Commentary #61: “How To De-Objectify Women in Comics: A Guide”

De-Objectify

Image Credit: Renae De Liz

My good friend Michaela Leigh shared this with me several months ago!

Here’s the link to the original article:


This was a really interesting perspective on a common problem – Women and girls are objectified way too often.

Case in point: Consider the controversial dress codes that schools across the country have implemented or attempted to implement with tank tops, shorts, leggings, homecoming dresses, and prom dresses, among other things. That’s a whole other blog post to discuss, but I wanted to make that reference.

Here’s the breakdown of the above illustration, taken directly from the article:

  1. (Left) A common expression in comics. Eyes are lidded, mouth is pouty. It’s look to promote a sense of sexiness & lessens personality.
    (Right) Personality and uniqueness first. Think of distinct facial features outside the usual. Promote thought in eyes. What’s she thinking of?
  2. (Left) Commonly taught way to draw breasts (OR fully separated/circles/sticking out). The intent is to highlight sex appeal. It’s not realistic for a hero.
    (Right) What’s REALISTIC for your hero? Athletes need major support (i.e sports bra) which have a different look. Consider not ALL heroes have DD’s.
  3. Arms are closer to supermodel size on the left. What best fits your hero? If she’s strong, she’ll likely very built. Give her muscles!
  4. Hands on left are set in a way to promote the sense of softness, it lessens her power. Be sure hands are set in a way to promote strength
  5. (Left) It’s common to see “the arch n’ twist” in comics. A female arched and twisted to show both cheeks AND both boobs.
    (Right) Twists in the body are a powerful art tool but stick to what can realistically be done, and use arches w/o intent for “boob/butt perk.”
  6. One on left feels like she’s posing. The right feels like she’s standing heroically. Make her overall pose functional vs. sexually appealing.
  7. Heels! Modern heels are generally used to amplify stance & increase visual appeal. I like them, but if I were a hero, not too realistic.  Most important is what would your character choose? It’s very difficult to hero around in stilettos. Perhaps consider low/no heels.

I don’t consider myself a good artist, especially when it comes to faces and characters. I struggle with proportions, and I’m a crazy perfectionist! I get so frustrated. So, I’m far better with landscapes!

Anyway, reading this article was eye-opening to me. I’m not trying to give comic book artists a bad rap at all – Many of them are very talented, and those who draw the famous characters typically put their own spin on the character’s original likeness.

With that said, I found myself nodding my head with most of her points. Female superheroes should be showcased for their talents and abilities, not because they are female. But, at the same time, I can see how sex appeal has been ingrained for years. I’m sure the artists (and the publishers) want / wanted to maintain a certain audience with comic books and other media, so certain standards / techniques were established in terms of female superheroes.

However, there’s also a delicate balance. Sure, you want to keep the guys interested in the comic books, but you want to appeal to the girls, too. I think objectification has been a years-long issue, and comic books and female superheroes are just one part of the complicated jumble. There’s no simple solution, unfortunately.

The author brought up some interesting points. Here’s my thoughts.

If I were a superheroine, I would want the best sports bra or support available, because I certainly wouldn’t want my boobs to get in the way of saving someone’s life, fighting a monster, or saving the Earth from a gigantic threat.

If I were a superheroine, I would want to be portrayed as someone who is strong, courageous, determined, and brave. For me, I wouldn’t want a face full of makeup while on superheroine duty. I want to look put together, but not look like a clown. I want to look strong and active – Not necessarily super buff, but enough to be convincing. A six-pack would be nice! My hair should be up and out of my face, not in the way!

If I were a superheroine, I would want to be functional in my costume / outfit. I mean, I’m trying to save people’s lives, much less the entire Earth, among other things! I don’t think I would be comfortable in something leather, skin-tight, and anything with heels! I struggle in heels in my everyday life – Give me comfortable / functional boots!

If I were a superheroine, I would want to be recognized as a female, but lauded for my accomplishments instead of my looks! Sex appeal is great for photography, romantic movies, and a few other things, but not superheroines!


I admire several superheroines.

Jessica Jones

Jessica_Jones_by_Mike_Mayhew

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I was first introduced to Jessica Jones with the Netflix series Marvel’s Jessica Jones. She’s a private investigator in Hell’s Kitchen, but she’s also a bad-ass. Plus, Krysten Ritter was an awesome casting choice.

