The Young Leader

Would The Discovery Of Alien Life Cause A Crisis For Religion?

Many people have asked the question, “Are there aliens out there in the universe?”, but the one question that rarely gets asked is “what would their discovery mean for the very foundation of organized religions here on Earth”?

In the course of writing this article, I took the time to ponder the question myself, as well as ask people of different faiths how they think people would react given substantial evidence that intelligent life exists outside of our planet.

It should be known that this article is entirely theoretical and opinion based, but it’s certainly fun to think about.

I firmly believe that there is intelligent life out in the universe; it is not a matter of if we will get in contact with these beings, but a question of when.

In the year 2000 it was known that astronomers had located about 50 “exoplanets,” and in the year 2013, that number had grown to 850.

In just 13 years, out of the 850 that have been discovered, 20 of the planets have been found to be “Earth-size exoplanets that occupy a habitable zone around their star, including the most recently discovered Proxima b, which orbits Proxima Centauri,” according to the BBC.

The idea that something could be going on outside of Earth would surely be something that God would have told us about, right?

It is estimated that by the year 2045 the number of exoplanets discovered will be well over one million.

At a certain point, it just becomes silly to think that we are actually alone in the universe.

Now that the framework for this conversation has been laid out, and the argument made that it is only a matter of time before we find a form of advanced life that resides outside of our world; we can begin to examine the question of what the discovery of alien life would mean for religion on earth.

Photo Credit: William Murphy/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The very first thing that would probably happen is that there would be a period of denial for many people that have a religious life and background.

The idea that something could be going on outside of Earth would surely be something that God would have told us about, right?

The denial would just be dismissive at first, but then we would move into our second stage: anger.

Anger would envelop the masses of religious people, and for the first time in the history of religion, there might even be a shared understanding among all faiths to combat the false lies that are being spread about alien life that exists in the universe.

There would be a strong effort to dispel any rumor or fact that there is extraterrestrial life, and people would gather en masse to protest and show their anger for the contempt of their religion.

This brings us to step three and three and a half: denial and depression.

After being shown substantial evidence that alien life exists outside of our earth, and with all their theories and rhetoric thoroughly exhausted, the religious people that have no accepted the reality of this fact will have a severe attack of cognitive dissonance.

Photo Credit: Chris Murtagh/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

It’s a very unfortunate thing to say, but some people will no doubt be so overcome with doubt and depression that they will likely take their own lives as they see everything that they have ever known fundamentally shaken.

Luckily, I see this as a short period of time, and slowly the fog will begin to clear.

This will lead us to step four: acceptance and rationalization.

When I asked people of different faiths the question about how they would personally feel about being show substantial evidence of the existence of alien life, and how it would affect their belief in their religion I was generally given the same answer: “There are things that we just don’t know about, and in due time God will reveal them.”

It is no secret that the Bible, Torah, Qur’an and other religious text were all written by man.

I believe that these religious texts have been drafted through divine inspiration from a higher being and that higher being only gives us as much information that we are able to handle at any given time.

Photo Credit: Jason Trbovich/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

If you were to tell the people of the world back in 300 A.D. that we would have these magical machines that could fly us across vast oceans in a matter of hours they probably would have looked at you like you had four heads.

We are only given as much information that we can cognitively process, and that will continue to happen if people have a truth faith and allegiance to their religion.

Religion is rarely based on things that can definitively be proven.

Religion is based on belief and faith.

When there is tangible evidence of alien life existing outside of our Earth, the true believers of faith will continue to believe that there is a supreme being in the heavens that is looking out for all that it created, and in this circumstance, the creation extends to extraterrestrial beings.

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: DeeAshley/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

NC State Elects Its First Latina Student Body President

The sound of shattering glass was all that you could hear on North Carolina State University’s campus on March 2, as the results from Student Government elections were announced.

Jackie Gonzalez and Mia Connell were elected to be the next Student Body President and Vice President.

Gonzalez and Connell went through two separate elections, winning the general election with 28.6% of the votes cast, advancing to the run-off election that took place two days later, securing the win with 64.4% of the votes cast in the run-off.

This win was historic, and that night, four glass ceilings were shattered to pieces.

