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College Campus Hookup Culture and Its Effects On Self Esteem and Sexual Expression In College Age Women

Katherine Feinstein

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College women discuss the effects that hookup culture has on their self-esteem on campus.
Source: Jerk Magazine.net

Hookup Culture is a phenomenon especially prevalent on college campuses that operates through heteronormative sexual scripts. Though at times sexually freeing, the non-emotional, one-sided rules of hookup culture can also be sexually oppressive and damaging to the self esteem of college women. 

Casual sex is a sticky subject, especially for college age women. At a school like the University of Michigan with 40,000 students, the prevalence of hyper masculine frat culture and alcohol is no small effect.

It’s no wonder many women aren’t always having their sexual and romantic needs met. Further, sexual stigma and heteronormative gender roles may be creating an oppressive culture for heterosexual women, as well as leaving women to blame and shame themselves. 

A casual sexual  relationship between two people in college is connected by one's self-esteem, especially in college women.
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A study was conducted of 91 college-age women ranging from Freshmen (22%) to Seniors (4.4%) and varying in sexual identity to get a sense of if negative experiences with hookup culture and self-esteem are typical for women on campus.

As for if women even want casual sex to begin with, collectively 71.4% of women surveyed were either excited to have casual sex going into college or were considering/curious about it. 

Casual sex, it seems, is having its own movement as young people are decidedly more sexually active than they ever have been. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA),  the age when people first marry and reproduce has been pushed back dramatically, while at the same time the age of puberty has dropped. Changing social and sexual scripts along with these developmental shifts have driven the rise of casual sex.

College women, then, don’t necessarily have as much legroom in determining what type of sexual encounter they’re looking for. When asked if they’ve felt in control of the encounter the times they’ve had one night stands or recurring casual sex, 51.2% of the women surveyed said that at times they’ve felt unheard. 

Olivia, who is a Junior at the University of Michigan, definitely felt as though the hookup culture has a power imbalance in that men have the final say, and she learned to not expect anything after a casual encounter. Further, there does seem to be a lack of respect when it comes to women’s expectations and pleasure. 

Hookup culture can be a touchy subject for college aged women, so young women further examine how it effects their self-esteem.
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From the 91 women surveyed, when asked if they felt their needs were being met during casual sex, 50% answered “sometimes.” And that “they had to ask for it and were not completely satisfied” if their partner did try to address their pleasure.

There are several factors playing into why some college women are being left unfulfilled in the hookup scene.  Because the majority of women represented in the discussed survey are in sororities on the UoM campus, one aspect that may be driving this male dominance is the influence of hyper-masculinity in college fraternities. 

Hyper-masculinity characterizes the uber-macho, patriarchal and dominant aspects of manhood that, in the right environment, condition and pressure young men to validate their own masculinity.

Author Alexandra Robbins noted how the prevailing masculine characteristics include being expected to suppress emotions, desire multiple sexual partners, want to dominate situations and have control over women. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority of fraternity men want to follow them. 

Robbins states that “most college guys don’t endorse traditional masculine norms, but believe that most other men do”. Fraternity men then overestimated aspects of masculine behavior such as how much their fraternity brothers use alcohol and other drugs, how much sex they actually have or want to have, and tolerance of behavior that degrades women. 

Another Junior at the University of Michigan, Ali, is also a sorority woman who has recognized the sexual power dynamics on campus. She noted a specific partner whose actions towards her were influenced by the hypermasculine narrative: 

“When I was hooking up with this guy, I remember the guys in his frat would make fun of him for being friends with me, but also staying loyal to me even though we were only f**k buddies. That definitely influenced him ultimately disrespecting me and hooking up with someone else because, according to his guy friends, he would be a ‘pu**y’ if he didn’t.”. 

Ali knew this partner as a good friend and knew that it wasn’t necessarily in his nature to hurt her as he did. Instead, she said “guys know exactly what they’re doing and do it in front of other guys. They’ll jab each other when it comes to girls, and it creates that dynamic.”.

So, what are all of these confusing standards and rules doing to women’s self-esteem? Hookup culture seems to do one of two things: it either empowers women in their sexuality and autonomy in making sexual choices or can have a judgmental effect that diminishes their self-worth. 