Stargirl (Courtney Whitmore)

250px-JSA_81

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I didn’t know much about Stargirl until Tidewater Comicon in 2015. Granted, I first saw a “bombshell” figurine rendition of her, but I actually prefer her original costume. I love how her personality was based on one of the creator’s sisters, also named Courtney, who died in the TWA Flight 800 explosion in 1996. She’s young and strong!

Wonder Woman

Wonder_Woman

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’ve always admired Wonder Woman. Now, I have a renewed interest and fascination since Gal Gadot debuted in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She’s strong, courageous, and her outfit (at least in the most recent movies) is somewhat modest. She fights in boots, not heels!

I’m excited to see how she is portrayed in the upcoming Justice League movie, as well as the planned sequel to the box office smash Wonder Woman. Until then, I’ve greatly enjoyed researching how Lynda Carter portrayed her on TV, and others.


What about you? Do you have any favorite superheroines?

What are your thoughts on objectifying women, girls, and superheroines?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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Commentary #60: “This American Town Was Left to Die, and Suddenly Economists Care”

South Boston

South Boston Historic Downtown – South Boston, Virginia. Image Credit: Virginia Is For Lovers

Back in August, one of my friends shared this article on Facebook. Immediately intrigued, I clicked on it, curious about what context the headline gave.

Within seconds, I couldn’t believe which town they were referencing.

South Boston, Virginia, is just a few miles away from where my in-laws have their farm. It’s a beautiful town, formerly Boyd’s Ferry, first established in 1796. There are multiple places in the town that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here’s the link to the original article:


I’m definitely not an expert in economics, although I did take ECON 111 at Longwood and got quite an education during that semester. However, I’ve always admired small-town America, and I find myself researching different towns, counties, and rural areas, particularly in Virginia. I wrote several research papers on Appalachia between high school and college, and have always been fascinated with the tragedies and triumphs of the vast region.

South Boston is one of the towns in Halifax County. Like many small towns, there’s been what referred to as a rolling recession in the town since the 1990s. The town has about 8,000 residents, and the workforce has decreased by about 25 percent in the last two decades. This particular article discussed the effects of free trade on the U.S.

Two particular movements devastated Halifax County and its workforce: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, and then when China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO). While the unemployment rate in the U.S. was trending toward historic lows, the unemployment rate in Halifax County surged. The highest rate recorded in the county was 13.9 percent.

Many towns like South Boston experience a domino effect. Once manufacturing jobs dry up or leave, other businesses, seemingly unrelated or connected, also start to fade away. The dominoes keep falling, until something happens to make them stop. In South Boston, there are shells of car dealerships, empty downtown storefronts, and other evidence.

Fortunately, in South Boston, conditions have improved. The unemployment rate has held steady around five percent, far better than nearly 14 percent. A few manufacturers call South Boston home, not textiles or tobacco, but sports cars, robotics, power, and heavy electrical equipment.

Sprawling brick buildings that were once tobacco warehouses are now apartments. Two of them are now the home of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, where students can become certified in a number of disciplines, thanks to schools such as Longwood University, Old Dominion University, Danville Community College, and Southside Virginia Community College.

IT certificate holders have been hired at Microsoft’s data center in a neighboring county. Other certifications include nursing and welding. The massive investment is paying off.

I’m glad that South Boston is becoming a success story. However, I think of many areas of Appalachia where coal mining jobs, among others, have been automated, and there aren’t enough jobs in the area to make up the difference.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #23: Thoughts on Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, and Our President

mister-rogers-56a9a1be3df78cf772a914df

Image Credit: ThoughtCo

The last few weeks have felt like forever.

It’s been a laundry list of natural disasters, yet another horrific massacre on U.S. soil, and I’ve felt helpless.

  • August 17-September 1 — Duration of Hurricane Harvey
  • August 30-September 12 — Duration of Hurricane Irma
  • September 16-30 — Duration of Hurricane Maria
  • September 19 — Central Mexico earthquake
  • October 1 — Mass shooting at Route 91 Harvest Festival, Las Vegas, Nevada

All the while, President Trump has continued tweeting, criticizing, and not being very presidential. But, that’s just me.


Texas & Florida

My family is incredibly fortunate. My dad drove down to Seminole, Florida, to be with his dad, my 91-year-old Grandpa, prior to Hurricane Irma’s arrival. They lost power, but Dad brought a generator and plenty of supplies. Grandpa’s main power was restored within 24 hours. Cable, Internet, and the landline phone followed soon after. The Publix grocery store down the street was open the day after the storm. Dad came home safely just days after the storm passed, not two weeks like everyone was thinking / fearing.