Mia Connell (L) and Jackie Gonzalez (R). Photo Credit: Mia Connell/ Facebook

Gonzalez was the first Latinx identified individual elected to the office of Student Body President, and Connell was both the first female, and female of color elected to become Vice President.

Together, they made history by becoming the first all female ticket to win the dual-ticket race.

I was able to sit down with both Gonzalez and Connell to discuss their want to be President and Vice President, their historic win, and their goals for the next year.

RISE NEWS: Why did you want to become the Student Body President?

Gonzalez: I’ve always been drawn to NC State. It was the first college I ever really stepped foot on and I did that at orientation. I’m a first generation college student, so I didn’t really know about the college application process. I didn’t know you were supposed to tour schools before applying. I came NC State immediately and I loved it so there was no other option. Then I started getting involved in Student Government and loved it. The reason that I ran was because NC State has shown their acceptance of me and has helped me grow as a person so I want to make sure other students have those experiences as well.

RN: Why did you want to become the Student Body Vice President?

Connell: I want to run because I have been involved in Student Government my entire time here at State, and I’m really passionate about Student Government. I have been able to see many of the great initiatives that other individuals have been able to accomplish through Student Government and I think that can be expanded upon and improved. Even though we’re already doing great things, it can always be strenghtened.

RN: How do you feel about winning the election?

Gonzalez: I was absolutely taken back by our lead in the end. I think both of our leads were interesting. We knew it was going to be a difficult campaign season because all of the candidates were really great, but winning with 7 votes in the general and then winning with over 1000 in the run-off was just ridiculous. It was absolutely insane and we’re really grateful that what we did actually worked. What it really went down to was speaking with students and getting out there and getting to students that didn’t know to vote.

Connell: I feel grateful. It was a really tough process. Every campaign season is different. I was expecting it to be like last year’s and it was very different, so it was hard to adjust, so I’m very grateful for how quickly we adjusted to changes in the election. We were able to capitalize off the strengths and weaknesses of the team throughout the election season, so I’m grateful that we ran at the time that we did, that we had the support that we did, and that we ended up coming out on top.

RN: What does it mean to become the first all-female ticket to win?

Gonzalez: When I went into the decision process of whether to apply or not, I knew that I wanted to do it with another woman of color. I knew it was time to prove to NC State that two women of color are qualified and capable of standing up for others and representing others in a higher institution. So it feels GREAT. People actually listen to us and people actually care and that’s something we appreciate. Knowing that our team was as diverse as it was, we made sure to stick with our guts and to do what was right for the campaign.

Connell: People like to vote for people that look like themselves, and I don’t always look like every student on our campus, which can be considered a strength, but can also be considered a weakness. Jackie and I were both very nervous to run together. That was one of the first conversations we had together – that we would be viewed differently because we were an all female ticket. And it’s not something that people consciously do, but you are viewed differently when you’re an all female ticket, and it worked in our favor this year, but it other years it hasn’t. I look at it as the fact that less people are starting to look at gender or sex as a qualification for a role.

RN: What are you looking forward to accomplishing in the next year?

Gonzalez: I think the thing I am most passionate about is sexual assault education. It was very big for me. It’s something I want to make sure that other students have their resources and know what their resources are and are educated on this topic. I think what I campaigned on was something similar to that, where my biggest goal was to make sure that students know their resources, and to know that they don’t have to go through Student Government to talk to administrators – that they can go directly to them because they are students here and administrators are willing to listen to them. To take down that barrier between administrators and students is another big goal.

Connell: When I think of the upcoming year I’m very excited because we have a very cohesive team of Student Body Officers. I’m here to create a cohesive Student Government that can serve the student body in a useful way. As Vice President, I am internally focused. I am focused on running the Executive departments, and making sure that Student Government as a whole is working cohesively. I really want to improve our Retreat experience. Our Retreat experience is something that can be more engaging for our student leaders, and more useful. I think we can bring more tools to that setting, more training, more initiative and idea building, and connecting them to more University resources so they know who to go to. If we start off on the right foot and the proper training and guidance, it make the whole year run more smoothly.

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: NC State University/ Facebook

The Most Important Thing I Learned In SGA

There are two ways by which something can spread.

The first is by darkness.

It is by meeting others with the same hostility that they have met you with.

Fighting fire with fire, if you will.

The second way is by light.

