We the People and the US Shutdown

25 days. 

The United States government has been in a partial shutdown for 25 days, with no end in sight.

This is the longest shutdown that has occurred in the entire history of the US, with the previous record awarded to Bill Clinton’s 21 day shutdown in 1995.

The Guardian has sources that say President Trump told advisers that this shutdown is a sort of win for him, but roughly 800,000 government employees are now working without pay.

Parts of the government have shut down or are operating with skeleton crews, with more employees giving their resignation as the days wear on—or, at least, trying to get a job in the meanwhile.

That’s the rub: it’s the American people who are being directly affected by Trump’s shutdown.

While Trump tweeted yesterday morning, “I’ve been waiting all weekend. Democrats must get to work now. Border must be secured!”, there are families who cannot make rent this month because of his stubbornness.

Americans have been through this all before—I distinctly remember the 2013 government shutdown under Obama, which lasted 16 days, and stupidly joking about whether or not I had to go to classes during the shutdown.

That was bad, but this is worse.

800,000 federal employees haven’t received a paycheck since January 11. As the days tick by, and bills and financial responsibilities begin to accumulate, the situation becomes more dire.

My brother and his very pregnant wife, who were in the process of buying a house, cannot proceed with the purchase until the shutdown is lifted.

Social Security checks are still being issued, since they are tax-funded, but I worry daily about when that will change and affect my family.

Meanwhile, Trump sits by, determined to get his precious wall by any means necessary. Someone has to cave in this situation, and whether it’s the Republicans or the Democrats, the House or the Senate, things have to change.

And for the sake of the American people, I hope it’s soon.

 

Advertisements

Disney Takes Aim to Trademark “Hakuna Matata” in Controversial Move

“Hakuna Matata”—it means no worries for the rest of your days!

But soon, that might not be the case, thanks to Disney.

Namwali Serpell’s recent article for the Guardian discusses the Disney corporation’s decision to trademark the Swahili tagline “Hakuna Matata,” which roughly translates to “no worries.”

This news comes as the company is gearing up for The Lion King reboot, directed by Jon Favreau.

Audiences seem particularly unhappy with this controversial decision because it portrays Swahili as somewhat of a made-up language that only exists to create catchphrases. The fact that Disney has trademarked an existing language seems to ignore the fact that real people actually speak this language.

Serpell calls Disney’s decision “rampantly greedy” and a way to capitalise on a culture that is so often unfairly stereotyped in the media. Subsequently, with this trademark decision, it “paints this ‘Africa’ as an imaginary space but nevertheless uses broad, stereotypical tropes about the continent (animals and warrior tribes and mangled accents).”

Serpell not only talks about how problematic this decision is, but that is also simply doesn’t make sense—nobody would ever think to trademark a Western, widely spoken language, so why is it okay to trademark Swahili?

“There is a patent absurdity to the idea that Hakuna Matata would be subject to trademark,” writes Serpell. “It’s like copyrighting ‘goodbye’ or ‘hang loose’.”

As a result of the outrage, a change.org petition has been created that seeks to “say no to Disney or any corporations/individuals looking to trademark languages, terms or phrases they didn’t invent.” The petition has already received over 120,000 signatures.

What are your thoughts? Is this an example of “PC nonsense” or is Disney wrong in trademarking the term? Let us know!

California Wildfires Continue to Displace Families Amidst Aftermath

This November, California witnessed their biggest fire season in recent years. Over the course of three weeks, the golden state fought against three major fires that tore through the northern and southern regions.

The horrifying three weeks started on Thursday 8 November, in Northern California with the “Camp Fire”. It is considered the deadliest fire in United States’ history – with the death toll currently at 88 people.

The prolific fire started in Butte County and then made its way to the town of Paradise.

Paradise has suffered the most destruction, with a majority of it being consumed by the blaze. Over 153,336 acres were demolished.

Down in southern California, the Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire also ignited on 8 November. Collectively, the fires burned through 250,285 acres of land and have caused three deaths.

Brandon Rista of Newbury Park, California, discussed the life-threatening experience he endured during the height of the Woolsey and Hill Fire.

“My family was evacuated for a night at an evacuation centre because all of the hotels in town were booked,” Rista said. “All of the freeways were blocked off, so it felt like we were trapped in our town for the night. My neighbourhood ended up being fine in the end, but there were people I knew who weren’t so lucky.”

The fires have destroyed more 20,297 buildings including residences, commercial buildings and structures.

Many citizens of Paradise, Malibu, Thousand Oaks and surrounding areas are homeless, including some of Hollywood’s most beloved household names. Miley Cyrus, Gerald Butler, and Robin Thicke are just a few of the many to have lost their homes to the out-of-control carnage.

Currently, the fires are 100% contained, but the aftermath has left an undeniable mark throughout the golden state.

Hazardous waste clean-up will be starting within these upcoming days, with Paradise, California seeing treatment first.

Along with a state-wide clean up, over 1,000 breweries across the U.S., including Sierra Nevada Brewing, have come together to brew and sell a special beer named “Resilience Butte County Proud IPA” in efforts to raise funds to assist in helping the “Camp Fire” victims and cities.