Out of the 91 women surveyed, only 6% said they had “never” felt bad about themselves after a casual sexual encounter. 21% of these women- a whopping fifth- said they felt bad about themselves “About half the time”. 

Collectively 94% of these women have had poor self esteem from one of these experiences at some point or another. 

Similarly, Olivia admitted she mainly has had boyfriends in college because of the poor self-esteem that hookup culture caused her. When asked to elaborate, Olivia touched on the mentality many sorority women have when it comes to monthly Greek Life “Date Parties”. 

Date Parties at UofM are events hosted by sororities and fraternities typically at a club in Detroit, in which sorority women or fraternity men invite a date and spend the night with them drinking heavily at the club. Olivia noted how, if you are asked to a fraternity date party, it is almost expected that you ‘hook up’ with your date. 

Further, Olivia recalled several mornings after a Date Party or night out and felt almost exposed when re-entering her sorority house. 

She noted, “People judged me when I would come back the morning after, and I felt terrible about myself. I would come back the morning after in a dress and we would all laugh as if it were a joke. But it actually really hurt me.”

Interestingly enough, Olivia found a college woman’s body count- or the number of people she has had sex with- is this “dirty little secret” that other women care about. Men, on the other hand, “don’t really care about body count”.

In analyzing this through Robbins’s lens, perhaps this is because a college man’s body count is essential to the validation of his masculinity. Whether or not this is universally true, it certainly plays a part in dictating the inherent roles female and male sexuality play in hookup culture.

Ali also noted that the notorious morning-after “walk of shame” can be a point of deprecation, but has actually used it as an opportunity for her to take back her sexuality. She said, “It can be empowering to do the walk of shame knowing it’s what you want and just being strong and ‘impolite’ with no mercy when guys do that to girls all the time and get no shit for it.”

Ali also found a strategy early on in her sexual experiences at UofM to assert her needs. Ali said, “I knew I had to be non-committal, as well as openly honest and brutal when it came to my expectations”.

Ali  “felt empowered” by taking control of her own sexuality in the hookup culture scene, and saw that this was the best way to protect herself and check imbalances of power.

Thus, casual sex in college can cut both ways. This is all not to say that casual sex is bad, or the availability and opportunity to express and experiment with one’s sexuality is always damaging. 

Casual sex can actually be extremely beneficial to one’s personal and sexual growth, especially at this age. The root of the problem is the collection of heteronormative, patriarchal, and hypermasculine narratives that dictate how partners should operate in casual sex encounters.

Moving forward, as pointed out by Ali, the most important thing in casual sex relationships is to “be upfront, confident, communicative, and unapologetic”.

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Dave Chappelle’s Surprise “8:46” Special Questions the Role of Public Figures in Social Justice Movements

Alla Issa

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Comedian, Dave Chappelle, wearing an all black outfit, sitting on a stool, while presenting his take on the black lives matter movement.
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Dave Chappelle, the highly renowned and notoriously reclusive comedian, surprised fans (and perhaps the whole country) when Netflix released an unexpected special on their platform in the late hours of June 12th.

The special, titled “8:46,” was also posted on platforms such as Youtube and Facebook soon after. Though only 27 minutes in length, Chappelle’s special covers topics relating to George Floyd’s tragic murder by a police officer and the upheaval of the nation that followed it, including the Black Lives Matter protests that happened in all 50 states and in many countries around the world. 

Chappelle is no stranger to social commentary, and he usually executes sets that revolve around critiquing (and mocking) social customs and entire identity groups with confidence and credence.

However, in the special, he appears to be noticeably distraught throughout the entirety of the performance. There are fewer jokes than there are emotional bursts that loop into purposeful digressions. “This isn’t funny at all,” Chappelle notes at one point, recognizing the weight of the subject matter and the lack of comedy in what is supposed to be a comedian’s special, but he does not offer any apologies.

Instead, he devotes long moments of his monologue to commenting on the media coverage following George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing protests, and he focuses on criticizing conservative commentators such as Candace Owens and Laura Inghram, who minimize issues of racial injustice and police brutality.