My Uncle Richard (Mom’s brother) waited out the storm in Miami. He lost power, and endured four hours of 100-mph+ winds, but no significant damage.

A few friends and acquaintances suffered devastating floods in Texas, but most remained high and dry. John and Jackie, days away from their first child’s expected arrival, were pleased to report that their son smartly decided to “shelter in place” during the storm.

I’m still in awe at the heroes and heroines during Harvey and Irma. The first responders and the military presence were outstanding. If you haven’t seen the stories about the “Cajun Navy,” look them up online. These men and women, with their boats, are real heroes!

I know certain areas of these states still face months, possibly years, of recovery, but many have amazing survival stories to tell the future generations.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and others, have not been so fortunate. Hurricane Maria literally swallowed the entire island of Puerto Rico. It’s been absolutely decimated. At last check of various news sources, roughly five percent of the island has power now, and roughly 11 percent of the cell service has been restored.

The death toll stands at 34, for now. I fear that this number will rise.

The island was already struggling, with a crumbling infrastructure, debt-laden, declaring bankruptcy, and other issues. Add a massive hurricane to the mix? It’s a disaster zone.

It’s deplorable that the governor and many mayors have gone on national TV, live, begging for help. Everyone on the island is an American citizen, for heaven’s sake.

Ugh. I’m getting madder and madder with every word I type.

Las Vegas

Along with the rest of the world, I was horrified to learn of the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Monday morning. I almost fell off the treadmill at the gym, in disbelief.

My first thought: “Oh, no. Not again.”

But, it happened. Nearly sixty innocent people lost their lives. Over 500 were injured.

However, in spite of the tragedy, there were so many heroes and heroines. My spirits have been lifted, gradually, throughout this week, as I read stories of courage, bravery, and sacrifice. Countless people literally took bullets to save others. Complete strangers protected each other. The outpouring of support has been overwhelming.

A GoFundMe page that was started by the Clark County Commission Chair earlier this week has set and re-set its goal several times. As of this writing, 77,232 people have raised an impressive $9.52 million dollars for the victims and their families. That’s awesome!

On Tuesday morning, I wrote the following on Facebook:

As a blood recipient, blood drive co-coordinator, and regular blood donor, I’m so happy to see the reports of people waiting 6-8+ hours to give blood in the wake of the tragedy in Las Vegas.

In Chesapeake, New Creation UMC is hosting their next blood drive this coming Saturday, October 7th. If you’re able and willing, your blood is very much appreciated. Every two seconds, someone needs blood. One whole blood donation can save up to three lives.

Give the Gift of Life. Give Blood.

I hope I can give blood on Saturday, and I hope we will have a good turnout. The need is constant.

Our President

I have so many thoughts about our President right now. It makes me want to scream.

The only thing I’ve been impressed with, so far, was his speech about the tragedy in Las Vegas. For once, he actually showed sympathy and compassion.

I don’t know who wrote it, but it was a good one.

With that said, it’s been tough to swallow his response to the hurricane relief efforts, especially in Puerto Rico. In addition to those issues, he’s angling for nuclear war with North Korea. Antagonizing someone like Kim Jon Un is not a good idea.

I wish Secretary Tillerson would admit that he called our President a moron. I wish people would stop trying to cover for our President, and admit the truth.

But, the truth is, I think most people in and around the White House are walking on eggshells every minute of every day, hoping and praying they don’t say or do something to piss him off.

For once in my life, I’m actually looking forward to voting in November’s elections. I’m so sick and tired of the attack ads for Governor, Attorney General, and the list goes on. There are so many things I wish I could change, but I know my vote can make a difference.

I’m also beyond ready to fast-forward to the 2020 presidential election.

For now, I will continue to educate myself with a variety of news sources, try to stay positive, donate blood, and sharing my thoughts with all of you wonderful readers on my blog. Thank you for being so supportive of my posts – I appreciate each and every one of you.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #58: “The women who don’t know they’re autistic”

Autism Speaks

Image Credit: Autism Speaks

I stumbled upon this article via Facebook back in July. I thought it was fascinating, and it prompted me to learn more about autism.

Here’s the link to the original post:


The article primarily focuses on what’s known as “high-functioning” autism in women. This means autism without intellectual disability.

