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How to Support the Black Lives Matter Movement in the Long Run

Anna Leikvold

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A black women with brown curly hair, face mask and black jacket on, standing at a BLM protest holding a sign that says "listen learn."
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The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, prompted outrage across the nation and world. The fight to end police brutality is far from over, and the most important thing to do is to not let this movement lose momentum. The end goal is to never have another man, woman, or child of color brutalized or killed by the police. 

As a white person, I understand my privileged position, and hope only to share my personal goals to support the movement, and hope to help others do the same. Here are 7 things you can personally do to support the Black Lives Matter movement in the long run and bring us one step closer to achieving that goal. 

1. Support black-owned businesses in your area and around the world. 

Do some research into your area or shop online with these companies to help them grow. This is one of the many ways to empower non-white communities and help create lasting impacts. Shift away from large chains as much as you can. Here is a list of 75 black-owned businesses with incredible products you can start supporting now. 

2. Educate yourself

Especially for white people. Continue to learn and understand this movement. Listen to podcasts, read books and articles, and watch movies. Most importantly, listen to the messages of black people around you and work to understand. Educating yourself about these issues is a lifelong commitment. Understand that you will never fully understand, but do your absolute best.

Know that the more you learn, the better of an ally you can be for everyone around you. “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander or “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo are some great books to start or continue with self-education. If you want to see a movie to self-educate, “13th” and “Just Mercy” are two of the many great options.  Educate yourself so you can better inform people around you. 

A sign on a black background that reads LIBERATE NEW YORK CITY, ABOLISH THE POLICE, #ShutDownCityHallNYC
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3. Use your social media presence.

Keep using your social media platform to spread important messages and create your own messages. Share information with friends and family members, and turn skeptics into allies. For white people especially, work hard to make other white people in your communities understand this massive problem. Understand the privilege you have in this movement and use it to have hard conversations. Don’t post your normal content. It is really important to keep social media as a platform for change. It is a simple thing to do that makes a big difference. 

4. Think local.

Local politics are crucial in changing policing systems. This means putting pressure on city council members, mayors, judges, and other representatives to make a difference. This isn’t as difficult as you may think. You can easily locate contact information for elected officials in your area, and send letters and emails demanding justice and change in the system. This also means staying more informed about local legislation and elections. Protest when necessary and make your voice heard. These elected officials are there to represent your wishes in government, so demand that they do so. Know the names of your city and state representatives and hold them accountable. 

5. Make recurring donations.

While many people have donated to organizations recently, it is crucial that these organizations continue receiving financial assistance from those who can afford it. A great way to do this is to commit to a recurring monthly donation. This amount can be small, but consistency is what will keep the organizations strong throughout this long fight. Do a lot of research about where you are donating so you feel confident in the organization you are supporting. 

An African American woman holding a sign that reads, "Tired of making a banner."
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6. Vote in all upcoming elections. 

This goes without saying for most, but we need policy changes both federally and locally, and it is so important to vote for officials and policies you believe in. Stay informed and up to date always. There is no room to be ignorant about politics now. 

7. For White People: Remember your privilege. 

It is very common for movements such as this one to die out because people go back to their day-to-day lives. In this case, white people have the privilege of not having to fear police brutality every single day, and it becomes easy to forget about the violent status quo. Acknowledge that privilege as much as you can and come to resent it. Talk about it and be an ally. Remember this isn’t your fight, but you can help every step of the way if you listen, learn, and understand your place in it all. 

We must imagine a better future for it to ever be possible. In a time of chaos and fear for many, it is important to not become overwhelmed to the extent that we fail to continue fighting for what is right. Take these 7 steps, and some of your own, to continue to support Black Lives Matter in the long run. 

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Halloween is Here-What to expect of it Amid the Pandemic?

Abrar Shah

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Two halloween jac-o-lanterns smiling and glowing in the dark outside of a house

Halloween this year will undeniably be different than in previous years. A significant number of young children across the country will be disappointed. Others will eagerly wait for the holiday to return to form next year, if even possible.

There is one clear takeaway from this year though. You should simply not conduct Halloween celebrations outdoors right now, for your own good. People are responsible for others now more than ever so it is a good time to reassess what holidays are truly important. 

Most people in the world are not fond of the pandemic, and rightfully so. Halloween arguably will take place in hell this year, since seeing a person without a costume in the current climate is more fear-inducing than a person with one. 

Since Halloween is in hell, there is no better time to mention one of Germany’s finest power-metal acts, Helloween. One of the pumpkin men’s most well-known songs is “I Want Out,” a strong summary of the average person’s feelings about the pandemic.

Of course, it is not impossible to celebrate Halloween right now. All indoor activities can simply remain as they are. People who interact with each other frequently enough would not have any additional concerns. 

For people who are fond of horror films, this year would arguably be the best Halloween possible. They can stay in and watch as many films back to back as they could possibly want. Plus, the great thing is that they are not putting anyone in danger unless of course there are a hundred people in the same room.

