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How To Educate Ourselves On Black Lives Matter

Anna Anderson



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.


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Is Rate My Professors Worth the Hassle? 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It

Emily Bevacqua



A person with short buzzed hair  wearing a black sweater, and reading a dark blue book, while sitting in a desk with a pile of books in front of them.

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.

A young brunette lady wearing a grey T shirt with teal writing on it takes notes in her notebook, while reading her textbook with her glasses on top of it.

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.

A man with a beard and glasses wearing a business outfit, while sitting down and using a business chart app on his iPad.

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.

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Are Ethical Fashion Brands the Solution for a Better World?

Anna Anderson



A close-up view of a rack filled with several pieces of clothing on white hangers at a thrift store.

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.

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How the pandemic will contribute to negative social-emotional development



One man with dark hair and one man with brown hair both wearing grey T shirts and  black masks standing in front of a  red wall filled with  clear saran wrap.

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. 

A dark haired  woman in a green and white striped shirt  with teal fingernails covering her face with a white mask.

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.”

A dark haired woman lying on bed while using laptop and drinking coffee.

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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