It is greeting every person with a smile and genuine happiness despite the fact that they might have no interest in what you are saying or what you stand for.

There are endless opportunities offered by SGA.

The positions that I was lucky enough to serve in have proven to me that you can do as much as you wish to if you are willing to put in the work.

That; however, is not the big lesson behind running for an SGA office.

The most important thing is how you earn your votes and gain your supporters.

I learned the importance of this on the very first day of active campaigning when I ran for office as a freshman.

I was very eager to get my name out to people across campus and to talk with other students about our campaign’s goals for the future.

The students; however, were not always as eager to stop and talk to us.

Many times people put in headphones and walked passed without giving us a second thought.

Photo Credit: Jen Burleigh

It began to make me feel like I was doing something wrong.

While there were plenty of people stopping to talk to me who were more than interested in what I had to say, I was still insecure about those who ignored me when I tried to reach out to them.

There was another campaign member who was facing the same struggle and made a comment about how he wanted to reply to them with the same disregard as they had shown us.

Without thinking I told him, “I’m just going to be really nice to them.”

And that is what I did.

With every person that walked by I smiled at them and wished them all a good day, especially when they looked like they were exhausted or all-around defeated.

I focused more on them than I did on the campaign and I just started talking to them.

It took longer to get around to my point, but in the end, they were able to get a few things off their chests and I got the opportunity to tell them how our campaign could potentially help them in the future.

The changes in people’s responses were almost immediate.

Photo Credit: Jen Burleigh

I stopped telling them about what I was planning on doing and starting asking them what I could be doing.

I took the happiness and excitement that I had and channeled into making them happier in the end.

It would have been easy to disregard every person who disregarded me but if I did that then no one wins.

I don’t get to share my message and they continue on with whatever struggles that they are facing.

That’s why I learned to be better.

I learned to recognize their dark clouds and I learned to help them to find their light.

No one will ever fully understand what someone else is going through so the least that we can do is try to make it better instead of worse.

I made my active campaign time matter because of this and I led with the light that I had within me rather than returning the disinterest that I was occasionally faced with.

I learned to ask, “How can I help?” rather than, “Let me tell you[…]” and people actually responded.

It didn’t take long for people noticed this new found approach to getting students’ attention.

Before long, I was known as ‘the girl one who could talk to anybody’ and a ‘light’ in the campaign.

For me, that was a success.

I built up my recognition through kindness rather than coldness and I became approachable to those around me.

This has followed me throughout every leadership role that I have taken on and will continue to follow me into the future.

So when you make your way into SGA remember that a little dose of kindness and understanding can go much farther than the immediate end that comes from turning your back.

Be open with your peers and help them.

Be the one to ask what you can do because you’ll quickly find that many people are in need of a helping hand.

If you do this then you can be one of the good ones who spreads light among the dark.

You can make a difference in your position with people who support you and trust you because you helped them get through their rough patch.

You helped them to be better and through that you became better.

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: LSU Student Government/ Facebook

The Mainstream Media Is Starting To Win Back The Trust Of Liberals

Have a conversation with a handful of Americans and you will quickly discover that they don’t agree on much.

But as of recently, many Americans (and even foreigners) have come to the consensus that the mainstream media is failing at its job and some have gone as far as to treat it as the enemy.

Ask a conservative, and you will hear that CNN is “fake news”.

Ask a liberal, and you’ll hear that the mainstream media’s been bought out by the interests of billionaires and multinational corporations.

Ask an Israeli and she will say that the American media treats Israel as the aggressor in the Middle East.

Ask a Palestinian and he will say that the American media is far too sympathetic to Israel.

But as I thought more about this, this common narrative about the media is strikingly paradoxical.

If the mainstream media continues to write pieces and broadcast news, then it is clearly supported as a necessary and important source of information by the bulk of American society.

Yet it seems to be the easy target for all sides to pick on.

So it attempting to revise this false indictment of the media, I thought about the stated premise of the media, to report and inform the public on events as they occur.

However I realized that this simple task has often been convoluted, for two reasons.

One, because in the current political climate, the information presented by cultural and institutional authorities for the media to report out is not reflective of the truth.

In these cases, the media is left with few options, as reporting on reality is no longer consistent with reporting on the presented reality.

