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

Emily Bevacqua

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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. 

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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.”

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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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