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How To Educate Ourselves On Black Lives Matter

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A blond lady wearing a black hat and a long sleeved white shirt with black writing holding a big, "BLACK LIVES MATTER", sign, while standing outside at a rally.

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has been at the forefront of the news and our minds. Due to this, people have begun educating themselves on race more than ever. People of all different age groups and demographics are truly understanding how important it is to learn about racism and how to combat it.

This article will address the experiences of Elizabeth Rees, Lizzie Van Buskirk, and Natalie Rose. All three have acknowledged how important it is to educate themselves on Black Lives Matter. Hopefully, you can feel inspired towards learning about this important issue too. 

Elizabeth Rees, a 47-year-old white woman, knew quite a bit about racial inequality before the BLM movement. She went to a diverse high school and always had a circle of friends that included people of color. Her beliefs and heart were in the “right place.” However, she realized that a lot more needed to be done after hearing about the recent BLM crisis. 

Research businesses that support BLM.

In order to educate herself, Rees has been researching businesses. She wants to support people of color and women-owned businesses. In order to do this, she tries to understand who the business owners are and their missions.

Rees also uses her workplace to an advantage, since it matches contributions. Consequently, Rees looks for organizations important to her (the NAACP legal defense fund) and sets up recurring donations. Any of us can support businesses and donate to organizations if we research them.

Represent your generation as support.

On another note, Elizabeth Rees believes there is a generational element to racism. As a 47-year-old, she believes that younger people are more open about other cultures than members of older generations are. Rees says, “If you grew up thinking something, it’s hard to reverse that.”

She is hopeful that the future generation can create a sustainable change if all people continue to support BLM. When looking at past events, she found there to be little to no success when only people of color supported one another without the help of outside supporters. The time has come for all of us, including every ethnic group, to fight for these people.

Have an open mind.

Rees’ advice for people beginning to educate themselves is to be open. She wants others to realize how we stay in our own little world at times. She says, “There’s something much bigger than us out there. The whole of society is very important and we have to see outside of our circle of friends.” Rees urges everyone to look at the world beyond themselves and learn from it. 

At this time, Rees is also conscious of other people’s feelings. She says, “If people are feeling something, whether you can totally understand it or not, it’s still valid.” When Rees doesn’t understand something, she tries to acknowledge how others feel. We should all try to be more empathetic when it comes to Black Lives Matter.

A  brunette young lady with long curly hair wearing a black tank top stands in front of the camera.
Source: Lizzie Van Buskirk

Use social media to educate yourself and others.

Lizzie Van Buskirk, a 21-year-old white woman, was aware of the BLM movement from the Ferguson Protests in 2014. However, this summer’s movement following George Floyd’s death shocked her. “Everywhere I looked everyone was talking about it,” Van Buskirk said. On social media, she saw the protests and backlash from George Floyd’s death.

Van Buskirk’s main source of education has been social media. She uses the app TikTok, where many people have been teaching others about the Black Lives Matter movement. There she has learned about the Tulsa Massacre and Juneteenth.

In addition to this, she is trying to consume more black-created media. “[I am] trying to stay more aware and work that into what [I normally do],” said Van Buskirk. We can all try to work more Black Lives Matter material into our daily lives too. It’s easy to look for this content on social media with hashtags or find helpful books and movies online.

Van Buskirk feels a considerable generational gap when it comes to racism. With the internet, it’s easier to connect to people and learn about others’ experiences. She said, “I definitely wouldn’t be as aware and empathetic toward people that aren’t like me if it weren’t for the internet.”

Because we have the power to voice our beliefs on the internet, we should use it to our advantage. We can aid in the spread of information and progress in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Try to learn something new every day.

Van Buskirk has learned about the prison system in her research. Before the BLM movement, she knew it was a racist organization, but she didn’t know about its origins. The prison system didn’t organize until after slavery ended.

People continued to take advantage of black people in a societal approved system within prisons. This information shocked her the most, but she still knows that it is important to keep learning these new concepts everyday.

Explore the unknown.

Lizzie Van Buskirk’s advice for those beginning to educate themselves is to listen. She suggests using the internet as a resource and looking unknown things up. Van Buskirk finds it useful to find the “black lives matter” tag on Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr. “Just being there is enough to start opening your mind and start learning about things that you didn’t expect,” Van Buskirk said.