Secondly, the media has traditionally functioned with a certain structure that has now become particularly vulnerable to manipulation.

This has made it even more difficult to confront falsified information, a problem that has become acute as liberals attempt to confront the rhetoric and posturing of conservatives, who currently dominate the government in numbers.

Photo Credit: Esther Vargas/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Generally speaking, mainstream media rarely denies airtime to advisors in President Trump’s administration.

They are viewed as trusted authority figures that give the public greater insight into the wishes and policy positions of the president.

Perhaps Trump’s most recognized advisor, Kellyanne Conway has appeared frequently on TV to do interviews.

But she has been much more of a distraction than an illuminating agent.

She runs the clock on interviewers, speaking around criticisms of Trump.

She refuses to answer interviewers’ questions, instead, picking out a central word in the question that she can use to promote ideas that paint Trump in favorable light.

This answering structure confuses audiences, while simultaneously making it appear as if she is answering questions.

Worse of all, she has proven to lack credibility, reinterpreting and changing positions to portray a false image of Trump’s administration.

Following Kellyanne Conway’s reference to the non-existent Bowling Green Massacre, CNN placed a temporary ban on Conway, turning her down for the Sunday “State of the Union” public affairs show.

Later, they reiterated their position, citing their concerns about Conway’s credibility.

These are essential steps for the liberals and even people of all political affiliations to take to confront conservative falsehoods and distortions of the truth.

The mainstream media has also hit difficulties with the content of conservative sources.

Traditionally, representatives of the media avoid using the word “lie”.

In an enlightening article by Philip Bump, a correspondent for The Washington Post, Bump discusses the difficulties associated with confronting a lie by Donald Trump or others in his administration through the media.

First, according to Bump, reporters feel that the word “lie” carries a judgment of the intentions of the person telling the lie and because it is difficult to pin down intent, media outlets are hesitant to go as far as to call something a “lie”.

Secondly, there is a general social expectation that members of the media are polite towards their subjects of reporting, especially in person.

Asking difficult questions to reveal inconsistencies, to repeat questions that are not answered and to outright call out lies are not accepted as typically polite behavior on the part of the media, so when members of the media are confronted with falsehood and unanswered questions, push back is viewed as overly aggressive, while yielding simply allows for a reiteration of inaccurate information.

Thirdly, these media outlets want to maintain the trust of their readership and the risk of the making an accusation as strong as suggesting a person of authority is “lying” is far too great.

Even if a media outlet has concluded that something is inaccurate with the information they have access to, the cost of being wrong in light of potentially hidden information is too dangerous, as it harms the media’s reputation even further, providing more evidence to the Trump administration that the media has an anti-Trump agenda and delegitimizing its future reporting.

Hence, it is often much easier for the media to repeat what has been presented as fact instead of addressing its dissonance from truth.

However, recently, some TV hosts and journalists have begun to confront these false facts. Dan Barry of The New York Times wrote an article explaining the importance of “calling a lie a lie”.

NBC’s Chuck Todd boldly confronted Conway in interview, exclaiming that “Alternative facts are not facts, they’re falsehoods!”

This breaking from previous hesitancies has restored the trust of liberals in the role of the media, while simultaneously fueling the fire of Trump’s “fake news” claims, supported by some conservatives.

But from a more removed perspective, this newfound strategy is necessary, not just for liberals confronting conservatives through the media, but also for the sake of maintaining a basic journalistic standard.

A large part of the distrust in media originates from a casual treatment as truth as entirely relative, which fosters public ignorance and a pseudo-reality of disinformation.

The media should adhere to a far more discerning view of the truth, to preserve liberal dissent in a conservative government and to work towards a greater pursuit of truthful information, regardless its affiliation.

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: hannesdesmet/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Why Politics Is Actually Personal

“I love you, but I just don’t really agree with your lifestyle.”

“Just because I voted for Trump doesn’t mean I don’t care for you.”

“Trump’s policies aren’t actually going to affect you.”

“It’s just politics, it’s nothing personal.”

I’ve heard every single one of these comments – whether it was over lunch in high school, with friends both before and after the election, and just through everyday interactions with people with different personal and political ideologies from myself.

I’m used to it, it happens to everybody from all walks of life and from all political parties.

You’re going to come face to face with people that don’t agree with you politically, and sometimes you’re just not going to like them.