If you do consider having an army of individuals, AMC’s theater renting plan may be just for you. Many horror films are still meant to be savored on the big screen. 

Trick-or-treating this year for the casually-minded individual should be a no-go. Naturally, college students should not really see themselves performing the activity this many years later unless they truly believe they have an unseverable connection with it, perhaps because of younger siblings. 

The Halloween crisis this year brings up certain questions that you ought to ask yourself regularly, but are necessary to consider in the post-COVID world. Some of the following questions may seem awfully simple, but you’ll quickly realize the many things they can apply to, and make you reflect accordingly.

  • When was the last time you performed a task within its normal timeframe?
  • When was the last time you had to pick one activity over the other because of how much time other things were taking?
  • How many times have you spent consecutive holidays with the same people, and will that be the same this year?
  • Are there any activities you have done last year that have fallen out of favor this year?
  • Has the extended period of time at home made being home less appealing?
  • Has your household successfully maintained an olive branch for the duration of this year? In other words, have your family members kept the peace? 
  • What were some of your most important realizations over the past several months?
  • Do you consider all the sides to the story (If you’re an Extreme fan, the answer would perhaps be three)?
  • Have you developed any new habits (or even lost any)?
  • Have you had any major changes in perspective on standardized, cultural, or other issues?
  • Have you convinced yourself that a certain thing is more special than it once seemed?

These questions can go on and on. The important part is whether you can have answers to engage yourself with. 

The key idea left for you to consider is whether you will gain something from celebrating Halloween this year, whether it be in the standard fashion or tailoring your festivities in accordance with the current circumstances of the world.

Yes, the holidays only come once a year, but there is no better Halloween to decide how much you really care about this particular holiday going forward in your life, and whether it still brings as much joy as you may have had at a younger age.

Some people will challenge themselves to find a new way to enjoy something. Others will not let themselves be stopped from indulging in their pleasures. And then, of course, there are those who nod it off as another day in the week.

At the end of the day, you have to plan to do what you believe is best for you. You need to determine how meaningful it can possibly be, as well as how you would feel without doing it. The choice is yours, as it always has been, but will you make the right choice?

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3 Ways to Alleviate Germaphobia

Ivonne Scaglione

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Man sitting against a wall while wearing jeans, boots, and a sweater, looking. out at a large model of a virus

Germaphobia is the persistent and excessive fear of germs. As you know, we call them germophobic. Anxiety and germaphobia are inextricably connected but not necessarily the same diagnosis. So, what crosses the line between someone who is a germophobe and someone who is a little anxious about germs?

If we look at history, we can see that germs can wipe out entire populations. Besides global warming, another end-of-the-world scenario is an uncontrollable pandemic. But, so far, no pandemic has been even close to exterminating us. So far, we were able to control the virus and its expansion. And so far, we had our happy ending: humanity continued to prevail.

Around the 1920s, yellow fever created anxiety about hot humid weather and its mosquitos. Yet, with ingenuity, fish were used to eat the mosquitos’ eggs. Eventually, a vaccine was developed, and the disease was controlled up to this day. H.I.V is labeled as a pandemic and was controlled with medicines.

It’s not a death sentence anymore and people continue to live with the disease. Anthrax was controlled with an antibiotic named Cipro. Throughout history, there have been many deadly pandemics, including the swine flu and the avian flu, but nothing was more serious than the Spanish influenza of 1918. It killed at least 20 million people. Still, after this pandemic faded away, the homo sapiens continued to survive and rule the world.

During these historical pandemics, humans were witnessing their loved ones getting sick and dying. Naturally, the fear of invisible murderer pathogens began to possess people. However, some level of anxiety during a pandemic is normal. It can help.

Some level of anxiety reminds us to protect ourselves by being prepared. For example, using antibacterial soaps. For anxious people, these products not only promise to clean your hands but promise to destroy the troublesome germs. This is a serious growing business. In 1998, the profit for soap was about $400 million. It’s much higher now due to the pandemic.

A person washing their hands with soap under a faucet of running water
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According to the DSM-5, anxiety is the anticipation of the future while fear is an emotional response to threat. The latter creates a fight or flight response while anxiety is associated with hypervigilance about imminent danger. Avoiding touching doorknobs, public surfaces, using sanitizers, washing groceries, and keeping a distance from strangers without masks are all part of being cautious during these times. This doesn’t make you a person with a serious anxiety problem or a germophobe. Germaphobia occurs when there is excessive fear and anxiety with the thought of coming into contact with germs.

Under the DSM-5, Germaphobia would be under the category of specific phobia. Like the extreme fear of spiders or heights, there is a severe fear of germs. Phobias are usually characterized by overestimating the enemy. A germophobic will not be satisfied with only washing hands while singing the Happy Birthday song. Other criteria presented in the DSM-5 is avoidance. Germaphobia will cause impairment in different areas of functioning such as work or social activities.