Natalie Rose, a white woman in her late 20’s, is ashamed that she overlooked the extent of racism in the United States before the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement. She says, “I thought it was enough to not be racist and treat everyone with kindness and respect. It is not enough.”

Prior to the BLM movement, she also thought that the government would handle these important issues the right way, but now she has realized that it’s the citizens’ responsibility. 

A brunnette young lady with long hair wearing a black tank top with white spots stands in a building with lots of lights.
Source: Natalie Rose

Listen to Podcasts and read about it.

One way Natalie Rose has educated herself is through listening to podcasts (NPR Code Switch). She has also followed BLM influencers on social media and reads articles about allyship. Another of her resources is 13th, a documentary about racism in America. In terms of activism, Rose has signed petitions. We should all sign petitions and vote in order to bring about societal change. 

Throughout her self-education, two things stand out in what Rose has learned thus far. She has learned that the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t mean that all lives don’t matter. It is a movement drawing attention to the disadvantages and unjust deaths of black people.

“White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard; it simply means the color of your skin is not one of the things making it harder,” Rose said.

Look for helpful resources. 

Rose recommends that people new to self-education should go onto Google to find many helpful resources. She also suggests following influencers on social media who are helping their followers learn about BLM.

Additionally, we can listen to podcasts while we walk or drive. “Take the time to learn and unlearn,” said Rose. Doing so means that we can begin to understand new things and let go of old misconceptions. 

Keep the ball rolling.

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to grow and create change in society, it is important for all of us to help out and contribute. Just as it was for Rees, Van Buskirk, and Rose, let this be a wake up call. It’s time to commit to action, not just beliefs. We can all do something, whether that be through self-education, donation, signing petitions, and much more.


College Voices

5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions in 2022

With 2021 finally over, and many making plans for a better year, these are some easy ways to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions.



Fireworks above a city on New Year's.

The year 2021 is finally over, and we have a new year to look forward to! 

If you’re anything like the majority of the world’s population, you’ve made New Year’s resolutions in the past—and broken them within a month.

But you keep making them, because you enjoy the optimism: beginning a new year on the right foot, promising to be a better, more fit and a more skilled version of yourself. 

Here are ways you can stick to your New Year’s Resolutions in 2022

  1. Tell people about your resolution

Usually, we’re told that peer pressure is a bad thing. But in the case of a New Years’ Resolution, it might be just what you need. Positive reinforcement (encouragement and support) from your friends and family can push you to learn the guitar, lose the beer belly, or whatever it is you want to do in this new year.

Disappointment (or the fear of it) can also push you to work harder toward your goal. If the cost of failing on your resolution is a whole bunch of awkward and sad conversations, maybe that’ll keep you on the straight and narrow.

  1. Break it down into manageable chunks

This is something essentially everybody tells you about anything, but it’s true. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step—and continues, step by step.

A New Years’ Resolution isn’t accomplished all at once, but rather gradually. Don’t push yourself too hard, and don’t get down on yourself if your goal is still a long way off.

Set realistic markers along the way, and at each one check in with yourself. That way, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment as you go, and you’ll see your progress stack up.

  1. Care for yourself

Treat your New Year’s Resolution as what it is: a gift. When you accomplish it, not only will you get the benefit of whatever your goal is, but you’ll feel more confidence and pride in yourself.

This feeling of accomplishment is full of benefits: it makes you better poised to chase down the next opportunity, better prepared to be a positive influence in the lives of others, and can even make you live longer.

In making a New Years’ Resolution, and caring about yourself, you’re giving the best present you can give yourself, so don’t think of it as correcting something that’s wrong about you, but giving yourself another thing that’s right about you.

  1. Forgive yourself, don’t define yourself 

When a friend who’s made a mistake comes to you for help, do you immediately tell them that they’re worthless, that everybody knows it, and that they should just give up already?

No, but this treatment is something of the norm when it comes to yourself. Unfortunately, many of us treat ourselves this way; we are quick to criticize and slow to forgive.

Strangely enough, this negative self-talk often gives us permission to betray our resolutions. 

