times since we had last seen one another.

This time, I had moved on from the heart break category, into the “home alone over Christmas break” attention seeking category.

I was out with a friend one night, and he was too.

So, I went over to where he was to meet him (and get free drink number two).

We talked for a bit, but then my friend needed me, so I left to be with her.

Later on in the night I saw him walking around with his friends, and I walked the other direction.

The attention seekers like things to be on their terms.

They only want you when they’re lonely or need the ego boost.

Attention seekers can get better over time, though, so don’t write them off right away.

Get to know these people, sometimes it might take a few tries to crack their seemingly egotistical shell.

The Gold Digger

Watch out for this one.

People like to blame this one on females, but I think this can be everyone.

This is the group of people that are unwilling to meet up UNLESS there is something good in it for them ie: dinner, drinks, entertainment.

They won’t just join you at the dog park or for a movie, they need some kind of incentive, and they get a high off of using other people.

When hangout number three with Michael happened, I was going into it with the intentions of more free drinks.

By this time, it had already been a year of enduring my ghosting, and he was pretty much sick of me.

However, one night, a freshly 21 Ariel partied a little too hard, and ran into some “medical” trouble.

I remembered that Michael worked in a hospital, so I texted him asking if I was going to die.

Turns out I was just fine, and the reassurance that he had my back was really moving to me.

So, ~finally~ date number one happened, and, (gold digger that I formerly was) ended up asking to pay for the drinks.

And, the rest is history.

You see, if Michael had not contacted me the second time we matched, even though I had already ditched him, I never would be with him today.

We have been dating for almost a year now and I cannot imagine a single second without him.

If he had not pursued me or had just begun ignoring me like I did him, we would not be as happy as we are today.

Sometimes the people who are unwilling to meet up are just gun- shy from their last relationship/ experience and need a little time.

They need a little forgiveness and understanding.

Trust your gut, though, and if it feels like you are being used, you probably are.

Of course, it could end up being love at first (or second) ghost too.

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: Jordi Carrasco/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Tuscaloosa Music Profile: Elaphunk

Reporter Taylor Neuman talked to Tuscaloosa DJ Elaphunk about his start in the business and where he wants to go:

Celebrities Need To Shut Up About Politics

In the world today more and more well known people believe that their opinion matters, especially when it comes to politics.

It is like people who have never studied an ounce of political science seem to think they are well equipped to give a political statement.

And maybe they are right.

It is a democracy after all and we all have a part to play.

Sure, we are all entitled to our own opinions and yes, we have the freedom of speech to say what we want but here is who should refrain from doing this, celebrities.

By definition, a celebrity is someone who is famous for talents, wealth, or family name.

Now on the contrast a politician is a person who is experienced in the arts or science of government according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Let me break it down to a deeper level.

Most politicians in public life today does 4 years of undergraduate work, a 2-year master degree or even law school, and lastly either paid or unpaid internships.

That is over 6 years studying politics and what goes into understanding politics and therefore are well prepared to give political statements.

A celebrity may or may have not attended an art school or received a degree like journalism, psychology, education, or history.

The main difference that sets a celebrity aside is politicians are actively practicing politics.

They don’t just do it on the side, politics is what consumes them.

I love celebrities and I love their talents.

I’m envious of their carefree lifestyle, but I do not believe they are properly trained in politics enough to give such a public statement that people should actually care about.

Mark Wahlberg had some thoughts on this topic that I valued because they have truth behind them.

Back in December of 2016 he was interviewed by Task and Purpose magazine on this very topic and here is his response:

“A lot of celebrities, did, do and shouldn’t [give their political opinions],” he later goes on to say, “They might buy your CD or watch your movie but you don’t put food on their table. You don’t pay their bills. A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble. They’re pretty out of touch with the common person, the everyday guy out there providing for their family.”

I value this because the issues you and I may face on a day to day basis are drastically different than a celebrity.

What may be important to a celebrity is probably not what is important to the everyday American.

While I love hearing what skin care products celebrities use and value some of those statements I just don’t find it appealing when they give an open and public political statement.

It is nothing against the celebrity, it is the simple fact that they are not all qualified.