According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities:

Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18.


For years, it’s been studied, and widely publicized, that more boys than girls are diagnosed with autism.

Autism is defined as the following:

a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.

It’s estimated that 1 out of 68 children in the United States are on the autism spectrum. For boys, it’s around 1 in 42.  For girls, it’s around 1 in 189.

Some of autism’s signs can now be recognized as early as 18 months of age, but are usually identified and diagnosed between the ages of two and three.

Parents are encouraged to seek evaluation of their child without delay. Early intervention can improve outcomes.

In 2013, all autism disorders were merged under one umbrella diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Previously, they were distinct sub-types,  including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger Syndrome.


Despite more childhood diagnoses, it’s becoming more common for people to be diagnosed as adults.

According to the Madison House Autism Foundation:

  • Those with autism may have exponentially acute senses. Bright or fluorescent lighting can be overwhelming. Loud sounds and crowds of people may be as well.
  • The ability to concentrate for long periods of time on one thing, and their attention to detail is something those without autism find enviable.
  • They are often highly visual people, and many have found ways to communicate through multiple mediums besides with words.
  • Those with autism may avoid eye contact with other people and, because they often take language literally, may have difficulty with metaphors, humor, and sarcasm. Interpreting what others are thinking or feeling is challenging because they have difficulty understanding social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions.
  • It is a myth that those with autism are unable to feel empathy.
  • Those with autism think, process, and behave differently than neurotypical individuals.

As renowned animal rights activist and professor Temple Grandin says, they are “Different, but not less.” They can, with support and slight modifications, become assets to every community and the workforce.

The main point I’m trying to get at – Individuals with autism are individuals. They are amazing. They may think and behave a little differently than others, but it’s important to recognize them and appreciate them.


The original article provided and cited a variety of sources:


This article shone a spotlight on women and how we can recognize smaller, less noticeable signs of ASD.

  • Compensating for communication impediments they may not be consciously aware of.
  • Not being good at guessing what people are thinking.
  • Hypersensitivities – Smells, sounds, bright lights, etc.
  • Reduced sensitivity to pain.
  • Misdiagnosed psychological disorders.
  • Taste for solitude.
  • Intensity of passions.
  • Talking about one subject / topic for extended periods of time, longer than normal (i.e., spending hours focusing on one thing in particular and not deviating).
  • Not wearing jewelry because of the way metal feels on the skin.
  • Not wearing certain clothing because of sensitivity to fabrics, tags, buttons, zippers, etc.

Given some of these signs and symptoms, it’s fairly easy to interpret or assume that a woman may be an introvert, be shy, have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a speech impediment, or some form of a developmental or intellectual disability.

As the article indicates, ideally, a lot of women being diagnosed with autism as adults could have / should have been diagnosed as children. Luckily, these childhood diagnoses are improving every day. Leaps and bounds have been made in the last 20-30 years, and research is ongoing. However, doctors and psychologists alike need to remain vigilant, and keep a close eye on young girls exhibiting similar signs and symptoms, especially since autism symptoms in girls have appeared to be less obtrusive than those in boys.


For more information, here are some more links and resources. Education is so important. Continual learning and studying will help all of us better understand ASD, and start to take away the stigma!

I have immense respect for those who work in special education, work with individuals with ASD, and parents that have children with ASD. My hat goes off to all of you!

 


April is National Autism Awareness Month. The Autism Society encourages everyone to join them in promoting awareness, action, inclusion, acceptance, and appreciation.

World Autism Awareness Day is April 2nd of every year. It’s one of only four official health-specific United Nations (UN) days.

Several movies have been released, featuring prominent characters with autism or ASD behaviors. Children of the Stars is an award-winning documentary about children with autism in China.


What do you think? Do you know someone that is autistic?

Do you have any ideas about how to help those with ASD?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #57: “Trump has no idea how much health insurance costs”

health-care-costs-2

Image Credit: thenesthome.net

Even though this article was published well over two months ago, it sparked a fire in me.

Here’s the link to the original post:


Reading this article, I was appalled. Granted, a lot of things about our current President are appalling. But, I digress.

How much do you pay every month, or every pay period, for your health insurance? (This is a rhetorical question, of course.)

I think we all WISH it was as little as $12 or $15.

Sadly, it’s not.


Al and I both are incredibly fortunate to have decent/good employer-sponsored health insurance. This means that health insurance is one of the benefits at the companies where we work. But, even though our employers offer it to us, it’s far from a simple process.