If you resolve, in 2022, to cut down on carbs and one night you give in to the urge to order a bunch of pasta on Postmates, don’t beat yourself up for it the next morning.

Accept the mistake and continue working toward your goal the next day. Don’t decide you’re undisciplined, gluttonous, and have failed.

Everyone messes up a few times and forgiveness is the best way to move forward. 

Penne pasta in a pot.
  1. Use your resolution as a chance to explore new horizons 

We all have ideas about who we’d like to be, and we all face the realities of who we are.

While a person who wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. and works out in order to get a clean, fresh start to the day is certainly admirable, that person might not be you. In making resolutions, pick goals that flow organically from who you are.

If you don’t know who you are (because who really does?) then go into a resolution with flexibility. 

If, for example, your resolution is to get fit, don’t force yourself into a box with it. Instead, try different exercises, intensities, and intervals.

Don’t stick yourself in the gym for a 45-minute routine with weights when what you’d really enjoy doing is going to a yoga class or going for a run.

Realize that everybody is different, and rather than changing yourself into somebody new, your resolution can be a way of discovering who you might already be.

Think of it as an exploration. Let things develop, and commit to remaining open and focused.

A list of Woody Guthrie's New Year's Resolutions on a lined notebook.
Woody Guthrie’s New Year’s Resolutions — a good role model

The year, 2022 will likely be another challenging year. You already know why, so there’s no reason to repeat it here.

But remember that you got through 2021, and if your resolution for 2022 is to just survive it sane, healthy, and maybe a little wiser—that’s totally fine.

It’ll take some doing, but you’re definitely further along than you think you are. 



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College Voices

The Overwhelming Mental Health Impact of Climate Change

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People across the globe are being affected by climate change. Global warming and climate change are having detrimental effects on the Earth such as increased flooding, hotter temperatures, wildfires, and droughts. Wildlife and ecosystems are being destroyed. Sea levels are rising. The list goes on and it can be overwhelming to take in the effects of climate change. This is why mental health is being greatly affected by climate change, particularly in teenagers and college students.

Climate Anxiety

Anxiety related to the global climate and fear of environmental doom is often referred to as eco-anxiety or climate anxiety. This anxiety is a legitimate reaction to a serious problem. A large population of Generation Z is burdened by climate anxiety. This is because they are concerned about their futures considering the state of the Earth and the fatal implications of climate change. 

A contributing factor to climate anxiety is the lack of action currently being taken by political leaders. Many leaders in positions of power are avoiding climate issues rather than solving them. This has prompted members of younger generations to step up and fight for change. Young activists like Greta Thunberg have taken the lead in protesting climate injustices. But watching older generations sit back while climate change is destroying the planet can lead to feelings of frustration and anger, which are common symptoms of climate anxiety.

The mental health effect of climate change

Climate change can be a controversial topic and there is a fair amount of conflict surrounding it. Everyone reacts differently to the topic: many people shut down when climate change is brought up and they avoid the subject altogether. Others are fearful of the effects of climate change and want to help but feel powerless. And some people are eager to take action and do their part in combating climate change. 

Many teenagers and college students have made efforts to reduce their carbon footprint by making lifestyle changes. Going vegan, carpooling, and shopping sustainably are some of the many ways to cut down on carbon emissions. But unfortunately, big corporations are some of the main contributors to climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions––a major contributor to climate change––are the highest they’ve ever been. This leaves young generations as they have difficulty believing that they can make a difference. 

How Climate Change Affects Mental Health

Every continent on the Earth is now affected by climate change. Meaning, climate anxiety is a global issue and can affect anyone, regardless of location, wealth, or privilege.

A polar bear walking.

Many people are mentally affected by climate change because they have been faced with natural disasters, such as wildfires, serious storms, or flooding. While everyone reacts and copes differently, many survivors of these environmental disasters have some sort of lasting psychological trauma. PTSD, anxiety, depression, and grief are some of the many mental health issues that people who have lived through natural disasters struggle with. 

But you don’t need to be directly faced with a natural disaster to feel climate anxiety or despair over the state of the Earth. Just witnessing and learning about climate change is enough to cause mental health issues. There’s a sense of impending doom or existential dread that can wash over you when reflecting on climate change and its effects. 