Which is fine.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that you don’t agree with someone’s views.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that you can still try to maintain a relationship regardless of different ideologies.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that you simply can’t get along with someone due to their views.

But it’s a completely different, and frankly ludicrous, thing to pretend and ignore the fact that your political thoughts, opinions, and choices are not personal, nor that they will be taken personally by someone.

When I tell someone that supports ‘traditional’ marriage that I support marriage equality, that’s a direct assault on their belief system.

When people tell me that they don’t believe in evolution, that’s a direct assault against my scientific beliefs.

When people tell me they don’t want non-Christians in the United States, that’s a direct assault against my personal belief system.

Let me be clear, I identify as a Christian, but I also strongly believe that under the Constitution, people have the right to identify with what religion they so choose – which is a core value I hold.

When people choose sides on key political policies and issues, they are attacking the other side, and it gets personal.

Want an example of how personal politics can be?

Look at the last election.

Both sides attacked the other’s character.

Politics is often about identity, which means its personal. Photo Credit: 5chw4r7z/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

They focused not on the policy issues or promises while in office, and instead fixated on how corrupt the other was, how self-serving the other was, and how they were bad for the American people – not because of their policies, but because of their person.

The most remembered question of the debates was, “What is one nice thing you can say about your opponent?”

That question served no true purpose in the sense of the debate or in persuading voters’ opinions, and, in my opinion, was just used to continue the ongoing personal fight between candidates.

This piece isn’t supposed to be a liberal whining session, but instead to show everyone that politics is personal, and that everyone takes it personally.

The only times you’re truly not going to take politics personally is when your party is winning and in control.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay to be upset when there’s a policy that affects you in a negative way.

It’s okay to be elated when the Supreme Court rules in favor of a case that positively impacts your life.

It’s okay to not get along and to have different sides on issues.

What isn’t okay, and what is downright dangerous, is to ignore the notion that politics is anything but personal.

You’re going to be biased, and when someone attacks your values, they’re attacking you.

My collegiate career in NC State’s Student Senate has been defined by the debates and bills I have worked on, and even though people may say it’s not the case, every attack on my bill is an attack on me, my values, and my work.

And frankly, I don’t know of a way to get around this.

Politics is so ingrained in our society and the impact of the government on people’s lives is so pronounced that people take all policy changes personally – and that’s just the world we live in.

Just be sure to acknowledge that you’re biased, and remember what it feels like when you’re party isn’t the party in charge next time your friend complains about what’s going on in politics.

You don’t have to be impartial or remove all emotions and preconceptions of your ideologies – just have some compassion and empathy towards your fellow political junkie.

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.

Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker/Flikr (CC by 2.0)

What I Learned From Running For SGA At Liberty University

I have learned more than I think I could possibly write in a single article about life and politics by running for SGA office at Liberty University.

The office I ran for specifically within the SGA was Freshman Class President.

The reason that I had originally decided to run was because I felt a calling to.

Faith has always played a big part in my life and this was no different.

After I decided to run in August of 2016, I put together a team, budget, and strategy to run do it.

I learned very quickly that this was not like high school.

After talking to several people, I realized that others had budgets way higher than mine, but I knew that the power of communication and face to face interaction would be powerful.

I knew this because my father always stressed professionalism and being personal with people as the most effective tool.

Others had told me the same thing—so I understood it to be true.

In the process of running, I came to understand that presenting myself professionally is important and that you only have a few seconds to attract a voter.

I knew what my vision was and while I would have loved to speak about it for several minutes, I realized I had perhaps thirty seconds before someone gained interest or lost interest.

I experienced this quickly as I saw faces turn into forced smiles, or more preferably, eyebrows raise in interest.

I knew that in running, I would have to be personal with people, but do it quickly.

Very quickly actually.

Many people wandered on to other booths and others had food to attract voters.

In fact, one table made people pancakes.

I realized that it would be important for me to send people out to convince voters to vote.

At the table I ran, I left a video playing that expressed my views and went out to different people and tried to get them to vote.

Many already voted and were unable to vote again.

I learned this rather quickly and went out of my way to speak to several classes that had several hundred students.

All in all, I spoke to over 1500 people in only a few hours.

That evening, I found out that I won the election.

I was beaming.