At my work, we can choose from several different options. Depending on what we pick, that factors into how much money we pay. For me, I’ve elected to pay for my plan out of every paycheck, and it’s automatically deducted.

Toward the end of the year, the two of us will sit down and re-evaluate the plans that both our companies offer, side-by-side. We will figure out if we will continue to pay for our own individual plans, like we have been, or if one of us will go on the other’s insurance plan since we’re now married. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of these strategies. So far, it’s worked out that we’ve paid for two individual plans. We will also have other decisions to make when we plan to grow our family. The short answer: Spouses and children are a tad bit expensive (to put it lightly).

I won’t say how much we pay, but it’s much more than $12 or $15 a month. That’s a pipe dream.


I thought this was an interesting link:

I don’t swear by these numbers, but it certainly gives me a good indication at how much prices have skyrocketed!

And, it’s a bit mind-boggling to think/know that every singe state in our country shows different prices.


Recently, I’ve seen multiple arguments / pleas / thoughts about the U.S. needing to convert to “universal health care” or go to a “single-payer system.”

So, what does this mean?

Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and several countries in Europe, offer their citizens “universal health care,” which basically means that health care is provided to everyone, no questions asked. Also, prices are typically lower / more affordable.

That conglomeration of ideas is certainly enticing to many. However, there are trade-offs.

For the most part, many citizens of these countries pay higher taxes.

Non-emergency approved surgery have significantly longer wait times. Sometimes, patients are waiting for at least six months for some surgeries, if not longer.

“Single-payer health care” is sometimes referred to as “Medicare for all.”

The way I interpret it, is that all citizens of a country pay into one pool. That pool of money is used exclusively for all health care costs. In this instance, health care is considered a right, not a privilege.

As some of the sources I’ve consulted point out, the U.S. already has an established single payer system, meaning Medicare and Medicaid. However, only certain people in the U.S. qualify for these programs, such as people over the age of 65, young children, the blind, and people with certain disabilities. Even so, there are strict rules in place. For example, not all states have expanded Medicaid – Virginia is one of those states. If you make too much money, you don’t qualify. And on and on. It’s immensely confusing, and frustrating.

Here’s a list of resources / articles that I found helpful:


In short, health care in the U.S. has become increasingly complicated, convoluted, and expensive. I realize that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fixed some things, but it also created other problems. A lot of the big health insurance companies, along with the pharmaceutical companies, are purely driven by greed. They only care about the bottom line, not about the patients that are trying to get health care and medicine that they need.

I certainly don’t have the right answer.

In my research, I’m all for making health care more affordable. Every American should have equal access to health care at all times. But, making that happen is a tough challenge. In my view, if our country can revamp Medicare and Medicaid and make those existing programs into universal health care for America, that would be a step in the right direction.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #22: A Week Since Charlottesville – Now What?

MLK

Image Credit: Notable Quotes

It’s taken me a full seven days to even begin to fully process what exactly happened in Charlottesville last week, especially since the historic city is only 2 1/2 hours from where I live.


Here’s a synopsis of what exactly happened, from Thursday, August 10th, through Monday, August 14th. I tried to write this in my own words, but I also used the timeline of events from news station WJLA.

On Thursday, August 10th, two days before the “Unite the Right” white nationalist demonstration is scheduled to occur, event organizer Jason Kessler files a federal lawsuit against the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. The city moved the planned rally from Emancipation Park to McIntire Park.

On Friday, August 11th, a federal judge rules in Kessler’s favor. The rally is moved back to Emancipation Park, still scheduled for the next day.

On Friday evening, a group of white nationalists, carrying lit torches, march through the University of Virginia (UVA) campus.

On Saturday, August 12th, several hours before the rally’s scheduled start time, the rallying white nationalists and a group of counter-protestors arrive at Emancipation Park. Shortly before noon, violence erupts. Law enforcement quickly declares “an unlawful assembly” and works to disperse the groups as peacefully and as swiftly as possible. The Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, declares a state of emergency.

Around 1:30 p.m., a silver Dodge Challenger plows into a group of counter-protestors. One woman, later identified as Heather Heyer, 32, succumbs to her injuries. Nineteen others are injured. After the collision, the car is put into reverse and speeds away, as a crowd chases after the driver.

A press conference is held at 6:00 p.m. Governor McAuliffe vehemently condemns the white supremacists, and commands them to “go home.”