Why Climate Anxiety is Often Overlooked

Climate anxiety is often overlooked or brushed off. This is because it can be difficult to discuss mental health concerns because there are still stigmas surrounding mental health. Climate anxiety is also typically not taken as seriously as other anxieties or mental health issues. This is because many people do not understand the serious, detrimental impacts of climate change. 

What to do About Climate Anxiety

  1. Talk to friends and family about climate change. 

Listen to their thoughts on the matter and discuss your own thoughts. Talk about the negative impacts and grieve with them. It can be healing and helpful to share your concerns with others.  

  1. Become a part of the solution

It is important to stay informed on environmental topics and to use your knowledge for good. Join a climate justice organization at your school or in your community. Connecting with others who also care about climate change can ease your worries and fears about the Earth’s future. Climate organizations are making a difference in your community and educating others on climate change. 

An oil plant dispersing white smoke into the air.
  1. Join protests. 

If there are protests near you, make a sign and join in. Marching with other people who care about climate injustices is empowering. Protests help spark change by informing others and raising awareness. 

  1. Do what you can to help the environment. 

It is important to do what you can to reduce your own carbon footprint, but don’t become overly consumed with it. Eat a more plant-based diet, bike or carpool when you can, and use reusable bags. But try not to worry about how each of your actions will impact the environment. Those who experience climate anxiety often feel guilty about taking part in activities that affect the environment, like driving. Just do what you can and that will be enough.

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College Voices

How Social Unrest America Mirrors Social Unrest Abroad

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A closeup of a man with a mask on next to virus cells.

With all of America’s recent and pressing events, it is easy to inadvertently ignore major happenings abroad. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest are not limited to American soil. 

When the coronavirus began spreading across the globe earlier this year, world leaders reacted to the virus as they saw fit. Fast forward to today, and the virus continues to ravage many parts of the world, increasing the number of total cases to over 50 million people. With the addition of social unrest due to racial injustice, the world seems to have a daunting amount of crises. 

Throughout this difficult time, countries imposed restrictions and limitations on their citizens in order to curb the contagion. In certain places, these limitations persist today. Subsequently, people are growing increasingly impatient as the pandemic remains as present and dangerous as it was in March. Indeed, many experts claim that the feared next wave of the virus is now in effect.

The prevailing threat and restrictions put in place have led citizens in some countries to protest. In Spain, for example, citizens have flooded city streets touting messages such as “Stop the dictatorship” or “Madrid says enough.” Unfortunately, certain rabble-rousers have taken it upon themselves to escalate these protests into less peaceful demonstrations of social unrest.

A man holding his hands in the air while being approached by SWAT officers.

In Madrid, rioters turned unnecessarily violent, setting fires in the city, smashing windows of local shops, and assaulting police officers. These riots do not appear to be the result of spontaneous action but rather a coordinated effort planned through social media.

If the story of peaceful protests being undermined by violent extremists sounds familiar, you may be remembering the various riots that took place in America. The George Floyd protests, unfortunately, broke down into senseless social unrest, resulting in property damage and theft to numerous cities throughout America.

Just as the coronavirus pandemic is not isolated to this country, public assemblies due to racial injustice have also formed globally. As protests advocating for social justice started in American cities, foreign citizens heard the rallying cries. Demonstrations from South America to Europe, to Africa, have echoed the message of the Black Lives Matter movement, demanding justice and equality for all citizens, regardless of skin color. A spokesperson for the Belgian Network for Black Lives, Stephanie Collingwoode-Williams reflected, “people think about how it was relevant where we are.” 

A march for diversity in Washington.

Although American protesters set positive trends to confront one crisis, its leaders have not been as successful in combatting the coronavirus. Out of the roughly 1.27 million deaths suffered worldwide, 239,000 of them were American.

This is by far the largest death toll of any country; in addition, America also holds the record for the most cases, by well over one million. These eye-opening statistics naturally lead to critics pointing to this nation’s shortcomings in dealing with the virus. A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, worldwide perceptions of America have been in decline. Recent violent outbursts from police officers, coupled with the mismanagement of the pandemic, have exacerbated this fall.

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