Armenian Family Seeks Asylum From Inside Dutch Church

A refugee family from Armenia are narrowly avoiding deportation from the Netherlands, thanks to a church that has been holding non-stop services since midday on 26 October, 2018.

Bethel Church, which is located in The Hague, is taking advantage of Dutch law that specifies that authorities cannot enter a church while it is holding worship.

This means that as long as Bethel continues to hold worship services on their current marathon schedule, the family—the Tamrazyans—will be safe.

The Tamrazyans had fled to the Netherlands to avoid further politically-charged death threats that the father had received in Armenia, and have lived in the Netherlands for nine years.

Attempts at claiming further asylum in the country, including an emergency pardon, have been unsuccessful thus far. The family requested help from nearby churches, and the Protestant-aligned Bethel Church was the first to offer protection.

Reverend Axel Wicke told Time Magazine that Bethel has received “massive support,” and says that the Tamrazyans are “literally living in a protective house built by prayers and worship.”

“The Protestant Church of The Hague respects court orders,” the Bethel website says, “but finds itself confronted with a dilemma: the choice between respecting the government and ptotecting the rights of a child.”

As of now, the church is requesting that visitors stop by the church—at least two people must be worshipping in order for the church to be considered ‘in worship’—and has their banking information listed here for donations.

Supporting Survivors: #ThisIsNotConsent

Last week in Ireland, a thong used as evidence in a rape case started a social media movement against victim blaming.

In response to this case, the Irish Twitter account “I Believe Her”, a page created in March 2018 in support of survivors of sexual violence in Ireland, started a social media movement.

To support the 17-year-old girl, they asked their followers to post a picture of their thongs (or other underwear) coupled with the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent.

The hashtag is taking over Instagram and Twitter. Women from all over the world are posting photos of their underwear to protest what happened in the trial. Meanwhile, real life protests are happening all over Ireland. Let’s just hope this changes something.

A man in Ireland got away with rape just because the girl was wearing a lace thong. Apparently, we live in a world where wearing nice underwear means you’re “asking for it”.

Kingston students, please show your support for #ThisIsNotConsent. Post your photos under the hashtag on Twitter and tag us at @LoudlyMagazine so we can share it. While it might just be underwear, it can ultimately change someone’s life. We cannot stay silent.

 

#YouTubeBlack: A Review

Last week in Washington D.C., the black community on YouTube were left overshadowed beyond algorithms, as the second year of the annual fan fest, #YouTubeBlack, took place.

Supporters of the event and YouTubers alike took to Twitter and their channels to display their excitement—but those who disagreed with the event used social media to prompt a debate on the intentions of #YouTubeBlack.

They accused the event of inciting inequality. However, the event was created to address the racial inequalities that currently exist on the platform. Despite the backlash, #YouTubeBlack is being positively recognised by the majority as a space for celebration of black contributions to the globally recognised platform—and there’s nothing wrong with that!

When individuals claim that #YouTubeBlack is exclusory, it takes away from what the event is trying to do–create visibility for black content-makers.

One Twitter user stated, “It’s segregating content specifically by black people for the enjoyment of black people. That is the opposite of equality.” This was just one of the accusations that divided Twitter users on the issue.

But what’s more is that for years now, black content creators have been battling to be heard amongst YouTube algorithms who don’t display their content as frequently as other well-known creators. This means that many black YouTubers’ content is being lost within their own platform.

Attendees of #YouTubeBlack, such as Kingsley (who has 2.9m million subscribers), De’arra & Ken (5m subscribers) and LaToya Forever (1.4m subscribers) are just some of the well-known black content creators who you are unlikely to see on the trending or recommended pages of YouTube, despite their large following.

This is just evidence of how creators of colour have fallen victim to platforms that use algorithms to promote video-makers, but have lacked in promoting the black community as equally as other races.

The majority of entertainers of colour we see in our trending pages are generally globally known and Grammy award-winning musicians, who don’t reflect all genres that black creators represent within the social platform.

By allowing events like #YouTubeBlack to exist, these voices can be heard. The annual fest not only gives fans the chance to meet their favourite black YouTubers, but also unites the voices of the new and existing generation of black YouTubers.

This allows more creators who believe they couldn’t make it because of their ethnicity to be inspired and grow. It’s significant to see more black people celebrating these front-facing roles as they support and encourage others within the community, spreading a message that their opportunities are just as tangible and equal as any other race.

With a demographic of 50 million creators on YouTube, many agree that #YouTubeBlack is about uplifting an overlooked community amongst the mass shared platform.

By allowing black creatives to thrive by celebrating, supporting and mentoring fellow black creators, they can gain recognition within and beyond their community.

As one Twitter user defends, “#YouTubeBlack was created to acknowledge black creators who are often stuffed under the algorithm. Black YouTubers do not get nearly as much visibility/opportunities as other races, yet are consistently the forefront of every trend. The initiative was created to help balance that.”