Chappelle takes a particular interest in responding to CNN’s Don Lemon, who famously called for celebrities to use their platforms to speak out about the death of George Floyd.

Lemon criticizes some celebrities, by name, for staying silent in an effort to protect their “brand.” He claims that each public figure with a platform has a responsibility to put out a statement, publicly support the protesters on their social media accounts, and avoid being silent on issues of police brutality and public protest.

Chappelle disagrees. He insists that he doesn’t need to speak—that no celebrity needs to speak—lest they risk having their voices be heard over the sound of the publicly led protests. He further implies that the public, especially those protesting in the streets around the country and the world, don’t benefit much from celebrities giving their personal opinions on these issues.

Comedian, Dave Chappelle, wearing an all black outfit, sitting on a stool, holding a microphone.
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Chappelle poses the following question regarding our priorities: “Why would anyone care what their favorite comedian thinks after they saw a police officer kneel on a man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds?”

Chappelle admonished against the idea that he should “step in front of the streets and talk over the work these people are doing.”

Chappelle has a point—not only would shifting the focus from the protesters on the streets to the celebrities in their homes be detrimental to the overall progress of the Black Lives Matter movement, but we also shouldn’t care about what celebrities have to say, unless their actions are backing up their supposed “beliefs.”

Chappelle’s critique of the “silence is violence” mindset in regard to social justice movements comes at a time when we see more and more celebrities being criticized, perhaps rightfully so, for not educating themselves on social issues and publicly advocating for them. “I kept my mouth shut,” he says, “and I’ll still keep my mouth shut, but don’t think that my silence is complicit.” 

While there is room for valid criticism for those who are willfully ignorant, the insistent calls for everyone to speak out about racial injustice and police brutality have led more public figures to stumble and fall than to uplift the cause.

Take, for instance, the case of Madonna, who posted a tweet of her (black) adopted son dancing to a Michael Jackson song in order to “honor” George Floyd, or that of David Guetta, who faced backlash for remixing Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech as a tribute to George Floyd, or any of the other dozens of celebrities who have been mocked for their subpar, and sometimes outright offensive, responses to George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter protests.

The truth of the matter is that when we pressure public figures who have very little knowledge about these social justice movements to become outspoken advocates for them, we are opening ourselves up to, at best, confusion and disappointment and, at worst, outrage.

Comedian, Dave Chappelle, wearing a black leather jacket and glasses waves his hands in the air in front of a black car outside.
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Even when the celebrity is educated on the subject matter, there is a time and place for Twitter notepad statements and Instagram black square posts. “The streets are talking for themselves,” Chappelle says. “They don’t need me right now.”

This is not to say that we should have zero expectations for the role of public figures in social justice movements, nor that every celebrity is stumbling in their response.

There have been plenty of celebrities who have utilized their platforms to uplift black voices, who have been on the streets protesting and/or have provided aid to those protesting, and who have donated large sums of money to memorial funds, legal aid organization, bailout funds, and other organizations that are on the frontlines of fighting police brutality and racial injustice.

Even though he has always been outspoken about racial injustice and police brutality, Chappelle is right when he states that the protesters don’t need him right now—they don’t need him or any other celebrity to speak empty words into the echo-chamber of similar thought that is the social media scene in the time of the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement.

What they need is direct action, all of the time, not just when speaking out about these injustices in trendy ways, or when it is expected of them; they need support that has some weight behind it—that of educated advocacy, physical presence that does not center around their status, and their money and influence being levied in ways that will lead to notable change.

Above all, celebrities need to know their limits. A movement that began centered around the people should always have “normal” people at its center—it should never devolve into celebrity figureheads leading their followers to a victory (or demise) when their lack of education makes them blind to the actual impact of their actions.

Ultimately, “8:46” offers the audience a chance to reassess their priorities when it comes to the ways in which they wish to support the Black Lives Matter movement, and what they realistically can and should expect from some of the most visible people in the world.

The message at the core of “8:46” is that we shouldn’t even care what Dave Chappelle has to say right now; we should care about what the people marching in the streets, organizing protests every day, and leading legal and social battles to address racial injustice have to say.

