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.
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.
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.”
Is Rate My Professors Worth the Hassle? 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It
When it comes to choosing classes, students often turn to Rate My Professors to learn more about which professors and courses to take. However, with lack of accurate information and biased opinions, Rate My Professors isn’t as helpful as students think.
Class schedules are the bane of a college student’s existence. Creating a perfect one is impossible and picking professors is a gamble. Unless students can see the future, they won’t know if a class is going to be interesting or if the teaching style is going to be boring.
Students have to create backup schedules and sometimes even backups to the backup schedule. It’s unpredictable. The only way to get some insight into the process is by doing research.
There are a couple of ways students can guess at how a class will be. First, universities provide descriptions of courses, and departments post more specific information on their own websites. This usually helps students decide if the material will be interesting and something they want to learn.
The other way to gain perspective on a class is through other students. Turning to friends who have had the professor or taken the specific course before can be useful. However, with large universities, a friend may not have even heard of the one in question. So, students then turn to the “trusty” old site, Rate My Professors.
Rate My Professors is a website where anonymous users post reviews on professors and their courses so that others can gain insight. People have been using this site for over a decade, ranking quality and difficulty of the class on a scale of five with a brief explanation.
The problem with this site is that it’s really inaccurate. Relying solely on this information is a mistake. Students shouldn’t trust Rate My Professors, and here’s why:
1. Posts are outdated.
Sometimes, users haven’t posted about a professor in years. Julia Keefer from New York University has 6 ratings, the newest from 2010. Similarly, Michael Himes from Boston College hasn’t been rated since 2011.
These professors still teach at the universities yet they are being judged by opinions from ten years ago. Teaching styles, material, and people change over the years. It is inaccurate to trust opinions that are so old.
2.Opinions are the extremes.
When someone posts a review on a restaurant, they either loved it or had the worst dinner of their life. The same goes for Rate My Professors. Alan Fridlund from the University of California Santa Barbara is, as one student puts it, “a divisive professor. Some people love his humor and passion for the subject while others hate his politics.”
His ratings are all over the place. Some give him a 4.0 to 5.0 quality rating while others give him 3.0 or even a 1.0. They say he is a “Very funny guy, [and] makes what he talks about seem very interesting.”
However, a student also said, “I found many things he said to be quite inaccurate in his lectures. His Republican viewpoints often collided with his teachings, and he misinformed so many students.” With drastic viewpoints, Fridlund seems questionable. Which review should potential students for his classes trust?
3.Few ratings give good (or bad) overall reviews.
With any collection of data, the more input, the better the conclusion. Professors can have hundreds of ratings, which provides a more accurate judgment, but they can also have as few as three or less.
Cameron Myler from New York University has one rating, which happens to be a good one. This gives Myler an overall quality of 5.0. However her fellow colleague Jing Yang, also has one rating that gives her an overall quality of 3.0.
4.Professors have no reviews or a page.
Some professors don’t have any reviews at all, as is the case for Lisa Samuel from New York University. There are also times where they do not even have a page on the site, like Elena Kalodner-Martin from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This can make students jump to the conclusion that the professor is new to the school and lacks experience, which can deter them from taking the class.
5.The course isn’t reviewed.
Specific courses oftentimes don’t have any reviews, but the professor is rated on others. Judging them based on a different class is jumping to conclusions. They may teach a 100 level course in a completely different way than an upper-level one.
6.Users don’t provide details.
Students can be lazy. They want to help other college kids, but they don’t want to put in too much effort. Descriptions on Rate My Professors can be very short. For Harold Peterson from Boston College, his three reviews say, “Best professor ever,” one is blank, and, “Very easy. Don’t take anyone else for Principles of Economics.” Judging Peterson based on those few words is unfair.
If students are going to use Rate My Professors, they have to look beyond the site. They shouldn’t trust these anonymous opinions alone. University websites provide professors’ profiles through faculty directories. This gives more information on their qualifications, accomplishments, and personality.
Students can also ask classmates that they’ve worked with before. Asking others within a major, increases the likelihood that they have taken the course or had the professor. Alternatively, students can post in Facebook groups to see what other peers who’ve recently taken classes with the professor have to say.
In the end, picking a professor is still a guessing game. Thankfully, the Add/Drop period at the beginning of the semester allows students to change their mind after attending the class a few times. It’s okay to change a schedule once the semester begins. Students have to be happy with their courses in order to gain the most from them and keep a healthy mind.
Are Ethical Fashion Brands the Solution for a Better World?
Fast fashion brands have grown in popularity for their low-cost clothing and convenient accessibility online. However, these brands bring about major consequences in the world. From maltreatment of workers to heavy environmental damage.
First, the workers in the fast fashion industry are often underpaid and overworked. Some are abused and must work in poor conditions, such as overseas. Human beings should not have to undergo this brutal treatment or face such exploitation. Instead, they should be paid fair labor wages for their hard work, time, and efforts.
In addition to this, fast fashion heavily contributes to the pollution of our water. After fast fashion brands manufacture clothes made of synthetic fabrics, consumers buy them and wash them. Every time someone washes these materials, it leads to polyester pollution.
Since the water inside washing machines, which is now contaminated with microfibers from these synthetic fabrics, streams into fresh bodies of water, a large portion of wildlife actually ingest these unhealthy and inorganic fabrics.