By Saturday evening, the driver of the Dodge Challenger has been arrested. He is identified as 20-year-old James Alexander Fields, Jr. Law enforcement announces three other arrests – Jacob Smith is charged with assault and battery after punching a reporter in the face; Troy Dunigan is charged with disorderly conduct after throwing things into the crowd; and James O’Brien was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon.

On Sunday, August 13th, dozens of rallies and vigils are held. The Governor of Virginia, along with other Virginia lawmakers, are seen worshiping in various churches throughout the state, and encourage others to do the same. “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler attempts to hold a press conference. Kessler is heckled by the crowd, tackled to the ground, and one man is arrested for spitting in Kessler’s face.

Interviews are conducted with those associated with Fields. Former teachers and classmates state that he was obsessed with Nazism, and held those beliefs starting in high school.

On Monday, August 14th, Fields appeared in court. No bail was set. The Department of Justice opens a civil rights investigation into the car attack.


“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”

~ Heather Heyer

This was Heather’s last Facebook status before she died.


After the horrific events in Charlottesville, immediate attention was focused on the remaining Confederate monuments and statues around the country.

One of my former professors, Elizabeth Hall Magill, penned a powerful blog post:

My friend Becca posted this Facebook status on Wednesday, August 16th:

“You cannot claim to be a Christian yet worship these Confederate statues so much that keeping them up is more important to you than respecting that it pains your fellow humans to see oppressive people glorified. God said it best:

‘Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the Lord your God.’ –Leviticus 19:4

Every statue will come down. Anyone with compassion will support that.”


I wanted to include multiple sources of information surrounding these events:


There’s so much information to process.

Here’s what I personally believe:

  1. I’m sad that all of this has happened. I’m sad that Heather Heyer died. I’m sad the two Virginia State Troopers died in the helicopter crash outside of the city. I’m sad that many others were injured in the car attack. However, I’m also filled with hope. I feel like these events are a bit of a turning point for our country. In the last week, suspects have been identified and swiftly arrested, charged with crimes that they egregiously committed. People have come together, to stand together, and say, “Enough is enough. We will not tolerate this. Racism has no place in our country.”
  2. There’s a lot more work to do than just rallies and vigils and speeches. I hope the positive movements do not lose momentum. I hope people continue to push and press for change!
  3. The American people have a right to protest, but if, and only if, said protest is legal. Meaning, the proper permits have been obtained, and it is peaceful / non-violent. The second it becomes unlawful, law enforcement can and should step in and disband the group. In addition, protesters should meet with city officials and local law enforcement beforehand, if at all possible, to make sure everyone is aware of everyone’s intentions. Communication is key!
  4. All Confederate monuments and statues should be removed in a legal and peaceful manner. The city of Baltimore, Maryland, accomplished this successfully, just this past week. Other cities are beginning to follow suit. Confederate history belongs in museums, not in public places. The only exception that I personally make to “public places” is cemeteries where Confederate soldiers are buried and remembered. There’s more of those cemeteries in existence than you think.
  5. I encourage everyone to educate themselves. I don’t want people to follow a particular opinion just because it’s popular or it’s all over the news. I want people to look inside themselves, deep inside, and figure out how they’re feeling about all of this. If you’re angry, tell someone. If you’re sad, tell someone. Write about it – Like I am right now. Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Now is not the time to hold back. We need more voices, more actions, to make sure changes occur. If the American people don’t want another Charlottesville, we need to stand up. We need to stand up together and make change happen!

All that said, what I just wrote is my own opinion. These are my beliefs.

I am a Christian woman, and I strive every day to be more Christ-like. I want to do as much good in the world as possible. But, I also want to pay attention to the issues in my world, and in the world around me. Turning a blind eye does absolutely nothing. That’s part of the reason why I wrote this post. I believe in the power of prayer, but I also firmly believe in the age-old saying, “Action speak louder than words.”

Personally, I applaud my friends and colleagues who were in Charlottesville a week ago, determined to counter-protest against the white nationalists and white supremacists. I think that is a powerful and respectable statement to make. Not everyone has the strength and courage that you do.


To conclude, I want to try to answer the question I posed in the title of this blog post – Now What?

For me, I think changes are already occurring. Changes started on August 11th and August 12th. But, as I said earlier, I hope the positive movements do not lose momentum.