Though there is a certain level of irony in Chappelle’s claims that he “kept [his] mouth shut and will continue to keep [his] mouth shut” when he has dedicated an entire special to George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter protests, Chappelle’s dedication to centering the actions of those physically protesting is enough to excuse it. “I am very proud of you,” he says. “You kids are excellent drivers. I am comfortable in the back seat of the car.”

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Why K-pop Idols and BTS Should Support BLM

Aanandi Murlidharan

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Seven K-pop men with various colors of hair, and various jackets and plaid shirts sit on a turquoise monkey bar set in a turquoise background.
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The murder of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has forced not only American, but the entire world to confront police brutality and the systematic racism against African Americans. Many individuals have taken to social media to post information regarding this topic using the Black Lives Matter hashtag on their posts, such as the #blackouttuesday, to draw awareness to and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.  

Several K-pop stars, including Eric Nam, BM from Kard, Mark Tuan from Got7, and many others, also took to their social media pages to support the movement. Most notably, the chart-busting superstars, BTS, donated one million dollars to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Prior to their donation, K-pop fans, or as they are more commonly known, K-pop stans, took to Twitter to urge BTS to donate and use their platform to speak out about the movement. These K-pop stans often faced backlash from other K-pop stans, who believed BTS and other K-pop artists did not have a responsibility to speak out towards the movement. Fans who stated otherwise were bombarded with a variety of counter-arguments which claimed that the police brutality was that “an American issue” or “K-pop artists did not have to publicly express their stance on the issue.”

Some also stated that the artists themselves were not to be blamed for not speaking up, but instead were blamed for the “strictness of their management.” However, these counter-arguments are not valid. The Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality are not just “American issues.” 

K-pop idols openly expressing their support towards the BLM movement is necessary due to the highly influential role black culture has played in the music, dance, and fashion of the K-pop industry. 

These are three aspects of the K-pop industry that have been influenced greatly by black culture:  

1. Music

Hip-hop, a genre that roots from black culture, has heavily influenced the music of the K-pop industry. In fact, Seo Taji and Boys, the group that paved the way for K-pop as we know it, was heavily influenced by Hip-hop and RNB. Within every K-pop group, there are always two to three rappers. Thus, almost every K-pop song includes multiple rap verses. Within K-pop albums, there are even tracks that solely feature the “rap line,” or rappers, of the group. 

The influence of black culture and black artists on K-pop is not merely an observation that fans have made regarding the industry. During a live broadcast with fans, RM mentioned that the song “Intro: Singularity” falls into the Neo-Soul genre. Additionally, in interviews, such as one with the Hollywood Reporter, BTS mentioned that some of the artists who inspired them as children were Nas, Usher, TI, and Jay-Z. BTS is not the only group that claimed inspiration from artists. SM Entertainment’s supergroup, NCT, was asked by Apple Music K-pop to contribute to a playlist called NCT Influences

Each member contributed a song that made them dream of becoming an artist. Four of the members included songs by Michael Jackson, Jorja Smith, Usher, and Stevie Wonder. While two of the 127 NCT members have come out in support for the BLM movements, there has still been no official statement in support of the movement. 

Within the K-pop industry, there are also two major sub-genres: K-RNB and K-Hip-hop. Notable artists of these genres include Hoody, Crush, and Jay Park, who was the first Asian American to be signed to JayZ’s ROC Nation. Once again, while these artists produce original music, as the name of the genre suggests, the roots of their music lie in black music culture. 

Many of these artists have more freedom due to the fact that their companies are less strict and portray less of the pristine, clean-cut image of their counterparts in mainstream K-pop. However, still, with the exception of a few K-RNB artists such as Jay Park, LOCO, and Crush, very few K-RNB stars have come out in support of the BLM movement. Zico, a former member of Block B and current hit rap star, has not yet posted a single message that supports the BLM movement despite having once rapped the following line in the song “Bermuda Triangle”: “We’re yellow people, but I got black soul.”