Just like I am not a qualified brain surgeon, they are not a politician.

If they want to be then they should jump into the ring and run for office.

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.

Steve Harvey And The “Emasculation of Asian Men”

We all know the stereotype.

We’re all familiar with the trope.

Asian men just aren’t “desirable.”

Our frames are too delicate.

Our mannerism aren’t “masculine.”

And of course, our penises are just too small.

All of these sentiments are well echoed in the entertainment industry.

Asian men are rarely cast in a leading role because who would want to watch a movie about an Asian guy?

More often than not, we’re relegated to a mere sidekick usually for a desirable, white protagonist.

But, it’s not just the entertainment industry that plays into this stereotype.

Steve Harvey, too, has reified this idea that Asian men just aren’t worth it with some racist “jokes” that he made this past January.

In sum, he stated, in reference to a 2002 book called How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men (which is a whole different can of worms in and of itself), that “there’s just no way someone could be attracted to Asian men” all while laughing uncontrollably.

Now, while Steve Harvey’s clearly racist remarks deserve to be rifled through with a fine-toothed comb (and has been), I want to focus not on his remarks, but the reaction of his remarks among Asian-American men who were rightfully offended by his words.

The most notable voice that comes to mind is an article written by Eddie Huang titled “Hey, Steve Harvey, Who Says I Might Not Steal Your Girl?.”

In the article, Huang goes in on Harvey and laments the real, hurtful idea that “women don’t want Asian men.”

Huang is a well-known restaurateur and chief who wrote a book about growing up as an Asian America. The book was later adapted into ABC’s hit tv show Fresh Off The Boat. 

Huang makes note of how marginalized people are not afforded the privilege of being whole, complex human beings and comments like the one that Harvey’s made remind Asian men of that.

Moreover, he touches on the “structural emasculation of Asian men in all forms of media… produced an actual abhorrence to Asian men… That’s why this Steve Harvey episode is so upsetting.”

Asian women (and all women for that matter) should not be viewed as things that can be “stolen” by men. Photo Credit: Shawn Perez/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

While I agree with Huang that we as a society need to drop the erroneous notion that Asian men are not worthy partners in any sense, I take issue with the way that Huang, and many other people who think like him, has decided to approach this problem.

First and foremost, the “Mr. Steal Your Girl” reference.

Why are we treating women as objects to be stolen in the first place?

Shouldn’t they have the privilege to be complex human beings?

Why are we approaching this topic from this specific angle?

Also, as an Asian-American man who is impacted by conversations about “Asian (e)masculinity,” I have grown quite tired of this whole mantra behind “masculinizing” Asian men.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree that the experiences of Asian men who feel emasculated by society and media ought to be validated.

However, why is masculinity the center of this conversation?

I feel that Asian men exist in all facets outside of feeling “emasculated” and their voices ought to be uplifted as well.

I identify as a feminine, queer Asian-American man, and I do not feel liberated by this rhetoric around “masculinization.”

How does an Asian-American man like me fight into this conversation?

If fighting against Asian emasculation means letting Asian men talk about “stealing” someone’s girl and other low-key misogynistic things while feeling like a “man” about it, then that is not something that I can get behind.

Huang himself has been criticized as someone who exhibits misogynistic language and attitudes and if battling Asian emasculation means advocating for his right to feel “manly” when he jokes with his friends about women, then I cannot stand with him.

Fair and accurate media representation of the Asian-American experience in all forms written by Asian-American folk is something that I can get behind.

But, this centering of masculinity as the end all, be all for representation and desirability of Asian men has got to stop.

This reminds me of the way that people tried to fight against Steve Harvey’s words on Twitter by retweeting photos of masculine presenting Asian men to prove that they thought Asian men were “desirable” and “attractive.”

But, the problem here isn’t that I want people to think that I’m hot.

The problem is that we as a society need to decolonize what we deem as attractive and why.

Furthermore, people like Eddie Huang (though well-intentioned, I’m sure) need to step back and think about who benefits from their advocacy for the Asian-American community, who is left out, and who is negatively affected by what we’re fighting for.

These are the conversations and dialogues that I feel need to be had, and emasculation can exit, stage left.

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: See-ming Lee/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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