The team that my Vice-President and I put together was exceptional, and we won our first election.

The team was quick and efficient and most importantly, personable.

The only way to attract a voter is to truly connect with them.

I learned through running for class president that it would be hard but definitely worth it if I could help people out.

I also learned that professionalism and being personable are the most important aspects of a campaign.

People care more about personal connection than they do about a video or a poster.

I remember a professor once told me that there a few things someone can tell about an individual.

Amongst those things were if someone cares, is passionate, and if they have vision.

I actually listened to people and went out of my way to understand why they wanted SGA to do for them.

I promised them that I would do my best to help them.

I remember the people I promised I would try to help and I have advocated for each and every one of them.

Those are the things that I think about before I go to bed.

I found myself writing those issues down and petitioning my own resources and connections to try and get the job done.

In holding the office that I hold, I have realized many things about myself and others.

I have realized that sometimes it can be really hard to get something done when people disagree with you.

I learned that leadership is service to others.

I learned that in order to get things done, it is important to be assertive.

In a room with others who have also been elected to represent others, it is important to go to bat for those you represent.

With a freshman class nearing four thousand students, it is incredibly important to represent the general interest of the class, foster unity, and bring up specific issues that can be fixed.

Most of what I do involves listening to others and researching different ways to help them.

Although this takes up a lot of time, I enjoy every second of it because I get to help people every day.

Overall, the experience of running for an office in SGA is stressful but it teaches discipline, humility, organizational skills, and teamwork.

In fact, I would go as far to state that is nearly impossible for someone to win a student election if they cannot work in a team.

If SGA has taught me one thing, it is that helping people is worth every second of potential adversity.

This adversity develops patience and resilience which are two traits that only motivate me to continue working hard on others behalf.

Leadership is service, regardless of the title that comes before your name.

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: Taber Andrew Bain/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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)

Why Is It So Hard To Move Away From Fossil Fuels?

By Sonam Ahluwalia

The idea of a one-hundred percent clean energy future seems to be a pipe dream right now.

While there has been some tremendous progress made by private industry in the creation of innovative technologies to lead the transition from non-renewable resources like coal and natural gas to natural elements, the process has been painfully slow.

No matter the number of technologies created, private companies cannot move forward without the public’s support.

The largest challenge is unity.

The private sector lacks the current partnerships to address current issues with renewable energy.

For example, currently, wind turbines use many magnets derived from rare earth minerals- most of which are ripped out of the ground in China.

This has created an ecological disaster in areas there.

These minerals are also unreliable in the longterm because they are limited.

After all, you can only take so much out of the ground before you run out and searching for alternatives to these minerals requires collaboration, which can occur through partnerships that generates a more dependable and sustainable wind turbine.

Furthermore, there also needs to be unity between companies and the general public they service.

If engineers working on magnetic wind turbines or photovoltaic solar panels view their role as imperative innovators, the public can take the role as active supporters or consumers that create a market for renewable energy.

In short, we all have to be pushing in the same direction in order for this to work.

In order for the public to support the private industry, vice versa, the communication gap between these two entities needs to be closed.

This can happen through proper education and through transparency.

Many people do not understand the benefits of cleaner energy, or how much energy we currently waste and have stored in grids from excess.

Just like people learn how to turn on the lights, set up the television, and turn on the water, people should also know where these luxuries come from.

Proper education of the current, wasteful methods can influence a large portion of the public to support cleaner energy.

As people become more educated on sustainable options, a market for cleaner energy sources needs to be created – another challenge.

Supply and demand are interdependent.

For the private sector to gain more momentum, the public needs to show an appetite for cleaner energy sources.

As the demand for renewable energy increases, competition to meet the public’s requests will stimulate production of more affordable sustainable products with higher quality.

Affordability is imperative to consumers, and it is easier to convince someone to buy something that is more energy sustainable when they are able to understand the financial benefits.

Adding competition to the mix will push companies to fabricate better, cheaper ideas.

This in term will allow those products to be available to the general public at a competitive price point.

This sector’s growth requires regulatory policies to ensure that the energy is actually clean.

Since clean energy is an ever-changing field, creating policies to assure quality is a fairly new conflict the government must learn to follow.

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: Activ Solar/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Teacher Who Changed My Life: Haitian Cai

I have met many teachers since I was a little child.