2. Dance

Choreography is one of the most defining features of the K-pop industry. Once a music video is released, idol groups typically perform impressive live performances with their epic choreography. Fans then take the time to learn choreography and often create cover dances. A few colleges even have K-pop dance clubs where they learn and perform these songs. 

However, just as K-pop music is influenced by black culture, a great amount of the choreography is also influenced by black culture. Seo Taji and Boys heavily used breakdancing, which was originally founded in the 70s by black youth in Bronx, New York. A more recent example of black culture’s influence on K-pop choreography is apparent in PENTAGON’S hit song, “Shine.” The song went viral within the K-pop community due to an iconic dance move during the chorus, which clearly drew inspiration from ZaeHD and CEO’s viral dance to BlocBoy JB’s “Shoot.” 

Their dance was released in 2017, and Shine was released in 2018. This move was also used by Blackpink’s “older brother group,” WINNER, in their track, “Everyday“. This music video even included black back-up dancers, but their company has still refused to make any public comment regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

3. Fashion

Black culture is an integral part of K-pop fashion. There have been many examples of black cultural appreciation regarding the fashion within the K-pop industry. For example, much of the clothing and accessories worn in K-pop music videos are inspired by streetwear, a style of clothing that has roots within black fashion culture. 

In BTS’s hit video, Mic Drop, they sported bucket hats, puffy jackets, and track pants similar to the 1970s b-boy style. Similarly, girl group G-Idle also wore streetwear-inspired outfits in their video, Uh-oh

A notable example of this was apparent in supergroup EXO’s song, “Ko Ko Bop.” This song was released in the summer of 2017. The concept of the song was a summer bop using tropical beats, synths, and a catchy electric beat drop. The members looked dashing in their Hawaiian button-downs, but there was one look that caused a surge of controversy. Kai, the main dancer and center of the group, wore dreadlocks in his hair. This look was not something that was limited to the music video. 

EXO’s style team continued to style Kai’s hair in this fashion throughout the rest of the promotions. There was no official apology given by SM entertainment, Kai’s company. In fact, they continued to use this style on other artists within the company, such as NCT member Winwin in their hit song, “Limitless.” SM Entertainment is not the only company that has used dreadlocks as a style statement. Other big companies, such as JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment (yes, Blackpink), and Big Hit Entertainment (yes, BTS), have used dreads as a style statement. 

Dreads are not the only form of black cultural appropriation within K-pop. CL, who was the leader of YG Entertainment’s girl group 2NE1, wore grills and gold chains in her 2013 single “Baddest Female.” She also enlisted the help of the New Zealand-based ReQuest dance crew for another solo release, “Hello Bitches.” While none of the women from ReQuest who appeared in CL’s video were black, that didn’t preclude the attention given to the tanned skin, cornrows, and twerking.

K-pop, the industry that has taken the world by storm, would not exist without the influence of black culture. The industry has used the black music culture to its advantage through cultural appreciation as well as cultural appropriation.

Therefore, it is their responsibility to support a movement that affects the people who created the music and culture they idolize and profit from.

“Many artists and people around the world get so much inspiration by black culture and music including me. We have a duty to respect every race,” said K-RNB artist, Crush.

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How to Talk to Your Parents About BLM: 5 Helpful Tips

Alexis Dietz

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A picture of a hispanic family, all with dark hair, featuring a man in a beard and wearing a plaid shirt, a woman wearing a dark purple long-sleeved shirt, a little girl wearing a pink shirt, and a little boy wearing a grey sweater.

The unjustified murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery inspired a series of long-overdue BLM protests nationwide. People gathered to protest not just these lives that were unjustly taken, but for the countless innocent black lives taken throughout our history.

Many young people were inspired by these movements and were quick to take action against the racial profiling, police brutality, and the many other forms of racism embedded in our society. 

Many young people were inspired by these movements and were quick to take action and join. However, the movement didn’t translate as quickly and smoothly to some of the older generations, as originally hoped, who were raised in different settings and were not given the same educational background as our young adults today.

Teenagers and young adults have been struggling to get their parents and grandparents, who were raised in a different culture and academic era, on board with the BLM movement. 