I hope that, eventually, all cities in the United States peacefully and legally remove their Confederate statues and monuments, or relocate them to Confederate cemeteries. I hope museums are able to further educate people about the Civil War and the role the Confederacy played. The war officially ended in 1865, but I feel like, some days, we’re still fighting a portion of it, in 2017.

Here’s a few resources that I found helpful:

Together, we can make a difference.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #55: A Must-See, Incredibly Powerful Message from Beautiful Seventh Grader’s Slam Poem

Slam Poetry

Image Credit: The Odyssey Online

I found the video below on Facebook recently, and it spoke volumes to me:

Background: At the end of this past school year (The video was posted on Facebook on May 25th), this beautiful 7th grade girl at Queen Creek Middle School delivered this incredibly powerful slam poem. This was part of the end of her 7th grade writing class.

Caption from 12 News: “When a 7th grade writing class at Queen Creek Middle School presented poems for their end of year assignment, one student stood out with a powerful message.”

It’s been viewed over 33 MILLION times.

According to the public comments, this beautiful young lady is named Olivia.


Her teacher publicly commented on the video. His name is Brett Cornelius. He was the one recording Olivia’s performance, and obtained her parents’ permission before sharing it.

“She presented this for almost every single 7th grader. They were moved to tears, as was I. She’s brilliant beyond words, and this poem is just the icing on top of her perfectly cooked cake. What’s even more incredible is that she worked on this for over a month, truly digging into the raw depths of teenage hood and expressing her feelings of the good, the bad, and the ugly of walking the halls of the school as a young woman. She’s humble and honest, that’s for sure. I’m proud to have met this little lady!”

“I am her teacher and that assignment was one I went back and forth about assigning for weeks. Obviously, there are no regrets. She transferred to our school, so unfortunately I was not prone to her incredible educational aptitude, but we worked tirelessly to give her creative outlets to express herself. Her parents advocated for her the entire way, too. She’s a blessed child, that is for sure. Thank you!”


It’s hard to hear some of her words, but her message is profound.

I think I’ve watched this video at least a dozen times since I shared it to my own Facebook timeline on Friday, July 21st. And, every time, it’s given me chills and brought tears to my eyes.

This doesn’t apply to just middle school, or just 7th graders, or just girls.

Yes, Olivia directly addresses middle school girls, but her message is more powerful and more far-reaching than that.

I saw myself in Olivia’s words. I saw myself in Olivia’s voice. I saw myself as Olivia struggled to hold back her emotion. I saw the tears in her eyes, as I felt tears in mine.

I saw myself in middle school – Glasses, braces, acne. Experimenting with makeup, but not allowed to wear much of it. Trying to be my own person, but also wanting to fit in.

I saw myself in high school – Exchanging my glasses for contact lenses. No more braces. Wearing makeup a bit more often, but not too much. Trying to keep up with the rigors of IB, while not showboating to the kids in orchestra and gym who were the regular kids.

I saw myself in college – Finally, freedom! But, with that freedom, I also endured a four-year-long abusive relationship. When I finally saw the light at the end of my junior year, I saw a shell of myself. I was broken. My confidence had vanished, although I’m sure I was still super enthusiastic on the outside. Deep down, I knew I needed to leave, to escape, but I was also terrified that no one else would love me, no one else would want me.

I even saw myself now, in the present day – I struggle with body image. I struggle with the fact that I’ve gained 25+ pounds since graduating from college six years ago. I’m getting better with my eating habits, and I drink far less soda than I used to. I drink at least 75 ounces of water every day, if not a little bit more. I only consume alcohol sparingly now (The good stuff is expensive, haha!) I know that my day job is a major contributor – I’m behind a desk eight hours a day. I wear makeup almost every day, but I don’t feel like a clown. I feel grown-up and professional.

But, I’m also a human being. I have feelings. And it’s okay to have these feelings.

The point I’m trying to get at is Olivia’s message is important for EVERYONE to hear. Maybe that’s why it’s been watched over 33 million times. What this amazing young woman wrote and performed (by memory, no less) is a reminder to everyone that we hide behind our true selves.

For me, personally, I don’t want to be so afraid. I don’t want to be so scared of or disgusted by my body image. I want to embrace it, as best that I can, at least. I want to continue to be confident. I don’t want to fake it until I make it as much anymore. I want to be as genuine as possible.

Can I do that? I know I can.

Olivia, you’ve certainly inspired this 29-year-old. Let’s do this. Thank you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