There are some who just taught me about subjects.

But there is one who taught me much more.

He was my electronic organ teacher during my extracurricular time on weekends when I was from 9 to 12 years old back in my home country of China.

His name is Haitian Cai.

When I first met him, he was already in his 50s.

I was very amazed to know that he would be my electronic organ teacher.

His hands were gigantic for me and on the keyboard, too.

How could he remember all those staves?

The first song I learned from him was the Song of Joy.

He taught me to practice with the right hand first then remember the chords on the left hand.

It was very exciting for me to use both hands to play a song, even it was the simplest one among all songs I would play.

Time and time again, I fell in love with playing songs since I learned more and more.

I enjoyed having classes with Mr. Cai, too.

Each time I knew it was time for the class I would beg my mom to take me to the class at least 20 minutes earlier.

During weekdays, I spent at least 1 hour every day to practice.

My parents even joked that I would be a genius to put the same amount of efforts into my regular classes at school.

Mr. Cai was very different from other teachers.

Most music teachers in China are gentle and young women.

But Mr. Cai was sedate, sincere and patient.

He had steps to teach us little children and told us about interesting stories about the people that he met in other musical schools.

There was a concert held by the institution and I got a chance to see my mates to perform on stage.

The first time I saw the beautiful song played by a girl and it just stimulated me to practice more and learn that song.

One day I would be able to shine on the stage.

I was 10 and I loved learning and playing so much that I didn’t stop during breaks.

I enjoyed interacting with Mr. Cai and listened to his feedback about my playing.

When he played I couldn’t stop looking at his hands.

He told us it was very important to know the principles first then to play.

There is one story that I remember the most.

He said us girls who played well would marry elegant boys because we would be matched.

At that time, all girls laughed and were shy but we all knew it was truth.

Mr. Cai once talked with my mom and got to know that I was so enchanted to playing the organ.

He expressed his compliments to me in front of all my mates.

I was shy and knew that I couldn’t be complacent.

I just needed to keep going and purse my shining dream.

As time went by, my skills grew better.

Mr. Cai invited me to join his “talented class “ in which are his most outstanding students.

I was so happy to be able to learn from other mates.

I kept learning more and grew faster than before.

Mr. Cai encouraged me.

For example, if I could finish a 4-page song in a week, he would say I can start to learn the next one.

However, it was not always good to grow too fast.

If he found some defects in my playing he would let me practice for a specific phase for one hour then play for him.

He also said playing songs is like eating the fruits that we bought before.

If we play old songs, we enjoyed the sweetness of fruits.

If we just forgot and let go of old songs, those fruits decayed over time.

Mr. Cai was not a strict teacher.

He would call us to go back to the room to practice when the break time was over.

But he never forced us to go.

He knew that everyone has his or her own pace to learn things.

There were other students who were taken by their parents to learn but not for their own interest.

Mr. Cai knew this deeply.

He encouraged every student in different ways.

To me, he had higher standards and was never mean to express his recognition towards me.

I liked the way the Mr. Cai taught me.

Not like other young teachers who just talked gently with children and lose temper easily, Mr. Cai was more sincere and calm.

I felt very comfortable to talk with him and learn from him.

He would find some beautiful songs to enable me to learn more than what I needed to pass the music level test.

Mr. Cai was versatile and he taught traditional Chinese painting, Erhu and flute, too.

By the time when I was preparing for the level 10 test (which is the highest level), he was ready to teach painting.

I decided to end my learning if I passed the test because I knew I would had enough knowledge and reached my goal.

So I didn’t accept the invitation to join his painting class a year before I took the test.

It turned out that after several months, another young teacher took over Mr. Cai’s classes.

It was said that Mr. Cai asked for a long leave.

I was only half of a year before the test.

I was sad but I didn’t know when he would be back.

I felt lost after he was not there.

I had a new teacher but she was young and didn’t give much feedback as Mr. Cai did.

I missed him but I had to keep going to pass the test.

Finally, I passed the test, which made me the only student who first passed level 10 among all his students.

I felt proud of myself.

It was a little sentimental that my mentor Mr. Cai was not there.

Even before I left, he never came back.

I don’t know what happen to him.

Maybe he was sick or he had something important to deal with.