Another impact on the environment is excessive waste. These fast fashion companies produce clothing in bulk, leading to more than what is necessary.
If people don’t buy all of the excess inventory, then it goes to waste. The clothing made of synthetic fabrics is incinerated or goes to landfills and never decomposes.
Lastly, the fashion industry is responsible for 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Fast fashion also uses up 79 billion cubic meters of fresh water every year. All of these factors are destroying the Earth’s ecosystem.
These effects make it important for all of us to do our part in decreasing our consumption of the industry. Thankfully, there are many ways to address the problems above.
First, you can do research on different brands with the help of the internet. You can find out if your go-to stores are actually the perpetrators of workplace abuse and stop shopping there, and research brands that are kind and caring towards their employees.
With more research, you can also look for organic and vegan brands. Their fabrics, which most likely consist of organic cotton, won’t do as much damage to the Earth. There are hundreds of these stores out there, and with online shopping, it’s easy to buy from them.
Another environmentally friendly option is shopping at thrift stores. They sell gently used clothing that isn’t ready to be thrown away. If you live in a big city, there are many thrift stores you can visit. There are also online thrift stores such as ThredUP, Poshmark, and Depop.
When thrifting, you can find unique and vintage items that can’t be found elsewhere. This can upgrade your closet significantly.
In a similar vein, you can rent or borrow clothes online. Apps like My Wardrobe Hq enables people to borrow clothes from each other. An American company called Rent the Runway allows people to use designer clothes for events. These clothing methods lead to less fast fashion consumption and less clothing waste.
Sometimes, you won’t want an item anymore even if it is still in good quality to wear. Instead of throwing it away, you can give it to someone who wants it. Decrease waste by donating your old clothes to charity or taking them to thrift stores.
You can decrease water waste by washing your clothes less often. This puts less fibers into the environment and keeps your clothes in better shape. Fewer washes mean less damage to your clothes. It’s also the perfect excuse for less laundry and fewer chores to do.
All the ways above can be integrated into your lifestyle and shopping habits. The shift doesn’t have to be overnight but can happen in waves. Every action counts and leads toward a better world. We can all do something to decrease our support for fast fashion and shop more sustainably. With these ethical fashion practices, we can make a huge difference.
How the pandemic will contribute to negative social-emotional development
During this pandemic, students across the country have lamented their lack of social interactions, missed their friends, and developed new hobbies to fill their days. The assumption has always been that COVID-19 quarantine is temporary.
Soon, students will be back on campus and the social scene they’ve been missing for the past several months will roar back to life. But by the time life does get back to “normal,” they may have missed out on something much more permanent: growing up.
Usually, when we think of social-emotional development, we think of babies learning to decode facial expressions or to play with other kids their age. But in actuality, we continue to grow and develop emotionally our entire lives, and one of the most pivotal moments in that development is during college.
This kind of development is another perhaps unavoidable casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone, from kindergartners to college students, has been pulled from their development and left stagnant in safe and unchallenging social isolation.
For college-age people, this is the period of your life where you are supposed to finally grow up. You might learn to live alone or make friends independent of your family. But throughout you have an institution that, if it’s doing its job right, provides you with a little safety net should you fail.
The social-emotional development college students gain is hard to measure but incredibly important. It helps students thrive in a non-academic setting, fostering healthy relationships and learning to independently manage themselves.
There are few other times in students’ lives where they can learn to build that network of support around themselves, knowing that they still have an institution to fall back on.
During this pandemic, many students came back home, their fellow students scattering across the country and the world. One consequence of returning to a childhood home is the risk of reverting back to high school years and lifestyles. In college, many students develop their personalities and new responsibilities that may be stripped away upon returning home.
Social worker, Claire Lerner, wrote in Psychology Today that noticeable regression in children during times of stress is very common, particularly in the time of COVID-19 where stress seems to permeate the air. Even as someone who is technically an adult, when students aren’t in an environment that promotes growth, then it’s all the easier to backslide or at the very least, remain stagnant.
And social-emotional development isn’t just a meaningless phrase—it can have real importance both academically and professionally. One famous study in the Journal of Counseling & Development found that emotional growth was a better indicator of students persisting (not dropping out) than just academic success.
Students who are well-adjusted are able to cope with the stress of academics and social situations in college, and presumably, the real world better than students who merely get good grades and test scores.
According to another study in the Social Innovations Journal, the real value of a college degree is not necessarily just knowledge actively gained, but in the emotional intelligence and maturity achieved.
David Castro and Cynthia Clyde, the authors of the study, wrote that college is really about learning soft skills, not just technical expertise that is often more job-specific. With school going virtual, students are missing out on the opportunity to develop many of the skills they pointed out like, “communication, negotiation, the ability to work in teams and team-building itself.”
As long as social distancing and isolation continue, students will continue to miss out on deeply important social connections and moments of emotional growth. As more and more universities unveil their plans for fall, it looks like fall will be a new edition of “Zoom school” for students around the country.
The only way for schools to safely reopen is if this virus is stopped in its tracks, and this seems to be quite a challenge for the United States as is has so far, failed to do so. Face-to-face interactions are priceless and an essential part of the college experience. Social distancing is not just about missing your friends—it’s also about losing the chance to transition naturally into adulthood.
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