Trying to reason with your parents about anything in which there is disagreement can be tricky to navigate. Here are a few tips on how to approach talking to your parents about the BLM movement. 

1. Open the conversation in a respectful and loving way.

The worst thing you can do when trying to talk to your parents about any matter in which you disagree is to start off in an aggressive manner.

Yes, the Black Lives Matter movement is an emotionally charged topic with centuries of frustration and anger behind it, but the best way to be heard and understood is not by shouting the loudest.

It is difficult for a parent to see their child as anything other than a child. They spent their entire adulthood being a teacher and guiding their children down the right path. 

It is hard for any parent to transition into seeing their child as an adult and accepting that sometimes they are wrong, and their child might know more than they do. When talking to your parents about BLM, it will be even harder for your parents to see you as anything but a child if you open the conversation by shouting at and blaming them.

That is why it is so important that you open the conversation in a mature way that sets the tone of a two-way stream of mutual respect. 

Sit them down. Calmly explain how you feel and why and listen to what they have to say as well. Approach it as a conversation and not a lecture. It is much more likely that what you say will not only be heard, but respected.

2. Plan out important points you want to make beforehand and have them written down.

The worst feeling in the world is walking away from a conversation and feeling like you did not say everything that you wanted to say.

If you are anything like me, you will practice the conversation in your head a hundred times before you actually work up the courage to sit down and have it. But the reality is, no matter how much you practice and how many different scenarios you go over, the conversation will not go exactly as you planned. 

You might get hung up on one topic for longer than you anticipated, or the conversation might drift in a completely unexpected direction, and some of your most important points might end up forgotten in the process.

When you sit down to finally talk to your parents about BLM, having what you want to say in writing, even if it is just a bullet point list of key points you want to cover, will help make sure this doesn’t happen and ensure that you don’t walk away without having said everything you wanted to say.

3. Ask many questions.

Asking questions will not only make your parents see that you are open to conversation and care about what they have to say, but also forces them to think more deeply about the matter.

When you have to actually articulate your thoughts and feelings it often results in a change of perspective and a reassessment of self. The more questions you ask, the deeper they have to dive into what they believe and why. 

More often than not, they will come to see the flaws in their stance all by themselves. On the contrary, be prepared to answer any questions they may have for you. Be open to diving in deep, and make sure you are able to articulate your own thoughts and feelings well. Ignoring their questions or shutting down what they say will only close the stream of communication and will not get you anywhere.

4. Try approaching the topic in relation to something they already believe and understand.

Everyone is raised on some platform of morality. Our moral compass is generated from somewhere, whether that be a religious practice, the influence of a particular role model, or other organizations that helped shape our character. When talking to your parents about BLM, a great way to approach the conversation is to relate it to something that is already rooted in their way of thinking and living. 

Take into account the perspective from which they see the world.

If your parents are from a Christian background, find Bible verses about love and explain to them that these are God’s children that are being harmed. If your parents have a military background, try addressing the topic in relation to how our country is supposed to stand for the rights and equality of all and that it’s what we should be fighting for. 

These are just a few examples of how you can talk to your parents about BLM by first educating yourself on what defines their ethical stance and relating it to the movement. If you can find aspects of their foundational beliefs that contradict how they feel about the movement, you might be able to open their eyes to a new perspective on the matter.

5. Be patient.

Your parents are not going to suddenly have an epiphany and completely change their perspective. Change takes time. You might have to have the conversation with them over and over before they fully understand, and they may still never fully understand.

Try not to get discouraged and frustrated. Remember that each time you do talk to them and make yourself heard is making a difference. Just initiating the conversation alone is an important first step. 

Talking to your parents about BLM might be an intimidating task, but do not turn away from the challenge. There are so many ways to help support the movement: protesting, donating, supporting black-owned businesses. But, one of the easiest and most overlooked ways of making a difference is having these difficult conversations in your own home with the people closest to you. 

Initiating these conversations, especially when it comes to your own parents, can be tricky, but hopefully, these tips on how to talk to your parents about BLM will help you have a successful and effective conversation when you are ready to do so. Keeping the conversation alive isn’t enough to bring justice to what has happened, but it is a good place to start in the long road of change ahead.

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