For example, a woman who misses her meeting at work due to persistent handwashing in a public bathroom where she takes a long period of time attempting not to touch anything. Certainly, so far, we can’t stop pandemics from originating in some parts of the world, but we can learn to cope with the extreme fear of germs or germaphobia.

These are three ways you can alleviate germaphobia:

1. Be positive and hopeful

People with severe anxiety think catastrophically. Under any circumstances in which they are exposed to their fear, they will think of the worst possible scenario. A person with germaphobia will avoid any uncomfortable situation completely because of “catastrophic” and invasive thoughts. When we find ourselves in a situation that causes us anxiety, it’s important to have a positive attitude. When our brains receive this signal, it becomes easier to manage anxiety. Also, people with germaphobia are hopeless about the future. Therefore, they would rather avoid being exposed to their fear at all. Being hopeful can help us recognize that we have control of the situation by having a plan and taking care of ourselves. But, most of all, being hopeful makes us realize that not everything has negative outcomes. Catastrophic thoughts are irrational and untrue.

A woman in bed, wearing a grey sweater and shorts, with her hands over her eyes, under her covers, crying
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2. Meditate

Due to the rates for mental disorders in the western world being high, many Americans now turn to meditation for mental health. Even though mediation comes from Buddhism, any religion is welcomed to practice it. Throughout the years, meditation has become universal and people with different religious backgrounds practice it. The purpose of meditation is to allow you to look deep into yourself and stay in the present. It’s a way to connect with your deeper self. Spending that time of self-compassion will allow you to understand better your anxiety which leads to manage it better. Buddhism has harsh truths like pain is inevitable. This religion believes that life is suffering and accepting emotional pain will help you alleviate it. Instead of avoiding suffering, learn to deal with it. When you begin to surrender to it, you begin to accept it. The battle against fear and pain is over: Nirvana.

A woman in a green and white patterned shirt and pants, sitting on a dock on a body of water, in a yoga pose
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3. Stay grounded in the present

People with germaphobia and severe anxiety tend to live in the future. They are constantly vigilant of their present foreseeing a catastrophic future when exposed to their phobia. This will trigger irrational thoughts about suffering when it’s not happening. In other words, germophobes will suffer before something happens or they will suffer for what will never happen. It’s important to shift your mind to the present and stay grounded in it. Tell the catastrophic mind: “I am here, I am safe.” And, when you aren’t as safe as you would rather be, say: “I am still here breathing; this too will pass, and I’ll be OK.”

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How the Coronavirus is Shaping the 2020 Election

Ian Wentzlaff

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Elderly woman in a white long sleeve shirt, mask, carrying a black purse with her as she walks outside

2020, a year already destined to be recorded as one of the most bizarre times in recent history, adds another layer of intrigue in November: the presidential election will take place in the midst of a deadly pandemic sweeping across the globe.

Voters across the country are entering uncharted territory this fall; individual health concerns about contracting coronavirus will lead many to vote by mail for the first time.

Coronavirus has afflicted nearly every part of the world, but the United States in particular has felt its ravaging effects. The U.S. has accounted for over 200 thousand of the 1.15 million deaths related to coronavirus worldwide.

Another way of thinking about this: one out of every five people killed by the virus was an American citizen. This statistic weighs heavily on the minds of voters in the upcoming election, as the decision to vote traditionally or by mail needs to be made.

Microscopic image focused on a virus
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There is much confusion surrounding mail-in ballots, and rumors about the likelihood of voter fraud abound. The reality is that voter fraud of any kind is extremely rare in the United States. This extends to mail-in voting.

Causing more confoundment is the fact that voting regulations vary from state to state. Places like Hawaii, where mail-in ballots have been the norm for some time, will presumably have little trouble implementing this method again in this election.

On the flip side, a state like Alabama that only allows voters to register for absentee ballots may find the increased number of mailed-in votes difficult to process.

Yet another wrinkle in the mail-in ballot complex is the necessitation of so-called secrecy envelopes that are required by some states. Further, any vote cast via mail without a said envelope, which are sometimes called “naked ballots,” may not be counted.

However, the need for secrecy envelopes ceased to exist when mail-in ballots began being counted at a separate location from the public polling places, thus eliminating the need for secrecy.

These regulations may deter some voters from opting for a mail-in ballot this election. However, others may fear that the risk of contracting a deadly virus is too great at public polling locations, where thousands of people will congregate.

The virus’s recent resurgence in Europe has led many experts to predict that the United States will also see a spike in the number of cases very soon. This second wave may hit just in time for the election, and that unfortunate timing only adds to the existing fears of voters.

In this upcoming election, no matter which political party you align with or which candidate you prefer in the White House, vote in whichever way makes you the most comfortable.

If the risk of contracting coronavirus frightens you, know that all states are required to allow absentee ballots, and most states support general mail-in voting. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your state’s voting regulations, and most importantly: VOTE!

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