I imagined that I wrote a letter to him to express my gratitude and appreciation towards him.

I thought about the words I wanted to say to him.

However, I never got the chance.

This experience opens my window towards the beauty of music.

My voice is deep and I was not considered as a good singer at school.

But learning the organ developed my talent in music and I started singing and playing.

Since I was 9, music has been my best friend.

It changed the way I look at the world.

It enriches me with the opportunities to find more beauty in life.

Those four years of learning music and playing was the most precious time in my life.

I didn’t get much happiness from study at school.

I paid all my attention and efforts into one thing I enjoyed and loved.

I got such a great teacher to guide me and motivate me.

Mr. Cai kept encouraging me to learn, practice and grow.

Now whenever I meet challenges, my memory will bring me back to the girl who was so hard-working and persistent.

It is always lucky to do what I like to and grow.

I hope Mr. Cai is still well and I will always make wishes for him in my heart.

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: Kris McGuire/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Why Don’t Professors Do More To Help Their Students Get Jobs?

Getting a job out of college is a tough process.

Students need to find companies that they are interested in and search for opportunities which match their interests and talents.

It can be stressful and confusing.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if you had a mentor when going through the process?

Of course!

So why don’t more college professors make an effort to help their students get a college once they graduate?

Just think about it.

Professors have information about their students that they can use to further their careers. They have a good idea whether they are strong in certain areas and can give important insights to perspective employers.

However, professors oftentimes mislead their students about how much they are willing to help them.

I will make this concept clear using my friend’s example.

She is very smart and good at academic work.

My professor works with a management team of a hotel to run a research project in engineering and asked her to join in.

Before the project, my friend was not informed about the content of what she was going to be doing. But she trusted the professor and believed that it would end up helping her in the long run.

She was wrong.

It was not until the time my friend went to the hotel with my professor that she knew it was about engineering and she was upset but couldn’t quit the task.

Basically the professor had used her.

This kind of thing happen a lot in China as many professors just want more students to help when they need staff in projects.

And it makes you question whether professors are really looking out for their student’s best interests at all times.

I’m sure many of you have heard of similar situations.

As a student, it is a learning experience to know more about ourselves and prepare for entering a job after graduation.

In China, students tend to find internship when they go into their junior year.

But I find students in the United States tend to get started earlier even in freshman year.

It is very good to try the jobs that students are interested in and at the same time learn academic theories.

The earlier we get started, the better chance we will gain experience and find our target position career.

Take my own major as an example.

I major in hospitality management and there are different concentrations that students can choose.

I chose hotel management and would like to start in a front desk job in a hotel as my first job.

I got some experience in food and beverage in China but not in hotels.

Hospitality is a very broad area.

Some of my friends here have experiences in restaurants, hotel, event planning and tourism.

After working for different areas, they have known which area they would like to enter and those experiences have enabled them to learn a variety of knowledge in this industry.

Therefore, exploring for ourselves and a direction that fits our talent and interests is a very good choice.

Besides, it is very important to let students find more about themselves.

Everyone knows about themselves better than others, although it is hard for us to summarize our traits and personalities.

Finding a job is not just because we can do and love doing, it also matters that we are suitable for those positions.

Every time my mentees come to me and ask me that how to a find an entrance for their career paths, I will let them take a MBTI professional character test to know more about themselves.

Then I will encourage them to try the opportunities to grow and learn.

Because through the process of learning, students’ points of view and how they view themselves will change.

They will find what they like and feel comfortable to work with.

For instance, one of my friends is comfortable to work without interacting with people so she is now working with accounting very well.

I think this self-knowledge learning process is very important for students to experience rather than the situation that professors lead them to real jobs.

It is also important that students get to know different companies and their cultures.

Working in an environment which motivates people benefits both people and companies.

After students have clear understanding about their personalities, they can find the companies which match their personality.

Searching for opportunities is a process.

It is undeniable that professors usually have a wider network and experience to help students in their career.

But students should find their own pathways by themselves.

Professors oftentimes won’t think outside of the box and for whatever reason usually don’t take personal risks to help their students outside of the classroom.

It doesn’t make sense for them but it is the reality.

So don’t count on them- no matter how many promises they make.

You are the only one who knows yourself and in the end it is on you.

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: Patrick Freebern/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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